Someone clearly forgot to tell some veteran running backs the crop of dynasty rookie runners was ready to make an immediate impact this season. Instead, it looks like some of the most valuable rookie picks of 2018 are going to start out on the bench or even on injured reserve. As always, the dreaded rookie fever takes over in April and May and that likely left some veteran running backs as clear trade bargains over the past couple of months. Hopefully you have the handcuffs to some of your rookies but chances are you may be forced to wait a little longer than expected to see some of these expensive investments pay dividends.
Let’s go through some of these “dynasty party poopers” and evaluate what the current situations look like for these veteran players and the highly coveted rookies on their teams. With each situation, I’ll assess my own level of long-term concern for the rookies on a scale of 1-10 (1 = Little to no concern and 10 = Major long-term concern) and also share some consensus thoughts about what the short-term may look like for these situations. As a general rule of thumb, this is really no time to panic, regardless. Veteran players are very hard to knock off and all these rookies still have great potential in dynasty leagues. The point is some of these veterans are looking like they have real short-term value at the moment.
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The injury to Guice was really unfortunate as he was poised to be a serious weapon in dynasty leagues from week one. Instead, the Redskins moved on in the short-term and added future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson to take his place. Peterson will compete with Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine for early down duties. He’s apparently looked good in practice thus far but it’s pretty fluid. This situation isn’t of much long-term concern for Guice at all. Peterson’s ADP will undoubtedly be resurrected from the dead and Guice is starting to fall a notch or two in rookie drafts. However, I’d still be hard pressed to take anyone other than possibly Nick Chubb over him in a late rookie draft. If you have a Guice owner who is overreacting to his torn ACL, my best suggestion is to buy low as the window will close shortly – I view him a lot like I did Dalvin Cook after he was hurt last season.
Short-term expectation: It’s really anyone’s guess as to what Peterson has left in the tank. I’d bet he starts out strong, then fades as the season progresses. This is likely the last stop for a great player and I’d look to sell him if I had a chance to get some value. He could realistically be beaten out for a roster spot if he doesn’t show well in the next couple of weeks. If not, I’d still look to sell to a contender if he starts out hot and posts a few good games.
Chubb has had a really rough debut with the Browns and even though his second game was a bit more promising, he’s only been able to post 64 rushing yards on 26 carries so far in the preseason, good for just 2.5 yards per carry as he’s mixed in with the first and second teams. Meanwhile, Carlos Hyde has run exclusively with the first team and has recorded 63 rushing yards on just ten carries. It’s clear the Browns are going to allow Chubb to develop slowly behind Hyde and that’s created a major buzzkill. Still, the long-term outlook for Chubb is solid and much of his preseason struggles can be pointed at an offensive line that has really played poorly. The only reason the level of concern is raised even a smidge is the fact Hyde is still just 27 years old, has looked really spry in the preseason and is under a three-year contract, which could create a frustrating time share in the short-term.
Short-term expectation: This really looks like Hyde’s job for the moment. I’d expect him to get around 2/3 of the carries, outside of the passing down work he’ll give up to Duke Johnson. If I owned Chubb, I’d be looking to acquire Hyde and sell it as you searching for a “handcuff.” In the short-term, he looks like more than that. Chubb remains a coveted asset, just one who doesn’t look like he’ll take the job and run with it early.
One of the more surprising camp winners thus far has been Peyton Barber, who has outplayed Jones by a wide margin thus far. While Barber has rushed for 53 yards in limited action (ten carries), Jones actually has more carries (12) than rushing yards (11) in the preseason and has drawn some harsh criticism from his own coaching staff in terms of his inability to catch. At this point, it looks like Barber has run away with this job and Jones has a very long way to go if he wants to provide early season value. Again, with all these players, it’s no time to panic. However, there has to be some eyebrow raising on Jones thus far and while he remains a coveted rookie pick, the concerns about his transition to the NFL seem to be warranted thus far.
Short-term expectation: The coaches in Tampa have said they expect great things if they gave Barber the ball twenty times a game. At this point, I actually expect they will until Jones can show them he can be a threat in the passing game and be at least a pedestrian blocker. If Jones can’t help block for the quarterback, he won’t be playing much early on. There are surprise players every year who can help vault a team to the fantasy playoffs and Barber could just be one of those.
You just have to love (or hate) Pete Carroll. Once again, draft pedigree simply hasn’t mattered at all here as Carson has dominated camp at the position thus far in camp while Penny hasn’t been good enough to distance himself as many had expected he would. Most believed Penny would be a three-down back and provide the most short-term value of any rookie running back outside of Saquon Barkley. Instead, Carson looks to have won this job at this point. On the plus side, it looks like Penny will be back from his thumb injury in time for week one.
Short-term expectation: Carson looks like the clear starter at this point. Barring an injury (something almost expected with the Seattle offensive line), the general thought is Carson will get most of the work as Penny is worked in slowly. Unless Carson really dominates, expect Penny to start eating into his workload by the mid-way point of the season.
Ken is on Twitter at DLF_KenK