Buy or Sell | Dynasty Values for AFC South Backfields

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Alex Kurpeski

Indianapolis Colts

I once was a doubter but now I am a believer. Marlon Mack is the real deal for the Colts, as he has been used in a “bellcow” role for the team during the first half of this season. Mack has garnered a 65% snap share out of the Colts backfield, a number that dwarfs the usage of his backfield mates Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins. With 470 yards on the ground this far, Mack is a near lock to tally over 1,000 yards from scrimmage this season, and at just 23 years old, his future is very bright. However, Mack isn’t the only running back in this backfield that I like for dynasty formats, as third down specialist Nyheim Hines also presents an intriguing upside. Built in the mold of a Tarik Cohen, Hines is extremely explosive, especially in small spaces. He’s only 22 years old, so while he’s blocked by Mack for the time being, I believe there will come a day where Hines is a very fantasy relevant running back, whether that day will come as a Colt is a different story entirely. As for the rest of the team’s running backs, I would own no stock in them, as none have the perceived upside of Hines or the true value of Mack.

Verdict: Buy Mack and Hines, Sell the rest of the Colts running backs

Houston Texans

The Texans have a rather unique running back situation on their hands. It seems as if Carlos Hyde is the lead back for the time being, with Duke Johnson being rotated in as a change-of-pace option. Despite the significant draft capital sent to Cleveland in order to acquire Johnson, the team has seemingly refused to deploy him in a more impactful capacity than the veteran Hyde. If this trend continues, I could not confidently commit to Johnson as a long term value in the Texans backfield. As for Hyde, his age (29) and lack of dynamic talent (owns a career ypc of just 4.0, not a game changer by any means) lead me to believe that he is not much longer for this league, in fact this may be his last chance to start for anyone. Similarly, 28 year old Lamar Miller, coming off of a devastating ACL tear appears to be in the twilight of his career, with his time in Houston likely coming to an end this offseason. With so much uncertainty surrounding all three of these players, I would opt not to own any stock in this backfield. 

Verdict: Sell Texans backfield 

Jacksonville Jaguars

Leonard Fournette is back for the time being, but do we really trust him to be a healthy RB1 for the next 2-4 seasons? While his numbers have been extremely impressive (584 rushing yards, 5.1 ypc, and most importantly a 93% snap share), Fournette’s suspect injury history and tendency to see stacked boxes are important factors in the context of his production for the long term. Likewise, we have seen the LSU product express his displeasure with the organization in the past (and the organization has previously vocalized that the feeling is mutual), leaving me to wonder whether he will even be retained once his rookie contract is up. Yet, the snap shares and ground dominance from this season are just too alluring in a league full of running back-by-committees. I’m in on Fournette for the time being. 

Verdict: Buying Fournette, Sell the rest of the Jags backs

Tennessee Titans

The Titans operate offensively in a similar fashion to the Patriots, with Derrick Henry toting the rock almost exclusively, and Dion Lewis taking the field on passing downs. While Henry has accounted for a higher snap percentage than Lewis (57% to Lewis’s 43%), his numbers are still very game script dependent, with 70 (+) rushing yards in four games where the team was within a touchdown or leading. In his other two outings, Henry has combined for just 72 yards on 32 carries. Henry has a chance to be a solid RB2 over the course of a full season, that is assuming the team brings him back in the same role for 2020 and beyond. As for Lewis, his role in the offense appears to have diminished significantly since last season (60% down to just 43% this season), and we can only assume it will diminish even further next season. An expensive, highly replaceable asset for Tennessee, this may be Lewis’s last season as a Titan. 

Verdict: Buy Henry (for now), Sell Lewis, I couldn’t name another running back on this team so don’t even worry about it

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