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8 NFL Free Agency Winners & Losers (2024 Fantasy Football)

8 NFL Free Agency Winners & Losers (2024 Fantasy Football)

2024 NFL Free Agency came in with a bang on Monday, especially when it came to the running back position. This was arguably the best class of free agent NFL running backs EVER. And the class did not disappoint as backs changed teams left and right. Now that the dust has mostly settled and we’ve had a chance to examine the fantasy football impact, here are some early 2024 NFL Free Agency winners and losers at the running back position.

NFL Free Agency Winners & Losers

Let’s dive into the fantasy football winners and losers of NFL Free Agency at the running back position.

Winners

Derrick Henry (BAL)

Some players are simply built differently. Henry has and remains one of those guys. Last year, at age 29, he ranked first in rushing attempts and second in rushing yards while showing little drop-off in his efficiency metrics. Last season, among 68 qualifying backs, Henry ranked ninth in explosive run rate and 11th in yards after contact per attempt (per Fantasy Points Data). While he will cross the dreaded age 30 threshold this year, it’s tough to project a drop-off for Henry and any reasons that he can’t continue to chug along as an RB1., especially when Henry has proven over the last two seasons that his pass game utility should increase despite his advancing age. Over the last two years, Henry has ranked 11th and 14th in TPRR and seventh and first in YPRR among backs. The big fellow isn’t slowing down. Continue to believe in the King in 2024 as the Ravens’ workhorse back.

Zamir White (LV)

Zamir White proved capable of carrying the mail last year. He could easily walk into 2024 as the Raiders’ workhorse. In Weeks 15-18, he averaged 23.3 touches and 114.3 total yards as the RB12 in fantasy points per game. During this cup of coffee as the team’s starter, among 41 qualifying backs, he ranked 13th in explosive run rate, sixth in yards after contact per attempt and 17th in success rate. With Josh Jacobs heading to Cheesehead town, White should be a volume-driven RB2 with upside for more in 2024.

Antonio Gibson (NE)

Gibson lands in New England on a three-year deal, which is essentially a puffed-up one-year deal. New England can get out of Gibson’s contract after one season if he doesn’t pan out as Rhamondre Stevenson‘s running mate this upcoming season. Last season, in a breather role, Gibson ranked first in missed tackles forced per attempt and eighth in yards after contact per attempt (per Fantasy Points Data). Gibson has displayed explosive playmaking when utilized properly, as well as also demonstrating the ability to be a volume rusher when it has been called for. Gibson should work in tandem with Stevenson as the pass-catching component of this backfield, but if Stevenson falters out the gate, don’t be surprised if Gibson takes over the lead role. Gibson is an interesting RB3 with upside in 2024.

D’Andre Swift (CHI)

D’Andre Swift lands in Chicago with a contract that is large enough to consider him the clear starter for the Bears. Khalil Herbert and Roschon Johnson had their moments last season, but the aggression and contact size for Chicago speak volumes about how they feel about those two rushers. The Bears obviously felt that an upgrade was warranted. Swift ranked 17th in explosive run rate last season while disappointing in other tackle-breaking metrics as the RB24 in fantasy. Among 49 qualifying backs last season, Swift ranked 40th in yards after contact per attempt and 30th in missed tackles forced per attempt. Swift should be a solid RB2 in 2024.

Losers

Tyjae Spears (TEN)

RIP Tyjae Spears RB1 szn. It was fun while it lasted, but Tony Pollard‘s arrival has kiboshed that. That doesn’t mean Tyjae Spears can’t be 2021 Tony Pollard to Tony Pollard in Tennessee. Spears operated as discount De’Von Achane last season, ranking fifth in explosive run rate and 14th in yards after contact per attempt (per Fantasy Points Data). He proved that he can be a three-down explosive play monster as well, ranking seventh in target share, 10th in TPRR, and 17th in YPRR. If the Titans trot out an offense with an above-average neutral rushing rate and Spears can continue his insane efficiency, he will remain a strong RB3 who could finish as a low-end RB2 if this offense surprises people.

Austin Ekeler (WAS)

Austin Ekeler‘s 2023 season was a letdown, no matter how you look at it. Ekeler suffered an ankle sprain in Week 1, which led to three games being missed and possibly muted production for the rest of the season. Once he returned from injury, he averaged 16.1 touches and 69.2 total yards as the RB28 in fantasy points per game. It was a dramatic fall from grace for a back that had not finished outside the top-nine running backs in fantasy since 2018 (RB28). Ekeler retained some of his pass game prowess as he ranked eighth in target share and 19th in yards per route run (among 60 qualifying backs per Fantasy Points Data), but his rushing skills fell apart. Among 49 qualifying backs, Ekeler ranked 38th in yards after contact per attempt and 46th in missed tackles forced per attempt. Landing in Washington with Anthony Lynn was one of the better-case scenarios this offseason. He likely forms a frustrating committee with Brian Robinson in an Antonio Gibson-plus role for Washington.

Khalil Herbert (CHI)

Last season, the Bears could not decide who they wanted to be their lead back as it rotated weekly from Khalil Herbert to Roschon Johnson to D’Onta Foreman. With D’Andre Swift in Chicago now, Herbert returns to a backup role, which is saddening. Last year, Herbert proved once again that when given the opportunity, he is one of the better rushing talents in the NFL. Last season, he ranked 12th in explosive run rate and ninth in missed tackles forced per attempt (per Fantasy Points Data). In the eight games he played at least 43% of the snaps last season, he averaged 14 touches and 77.8 total yards. Herbert is a high-end handcuff currently with only fringe flex value for 2024.

Ty Chandler (MIN)

With Aaron Jones now in Minnesota, Ty Chandler will be a backup for the Vikings in 2024. In Weeks 15-18, he played at least 53% of the snaps in every game, averaging 15.3 touches and 81.8 total yards. Chandler topped 90 total yards once in that four-game span, and his per-touch efficiency was in the toilet overall. Among 49 qualifying backs, Chandler ranked 47th last season in missed tackles forced per attempt and yards after contact per attempt (per Fantasy Points Data). Chandler had hope entering this offseason that he had hopefully done enough in 2023 to have a shot at the starter’s role, but sadly, that isn’t in the cards for next season.

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