DYNASTY OWNER WEEK 3 RECAP: RB Breakouts and Busts So Far

With three games into the season for all teams, we can start to identify trends and patterns that are forming to help you crystalize or recalibrate your Dynasty Owner strategy.  

With the salary cap locked in at $75MM for this year, it's time to look at your roster and see if you are really getting return on your top dollar guys, and if there are guys who are performing close on the waiver wire with a much cheaper price tag.  

Thus far, there have been incredible bargains surfacing and it seems like more high dollar players are disappointing than playing to their contract value, especially at the RB position.  Here is a look at the top disappointments so far in 2014, based on contract value and performance, which we use $DD/Pt to measure.  Simply put, it's the number of dollars spent for each fantasy point and the higher the number the less likely a guy is giving you what you paid for from a production standpoint.  

TOP 5 RB BUSTS

Could this be the year that changes the way people approach future drafts?  It's early, but it appears spending first round draft picks on Running Backs due to position scarcity is a bigger risk than ever.  While the off-the-field issues appear to be an anomaly (we think), there is no denying that the league is dominated by passing attacks and durability is guaranteed from no back in the league.  

1). Adrian Petersen: $14.4MM yearly salary | 10 Points | $1.4MM per point

Obviously when your RB is getting headlines from TMZ it's never a good sign for his prospects on the field.   The whole AP situation is clouded in uncertainty, but the one thing that's certain is fantasy owners who spent a top 3 pick on Petersen are holding a very expensive bag right now.  Even worse, there is no indication when (or even if) he'll be back with the Vikings or any team for that matter.    All you can do at this point is wait it out and see if there is a resolution in the near future.  Hopefully you were able to pounce on a surprising young and inexpensive back like Terrance West or Knile Davis to hold the fort while you wait.   Ravens RB Ray Rice can also be put in this same category, however owners knew he was in trouble before drafting so the sting on his indefinite suspension shouldn't hurt nearly as much if you planned accordingly.

2). Jamal Charles: $9MM yearly salary | 7 Points | $1.3MM per Point

That's a $DD/PT of over $1MM per point! Obviously injuries have played a big role in this as an ankle sprain cost him 1.5 of the 3 games, but in the time he has played he has been completely ineffective. Even more concerning is his backup, Knile Davis, came right in during week 2 and started in week 3 and performed at an elite level. We're officially concerned as many owners took Charles as the cornerstone of their Dynasty despite him getting a huge contract at the end of training camp.  

3). LeSean McCoy: $9MM yearly salary | 38 Points | $285k per Point

McCoy has at least managed to stay on the field (most of the time) but that's about the only positive owners can take out of the first 3 games with the consensus first overall pick according to average ADPs across multiple sites.   Probably most concerning about McCoy thus far has been the fact that the change of pace back, Darren Sproles, has completely outperformed Shady in each week and has almost doubled his fantasy production to this point.  McCoy is saying all the right things publicly but privately you know he has to be wondering why his role has changed so drastically when he was easily the best all-around back in the NFL just a year ago.  

4).  Matt Forte:  $7.6MM yearly Salary | 45 Points | $170k per Point

Another top-5 paid and top 5 drafted RB who has yet to play close to either slotting, Forte has been completely underwhelming in the first 3 games of the season.  He has yet to score a TD rushing or receiving and unlike the 3 players above, he has no suspension/injury/backup to point to as the culprit for his ineffectiveness.  He has to bounce back and soon.  Hopefully the bears figure out a way to get him going especially given how banged up their two elite WRs are so early in the season.

5). Eddie Lacy: $850k yearly Salary | 16 Points | $50k per Point

While Lacy certainly isn't breaking the bank with such a cap friendly rookie contract, he's been a huge bust so far as everyone was expecting him to build on last year's 1,000 yard campaign.  In many cases when a star has a slow start, a coach is quick to take blame and say he has to do a better job of getting the player involved but that isn't the case with Lacy:

McCarthy has seen what we've all seen - a running back who looks slow and indecisive even when the holes appear to be there (Trent Richardson anyone?).   It's great cause for concern because it's clear the coaching staff is already losing patience when they take to the media to call a guy out, and in week 3 that's a scary sign for fantasy owners.  

