Commitee Meetings backfield categories:
Last season, this 'Committee Meetings' column focused on some of the most headache-inducing committee backfields for fantasy owners to deal with. This season, for the sake of reducing some of those headaches we thought it would be helpful to put all of these committee backfields into categories based on how carries are projected to be split, the various roles each running back plays in their respective situations and the philosophies of different teams when it comes to the all-important run game.
Hopefully you can use this categorization as a guideline to make decisions on whom to start each week, build some bench depth at the running back position, handcuff your starters and uncover some potential waiver-wire targets along the way. As the season evolves, these categories will evolve and be revised depending on how things shape up each week. A look ahead will also be provided to preview upcoming matchups and hone in on some hidden value plays.
Remember that this is not a ranking of fantasy running backs, but more of a reference on how different teams project to utilize their running backs. Be sure to check back for weekly updates that will reflect backfield storylines as they develop over the course of the season.
Here we have a group of backfields that come with some question marks heading into fantasy draft season. Most of them involve teams with a rookie back who could be in a situation to usurp the lead role, for any number of reasons, at some point during the season. Of this group, Jonathan Stewart and Lamar Miller are the two running backs with the best chance for major fantasy value.
Jonathan Stewart | Cameron Artis-Payne // Panthers Stewart will start the season as the lead back in Carolina, but the veteran hasn't played 16 games in a season since 2011 due to injury. There is just too much risk to take a chance on Stewart at his current Round 4 asking price. The rookie Artis-Payne will be a name to watch during the preseason, but it's unclear how big of a role he will play for the Panthers in his first season.
Lamar Miller | Jay Ajayi // Dolphins Another Round 4 runner, Miller could be a bargain for fantasy owners. But we don't know how the Dolphins plan to work in their new rookie, Jay Ajayi. The Boise State product wasn't drafted until the fifth round due to injury concerns. However, there is a chance, if Miller doesn't produce, that Miami gives their rookie an opportunity to prove himself.
Todd Gurley | Tre Mason // Rams It was announced this week that Gurley will be on the Rams active roster at the start of camp and will participate in team practices, which is great news for fantasy owners. He's working his way back from a torn ACL that he suffered approximately nine months ago. Since the Rams likely won't rush their first round pick back to mitigate his risk of re-injury, Mason should be owned at least for the first few weeks of the season. There is always the chance that even with both backs 100 percent healthy, that this ends up being a timeshare. Mason (Round 12) is a much better value than Gurley (Round 9) at this point.
Bishop Sankey | David Cobb // Titans Before I automatically threw this group into the "fantasy wasteland" category, I wanted to at least give them a chance. While my colleague Alex Gelhar almost couldn't bear to watch another Sankey snap from last season during a sophomore running back film study, Sankey could still (sadly) start as the lead back in Tennessee. If he does emerge with some success early on he will likely be on a short leash which makes Cobb, a rookie out of Minnesota, an intriguing late-round flier.
Latavius Murray | Trent Richardson | Roy Helu // Raiders In Oakland, 2015 is the season of Latavius Murray. At least that's the hope. If, for some ludicrous reason, the Raiders don't give Murray every chance to break out as a featured back and end up giving Richardson and Helu significant touches, we will all have a case of the sadz. Murray is currently a Round 5 running back, but also keep in mind that we're still dealing with Oakland here -- a team who posted historically bad running game stats just a season ago.
Matt Franciscovich is an associate fantasy editor at NFL.com. His nickname around the NFL Media office is Franchise, and he's totally cool with it. If you're looking to kill some more time, be sure to check out his player rankings and follow him on Twitter for fantasy advice all season long @m_franciscovich.