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Dynasty Primer: Under the Radar Running Backs

Dynasty Primer: Under the Radar Running Backs
Alfred Morris' likely departure from Washington will open up the door for Matt Jones (pictured)

Alfred Morris’ likely departure from Washington will open up the door for Matt Jones (pictured)

This offseason, Marshawn Lynch and Calvin Johnson have announced their retirement, leaving Thomas Rawls and Golden Tate in a position to see a significant increase in fantasy value. However, there are many other players flying under the radar that could produce some quality numbers in the future. This week, we will be taking a closer look at the potential dynasty value of some running backs that are currently flying under the radar.

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Matt Jones (RB – WAS) Age 22
(25th in our Dynasty Rankings)

Washington has hinted that running back Alfred Morris could be heading elsewhere in 2016. Therefore, second-year man Jones looks to take Morris’ carries and spearhead the backfield. However, both Jones and Morris are being overlooked in fantasy communities.

In 2015, Jones played 13 games in a secondary role to Morris. He rushed 144 times for 490 yards and three touchdowns and added 19 receptions for 304 yards and one touchdown.

As a rusher, he leaves something to be desired, only averaging 3.4 YPC. He also fumbled five times.

However, he made huge plays catching the ball out of the backfield. The blocking in Washington has been rough the last few years.

But if Jones can beat the preseason competition, he can thrive as a low-end RB2 in PPR leagues. In an ideal world, Jones could be a late-blooming hybrid back, like a mix between workhorse Lamar Miller and PPR-threat Theo Riddick.

Jay Ajayi (RB – MIA) Age 22
(29th in our Dynasty Rankings)

Ajayi is an interesting player in that he was shrouded by the performance by Miller in 2015. Miller may not be resigned by Miami, as they appear to have players like defensive end Olivier Vernon as a higher priority.

Ajayi had an up-and-down 2015. Starting with a preseason injury, he didn’t see his first NFL game until Week 9. In his first four games, he put up an 18-108-0 line rushing (6.0 YPC) and a 6-75-0 line receiving.

In his final five games, he got more touches, but didn’t perform as well, putting up a 31-79-1 rushing line (2.5 YPC). His season YPC of 3.8 can be attributed to Miami’s terrible offensive line, which ranked 31st out of 32 according to Pro Football Focus.

If Miller is not retained, Ajayi is ready for an increased workload in 2016. If he takes on the starting role, he could fulfill some of his pass-catching potential. This is solidified by the fact that Adam Gase is the new head coach. As the former offensive coordinator in Denver and Chicago, he found a way to get the ball to running backs both on the ground and in the passing game.

Karlos Williams (RB – BUF) Age 22
(30th in our Dynasty Rankings)

As most people are aware, LeSean McCoy was allegedly involved in a bar fight in early February. So far, no charges have been filed, and both the Buffalo Bills and the NFL have yet to take any action. There should be no need to worry whether he is punished or not, because Williams is the Buffalo running back to own for the future.

McCoy finished 2015 with a rushing line of 203-895-3 (4.4 YPC) and a receiving line of 32-292-2. Those are some good stats for an NFL running back.

However, McCoy is 27 and Williams outplayed him throughout the season. In 11 games and three starts, Williams had a rushing line of 93-517-7 (5.6 YPC) and a receiving line of 11-96-2.

With the risk of McCoy getting reprimanded by the NFL and the legal system, all bets on him should be off. Williams appears to be injury prone, but he will be the man to get the job done for the next few years in Buffalo.

Dark Horse: Lance Dunbar (RB – DAL) Age 26
(74th in our Dynasty Rankings)

Dunbar could have had a stellar season in 2015. However, he was limited early by Tony Romo’s nagging injury before finally going down with his own season-ending injury, tearing his ACL.

During his four-game stretch, the Cowboys were still trying to iron out the wrinkles of their backfield. But Dunbar found a place as a third-down back and target out of the backfield.

In his four games, Dunbar rushed five times for 67 yards and hauled in 21-of-23 targets for 215 yards. If his receiving stats are averaged out for a full season, he would have reached 84 catches for 860 yards.

As an impending free agent, Dunbar could be with another team in 2016. Wherever he lands, he can be a great third-down back who can catch passes out of the backfield.

He’s a great depth player on a dynasty roster and can be had for cheap. If all falls into place, he could put up Theo Riddick-like numbers and be a high-end RB3 in PPR leagues.

Also, check out Jeffrey’s list of under the radar dynasty QBs partner-arrow

Jeffrey Greco is a correspondent at FantasyProsTo read more from Jeffrey, check out his archive and follow him @Jeffrey_Greco.

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