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Bargain Bin: Anthony McFarland

McFarland plays RB for the Pittsburgh Steelers

Greetings football fans! Today, I take a dive into the Fantasy Bargain Bin and check out an extremely cheap discounted playmaker, named Anthony McFarland of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I deem him so partly based on his 40 time of a 4.44. He’s low to the ground and lightning in a bottle. 

What Are The Coaches Saying?

Due to the fact that I don’t just assume these things though, I took a look at why his coaches decided to draft him last year. His Head Coach Mike Tomlin said after they drafted him at 4.18, “Man, his talents speak for themselves. His stop and go quickness, his game-breaking ability, in terms of ability to make great plays, we’re excited about [it].” He also stated, “We feel that we have some talent in the backfield, but we feel like he’s got a skill set that’s a little different than the guy’s that we got in our backfield, in terms of his speed and open grass ability.” 

These comments didn’t pan out on the scorecard in year one, but I’m not writing off McFarland’s talent at the current cost that he comes at. That man has rocket launchers attached to his cleats. Game-changing speed is important, especially in a league where scoring quick is crucial versus long, sustained drives. 

What’s The Situation?

McFarland won’t have the backfield to himself and it could be that he never will. Conner will be a free agent in 2021 and Benny Snell Jr. will still be there. 

Conner wasn’t terrible but he was nothing special (in terms of fantasy production) either. The good news about Conner leaving is that he was afforded 43 targets in the passing game. Conner would need to be re-signed this offseason, and Pittsburgh may look for a cheaper option. According to Rotoworld, he can command a $16-18 million per year contract, given his age and skill set. 

Last but not least, the only other obstacle in terms of touches currently is Benny Snell Jr. Snell was drafted 4.18 in the 2019 draft. He’s had just over 100 attempts in both years but only has 3.3 YPC in this last year. He ran a 4.66 at the combine, so nowhere near Mcfarland’s explosiveness. I think that Mcfarland offers the most upside in this backfield as it stands right now.

On a bit of a side note, Mcfarland would also have a starting QB who had 7.4 YPA. 13th lowest amongst qualified passers, which should bode well if Mcfarland carves out a role. 

Price Checker

Mcfarland has a very good price tag on him. He’s valued at about 149th in overall ADP. You can probably get him for an RB4  easily. Maybe even someone like Dalton Schultz (1 v 1), who has a bit of uncertainty in his future when Jarwin returns, could be an interesting trade offer. According to Dynasty Nerds, he is RB45. Furthest in rankings I have seen him is RB 64. The risk should be considered very mild. 

Sneak Peek at His Tape

COLLEGE CAREER:

  • He has elite speed. No question about it
  • He has a very good burst through the hall
  • Was used in the passing game 
  • Always tries to keep legs churning
  • If he’s not contained and gets to the outside, he is extremely dangerous from anywhere on the field
  • He’s successful in Wild Cat formations
  • Great on designed sweeps
  • Has a very nicely timed stiff arm
  • Good vision and usually cuts outside at the right moment
  • Decent patience
  • Bad on some short-yardage plays
  • Above Avg. route runner
  • Turns check-downs into positive plays
  • Runs very hard
  • Has flashes of elite burst but it isn’t consistent
  • Can make defenders miss in the backfield
  • He could be a liability in pass protection
  • Low center of gravity, which makes for pretty good contact balance
  • He did play in the slot sometimes

Play in the NFL

  • Showed speed, which could be a factor in NFL
  • It was an extremely small sample size
  • Did prove he could get to edge at this level
  • Did his best work in the screen game (Conner had 45 targets!)
  • Can play in the slot (JuJu)
  • Was not very good at short yardage

Overall

 I believe McFarland will primarily be utilized as a “role player.” I don’t think he is quite cut out for a “feature back” role. However, at his current ADP, you can do much worse. One of the reasons for his limited usage could’ve been due to his failures as a pass blocker. 

If used as a role player and allowed to get similar touches compared to a Tarik Cohen, I believe it’s worth the gamble. As far as RB depth goes in a 12 team plus dynasty league, you can do much worse. I believe personally that he can become a useful flex player in the coming years, especially if he starts taking snaps in the slot. 12 touches would be well worth the RB4 price.  He will definitely have another opportunity next year and I’d rather be early than late. 

Written by Scott Acquard

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