Top Running Back Free Agents in 2021

Top Running Back Free Agents in 2021

Potential landing spots:

ATL, SEA, NYJ, BUF, PHI, PIT

 

 

RB1s

Both of these guys will likely get signed to be the starter/workhorse on the respective teams with the upside of being an RB1 in fantasy .

Aaron Jones

Chris Carson

Jones is obviously the more tantalizing free agent here. Jones was the RB5 in fantasy in 2020, RB4 in PPG, and the RB2 in 2019. The fun part about Jones is that wherever he goes, his volume isn't going to go down. He's averaged 17.8 touches/game over the last two seasons. If signed somewhere to a big deal, I'd expect that number to stay the same, if not creep up to around the 20 touch/game mark and then we're talking. The downside of Jones' move would be the move away from Green Bay's offensive line, which has been dominant over the last two years, a top-5 run-blocking line easily. Regardless Jones is plenty elusive and shifty to create on his own, he's been top 5 among RBs in missed tackles forced in each of the previous two seasons, he's an excellent pass-catcher and awesome on the GL. I'm not worried about his move elsewhere unless he lands on a really stagnant offense like the Jets or something.

If he resigns with GB, great. 

If he doesn't, we have some moving parts here, because we had AJ Cream Fillin Dillon get a chance to eat down the stretch, against TEN while Jones was banged up. Dillon went 21-124-2 on the ground. For someone that doesn't like Dillon.. He looked fucking fantastic.

I'm not gonna pretend TEN is some great run d & it's a one-game sample size but man, if Jones is gone, you'd have to think Dillon takes the early-down work in an offense where Aaron Rodgers was putting the team on the GL more often than Derrick Henry sends d-backs on vacation. They used a 2nd round pick on him, he'll every opportunity to shine. I'm sure the Packers would love to resign Jones, but they also drafted Dillon knowing damn well both Jones and Jamaal Williams were FAs this offseason. It'll get interesting, bc given the relative price of the two backs, Williams makes a lot more sense to resign, but I'm sure Aaron Rodgers is going to be in their ear about bringing Jones byke.

If Jones is gone, Dillon's redraft ADP is probably going to be like 3rd round by draft szn. In dynasty he's definitely a hold for me. I'm not eager to buy him bc if Jones resigns I mean, it's a gamble it is. I wouldn't sell given the upside. You don't always have to be moving players, especially players with high ceilings, if you have them and they hit, that's how you go from pretender to contender quickly. 

 

With Chris Carson, this opens up a pretty big fantasy role to be had. Carlos Hyde is a free agent. DeeJay Dallas had a bright spot this year at one point, I like him a lot as a prospect still, but it begs the question, wtf is good with Rashaad Penny. He's in his final year on his rookie contract, feels like he hasn't played a game in the NFL yet. He's played 27-of-48 (56%) games since entering the league, this year obviously coming off of the ACL tear. The once coveted first round pick from the Seahawks, will likely get a shot at the starting job. Assuming they let Carson, I do think they look to free agency or the draft again. You could see them look at one of the guys thats like Chris Carson but honestly a downgrade from him, like James Conner, Leonard Fournette, even a Gus Edwards to fill that thump gawd role.

I hope Carson gets paid somewhere else. That mean has given his mind body and soul to the turf in seattle. But welcome to the life of an NFL running back.

 

RB2s

These are the next group of guys where I'd be surprised if they landed byke with their current teams, but have the upside of becoming their new teams' starter. Lots of concerns all around for these players, so for the likelihood of that happening, it's small.

Kenyan Drake

  • Drake was given the $8M tag last offseason. Our concern was that by all advanced metrics, Drake has never been a great running back on his own -- and being able to be good over the course of a whole season, we hadn't seen it. I think he kind of proved that right. Drake ill be 27 next week, so he's not exactly a prized possession on the market. Maybe he'll take a team-friendly deal to stay in Arizona, Id say its 50/50 for him to end up byke here, if that's the case he'd be a mid RB2 next year.
  • Chase Edmonds would obviously get a big boost if they dont bring byke Drake, Eno Benjamin is an exciting prospect that I along with a lot of people like becomes a buy in dynasty for me as a throw in - maybe even one of those lowkey sneak diss center piece of the trade but the other person doesnt really know it.

