Though there seemingly exists some sort of “late round” strategy for every fantasy-relevant position, running backs became one of the earliest fades as prevailing dynasty philosophies centered on building around wide receivers. The “Zero RB” approach remains to this day one of fantasy football’s bigger lightning rod discussion points, particularly as it morphs into the almost paradoxical concept of “Modified Zero RB,” where an owner largely ignores the position... except for his or her very first pick. This becomes heightened even more in dynasty given the fear of a lack of positional longevity.
So why am I bringing this up? Because this article regards running backs to trade for, a premise which typically asserts one should target the players at a discount. As the position as a whole tends to be qualitatively “discounted” relative to pass-catchers, the opportunity for purchase is perhaps even more exaggerated.
So, who should you be buying?
Saquon Barkley, RB NYG (ADP = 31.5, RB 15)
While still valued as worthy of a selection in the third round of startup drafts, Barkley has experienced a massive drop-off in value since the fall of 2021. In the past month alone, without even playing a down of competitive football, he fell out of the RB1 tier, decreasing in value by nearly a full round.
It’s true that Barkley hasn’t exactly lit up box scores over the past two years, as he’s fought through injuries with only 15 combined games played. During that stretch, he averaged a miserable 3.5 YPC, though he was able to at least partially mitigate his ground woes by securing 3.1 receptions per game for an additional 22 weekly yards. All told it was a far cry from what owners expected after either selecting him as the 1.01 in 2018 rookie drafts, and possibly the 1.01 overall in startups.
Given this, what exactly makes him a buy?