Dynasty Running Back Busts (Fantasy Football)
For dynasty fantasy football managers, the season never ends. In fact, the offseason (particularly just after the NFL Draft) can be the most exciting time of the year. Values are coming into focus, rosters in flux are now becoming stable, and league mates are ready to make a deal! As you take stock of your dynasty roster, you should be aware of players whose value may be overinflated. Today, I’ll take a look at four such dynasty running back busts.
Derrick Henry (TEN): RB7
Henry just joined the illustrious 2,000-yard club last season after a monster finish that brought him just over that threshold. Coming off the best season of his career, the sky’s the limit, right? No. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. No player in NFL history has ever produced more than one 2,000-yard season. As long as Henry doesn’t buck this long-standing historical trend, we’ve already seen the best season of his career. It’s all downhill from here.
Downhill for Henry isn’t going to be a precipitous drop. It will still be elite production, but his value will never be higher than it is right now. He’s not a bust in the most conventional sense of the word, but he is based on the return you’ll hope to get for him and the draft capital you’ll have to spend. If that’s not enough reason to consider Henry a dynasty bust, he’s 27 years old and the oldest back among the top-28 in FantasyPros Dynasty ECR at the position. If you landed Henry on your dynasty team a couple years ago, congratulations! Now is the time to sell high before the inevitable decline.
Aaron Jones (GB): RB9
This one stings, but it’s got to be said. Shortly before the NFL Draft, Adam Schefter reported that Aaron Rodgers did not want to return to Green Bay. That story has picked up steam as of late, with the Packers signing of Blake Bortles and no reports to the contrary that Rodgers actually does want to stay with the organization. That could mean bad news for Jones, who’s gotten plenty of running lanes thanks to the Rodgers effect of keeping defenses honest.
If Rodgers indeed leaves Green Bay and Bortles or Jordan Love end up as the starter in 2021, Jones could see a lot of unwanted attention. Last season, he faced eight men in the box on just 19.4 percent of rushing attempts, which was more favorable than the league average. That percentage is sure to increase without Rodgers, and even if the longtime Packers’ signal-caller sticks around for 2021, he won’t be around much longer than that, dimming Jones’ dynasty outlook.
Miles Sanders (PHI): RB17
Sanders is yet another talented back who’s become a casualty of the Eagles’ backfield. Through two seasons, Sanders has averaged just 15 total touches per game in a relatively-low volume role. He averaged 3.1 receptions per game in 2019, but that number fell to just 2.3 per game in 2020. Sanders did increase his total yards per game by a small margin though, and he added six total touchdowns in 12 games – the same number he accumulated through 16 games in 2019.
Low-volume running backs have made waves in the NFL and finished as fantasy RB1s. Alvin Kamara is a perfect example, but the passing game in New Orleans ran through Kamara and Michael Thomas. That’s not the case in Philly. Sanders will also compete for touches with newly-signed Kerryon Johnson and mobile quarterback Jalen Hurts. From Weeks 14-16 while Hurts was the Eagles’ starter with Sanders in the backfield, Sanders carried 46 times while Hurts carried 38. Sanders’ lack of substantial volume and competition with his quarterback for carries hurts (no pun intended) his long-term dynasty upside.
Josh Jacobs (LV): RB20
Jacobs is a guy I want nowhere near my fantasy team in 2021 or moving forward. But Zak, that’s absurd! Jacobs has eclipsed 1,300 scrimmage yards in each of his last two seasons while scoring 19 total touchdowns in that span. That’s all well and good, but Jacobs posted Melvin Gordon-esque rushing lines in 2020, racking up his second 1,000-yard season on a putrid 3.9 yards per carry. His 12 touchdowns buoyed an otherwise unimpressive showing.
Jacobs also saw improved success in the receiving game by going 33/238 on 45 targets – a significant improvement from his rookie year. His days of high-volume touches and scores are likely behind him thanks to the signing of Kenyan Drake in the offseason. There were parallels between the two in 2020, as Drake fell just shy of a 1,000-yard rushing season on just 4.0 yards per carry. Prior to 2020, he secured at least 50 receptions in back-to-back campaigns in 2018 and 2019. Drake is a reliable receiver who will take away touches from Jacobs in the run game and the passing game and find the end zone, too.
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