James Conner

  • Would be very surprised if they resigned Conner. Even though he kind of fits exactly the mold of a Steelers running back, he's just not that great and can't stay on the field.
  • And I think they really like Benny Snell, and Anthony McFarland will get more run next year which I'm excited about.
  • I could definitely see them drafting a late day 2 running back this time around however.
  • Could see Conner going to SF, with McKinnon and Jeff Wilson both free agents - playing like that Carlos Hyde role from a bunch of years byke.
  • He could also replace Chris Carson in Seattle, even though he's a worse version of him, he might command less money.

1A/1B 

Leonard Fournette

  • Unlike his catch radius, fournette's free agency range of outcomes is wide.
  • He kind of stinks, but his skillset is wide and he's still young. He's playing well enough with the Bucs right now to warrant interest.
  • The former #4 overall pick and he's played well in the playoffs. Ronald Jones is making Leonard Fournette look like what the Peyton Barber the gawd used to make young ronald jones look like.
  • Someone is going to take a shot on Fournette. Maybe a team like Buffalo or Seattle.

Phillip Lindsay (RFA)

Lindsay's proven he can be a really good player for an NFL team, unfortuantely he's coming off of his worst NFL season, 118-502-1, 14-7-28-0.

Since he went UDFA, his contract is only 3 years, but he came out as a much older pro, he'll be 27 in July. As a restricted free agentLindsay will be eligible to receive a first-, second- or original-round tender in 2021. Because Lindsay went undrafted in 2018, an original-round tender is unlikely:

I definitely don't think his best days are behind him, but it's possible his best fantasy days are if he moves elsewhere.

The most likely scenario as I see it, is that Lindsay resigns with Denver. The price to get him as an RFA is too high for other teams.

But I'm not really gonna doubt him, he's a dog and he's been doubted his whole life so he's gonna show up to whatever training camp he's at next year and fight for a role, believe dat. 

Royce Freeman is signed through 2021. As is Melvin Gordon, but clearly RF ain't it for the Broncos, I'd be surprised if they don't look to draft a running back on day 3 or someone in free agency to replace Lindsay.

Gordon has a sneaky good year going for 1144 yards and double-digit touchdowns, 4.6 yards per carry. He could certainly be a value RB2 in drafts next year if they decide to go Day 3 on a running back.

 

 

Tier 3

guys that will be depth/secondary pieces for an offense. offenses that have their starter in place but need a breather back.

  • Jamaal Williams
  • Gus Edwards (RFA)
  • Jeff Wilson (RFA), Jerick McKinnon, Tevin Coleman
  • James White
  • Marlon Mack (achilles)
  • Mike Davis

These are all dudes that can compete for a role on the teams they sign with. They're solid players that I think a real NFL team would be happy bring on as depth. These guys might sign with teams that already have confirmed studs - could see someone like Mike Davis going to the Giants (Wayne Gallman is a free agent). 

Marlon mack is still young and was productive during his time in INDY, it's obviously Jonathan Taylor time, but I think he'll get another shot somewhere.

I'd be surprised if we saw Jeff Wilson have success outside of that SF offense. But, that SF situation is very intriguing, given Wilson might be gone, so might Jerick McKinnon (definitely gone) and Tevin Coleman. It leaves Raheem Mostert, signed through 2021. Mostert's a beast when on the field, but like Kyle Shanahan gotta have worse PTSD than dudes that went to Iraq. Everyone of his running backs gets hurt, multiple times a season, if not a game. Imagine him having a RB that stayed healthy for a full 16 games? They'd have 1700 yfs. I mean we literally saw it with Devonta Freeman. So, while we fantasize about it every offseason, RBx RBy going to SF, this could actually be the year bc everyone is a FA. 

 

Hope Gus signs with Atlanta, but as a RFA, and Ingram gone, I could definitely see BAL resigning him.

None of these guys are worth talking too much about right now, bc even in best case scenario signing situation, they don't have a ton of upside.

 


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