TOP 5 RB BREAKOUTS

To call all of these guys breakouts is probably a little misleading, but all of them are performing well above expectations especially as it relates to contract value.  All of these guys are not only dominating the RB rankings, but they have very cap friendly contracts and a lot of youth on their side.  If you were lucky enough to grab one of these backs on draft day, pat yourself on the back because things look really promising at the position for the next several years for your franchise.  

1). Le'Veon Bell: $1MM yearly Salary | 73 Points | $14k per Point

We had Bell in our top 3 Dynasty Owner rankings before the season given his upside and contract value, so it's nice to see him live up to lofty expectations.  He's looked nothing short of incredible so far, and has done so against 3 very tough defensive fronts.  The weight he lost in the offseason has provided a clear boost in explosion and elusiveness and he looks every bit like a workhorse who could lead the league in overall rushing.  That $1MM / year salary is almost criminal when you compare him to some of the disappointments listed above and the best news for owners - he's got 3 years left on the deal unless the Steelers decide to renegotiate early.  Enjoy the ride.  

2).  DeMarco Murray:  $680k yearly salary | 80 Points | $9k per Point

Murray has actually outscored Bell and has an even lower contract, but the only reason he ranks 2nd is that contract is about to expire and he's in for a HUGE payday at the end of the year.  Still, he looks unstoppable and if you grabbed Murray this year while he's making so little, you're likely going to be in the running all year and have a lot of room to work with under the cap.   He's had over 100 yards and a TD in all three games to start the season, only the 5th RB in history to achieve that feat.  The other 4:  Jim Brown, O.J. Simpson, Emmitt Smith, and Curtis Martin.  That's great company for the young franchise back.  

3). Gio Bernard: $1.3MM yearly salary | 60 Points | $22k per Point

Our 4th overall ranked RB in the pre-season, Gio has answered the question of can his diminutive stature, along with the addition of bruiser Rookie RB Jeremy Hill, allow him to put up feature back numbers.  The answer is an emphatic yes, as Gio is tied for the lead league with 3TDs in his first 3 games while sitting 2nd overall in receiving yards from a RB behind only Darren Sproles.  The only damper on Gio's outlook, if you can call it that, is the aforementioned Hill has also looked very impressive and there is going to have to be a split of the workload.  But if the first 3 weeks are any indication, that will be no problem for Gio owners and the 3-0 Bengals alike.  And like Bell, his contract is locked in for another 3 years so Dynasty Owners have to be loving their RB outlook right now.  

4). Rashad Jennings: $2.5MM yearly salary | 60 Points | $41k per Point

While not as young or inexpensive as the above RBs, Jennings was been just as effective in outperforming both his average draft position and his contract value, which is a plenty affordable $2.5MM / year.  For top 5 RB production, anyone would be happy to pay that cost.  Jennings seems to have found a home in NY, and the Giants offense seems to suit his straight forward find the hole running style much better than his previous stops in Oakland and Jacksonville.

5).  Terrance West: $700k yearly salary | 43 Points | $16k per Point

Like many other sites, we pegged West as an intriguing sleeper heading into the season given the fact that he has a great contract (the only Rookie deal on this list) and was drafted into a run-first offense perfectly suited for his one-cut and go running style.  We also knew the incumbent starter Ben Tate has struggled to stay on the field but even we didn't think West would have opportunity this quickly.  And he's far exceeded any expectations both in reality and in fantasy.  

The only thing that keeps West below Jennings is the fact that the Browns backfield is still quite crowded and lacks clarity.  UDFA Rookie Isaiah Crowell has looked like the real deal himself, averaging an amazing 5.2 yards per carry with 3TDs himself.  With numbers like that, he has to get his share of carries in the offense as well.   With Tate expected to return after their week 4 bye we need to see how many carries West will get going forward before we bump him up higher.  But the talent is there, the production is already apparent and the contract is extremely cap friendly for the next 5 seasons.  If you are already thinking about punting this year and rebuilding for next year, West would be a great target in a trade.