What happened to the Workhorse Running Back? — Part 1

It used to be a rule of thumb to draft a RB give him 20 carries a game, you would hope he’d get at least 80 yards, if not you’d find a better guy. Repeat. One player would get all the touches unless it was a blowout or he got hurt.

A Texans Arian Foster, Bears Matt Forte, Vikings Adrian Peterson, 49ers Frank Gore, even Ray Rice was a Workhorse. You get the point. It made fantasy football simple.

However high usage gives a greater risk of injuries.

The college system started producing quality RBs at a startling rate. This caused issues as there was the influx of talent and lack of starting spots. No development league or European league to draft and stash players. Teams suddenly had 2 or 3 Running Backs that have the talent for a starting spot.

Teams looked at this and saw an opportunity to rest their players and create a committee approach. Split the carries; between Early down work, goal line work and passing plays.

Let’s go into each team.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens

Lloyd Fox, Baltimore Sun

3-Way Committee approach.

Starter — Justin Forsett

Specialty — Not featured in TMZ videos. Correct Elevator etiquette.

Co-players — Javorius Allen/Kenneth Dickson.

Forsett apparently has the starting job locked down but he’s been up and down through his career. He had a good season in 2014 amassing 1200 yards on 5.4 ypc. That dropped off to 4.2 last season in which was a terrible season all round for the Ravens. Javorius Allen is right on his heels but Forsett should fend him off for the starting gig if all goes well. Kenneth Dixon is the X Factor here as a rookie out of Louisiana Tech with good hands, and a great fit in Marc Trestmans offense. He’ll like be eased in and played in passing situations.

The Ravens will continue to play with a committee approach as none of their RBs separate themselves.

Cincinnati Bengals

Paul Sancya, AP

2-Way Committee

Starter — Jeremy Hill

Specialty — Stiff Arming Cleveland Players

Co-player — Giovani Bernard

Jeremy Hill stole the starting spot in 2014 with 1000+ Yards on 5.1 ypc. His production dropped off in 2015 ending with 700 odd yards on 3.2 ypc on the same amount of touches as 2014, however he got 11 TD’s so he is their Goal Line back and they still trust him. Hill is only 23 and is criminally undervalued at the moment. He is a competent catcher however Bernard has better hands so they split the workload. If the Bengals can stay competitive this season look for Hill to separate himself from Bernard and make an excellent case for being an every down back, the only issue is Bernard is too talented to count out completely.

Cleveland Browns

David Stluka, AP

2/3-way Committee

Starter — Who knows

Players — Isaiah Crowell/Duke Johnson Jr./RG III

Well Cleveland have a quandary, Crowell and Duke are both very young, both have different strengths. Neither has star power. Cleveland has ended up in the most Cleveland situation. Crowell is a classic style of Back, decent speed with a lot of power. Duke is speedy. But is better at catching if anything else. I like Duke to be the starter but needs the right situation to thrive; he’d be fantastic in a Danny Woodhead style role. I put RG III in because Cleveland will no doubt give up on QBs altogether soon and just ask him to run.

Pittsburgh Steelers


Gregory Shamus, Getty Images

Starter — LeVeon Bell

Specialty — All round Superstar, not the most punctual however.

Co-player — DeAngelo Williams

LeVeon is our first of few workhorses, he’s a next level athlete with great hands and even better instincts. He can exploit the smallest of gaps and is a key feature in an explosive offense which we are yet to see in its entirety. He has no danger of losing the starting spot to DeAngelo Williams who is a 33 year old Vet, don’t get me wrong when DeAngelo filled in for LeVeon he was one of the best in the league. But LeVeon is next level. That is when he’s not suspended.

AFC South

Houston Texans

Erik Williams, USA TODAY Sports


Starter — Lamar Miller

Specialty — Breaking tackles and taking souls

Co-Players — Tyler Ervin/Alfred Blue

Lamar Miller is a Powerback who is in the perfect situation for many many carries. A run heavy offense with no one to steal carries from him; Alfred Blue was underwhelming when he filled in for Foster last season. Tyler Ervin is a scatback rookie who should be fine to develop behind Lamar for a few years.

Indianapolis Colts

Robert Scheer, The Indy Star


Starter — Frank Gore

Specialty — Having several average years but still being hyped beyond imagination

Co-player — Robert Turbin

I don’t trust Frank Gore, but he fits the Workhorse criteria by being the only RB on that team with a decent amount of talent. Robert Turbin won’t steal many touches. I’m convinced the Colts GM thinks he’s playing Madden when building the roster.

Sign only flashy position players, we don’t need an O line or Defense

So a 33 year old Running back with many miles on the clock will be running behind a terrible O line. No thank you.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Logan Bowles, USA TODAY Sports

2/3-way Committee

Starter — T.J Yeldon

Specialty — Not falling asleep behind the wheel and crashing his car into a lake.

Co-players — Chris Ivory/Denard Robinson

So TJ was my hope to be a Workhorse this season, put strides between himself and Denard. And then Jacksonville went and got Chris Ivory coming off a 1000 yard/Pro Bowl season. Suddenly we don’t know where we stand. TJ is the youngest with the highest potential but (I can’t believe I’m writing this) the Jags are looking to win now. They’ve made significant strides in their Defense, Allen Robinson looks elite, combine that with another year of development from Bortles and we may be seeing the Jags growing from being a laughing stock to a playoff contender. I think the Jags will split carries two ways with TJ being early downs and Ivory taking the goal line touches, only using Denard if it’s a blowout or an injury occurs.

Tennessee Titans

George Walker IV, The Tennessean


Starter — DeMarco Murray surely.

Specialty — Go from Offensive player of the Year to bench in one season.

Co-players — Derrick Henry/Dexter McCluster/Antonio Andrews/Bishop Sankey

Well shit son. You have a Young QB teeming with potential and some WRs waiting for a breakout (Rishard Matthews/Dorial Green Beckham) so whats the plan? Ground and Pound. Trade for Murray, a workhorse running back. Good to go? No.
Draft Derrick Henry in the 2nd round, good to go? Hahaha of course not. Trade your Sophomore WR after one year DGB for OL Dennis Kelly and fully commit to the complete opposite of nearly every other team in the NFL. Seemingly they’re planning on Running with DeMarco, whilst bringing Derrick Henry up to speed, and giving touches to all the other running back who have disappointed every year. I hope they abandon that plan, split the carries between Murray and Henry, and allow Mariota to pass the ball.