by Alex Kurpeski
RB Philip Lindsay, Denver Broncos:
The addition of former Pro Bowler Melvin Gordon to an already crowded Broncos backfield had led to Lindsay being cast aside in most leagues, with many owners writing him off as strictly a backup to the former Chargers star. However Lindsay has constantly proven the doubters wrong during his Broncos tenure, compiling two consecutive thousand yard rushing campaigns to start his pro career despite his undrafted status. While Lindsay’s efficiency took a major hit in 2019 (rushing for 26 less yards than he did in his rookie season while toting the ball 32 more times), he remains a very talented back. Even if he is used as the change-of-pace back for the Broncos this season, it’s likely that Lindsay will end the season as a top-40 scorer at the position thanks to his penchant for breaking off big gains (his 10 ‘big time runs’ in 2019 ranked in the top-12 for the position, with 4.5% of his carries going for one of these gains). While another thousand yard campaign is unlikely given the presence of Gordon, Lindsay will still be a viable RB3 for most teams, with sneaky week-to-week potential depending on the game script for the Broncos.
RB Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions:
Still only 22 years old, the future remains bright for the Lions 2018 second-round pick despite the team’s decision to draft his potential successor (D’Andre Swift) in the second round of this year’s draft. While the draft capital invested in Swift signals that the team is high on him, there may very well be a role for both him and Johnson at the head of Detroit’s backfield. While Johnson’s inability to stay healthy has held him back from having much sustained success as the team’s starter, his talent is still unquestionable. At 6’0”, 215 lbs, Johnson can be the thunder to Swift’s lightning, while also using his receiving chops to piece together some work on passing downs. Even if it’s not meant to be with the Lions, Johnson may very well have some success down the road, as his youth is still working in his favor. While health is a big question mark for the third-year back, his upside remains incredibly high, even as the presumed backup to Swift.
RB Bryce Love, Washington Redskins:
Love’s path to a ‘bellcow’ role in Washington is firmly blocked by a smorgasbord of unique backs, but he has as much upside as anyone on the team’s depth chart. Love, the former Stanford standout, is an explosive receiver out of the backfield built in the mold of a young Reggie Bush. While he will have to carve out a role while competing with the likes of Adrian Peterson (who may never retire), Derrius Guice (if his knee holds up he may be the best back in this rotation), Antonio Gibson (A+ athlete without a ton of positional experience), J.D McKissic (checking in for the departed Chris Thompson), Peyton Barber (his two-year contract suggests the team has high hopes), and Josh Ferguson (practice squad fodder), Love’s unique skill set and status as the team’s fourth-round pick in 2019 makes him an intriguing stash even in a clustered backfield. Here are a few numbers from his Love’s college days that really speak to his potential value at the NFL level.
- 94.1 elusive rating (13th best mark in the nation in 2018)
- 98.6 pass-blocking efficiency (9th in the nation in 2018)
- On 41.8% of Love’s touches he avoided being tackled on first contact (5th best mark in the nation in 2018)
- 6.8 yards per-carry on 568 rushing attempts in college
While he is a bit small at 5’8, 200 lbs (on his chunky days), Love is an excellent pass protector who should have a great chance to take over the third-down back role for the Redskins, on a Norv Turner inspired offense that will almost certainly rely heavily on backs in the passing game. Given his cheap price in dynasty leagues, Love is well worth a dart throw.
RB Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts:
Even with Wisconsin legend Jonathan Taylor entering the fold, along with incumbent starter Marlon Mack, I believe that Hines will be a very valuable member of this Colts backfield in almost every format. With Philip Rivers (responsible for pumping 163 targets towards Austin Ekeler and Melvin Gordon last season) taking over as the starter for Indy, a pass-catching back like Hines should absolutely feast in PPR formats. While Taylor and Mack may see their fair share of targets in the passing game, neither player is as naturally skilled in this department as Hines is (his 107 receptions through two seasons speak for themselves, especially considering Mack and Taylor have a combined 153 receptions between their respective college and pro careers — Mack’s USF days included). Hines is a 4.3 speed guy who rarely drops passes (only 5 last season on 58 targets), and should see his share of the sugar this season, thanks mostly to the Colts new QB and his checkdown tendencies.