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Sat Apr 18th 2020

Running Backs I Fear Will Lose Value After The NFL Draft

Running Backs Who Could Be Replaced

Running backs are the most volatile position in dynasty leagues as we near the NFL draft next week. The value of a running back can plummet if their team drafts a running back in the NFL draft, especially if they are drafted in day one or two. One of the worst feelings as a dynasty owner is seeing a running back drafted early by an NFL team, causing the value of the running back you own to drop like a rock. Perhaps the only worse feeling is trading away a running back in fear of their team drafting a better running back early, but the team does not draft a running back after all, and the player you traded maintains his value.

It's a guessing game for sure, and you have to live with the consequences of holding a guy that gets surpassed by a rookie or trading him away to find that his team did not draft his replacement. As a dynasty owner, you have to be able to live with whatever decision you make. You can hold a starter that will remain a starter or instantly become a handcuff. Or, for the right price, trade him before his value drops and make another owner feel like a fool.

I believe there are 4-5 rookies in this class that should start immediately on the teams that draft them. Jonathan Taylor, J.K. Dobbins, D'Andre Swift, Cam Akers are sure day-one starters in my book, while Clyde Edwards-Helaire could start right away depending on the scheme-fit of the team that drafts him. Thus, I believe 4-5 presumed starters are about to lose their starting roles next week.

Here are the running backs I believe stand the most to lose after the NFL draft, as I suspect their teams will look to draft their replacements. I list them in the order of confidence I have.

Jordan Howard

  • I thought about not even writing about Howard because it would be incredibly surprising if Miami does not draft a running back, and Howard's value is already priced as a back-up currently. Still, I wanted to state that Miami is the most certain team to draft a running back in the first or second round, given their need at running back and the number of draft picks they have this year. Howard's dynasty value should stay about the same no matter who Miami drafts. He will continue to surprise his owners with decent games to start the year while the rookie gets acclimated to the NFL and as a change-of-pace back as the year progresses. I believe Howard is still a great young running back that is worth holding on dynasty rosters because no one is willing to buy him. He could be sold as a handcuff to the team that drafts his replacement in dynasty rookie drafts, but until then, he's a player to hold and know you have an excellent handcuff to whichever rookie Miami drafts to start ahead of him.

James Conner

  • I love James Conner. He's been a great running back in Pittsburg when he has stayed healthy, but he just can't keep from getting injured. Pittsburg's general manager and coaching staff must believe this too because almost every mock draft has Pittsburg taking a running back in the second round with pick #49. The only two weaknesses in the Pittsburg roster are running back and tight end, and they addressed tight end in free agency by signing Eric Ebron. All signs point to Pittsburg drafting a running back. Unlike Howard, Conner's value should drop immensely if the Steelers draft an early running back. As a result, Conner is a player I am looking to trade before the NFL draft next week.

Devin Singletary

  • Devin Singletary had a better than expected rookie year, but that does not mean that Buffalo will not draft a running back again this year. Buffalo's roster is stacked with solid players at every position, with some of the best roster depth in of any team. Their defense is better than their offense, so they are trying to get playmakers for their offense this year, as evidenced by the trade for Stefon Diggs. They let Frank Gore go in free agency, but they still have a hole to fill in the running back spot. If a top running back does not fall to them in the draft, I could see them signing a proven player like Carlos Hyde, but I think they prefer to find a running back in the draft if they can. I am not convinced that Singletary is an every-down back. If they can draft another back with a complementary skillset, I am sure they will be happy to do so. Singletary is valued as a top-24 dynasty running back currently, but that could get pretty muddy if Buffalo drafts an early running back. Singletary is only in his second year, so I do not think he will be surpassed entirely, but I could see him in a timeshare every week making the running back position in Buffalo frustrating for fantasy players like the timeshares we have seen in recent years in San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Denver, and Tampa Bay. Singletary has the highest value of any of the players I list in this article, so if he'd be the easiest to trade. I would be willing to trade him for a similar running back with a more certain starting role like Marlon Mack (about equal) or Melvin Gordon (if a team wanted a younger talent).

Ronald Jones

  • Jones's value is already relatively low even after he was drafted in the first round of rookie drafts in 2018. Peyton Barber, who split time with him the last two years, has left for Washington in free agency, so the backfield appears to be Jones's to himself. Tampa Bay's coaching staff has said that he is their guy this season, but I see that as a blatant attempt to throw teams off their trail as they aim to draft a running back this year. Tampa Bay needs to draft an offensive lineman in the first round to protect their new quarterback, Tom Brady, but there should be one of the top five running back available for them in the second round at pick #45. I believe Tampa Bay has seen enough of Jones, and if they draft a running back in round two, they intend to give him this job from day one. Jones would be hard to move in a trade right now, but I would try to trade him to another owner and show him some of the "he's our guy" comments from Tampa Bay's coaching staff to get them to believe he's worth the trade.

Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny

  • John Schneider and Pete Carroll almost always draft the best player available or find a way to get "their guy." They are a wildcard in the draft every year. While they need help at the offensive and defensive lines, I would not be surprised at all if they draft a day-two running back. Penny tore his ACL late last season and may not be ready to play at the start of the season, and Carson is recovering from a hip fracture and is in the final year of his contract. Carson and Penny would be tradeable for me at the right price. Most owners would know about the medical problems they have, but few would imagine that their value could drop significantly when Seattle drafts a rookie. I am least confident in this prediction, but I would certainly not be surprised if Seattle selects one of these top five running backs.

I have less concern for some of the other teams rumored to draft one of these top five running backs. Baltimore has plenty of depth with Ingram, Gus Edwards, who just signed his tender, and second-year player Justice Hill. Kansas City extended Damien Williams and signed DeAndre Washington and, I think, does not value the running back position as much as other teams given the allocation of their money to different positions.

That said, it's the season of lies. Everyone is trying to deceive each other - NFL teams and dynasty teams. Good luck this week as you get one final chance to make some dynasty moves before the values of at least five running backs shift significantly.

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