Ameer Abdullah’s 2015 Fantasy Preview
Many NFL fans saw for the first time what we’ve known for years this past weekend. Ameer Abdullah is super-human.
The Detroit Lions 2nd round pick from Nebraska will undoubtedly see a huge jump in ADP in the coming weeks, but is it warranted?
Regardless of his faults, I have been a huge advocate of Abdullah this offseason. He was a target of mine in the 6th round of PPR drafts but the days of getting him that late may have come and gone.
It seems every year in the preseason the first big play, or ankle-breaking cut in this case, causes an explosion in perceived value for said player in the fantasy community. What says more to me about Abdullah is not his strong NFL debut, we know he can be a special player. It is the consistent positive drumbeat we have received all through OTA’s and training camp. The Abdullah explosion after this preseason game according to Sigmund Bloom was more “confirmation upon reveal.” There is a lot of “coach speak” this time of year that can be dismissed but consistency with coaches and beat writers saying positive things does mean something.
Ameer Abdullah finished with 67 yards on 7 carries and was overall very impressive in his NFL debut. His athleticism and balance were on display when twice he made cuts that made Jets defenders miss including breaking free for a 45 yard gain. This was the longest play of the night for Detroit. In fact, this run was longer than all but one rush from Detroit running backs all of last season.
“The Lord’s blessed him with pretty unique talents,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “He’s a guy that’s very, very quick and he has vision. He has both of those things.
Obviously, your quickness without vision is a bit of a waste, but he’s got both of those. And not only that, you didn’t see him catch, but he can catch the ball as well. He had a pretty productive night.”
Ameer Abdullah’s Skill-Set
Don’t let his 5’9’, 205lbs frame fool you. Ameer Abdullah runs with great power as well as burst. Pair that with his fantastic balance and agility and it is obvious he possesses elite running back ability. He has shown the ability to both take what defenses give him, yet hit holes hard without hesitation. He can turn bad situations into big gains and has the skill-set to make any number of moves at top speed. He is calm and smooth in his decision-making and is also a huge threat to catch passes out of the backfield. Abdullah runs well between the tackles and also displays the ability at times to run routes with the same proficiency as a wide receiver. A lot of people will compare him to Reggie Bush this year but the reality is he is closer to Ray Rice.
On the negative side, Abdullah’s fumbling problems in college are well documented as well as his struggles in pass protection. If he cannot improve in those two areas that will be what holds him back from a feature role in this offense. People turn to the fact that in his career Abdullah fumbled every 35.4 touches, a very poor stat in the category. But what the stat does not show is the significant improvement he made in that area by his junior and senior year.
His first two years in college he fumbled once every 19.5 touches. His last two years in college he cut that down to a fumble every 68.1 touches. That sees like a significant improvement to me and I do not see this as a doom that he will fumble in the NFL. The fact that he has shown improvement as he has matured as a player means something. His struggles in pass protection worry me much more as he will be used a lot as a receiver out of the backfield this season, especially if Joique Bell proves his health.
- Joique Bell– 2014 stats (Rushing- 860 yards, 7 TD) (Receiving- 34 receptions, 322 yards, 1 TD)
Bell was placed on the physically unable to perform list while he recovers from minor knee surgery and achilles surgery. Bell led the Lions with 860 yards rushing in 15 games this year and will most likely start as the teams primary back when healthy. You could argue in regards to ADP he has been the best value of any RB over the past few years. But, with the mounting injuries and Abdullah pushing him, my concern is that this could be the year the tires fall off.
- Theo Riddick– 2014 stats (Rushing- 51 yards, 0 TD) (Receiving- 34 receptions, 316 yards, 4 TD)
Does a lot of similar things as Abdullah, just not as well. Riddick had significant success last year in games Reggie Bush was not on the field. Keep in mind that Theo Riddick was a RB1 in PPR leagues in each of the two weeks that he played and Reggie Bush did not. There are talks out of Detroit that Riddick could see some time in the slot as a receiver this season as well. If Abdullah can’t protect the football, Riddick is absolutely a threat to his third down and receiving back work.
- Zach Zenner– (undrafted rookie)
If Zach Zenner makes the team, and I believe he will, he is more of a threat to Joique Bell than Ameer Abdullah in regards what he can bring to the table. He is a deceptively a big and powerful player and is built to be a featured back. He is good in pass protection and reads blocks extremely well at the second level. Very physical player and could be very effective in short-yardage situations.
Ameer Abdullah Fantasy Season Outlook
I love Abdullah as a player. With that said he still has a lot of obstacles to overcome for owners to cash in at his skyrocketing ADP. Most of the offseason he was available in the 6th round in PPR leagues and I was definitely a buyer. I have concerns taking him around his current ADP which I expect to settle somewhere around the 4th round.
Ameer Abdullah will become a big play threat this year running screen plays across the middle. Detroit has loved to run those plays with Reggie Bush and Javid Best in the past. I expect the Lions to use him in a committee role. I bigger role will depend on both Joique Bell’s health and Abdullah’s improvement in pass protection.
I project Abdullah for 160 rush attempts, 725 yards, and 4 touchdowns as well as 45 catches, 365 yards, and 3 touchdowns, which is close to Gridiron Experts RB Projections. Ideally he is a RB3 for your fantasy team, but to get him you may have to draft him as your RB2. Even then it could pay off big.