Fantasy Football keeper and dynasty rankings are about to change drastically for many players in the aftermath of the NFL draft, especially at the running back position. Eddie Lacy signed a one-year deal with the Seahawks, which puts a delay on a potential C.J. Prosise breakout for now. Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles were released and are still looking for work. Marshawn Lynch is about to stifle the value of DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard. And that is not even to mention a strong running back class entering the NFL this season led by Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon and Christian McCaffrey. Let’s take a look at five RB positions that could have enormous value shifts depending on the outcome of the draft.
Carlos Hyde (RB, 49ers) Pre-draft rumors say that the Niners organization is frustrated with Hyde’s injuries. Join the club. There is potential for RB1 value with Hyde, but he is limited in the passing game and cannot seem to stay healthy. Even if they do not take a back early (rumor of spending the second overall pick on Fournette would be quite a surprise), Hyde should have competition for his job. Kyle Shanahan will look to bring in a complete back with strong receiving chops to fit his scheme. Hyde is a bulldozing back, but may be best on a new roster.
Paul Perkins (RB, Giants) has the Giants backfield (mostly) to himself right now, but that is expected to change in a couple weeks. Perkins flashed at times as a rookie, but there are still questions about whether he can be a workhorse back. At the very least, expect the Giants to draft an RB to compete with Perkins and pass-catcher Shane Vereen for work. Perkins has a head start, but if the Giants spend early capital on a running back, his stock will drop considerably. If they don’t take a prospect in the early rounds, Perkins is still not out of the woods with Peterson lurking in free agency.
Rob Kelley (RB, Redskins) had a nice run with the Redskins last year, giving them a power back when they lacked consistent backfield production. Kelley has value right now, as he’s shoved Matt Jones out of the picture and only has to contend with Chris Thompson, who is more of a third-down back. Kelley is the definition of just a guy, and his Fantasy run could be over if the Redskins draft one of this year’s top backs. If they don’t, he could find himself as a 1,000-yard rusher with double-digit touchdowns, but his long-term value is capped. Kelley is someone you should have sold early in the offseason.
As of right now, Ty Montgomery will compete with Christine Michael for RB1 duties in Green Bay, but they should expect competition from a draft pick or two. Montgomery is an intriguing talent that converted to running back full time last season when the Packers were in desperate need of backfield help. He runs a bit upright, which makes sense given his 6-foot frame and previous work as a wideout. He is obviously an asset in the passing game and has Top 15 upside. Michael has long been a Fantasy tease and despite a few flashes, there is no reason to believe he is the answer. It is unlike the Packers to spend in free agency, meaning they could look to the draft for a running back solution. Montgomery remains an intriguing back, but his value is subject to change during Draft weekend.
Jonathan Stewart (RB, Panthers) waited years to get the backfield to himself, and now he might have company again. He is signed through the next two seasons and should be near the end of his usefulness by then. We all know what Stewart is at this point; an oft-injured back that is good for around 1,000 total yards and a handful of scores. He is not going to contribute much in the passing game and hasn’t played a full season in five years. Basically, he is an uninspiring but passable RB2. The Panthers need running back depth and a replacement for Stewart, so expect them to spend an early pick on a back. If it is one of the top prospects available, Stewart’s value could be on notice quickly. He’s a dynasty asset that should be sinking no matter who Carolina drafts. This is a quality landing spot for a prospect to end up.
There are a number of other situations that could be altered by their team drafting an RB. Spencer Ware looked sharp early on in 2016 before tailing off in KC… Frank Gore has been on the verge of falling off, but he just keeps on producing for the Colts… The Patriots situation is already a mess with newly signed Rex Burkhead and could be further influenced by a draft pick or free agent signing (Peterson or LeGarrette Blount would be a fit)… Jordan Howard was impressive for the Bears as a rookie and should have earned the starting gig for 2017, but a young, hungry back could give him a run this summer. The Bears have plenty of issues, so it would be surprising if they spend anything more than a Day 3 pick on running back… The Broncos seemed to whiff on Devontae Booker in last year’s draft, and C.J. Anderson cannot seem to stay healthy or find consistency… Mark Ingram is a reliable power runner when on the field, but the Saints could be looking for more out of that position in the near future… The Lions situation is murky at best, with a few limited upside role players and Ameer Abdullah in the backfield. They could use a potential three-down back… While Matt Forte and Bilal Powell are both still productive, the Jets could use a youth injection in their backfield.
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