Dynasty Running Backs to Trade Before the NFL Draft (2021 Fantasy Football)
Drafting running backs after the first round to instill depth at the position has become a bit more commonplace in the NFL in recent seasons. In doing so, teams can save some cap space at a position that’s trending upward in turnover every season. With the Super Bowl now behind us, it’s time to start doing our homework on free agency and the 2021 NFL Draft.
The moves made in free agency and the draft can change the outlook on certain running backs in dynasty and redraft leagues. But for the sake of this article, I’ll be focusing on the dynasty side of things. Without further ado, take a look at a few running backs that you should consider moving before the first pick of the 2021 NFL Draft — also known as Trevor Lawrence — is officially announced.
Raheem Mostert (RB – SF)
It almost seems as if the San Francisco 49ers have added a running back to their roster every year under Kyle Shanahan. Whether it be someone they took during the draft, signed as an undrafted rookie, or added as an unrestricted free agent, the 49ers like to add and use a multitude of running backs in their offense. In light of that, it may be time to begin looking for avenues to trade Mostert in dynasty leagues.
Mostert emerged as San Francisco’s lead back during the 2019 season, which landed him a new contract with the team. While Mostert began 2020 as the team’s RB1, injuries and competition limited his production. That isn’t to say that he wasn’t efficient when he touched the ball, though, as he averaged 5.6 yards per touch in 2020 (10th-most at the position).
What makes Mostert a trade candidate before the draft is that he’s already on a roster eager to feature Jeff Wilson Jr. and JaMycal Hasty in the backfield next season. Besides signing Wilson to an extension already, San Francisco could bring back either Tevin Coleman or Jerick McKinnon in free agency. They could also add a running back in the draft, too. Regardless of what San Francisco does, Mostert’s days as the team’s clear lead back are numbered.
Kenyan Drake (RB – ARI)
During the 2020 season, Kenyan Drake saw the largest workload of his career in his first full season with the Arizona Cardinals. The former third-round pick out of Alabama saw a career-high 239 carries, the first time that he eclipsed 200 rushing attempts in a single season. Despite having a massive share of Arizona’s backfield touches, Drake was extremely inefficient with the ball in his hands.
While he managed to score a career-best 10 touchdowns, Drake also recorded a career-worst 4.1 yards per touch in 2020, the seventh-worst among running backs who saw 100-plus touches. It also doesn’t help that Chase Edmonds — Drake’s backup — finished on the opposite end of the spectrum with 5.7 yards per touch, good enough for seventh-best among running backs. Entering the offseason, Drake is a free agent, and there’s a chance the Cardinals don’t retain him.
Should the Cardinals bring him back, Drake’s value is expected to decline, as Arizona is expected to add a running back in the draft. Not to mention, Edmonds and Eno Benjamin could see their roles in the offense expanded in 2021. Whether it be with the Cardinals or elsewhere, Drake’s stock is trending down — kind of like GameStop and AMC right now.
Benny Snell Jr. (RB – PIT)
Speaking of inefficiency, no running back was less effective with a decent-sized workload than Benny Snell Jr. Of the 57 qualified running backs who saw 100-plus touches during the 2020 season, Snell notched a league-worst 3.5 yards per touch. That said, we can blame part of his failure on Pittsburgh’s putrid offensive line.
At the same time, Snell doesn’t seem to have the skill set of an every-down running back. With James Conner’s future with the Steelers up in the air, some may view Snell as the impending starter for Pittsburgh in 2021. However, Anthony McFarland Jr. is expected to see more usage, and the Steelers could very well add someone in this year’s draft.
Along with his dismal yards-per-touch numbers, Snell contributed a shoddy -31.6 EPA in 2020, which was 191st among all players in the NFL. While Snell may hold the starting position by default if Pittsburgh’ doesn’t re-sign Conner, there’s a chance he’ll see a limited role with the team next season. Trading Snell before Pittsburgh adds another player to their running back room could pay dividends for your dynasty squads.
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