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Under the Radar RB Signings: Fantasy Football Risers or Fallers?

Samaje Perine - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups

NFL free agency has mostly ended, although new players will continue to trickle onto new teams as the summer rolls along.

The running back position witnessed several big names on the move this offseason. Miles Sanders, David Montgomery, Jamaal Williams, and Rashaad Penny all found new homes. However, these players have already received significant attention and have been discussed plenty. Instead, I want to shift our focus to some running back signings that may have gone relatively unnoticed.

Let's take a look at these five signings that flew under the radar and determine whether these players are poised to rise or fall in 2023 fantasy football based on their new situations.

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Samaje Perine - Denver Broncos

I'm not entirely sure about how "under-the-radar" the signing of Perine was for Denver, but it's one I wanted to discuss, so I'm counting it. Given the uncertainty surrounding Javonte Williams' availability as he recovers from an ACL and LCL tear, Perine is expected to have a pretty big role in Denver, at least in the early part of the season.

Perine has been around the NFL for a while now. I remember being a big fan when Washington drafted him in the fourth round back in 2017. However, his career stalled out shortly after he was drafted. After rushing for 603 yards in 2017, he managed only 48 rushing yards over the next two seasons before landing as a backup in Cincinnati.

Last year was his best season since his rookie campaign, as he recorded 95 carries for 394 yards and two touchdowns. He also contributed 38 receptions for 287 yards and four scores.

In Denver, Perine will once again serve as the primary backup to a healthy Williams. However, his ceiling is much higher than it was in Cincinnati due to two factors: a) uncertainty regarding when Williams will see the field and b) how effective Williams will be after his injury.

With these factors in mind, Perine has a chance to earn more opportunities and could finish anywhere between an RB2 and an RB5 depending on Williams' performance. Despite the possibility of having a similar role to last season, Perine's upside makes him a riser.

Verdict: Riser


James Robinson - New England Patriots

Robinson suffered a torn Achilles in 2021. However, when he returned during the 2022 season, he actually looked...fine. In seven games with the Jaguars, he managed 81 carries for 340 yards and three touchdowns. Although his yards per carry were down a bit, Robinson looked serviceable.

Then Robinson was traded to the Jets during the 2022 season, who proceeded to completely forget that they acquired him. New York completely overlooked him and his usage plummeted. He received just 29 carries and three targets, finishing with 85 rushing yards and five receiving yards across four games.

Now, Robinson finds himself on the Patriots. While Rhamondre Stevenson is locked in as the starting running back, I don't believe the old saying that you shouldn't trust a Bill Belichick running back applies here. Stevenson is good, to be sure. He rushed for 1,040 yards last year, making him the Patriots' first 1,000-yard rusher since LeGarrette Blount in 2016.

However, Robinson is set to serve as the team's primary backup. I'd expect numbers closer to what he did with Jacksonville last year than what he did in New York. As a result, Robinson can be seen as a riser compared to where he finished at the end of the 2022 season with the Jets.

Verdict: Riser, at least compared to the Jets portion of his 2022 season


D'Onta Foreman - Chicago Bears

Foreman is coming off the best season of his entire career. Thrust into the starting role in Carolina after the team traded Christian McCaffrey, Foreman set career highs across the board with 203 carries for 914 yards and five touchdowns. He wasn't super productive in the receiving game with just five catches for 26 yards but Foreman has never really added value as a receiver.

Now, as Foreman joins Chicago, his outlook for the 2023 season gets a lot more cloudy. With the departure of David Montgomery, Foreman will have to compete with Khalil Herbert and rookie Roschon Johnson for touches. Herbert, who had 731 yards and four touchdowns last season, wasn't a threat in the receiving game, much like Foreman.

It's likely that these two will compete for early down work with Johnson. The 2023 fourth-round pick had 554 rushing yards and 128 receiving yards while backing up Bijan Robinson at Texas and will probably see some third-down work with Chicago.

It's just a crowded backfield. While I think that Foreman has the edge to emerge as the top option, the uncertainty of the situation makes him an RB4 this season. That's certainly a change compared to how he finished last year when he averaged 79.7 rushing yards per game over his final 11 contests.

Verdict: Faller


Damien Harris - Buffalo Bills

After rushing for 929 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2021, Harris lost his starting role to Rhamondre Stevenson in New England last season. He finished the year with 462 yards and three touchdowns.

This year, Harris joins division-rival Buffalo, where there's room for either Harris or James Cook to emerge as the team's top back with the departure of Devin Singletary. Cook has the best shot at securing that role since he has a year in this system and adds more value in the receiving game.

However, Harris should still get touches, as history would indicate. Last season, Singletary served as the lead back in Buffalo and had 819 rushing yards and five touchdowns while Cook added 507 yards despite not starting any games.

To me, this suggests that even if Harris isn't the primary ball carrier, the Bills will still give their No. 2 back a good number of touches. In 2021, Zack Moss and Matt Breida combined for 470 yards as backups to Singletary. Similarly, in 2020, Moss had 481 yards. Throughout the Sean McDermott era, the team has avoided relying too heavily on a single running back. Therefore, I believe Harris has a chance to meet or exceed his numbers from last year, making him a solid RB4 with an RB3 upside.

Verdict: Riser


Chase Edmonds - Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Edmonds never broke out in Arizona but had a solid season in his final year with the Cardinals in 2021. He saw a career-high 116 carries and finished with 592 rushing yards and two touchdowns while adding 43 receptions for 311 yards. He then spent last season splitting time between the Dolphins and Broncos but never really gained any traction. He had just one game with over 40 rushing yards, finishing with nine carries for 45 yards in the season finale for the Broncos.

During the offseason, Edmonds ended up in Tampa Bay, a team that has a very shallow running back room. There's second-year back Rachaad White, a third-round pick who had 771 scrimmage yards as a rookie. However, behind White, there's plenty of room for Edmonds to emerge as the team's No. 2 back.

Edmonds is RotoBaller's RB56 in PPR. Given his current position among other running backs, I think there is considerable upside for Edmonds compared to other backs in that range. He is one injury away from being Tampa's lead back. Even if his situation remains unchanged during the season, he should see an increase in carries compared to last year.

Verdict: Riser

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