The Detroit Lions had high hopes for running back Ameer Abdullah entering the 2016 NFL season, and the same can likely be said about fantasy football owners as well. A year after Abdullah tallied 597 yards with a 4.2 yard per carry average, injuries derailed his 2016 campaign. He suffered a foot injury in Week 2 and was placed on injured reserve.
As ESPN’s Michael Rothstein reported, Abdullah told ‘The Carriker Chronicles’ podcast that he suffered a Lisfranc injury. He went on to state that he’s now “ready for this 2017 season,” though, so fantasy owners have a reason to feel confident ahead of the year.
So with the 2016 injury behind him, what lies ahead for the Lions top running back? Obviously, the hope is that he’ll be able to perform the way that many had hoped he would last year. With that said, let’s take a look at when you should draft Abdullah in fantasy football leagues, as well as a statistical prediction for the running back.
*Before we jump into what round to draft Abdullah, it’s worth noting that this is based on a 12-team league, with standard rosters and full point-per-reception scoring.
When to Draft Ameer Abdullah
Consensus: Late fifth-early sixth round
To be honest, this might be a little higher than many are going to project Abdullah, but when you get to this point, specifically if you can get Abdullah after taking five other players, he’s a player with huge upside. While other running backs available around this time include names like Frank Gore, Paul Perkins and possibly Bilal Powell, I’ll take the upside of a player like Abdullah over the others.
It’s easy to forget that Abdullah was a major game-changer in college, averaging over six yards per carry in each of his final two seasons with Nebraska. Even more importantly, he tallied 72 receptions with seven receiving touchdowns over the final three years. In a point-per-reception league, his ability to catch passes (he caught five for 57 yards and a touchdown in Week 1 last year), is a key to success.
The biggest risk when it comes to Abdullah is the injury concern, obviously, but if you get a player who’s healthy and can stay healthy, then you’ve just landed a steal in the fifth or sixth round.
Statistical Predictions for Abdullah in 2017
Last season, the top 10 running backs in the NFL finished with 1,073 yards or more on the ground and eight of the 10 had at least seven touchdowns. I believe Abdullah will hit both of these numbers. I’m expecting around 1,100 rushing yards with seven rushing touchdowns and an additional 300-400 receiving yards and another 2-3 touchdowns.
Obviously, Theo Riddick being in town will impact Abdullah in the passing game, but Abdullah is certainly the better runner of the two. If he’s able to make an impact immediately on the ground in 2017, he should have complete control of the No. 1 running back gig. The first two weeks, specifically, won’t be easy for Abdullah and the Lions, as they face the Arizona Cardinals and New York Giants, so temper expectations there.
Even still, Abdullah is a name worth starring on your draft board, and when the time comes, I’d jump on him as a No. 2 running back or even your top flex option. He’d be a perfect fit for either role.