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A flurry of activity in the past week has sent fantasy football owners and sports Twitter into a frenzy. Some huge names changed teams and the domino effect will affect dozens of players league-wide.

Then again, not every signing has to create a seismic shift in the fantasy universe. There were a number of under the radar signings at the running back position that are worth discussing.

So let's discuss them and see which RBs could be risers or fallers for the 2018 NFL season.

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Free Agent RB Risers

Isaiah Crowell (NYJ)

It's hard to imagine a scenario where a player going to the Jets is actually an improvement, but when that player is coming from Cleveland, it actually is. Isaiah Crowell actually carried the ball over 200 times last season, but he ceded a ton of passing down work to the more athletic Duke Johnson. While the Jets have their fair share of clutter in the backfield with Elijah McGuire and Bilal Powell, at this point, it's pretty obvious that Powell, who will turn 30 halfway through this season, is not in the Jets' plans for the future. And McGuire simply isn't that good. The door is open for Crowell to grab control of this backfield with a 60% opportunity share. That type of usage would provide him with more fantasy value than he had last season. Although Crowell's move helps his fantasy outlook, it is still nowhere near the point where he'd be on my radar.

Chris Ivory (BUF)

I know I just criticized Powell for being 30 and Ivory just turned 30, but this is more about situation than anything. The Bills had absolutely nothing behind LeSean McCoy last season. This year, Ivory is going to be a very clear and obvious backup in the sense that if McCoy goes down, Ivory will be the guy. Of course, there's still the chance that the Bills draft a running back, but even if they do, I would expect it not to be until at least the third round. Ivory would command at least a 50% snap share if Shady got hurt. That is an improvement upon his situation last year in Jacksonville where even when Leonard Fournette didn't play, Ivory had to deal with T.J. Yeldon and Corey Grant, both of whom are more talented than Ivory. McCoy will be 30 as well and a very old 30 at that - he has 2,185 career carries and 441 career receptions. Admittedly, he didn't show any signs of slowing down last season, but these falls are precipitous. Anyone remember Shaun Alexander? The point is that Ivory's path to RB2 value isn't that far fetched.

Jeremy Hill (NE)

Let me make one thing clear: Jeremy Hill is only on this list because his fantasy value couldn't possibly go down as long as someone signed him. I am shocked it was New England because mostly everything they do is intelligent. I rarely question Bill Belichick and if you look at everything else New England has done this offseason (Rex Burkhead, Jason McCourtey, Danny Shelton, Cordarrelle Patterson), it's been brilliant. However, this signing is flat out stupid. Jeremy Hill is awful. But I've also disparaged LeGarrette Blount and Mike Gillislee in the past. I know I was right about Gillislee (while very wrong about Blount), but Gillislee still managed to fall into the end zone three times in the Patriots' season opener last season. A one game sample size is not exactly encouraging, but it showcases what type of player Hill could be if the Patriots, for reasons I will never understand, choose to use him that way. I still find it hard to believe there's a game scenario where Hill is ever a better option than Burkhead, but my job isn't to evaluate talent - it's to evaluate what NFL teams think about the talent they have. There's a higher than 0% chance Hill has fantasy value this year, which is higher than the 0% he was at heading into last season.

 

Free Agent RB Fallers

Jonathan Stewart (NYG)

Since 2014, Jonathan Stewart's yards per carry has gone down every single year. Last season's 3.4 was a career low. The Panthers, sensing that JStew is close to done, jettisoned Stewart, opting to ride with Christian McCaffrey. The underlying metrics actually aren't that bad for Stewart. He was top 25 in juke rate and yards created. However, he is now on the Giants - where RBs go to die. The Giants haven't had a true workhorse since Tiki Barber and Stewart is not going to be the guy to change that. If the Giants draft Saquon Barkley, that would completely cripple any chance Stewart had. But even if they don't take Barkley, they are going to draft someone at the position, they already have Wayne Gallman, and their run blocking has been atrocious. It is hard to get excited about any Giants RB, especially a 30 year old coming off a career worst season. Even if he ends up with a 50% opportunity share, I have no interest in Stewart this season or probably ever again.

LeGarrette Blount (DET)

I write off LeGarrette Blount every year, but he always somehow finds a way to have some value. Will I learn my lesson this time? Nope. Blount joins Ameer Abdullah (who is terrible), Theo Riddick, and Zach Zenner in a crowded Detroit backfield that will almost certainly feature a rookie RB as well and a highly drafted one at that. It's just hard to envision him getting on the field, let alone getting enough touches to have any fantasy value. Blount is 31 years old and does not catch passes...at all. Last year, here was my analysis of why Abdullah had no fantasy value: "We have, at best, a between the 20s runner who doesn't catch passes and doesn't get goal line carries." Blount might get goal line carries, but he's certainly not the primary first and second down back. 6-8 carries a game seems like his ceiling. No thanks.

Doug Martin (OAK)

Want to know a secret about Doug Martin? He's not good. Martin was already 23 when he was drafted in 2012. Remember 2012? His rookie season...also the best season of Martin's career. Since 2012, Martin has had four awful years and one excellent one in 2015. Yet, for some reason, Martin is treated like this guy that is undervalued/should turn it around. "Bad" Doug is the rule. "Good" Doug is the exception. Now, for the first time in his career, he is entering a backfield where he is not the clear lead back heading into the season. I think Marshawn Lynch is done, but Jon Gruden doesn't, so he will irrationally feed Mode carries. Then there's also Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington. Martin's ability, whatever you think that is, doesn't even matter. This is a four-headed monster with no real opportunity to break through.

 

More 2018 NFL Free Agency Analysis