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2024 NFL Free Agents: D’Andre Swift, Tony Pollard, Derrick Henry (2024)

2024 NFL Free Agents: D’Andre Swift, Tony Pollard, Derrick Henry (2024)

Let’s dive into the 2024 NFL Free Agency Primer for Running Backs in Fantasy Football. Just like quarterbacks, free agency plays a crucial role in shaping Super Bowl contenders.

Here are some notable impending free agent running backs and how fantasy players should view them for 2024 fantasy football redraft leagues, best ball leagues and dynasty leagues.

2024 NFL Running Back Free Agency Primer

D’Andre Swift

D’Andre Swift surprised many during the 2023 season, outperforming expectations as a rusher.

He was the RB17, averaging 11.2 half-point PPR fantasy points per game, accounting for nearly 70% of the backfield rushing attempts for the Eagles. RB25 in points per game.

Still, on the year, Swift was never fully emphasized as a receiver, being swapped for Kenneth Gainwell at times of third downs and inside two minutes. As a result, he only ran a route on 37% of dropbacks (29th) – although he posted a strong 21% target rate per route run.

Similar to last season, the entire Eagles backfield are free agents, aside from Gainwell, who will be entering the final year of his contract. Gainwell-stans had about the worst run-out possible in 2023 because Kenny G was the RB1 in Week 1 before getting hurt. And once Swift got the RB1 job and stayed healthy, he was the Eagle’s primary rusher all season, giving Gainwell no chance at getting the job back.

But the Eagles’ trust in Gainwell this past offseason should not be forgotten about, as they entered the year with Gainwell as the starter. However, Gainwell’s status as PFF’s last-graded rusher among RBs with at least 80 carries does not project in his favor.

Regardless, Philly is a prime landing spot for an FA RB or rookie RB in the draft.

With how this run game struggled down the stretch, it’s beyond me why they never opted to give Rashaad Penny a chance to play. Penny will also be a free agent in 2024.

Swift also fell victim to the Eagles’ late-season tailspin. After starting the season as a back-end fantasy RB1, he fell to RB30 from Week 11 onward, averaging under 10 fantasy points per game (9.3). He started the year (aside from Week 1 when he barely played) averaging five more points per game (14.3).

Only time will tell whether Swift will return to Philly, but there’s no denying that his career statistical year should not be overlooked by RB-needy teams. He was healthy the entire season, which allowed him to hit career-highs in offensive snaps, carries, yards (1,083 rushing yards, 5th in the NFL), etc. He proved he could handle a heavy workload – 282 touches – while maintaining high-end efficiency (4.5 yards per carry).

He’s only 25 years old and has plenty of gas left in the tank. Had it not been for the dreaded Eagles “tush push,” Swift could have easily flirted with double-digit TDs instead of settling for just 6 scores (5 rushing).

Tony Pollard

Tony Pollard drafters had high hopes for 2023 after a breakout season. But alas, to no avail.

Nobody can be sure whether Dallas will bring back Pollard as RB1 in 2024 after they franchised him this past season. The decrease in rushing efficiency and lack of TDs made Pollard an overall disappointment in fantasy football, but there’s reason to believe he can bounce back should he return to Dallas.

He is vastly overdue for positive TD regression after finishing second in the NFL in red-zone touches (71). He scored 5 red-zone TDs. Woof.

I’d leave the light on for a Pollard rebound in 2024. He will be turning 27 years old and won’t be rehabbing a broken leg as he did last year at this time.

Pollard said he started to feel ‘back to normal’ during the Carolina Panthers game (Week 11).

PFF’s highest-graded rusher from Week 11 onward…Tony Pollard.

We could easily see the NFC East play musical chairs with their RBs, with the following outcomes not too farfetched…

  • Pollard – Philadelphia
  • Barkley – Dallas
  • Swift – New York

Derrick Henry

What do Derrick Henry and I have in common? We will both be 30 by the time 2024 kicks off.

Henry is coming off his lowest rushing yards per game of his career (68.6) as he enters the back-9 of his NFL career as a free agent for the first time. Well, at least if you ask anybody off the street.

With a new coaching staff under Brian Callahan coming in for Tennessee, the Titans will surely be looking ahead to their backfield with Tyjae Spears at the forefront alongside Will Levis at quarterback.

I don’t expect Henry to return, which makes him extremely tough to rank in 2024. If he lands in the right situation, we could easily see the Big Dog continue to feast. Even if he had a “down” year by his own high standards, he was still a top-10 RB across several advanced metrics such as yards after contact per attempt, PFF rushing grade and breakaway run rate. And that was while facing the league’s second-highest 8-man front box rate. Also finished 2nd in the NFL in rushing yards – 1,167 yards.

If Henry lands on the Baltimore Ravens – whom he has been connected to before as part of a trade last season – oh baby. The Heisman backfield is back. Dallas would be another great spot with the potential for him to see double-digit TDs and plenty of positive game scripts.

Current betting odds have Henry listed at +200 to be a Raven, followed by Eagles (+500), Cowboys (+550) and Texans (+750).

Keep in mind that Henry is a situational-dependent RB. If a team commits to him in certain game scripts with leads, he can be an absolute monster. Henry was the reason why the Titans were averaging 140 rushing yards per game at home in 2023.

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