Fanelli’s Fantasy Files: Buy Low Dynasty Running Backsby Mike Fanelli May 20, 2021 0 comments
The key to winning in dynasty fantasy football? Buying low. You need to be ahead of your league mates with adding guys who are about to blow up on the cheap. When looking for players, who are ideal buy-low targets, fantasy owners should look for a change in their situation. Now that the NFL Draft is behind us and rookie drafts are wrapping up, there is no better time to look for buy-low candidates in dynasty. Without further ado, let’s take a look at three buy low dynasty running backs.
All fantasy stats are base on PPR scoring.
Ronald Jones, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jones is one of the more polarizing players in the fantasy world. Some believe Jones is overrated, and the backfield belongs to Leonard Fournette. Meanwhile, others think Jones has been the best Buccaneer running back when healthy. Before Jones tested positive for Covid-19, he had a strong firm on the lead role, averaging 13.9 rushing attempts and 13.3 fantasy points per game over the first 13 games of the season. After missing two games on the Covid-19 list, Jones scored 13.8 fantasy points on 12 rushing attempts for 78 rushing yards and a touchdown in Week 17.
While Fournette took over in the playoffs, he was almost cut during the season because Jones had the lead role. Furthermore, the Buccaneers took their time re-signing Fournette in the offseason. They waited till March 26 to get a deal done while they focused on other players. Meanwhile, rumors are swirling that the Buccaneers could trade Jones before the start of the season. As Jones enters a contract year, he would welcome elsewhere if he led to a bigger role and eventually a contract extension. The two best landing spots for Jones are the Atlanta Falcons and the New York Jets. Even if Jones is in Tampa Bay this season, he has a real shot at taking control of the lead role.
Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles
This offseason, the Eagles have turned their running back room into a fantasy mess. Sanders is still the lead back, but the Eagles weren’t shy about adding guys to the unit. They re-signed Boston Scott, signed Jordan Howard, drafted Kenneth Gainwell, and claimed Kerryon Johnson off waivers within a five-week window. However, Howard and Johnson will have to earn their roster spots. Even if they do, Howard averaged 1.7 yards per attempt last year, while Johnson has missed 30 percent of the games in his career. Furthermore, new head coach Nick Sirianni has a history of featuring one running back.
Sirianni was the offensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts from 2018-2020. During that time, his lead running backs were Marlon Mack and Jonathan Taylor. During those three years, the lead back averaged 16.4 rushing attempts per game. Furthermore, the led back averaged 11.7 more rushing attempts per game than the second running back on the team during that span. While Sirianni has proclaimed Gainwell as his new Nyheim Hines, he averaged only 4.7 rushing attempts per game with Sirianni in Indianapolis. Gainwell will have a role on third down and limit Sanders’ passing game work, but his early-down touches are safe.
However, despite limited work in the passing game, Sanders should be viewed as a top-15 running back. Sanders played 16 games as a rookie, averaging 14.3 touches and 13.7 fantasy points per game. Last season, Sanders missed four games because of injury but improved his numbers, averaging 16 touches and 14.2 fantasy points per game. Furthermore, Sanders played better with Jalen Hurts under center. With Carson Wentz as the starter, Sanders averaged 13.7 fantasy points per game. By comparison, Sanders averaged 15.3 fantasy points per game with Hurts under center. Let your league mates continue to think Sanders is stuck in a bad situation and grab him now.
Rhamondre Stevenson, New England Patriots
Historically, the Patriots’ running back room is a nightmare for fantasy owners. The only exception is James White. However, with Tom Brady in Tampa Bay, his value plummeted last year. With the change at quarterback, the Patriots turned in a power run team last season. They finished third in the league in rushing attempts, averaging 31.4 per game. By comparison, the Patriots averaged 27.9 rushing attempts per game in 2019. Whether it is Cam Newton or the rookie Mac Jones under center, expect the Patriots to build their offense around the power run game again this coming season.
The Patriots have several running backs at their disposal. However, most of them are injury-prone. Sony Michel had the fifth-year option on his contract declined because of his injury history. Furthermore, Michel missed seven games last year with injuries. Meanwhile, Damien Harris has missed 60 percent of his career games. On top of the injuries, neither running back has been elite when on the field. Michel’s fantasy points per game have regressed in each of his three seasons. While Harris averaged five yards per rushing attempt, he averaged only 9.1 fantasy points per game in 2020. Moreover, Michel’s roster spot isn’t guaranteed, and Harris averaged only 0.67 fantasy points per touch last season. The conclusion is, neither running back has a firm grasp on the lead role.
Last season at Oklahoma, Stevenson was an unstoppable force, averaging 6.6 yards per attempt. In only six games, he scored seven rushing touchdowns and had a 6.9 touchdown rate. Furthermore, he has limited miles on his body. In his two years at Oklahoma, Stevenson totaled only 165 rushing attempts. However, he averaged 7.2 yards per attempt and scored 13 touchdowns. Stevenson found the end zone once every 12.7 rushing attempts during his time with Oklahoma. According to Fantasy Football Calculator ADP, Stevenson is being selected as the 12th running back. He is being selected behind running backs like Chuba Hubbard, Jermar Jefferson, Pooka Williams, and Jaret Patterson. Whether you had your rookie draft already or not, grab Stevenson before training camp starts. By then, it will be too late.
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