Fantasy Football: Question marks with Alfred Morris


Aug 23, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Washington Redskins running back

Alfred Morris

(46) runs for a gain past Baltimore Ravens safety

Matt Elam

(26) and linebacker

Daryl Smith

(51) at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Alfred Morris is going into his third year as the starting running back for the Washington Redskins, where he has been highly productive during the last two years.

In the last two years he has rushed for 2,888 yards and 20 touchdowns and Washington will be implementing a new offensive scheme with new coach Jay Gruden.

Morris, blew up the fantasy world in 2012 during his rookie season. He was a sixth draft pick out of Florida Atlantic University and went un-drafted in most fantasy drafts.

Morris benefited from the read option and how it opened up the running lanes for him. He finished his rookie year with 1,613 yards and 13 touchdowns.

In 2013 Morris kept the production rolling with 1,275 yards and seven touchdowns.

The numbers decreases for Morris were due to less read option opportunities. Also, the offense was playing behind in most games, so the run game was abandoned.

Gruden is going to use the read option even less and only sprinkle it into the the game plan. This is going to effect the running lanes and make it more difficult to get holes to run through.

Mike Shanahan is gone and he’s taking his zone blocking scheme with him. Gruden is planning on doing his best to replicate Shanahan’s scheme but it’s not going to be the same.

Morris raises a lot of question marks when it comes to the transition of Washington’s offense. He is a one cut down hill runner who needs lanes to be able to get into the second level of the defense. These lanes may not come as easy for him as they did the previous two years.

Morris isn’t the most athletic back, he ran a 4.67 40-yard dash during his combine and he didn’t have elite production in college. Only one year with over 1,000 years rushing (’09 1392 yards).

This is very concerning for fantasy because with his lack of speed an agility might make it hard for him to transition to a new scheme.

Another thing that stands out about Morris is that he is workload dependent. He is going to need a lot of carries to be fantasy relevant. The reason behind this is that Alfred doesn’t catch a lot of passes he has caught 20 passes in the last two years (11 in ’12,  9 in ’13), which is dismal for PPR leagues.

Gruden likes to roll out two running backs, like he did in Cincinnati with Giovani Bernard and Benjarvus Green-Ellis. It appears Alf will be locked into the Green-Ellis role, which may cut into his carries (335 in ’12 and 276 in ’13).

With a current ADP of 25 Alfred slots in as a mid second round to the early third round in fantasy drafts.

That’s is to rich for my blood, with the offense under transition with a new coach and his inability to be a productive pass catcher there is better value to be had.

Here is a list of players I would rather have that is being drafted after him.

Alshon Jeffery ADP 27
Giovanni Bernard ADP 29
Rob Gronkowski ADP 30
Randall Cobb ADP 31

Jeffery and Cobb are both capable of putting up WR1 to high end WR 2 fantasy numbers. Bernard is a young back who is explosive and will catch a lot of passes he had 224 fantasy points during his rookie year in ’13. Gronk is a stud tight end and creates a positional advantage at TE if he remains healthy.

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If you really need a running back I would hesitate to reach on Morris, because there is still value in the later rounds with running backs like Frank Gore 40 ADP, Ben Tate 41 ADP, Shane Vereen 74 ADP, Joique Bell 76 ADP and Bishop Sankey 80 ADP.

The point I am making here is that at the price you are paying you could possibly get similar production later in the draft an take on less risk because you aren’t investing as much on the later round running backs.

You can take a safer wide receiver with a higher ceiling like Cobb or Jeffery where you are drafting Morris.

Morris is a risk that doesn’t have much up side, because he doesn’t catch passes, he’s going to get less touches and his offense is going to be behind in most games. Buyer beware when you are contemplating on taking Morris on as an asset.