Dynasty Sleepers: Running Back (2021 Fantasy Football)
Those of you reading this know that for diehard fantasy football fans, the season never ends. That’s why the redraft format just doesn’t cut it and fails to scratch the perpetual itch on your back. That’s where dynasty leagues come in, and that’s where I’ll focus my attention in today’s article. I’ve been working on my projections for the upcoming season and for dynasty formats, and there are guys who stand out immediately as undervalued. Using FantasyPros ECR, I’ve identified three dynasty sleepers who I’ll be targeting in my upcoming dynasty drafts wherever I can get them. Let’s get right into it!
Kenny Gainwell (RB – PHI): RB48 Age: 22
A promising prospect out of Memphis, Gainwell sat out the entire 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He fell all the way to the fifth round in this year’s draft but landed in a favorable situation. At first glance, Gainwell’s stock seems pretty low, as he’ll slot in behind Miles Sanders and compete with Kerryon Johnson and Boston Scott for the backup job. But could he find immediate value and carve out a role as a rookie? It’s very possible. His head coach will be a Frank Reich disciple in Nick Sirianni, so a multi-back approach could be in the cards.
In Gainwell’s final season with Memphis in 2019, he showed off his skills as a receiver by grabbing 51 balls for 610 yards and three touchdowns. Sanders is a reliable pass-catcher as well, but Gainwell’s skillset should allow him to see the field early in his career as a complimentary back with multiple avenues in which to contribute. He’s the second-best back 0n the roster, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him take the field in 2021. Gainwell can be had at a very friendly price in dynasty formats, and as a result, he’s one of my favorite dynasty sleepers at running back.
Salvon Ahmed (RB – MIA): RB62 Age: 22
Despite the emergence of Myles Gaskin last season, Ahmed made a name for himself too. He received four starts as a rookie and totaled at least 17 touches and 74 total yards in three of them. In two contests where he received at least 20 touches, Ahmed averaged 109 yards and a touchdown. Still only 22 years old, he’s got plenty of potential moving forward. Gaskin is locked in as Miami’s lead back… or is he? Though he posted the best season of his career, Gaskin is far from entrenched as the Dolphins’ lead back.
The Dolphins didn’t add a back of significant value in this year’s draft, and the only notable signee was Malcolm Brown, who has 1,515 total yards and 12 total touchdowns to his credit through six NFL seasons. Miami added Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle in the passing game, but it’s unclear if the offense will run through Tua Tagovailoa or the run game for the foreseeable future. Tua struggled to make big plays as a rookie, and the Dolphins could opt to go with a run-heavy approach this season and beyond. Ahmed is certainly worth a look, especially as a dynasty RB6.
Eno Benjamin (RB – ARI): RB84 Age: 22
The logjam at running back in Arizona could be gone just as quickly as it began. James Conner and Chase Edmonds will be UFA’s in 2022, paving the way for a new Arizona back to take the reins of the backfield as soon as next season. Conner has had issues staying on the field across his last two seasons while Edmonds has not seen as large a workload as he’s likely to see in 2021. Benjamin could see his role expand this season if either of the backs ahead of him succumb to injury, but his real dynasty value is next season and beyond.
Benjamin didn’t see the field as a rookie, but with the Cardinals’ string of free agent running backs for 2022, he is someone I’m excited to grab for my dynasty team as late as RB84. In his final two seasons with Arizona State, Benjamin grabbed 77 receptions for 610 yards and four touchdowns while producing 30 total touchdowns. He has the skillset to be a three-down back, and his ranking so far down our ECR makes him a true sleeper.
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