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Running Backs to Stash in Dynasty Pre-Draft

The NFL Draft is traditionally viewed as a time when end-of-bench guys lose value because their teams draft new players to replace them. But 32 NFL teams aren't drafting running backs during this draft, which means that there's value to be found among players who are currently in the league.

This is a good time for dynasty owners to stash a few guys who are sitting third or fourth on a depth chart, because they can be had for next to nothing and can be dropped in a few weeks if their current team grabs some better guys. If things break right, however, they can also suddenly find themselves jumping in value when they're still occupying their current role come May, especially on a team that has question marks higher up the depth chart.

Let's look at four running backs who you might want to be stashing for now.

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Myles Gaskin - Miami Dolphins

The fact that Miami brought in Jordan Howard seems to suggest they aren't going to be in the market for a starting running back. If Miami drafts a running back, I'd expect it to be someone who can help them in the passing game, not an early-down guy.

What that should mean is this: Miami has an RB1 who could be cut after 2020 with no cap hit. Their current No. 2 guy, Kalen Ballage, was pretty bad last year, ranking 67th among running backs in true yards per carry, 77th in production premium, and 120th in fantasy points per opportunity. His grip on a roster spot is far from a lock.

Enter Gaskin, who really wouldn't have to do too much to ensure he gets a shot at the lead back role in 2021. Gaskin's numbers weren't great last year, but he also didn't really have much of a role. His last game before an ankle sprain ended his season saw him get 16 carries for 55 yards and a touchdown, but before that he'd gotten just 20 carries.

You could also list Patrick Laird here, who also saw snaps down the stretch, but Gaskin seems more likely to be available for cheap/free in dynasty, and I still think he's slightly ahead of Laird in the long term race for touches here. Both should be ahead of Ballage.

 

Damien Harris - New England Patriots

Yeah, yeah, yeah, don't trust Bill Belichick running backs and all that.

As a rookie, Damien Harris was invisible. He played in two games, totaling 12 yards on four carries. But Harris still has some things going for him: He's a second-year back who New England took in the third round, and he's on a team whose running back pecking order is murky.

Sony Michel is the lead back, but Michel is coming off a pretty inefficient second season. He was 54th in true yards per carry, 43rd in big run rate, and 114th in fantasy points per opportunity. Even though I'd be surprised if Michel didn't start 2020 as the lead back here, I don't think he has that role on lock moving forward.

I'll admit that I don't have high hopes for Harris because...well, the Patriots...but he's got some good explosiveness and, if he gets carries, a decent fantasy floor. Harris won't set the world on fire, but if he gets opportunities, he can be solid. Solid isn't going to excite a fantasy owner, but it's worth rostering, and whenever training camp arrives, Harris should have a chance to earn the backup job.

(Of course, Belichick could just go out and draft multiple backs, because he's Bill Belichick.)

 

Karan Higdon - Houston Texans

Houston traded for David Johnson, who enters the 2020 season as their lead back. But Johnson has both injury and performance-related concerns, and his primary backup, Duke Johnson, isn't going to earn early-down work from head coach Bill O'Brien, as he didn't earn it last year with Carlos Hyde as Houston's lead back.

Higdon didn't get a single touch as a rookie, but he gave Houston some strong preseason production. If the David Johnson deal is it in terms of running back moves for Houston, Higdon likely makes it onto this roster as long as O'Brien can be convinced he can contribute on special teams.

From there, Higdon's path to a larger role is tied entirely to what David Johnson does. Based on the last couple of years from Johnson, that's a risk that could be worth taking. Higdon's got some good speed and averaged over five yards per carry in all three of his productive years at Michigan. He won't see the field on offense in an ideal world for the Texans, but have things ever actually worked the way the Texans wanted them to?

 

Bryce Love - Washington Redskins

There are a lot of running backs on Washington's roster, but in terms of upside, Love's the guy I'd be keeping my eye on.

Here's who else is on this roster right now:

  • Adrian Peterson: Has been around a long time and can't just keep being around, right?
  • Derrius Guice: Limited to five games in two seasons because of injuries.
  • Peyton Barber: They really signed Peyton Barber. This is a legitimate concern for Love's role in 2020, but Barber won't be here long term.
  • J.D. McKissic: He's going to be used in the passing game exponentially more than in the run game if he makes this team. He's the new Chris Thompson
  • Josh Ferguson: They have so many guys!

Aside from a healthy Guice, none of these guys feel like options beyond 2020. If Washington is done adding rushers, that means Bryce Love is going to have a good chance to prove that he can be the guy in 2021.

Let's get this out of the way first: Love missed all of his rookie year because of an ACL injury, so like with Guice, there are injury concerns. But if healthy, Love is expected to be part of a committee approach in Washington.

Here's the thing about Bryce Love: In 2017, he averaged 8.1 yards per carry on his way to 2118 yards and 19 touchdowns. He can be a dynamic threat for Washington and is the best option outside of McKissic to be used in the passing game, even if that wasn't a big part of his game at Stanford. Love's got the ability to break off big runs, is able to spot and hit holes, and avoids contact well. The injury concerns are a real issue, but if he can be close to his old self, he could be a vital part of Washington's offense soon.




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