Trending Observations: Running Back Updates

Michael Moore

It’s the middle of the off-season and we’re seeing a healthy dose of players making amazing plays in pad-less practices. And while there’s more on-field action than there has been in months, plenty is happening off the field too. Below are a few of those developments and what you should do about it in your dynasty league.

Quoth the Raven (Coach), Nevermore

In what will be one of the weirder sights to see this season, Derrick Henry running for a team other than the Titans will be one of them. After the Titans chose not to bring Henry back, he signed with the Baltimore Ravens on a two-year deal.

On the surface, it’s understandable that the Titans would move on from Henry. He turned 30 in January and totaled at least 280 carries in four of his last five seasons so surely he’ll start slowing down, right? Right?

But that’s what makes assessing Henry’s value so tricky. He’s well past the age most running backs start declining and still had nearly 1,200 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground last year and finished as a top-five fantasy running back. And that was on an offense that was 25th in offensive DVOA and starting a rookie quarterback by the end of the season. What will Henry do with an MVP under center and the league’s fourth-best offense last year?

Dynasty Impact: While dynasty leagues are, inherently, a multi-year investment, the same isn’t necessarily true for the players and especially running backs. The position in dynasty leagues, much like real life, has a short shelf life which means you have to strike while the iron is hot. For a player like Henry, he’s still hot. And unlike the Titans, who balked at committing to more than one season, Henry is a perfect rental for your dynasty team for a single season.

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And his value may never be better as proof of the value chart above. According to the DLF Trade Analyzer, Henry can be had for an early second-round rookie pick. For a player who was top-five at his position last year and is now on a better offense, that’s cheap.

Going Commander

While there’s plenty to be excited about when it comes to the Commanders’ offense this season, running back doesn’t seem to be one of them, according to the Tweet/X post above. One of several changes (upgrades?) to the offense was pairing veteran Austin Ekeler with incumbent starter Brian Robinson.

Robinson had a decent sophomore season, totaling more than 1,000 yards from scrimmage and scoring nine times to finish as a low-end RB2 on fantasy rosters. He did so by seeing nearly three times as many carries as backup Antonio Gibson (178-65) while nearly matching him in the passing game (Robinson totaled 36 receptions for 368 yards and four touchdowns to Gibson’s 48 receptions for 389 yards and two touchdowns).

For Ekeler and his dynasty managers, age does appear to be slowing him down. The now-29-year-old running back averaged 3.5 yards per carry last year, the worst of his career by far. He also averaged the lowest receptions per game since he’s been a starter at 3.6. All those stats put together led to Eekeler finishing outside the top 30 when it comes to fantasy running backs which he hasn’t done since 2020 when he missed nearly half the season. Now he’s entering a timeshare where he’s the older, less talented back.

Dynasty Impact: While the writing may be on the wall for Ekeler, the move may actually hurt Robinson more.

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But if Kingsbury can just pick someone to lead the team in carries, Robinson might be ok. He did have two years in Arizona where his offenses were in the top seven of rush attempts. In both those years, the lead back had more than double the carries than the compliment. The backs in those years (Kenyan Drake, and James Conner) both had top-15 fantasy seasons.

All of which is to say that the fact that Kingsbury is toying with a two-back offense isn’t the death knell for the Washington running back room…yet. If Robinson can stave off Ekeler, there will be a player who is worth rostering and even starting.

Dodge this Ram

We truly have begun the 2024 season when there are running back battles going on. In this case, it might be the most interesting one of the off-season. The Rams used a third-round pick on former Michigan running back Blake Corum. Corum was already a devise pick that was splitting opinions among fantasy pundits. Was he naturally talented and carrying the Michigan offense or was he a product of his surroundings? Either way, Los Angeles felt good enough about him to take him with the 83rd overall pick.

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Corum’s been making the most of his rookie situation so far. He’s taking the field while incumbent Kyren Williams recovers from an injury and wowing coaches including Sean McVay who, according to the Tweet above, couldn’t get enough.

But will it be enough to unseat, or at least cut into, Williams’ workload? Williams saw 15 carries in nine of the 12 games he played in including the last eight. He made the most of it too, scoring a touchdown or rushing for 100 yards in every game but two.

We have the unstoppable force of the Corum hype train versus the immovable object, Kyren Williams.

Dynasty Impact: Anytime the Rams draft anyone, let alone a running back, it should perk dynasty leaguers ears up. Los Angeles has been the model of no commitment to running backs ever since letting former All-Pro Todd Gurley go five years ago. Three different running backs led the team in rushing since then and none have stuck around. Make no mistake, McVay likes to lean on a running back in-season but that doesn’t translate to multiple campaigns.

Currently, Williams is our 10th-ranked running back.

And while the players ranked ahead of Williams don’t inspire a lot of confidence either, hanging on to Williams seems risky. He’s under contract with the Rams for two more seasons and was hurt for over a month last season. The position is one of the least reliable in fantasy and dynasty leagues and Williams is no different.

michael moore