Running backs are a valuable commodity in fantasy football. Unlike wide receivers, where each NFL team has one or two solid fantasy contributors, it can sometimes be a struggle to find even one good running back on a team worth rostering. Team owners that are lucky enough to roster multiple backs are hesitant to let them go in trades, and for good reason. However, sometimes team owners can use the allure of what looks like a solid running back to improve their overall squad by trading him at the right time.
Alex Collins is one of those players. He’s had a quiet, but decent start to the fantasy season, bolstered mainly by his touchdowns. He has issues holding onto the football and is already splitting time almost evenly with Javorius Allen. With his fantasy outlook trending downward, it is time for his owners to sell their shares before it’s too late.
The Time Is Now to Sell Alex Collins in Fantasy Football
Production Isn’t There
Collins was kind of a cult hero in drafts this year. Many team owners thought they could get a workhorse back in the fourth round or later. He took over the starting job for the Baltimore Ravens in week six of last season, having some decent games, and seeing the lion’s share of carries. Collins had two games where he went over 100 yards, totaling 212 carries and 973 yards by the end of the season. After week five, Collins never had less than ten carries. He was expected to build on those numbers this season.
Instead, this season has been the exact opposite. Collins has only gotten 10 or more carries in two games this year. He’s also only gone over 50 yards rushing once. His 3.5 yards-per-carry average is subpar at best. The only thing that hasn’t made him a complete bust is the fact that he has scored in three out of four games this season. Even with his three touchdowns, he’s still only the RB26 in ESPN leagues, and will only fall further down the rankings as the season progresses. His fantasy owners would be wise to cut the cord while they still can.
Buck Allen and Fumblitis
When Kenneth Dixon went to injured reserve after week one, it looked like Collins was going to have the backfield all to himself. The sigh of relief Collins owners breathed was short-lived, however. “Buck” Allen, as he is endearingly referred to by the organization, is inexplicably still heavily involved in the offense. Though Collins’ numbers aren’t great, Allen’s are even worse. He has 62 rushing yards total on the season, good for a putrid 2.4 yards per carry. Proponents of Allen cite his pass-catching ability as making up for his lack of rushing prowess, but he’s still only caught 15 passes for 87 yards (5.8 yards per reception). Collins has 70 yards on only eight catches.
It is obvious to anyone watching that Collins is the better back, but fans must dig deeper to find out why Allen seems to be favored by the coaching staff. One word: Fumbles. Fumbling has been an issue in Collins’ short career. This season, he already has two and lost them both. He was benched for the rest of the first half after losing one last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Last season, it was the reason he didn’t take over the starting job sooner, as he also lost two fumbles in the first three weeks of the season. The issue seems to be rearing its ugly head again, and costing him valuable playing time. Despite Buck Allen being a worse back, Collins could see his playing time dwindle further and further. Fantasy owners might not want to take that chance.
Running Back Market Thin
Now, trading Collins is tricky. He hasn’t had any really great games, but he also hasn’t had any horrible ones either. In standard scoring, his best week was week three, where he had 13.4 points. Conversely, his worst week was week one when he only managed 5.9 points. Fantasy owners need to sell him on the appearance of a high floor and touchdown upside. Look for players who are suffering from injuries in their backfield, like Leonard Fournette, or who have lost guys like Jerick McKinnon. Another option would be to find players still waiting on Le’Veon Bell to come back. The best options are players with losing records desperate for a spark.
On the other hand, he also shouldn’t be sold for pennies. A thin running back market means it shouldn’t be too tough to find a market for Collins. At the same time, it also means Collins owners aren’t likely to find much for replacing him. A trade should only be made if the owner is deep at running back, and has a need at other positions. There is a lot of depth at wide receiver this year, so players trading away Collins for receiving help should check the free agent market to ensure there isn’t similar production out there. Perhaps the best option for Collins would be to pair him with a solid wideout and attempt an overall upgrade at running back.
Last Word on Selling Alex Collins
In an incredibly thin running back market, players who own Collins and have other options need to immediately sell him. His fantasy points have actually been much better than his real-life performances. His grip on the starting job is far from stable, and as it is now, he has a pretty even split in playing time with Allen. This could change if he continues to fumble. But, even if he does manage to hold onto the ball, he will likely see his fantasy point total fall as his touchdowns average out and become more infrequent. His current value is probably as high as it is going to get, so sellers need to act now.