Several factors contributed to the Colts’ success in 2018. The biggest was the return of a healthy Andrew Luck, but it wasn’t all him. The Indianapolis defense was vastly improved and so was its running game, spearheaded by Marlon Mack.
Mack, the second-year back out of USF, really broke out in 2018. He had more than 1,000 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns in 12 games. Those numbers were good enough to be RB21 in terms of total points and RB14 in fantasy points per game in PPR formats.
Fourteen running backs were taken in the first two rounds (top 24 picks) last season. Will that happen again in 2019? If so, should Mack be among the RBs drafted that early?
The issue fantasy owners must evaluate is the repeatability of the young back’s touchdown production. With players like Nyheim Hines in the fold (even though he splits out wide often), many pass-catching opportunities are directed elsewhere. That’s a hinderance in PPR formats even if his volume of carries aren’t threatened by any competition. To quickly illustrate what that means in fantasy circles, Mack was the No. 10 RB in FPPG in standard formats. He was the No. 11 RB in half-point PPR formats. And as mentioned previously, he was No. 14 in full-PPR leagues.
He’s clearly more in standard formats, right? Yes, but overall ranking doesn’t tell the entire story.
In standard formats, he scored 2.8 more FPPG than the No. 24 RB (used here to draw the RB2 line). In PPR formats, that discrepancy was 2.6 FPPG. Essentially, his value to fantasy owners versus the bottom of the RB2 tier is about the same. The difference is potential upside.
He was already a top-10 RB in standard formats, but is 2.5 FPPG behind the No. 10 spot in PPR formats. For reference, that’s the same difference between owning JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR9) instead of Tyler Boyd (WR20) or owning Eric Ebron (TE4) instead of Evan Engram (TE7). That’s why he simply can’t be considered a potential RB1, but he’s clearly in RB2 territory.
Where does he rank in that category and is he high enough to go late in Round 2? Probably not.
TD Fantasy’s full rankings will be out in a few months, but right now I have Mack as my No. 21 RB for 2019 in PPR formats. That means he should be taken in the 3rd round of fantasy drafts. Mack and the Colts have a lot of things going for them in 2019, but his lack of involvement in the passing game limits his upside and suppresses his draft value a bit.