Dynasty Buy Low/Sell High: Running Backs (Fantasy Football)

by Mike Tagliere | @MikeTagliereNFL | Featured Writer
May 16, 2017

You might remember that one game where Rob Kelley scored three touchdowns, but he’s in danger of losing his starting job very soon.

Right after the season, recency bias is at an all-time high, as people overreact to what they just saw. It’s only human nature, after all. But this is how championship-worthy dynasty rosters are built. This is when the strong prey on the weak. You might say it’s even cruel to take advantage of someone the way you will, but hey, we’re here to dominate the competition, and that’s what we’re going to do.

As dynasty drafts rapidly approach, the trade winds will start to blow (if they haven’t already). Your inbox will be littered with offers for your best players while someone tries to unload depth to make room for their incoming rookies. Instead of just blowing them off, let’s take a look to see if there are certain players on their rosters.

Below you’ll find running backs to target at their lowest point, as well as others you should look to get rid of before their stock trends in the wrong direction. And just because someone is here as a buy, it doesn’t mean that you give up the world to get them, because we are trying to buy low, remember? We covered quarterbacks yesterday, so if you’d like to see those, read here.

Running Backs to Buy

C.J. Anderson (RB – DEN)
There are some dynasty players who seem to be worried about Anderson with the signing of Jamaal Charles. Don’t be. This signing most likely had to do with the massive inefficiencies of Devontae Booker than anything. The Broncos have gone out and revamped their offensive line with the addition of top free agent guard Ron Leary from the Cowboys, as well as drafting left tackle Garrett Bolles with their first-round pick. Anderson has averaged 4.55 yards per carry over the last three years behind a shoddy offensive line, so it’s going to be fun to see what the next few years have in store for him. He may just re-enter the RB1 conversation, though his ADP is outside of the top 20 running backs right now.

Duke Johnson (RB – CLE)
This time last year, all you heard about was how Johnson was going to break out. There wasn’t a soul around who said that it would be Isaiah Crowell’s job. When Hue Jackson came to town, the run game was likely going to be strong (and it was), but there just weren’t enough carries to go around. On top of their offense going into year two, they’ve added run-blocking guard Kevin Zeitler to their offensive line, as well center JC Tretter. They might just have the best offensive line in the league right now and their defense will be much improved. Over his first two years in the league, Johnson has quietly racked up 1,785 total yards on limited touches. If something were to happen to Crowell, Johnson would jump into a must-play every single week. Considering he’s being drafted in between Thomas Rawls and Jeremy Hill (two guys who lost their starting jobs), this is a no-brainer.

Marlon Mack (RB – IND)
This one strikes me as odd, because Frank Gore may not make it through the season at age-34, yet his ADP is higher than Mack’s as the 58th running back off the board. Mack is No. 68 right now, which means the Colts starting running back can be had for selecting two running backs outside of the top-170 picks in a startup draft. Whether or not you believe in Mack’s talent, he’s a running back that the Colts obviously liked enough to draft to play behind the aging veteran, it’s a high-scoring offense, and he’s essentially free. If you haven’t watched or seen any of Mack’s game-tape, he’s a big play waiting to happen and might just be their third-down back right out of the gate. His ADP will not stay this low for long.

Running Backs to Sell

Jordan Howard (RB – CHI)
This stings simply because Howard is a really good running back, but in order to get nice things, you sometimes have to give away nice things. And the bottom line is that Howard’s stock will literally never be higher than it is right now. He’s being drafted as the No. 8 running back in dynasty formats, but he doesn’t have top-five upside simply because he’s a bad receiver. There was a game in 2016 where he dropped five passes, something that hadn’t been done in at least the last seven years by any running back. That led the Bears to go out and draft the Darren Sproles-clone Tarik Cohen, as well as pick up free agent Benny Cunningham who is known to be a third-down specialist. The Bears didn’t address any of their holes on the offensive line in the draft, but rather added some receiving options. Howard is a very solid player, but you’re never going to get more return on your investment.

DeMarco Murray (RB – TEN)
This one seems to obvious, but seeing him still be drafted as the No. 16 running back tells me that some are still willing to overpay you for the veteran. When a running back hits the age of 29, their upside declines considerably, as talked about in the age of decline right here. It also helps speed up the aging process when you have a second-round draft pick who is chomping at the bit behind you on the depth chart, as Murray does. As the season went on, Murray hit a steep decline while Derrick Henry scored four touchdowns over the final five games, while Murray scored just one in that span despite touching the ball 42 more times.

Rob Kelley (RB – WAS)
This may be the last chance you have to acquire something solid in exchange for Kelley, as he may be considered irrelevant within the next few months. Okay, maybe I’m being a bit dramatic with the whole ‘irrelevant’ comment, but you should really consider selling right now. The Redskins were reportedly looking into replacing Kelley at the end of the season, and it led to them drafting Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine in the fourth-round of the NFL Draft. Most fantasy players remember that Kelley scored three touchdowns in their prime-time game against the Packers, but most didn’t get to see the games that followed. After that prime-time game, Kelley totaled just 280 yards on 84 carries (3.3 yards per carry), which ranked fourth-worst among running backs with more than 70 carries in that span. The only running backs who were worse over that time period were: Jeremy Hill, Doug Martin, and Todd Gurley. Kelley offers nothing in the passing game and Perine is likely going to be better than him on first and second-down right out of the gate. There have already been rumors that Perine may start right away.


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Mike Tagliere is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeTagliereNFL.

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