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2024 Dynasty Free Agent Preview – RBs

Free Agency is only a few short weeks away. It's important to take advantage of players' values before signing or not signing with new teams. Coach Steve tackles the running back class of 2024.

Last Years Class

Before the 2024 free agency class, let’s look back at last year’s class. The 2023 running back free agent class was very up and down. Seeing Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs get tagged left the class without star power, but some other backs performed well. Some under-the-radar signings that hit big were Raheem Mostert resigning with Miami and Devin Singletary signing with Houston. Neither running back was highly valued, so you could have gotten a bargain had you traded for them before they signed in the offseason.

Before free agency started, David Montgomery was not high on dynasty radars. You didn’t want to buy into his value after a poor season with the Bears. But, if you had, you would have made out good on the value buying into him. D’Onta Forman, even coming off a strong 2022 season, was a disappointing signing at first when he signed with the Bears. He found time in that committee to shine in some games. Foreman was still a cheap option you could have traded for even before his value dropped when signing with Chicago.

Three big busts of that class were Jamaal Williams, Miles Sanders, and Alexander Mattison. Everyone was bought into the Kamara suspension, with a running back coming away from one of the best offensive lines in football. Sanders was in a terrible situation, but we followed the money for him. Alexander Mattison was supposed to be the next guy in Minnesota, but that did not pan out.

This article aims to better understand this free agency class and if you should buy or sell before free agency kicks off. We’ll look at some trades for each player and see what kind of value they have right now. Based on some rumored landing spots on these players, we’ll see if you should take advantage of that value now or wait until after free agency. Of course, we’ll summarize last season and if those running backs should continue to shine or fall out of dynasty value. All trades are from the DynastyGM Trade Finder Tool!

Top of the Class

Derrick HenryTony Pollard
Josh JacobsSaquon Barkley
Austin EkelerD’Andre Swift

Derrick Henry

First up is first-time free agent Derrick Henry. Henry will be 30 years old at the start of the 2024 season. Henry has been one to defy the odds for his position at his age. Last season, Henry managed to put together an RB1 season despite sharing more time with rookie Tyjae Spears. He would be second in breakaway runs, ninth in evaded tackles, and tenth in yards created. He has been a touchdown machine with double-digit touchdowns in six straight seasons. Henry has dealt with a poor Titans offense that has struggled with their offensive line the last few seasons. It seems like Henry has played his last down with the Titans.

Henry will likely find himself in a better offensive situation by signing with a new team in 2024. Of course, Henry is going to be 30 years old next season. Henry is a rare running back who could have a back-half career like Adrian Peterson and Frank Gore. If we look at some recent trades with Henry, it’s a perfect time to buy before he signs with a new team. If you’re a contending team and can get Henry for a second-round pick, it’s a great value. If players like Roschon Johnson and Zamir White are available for Henry, that would be of great value. Despite some upsides they offer, they are not guaranteed starting jobs next season. Henry has been linked to the Ravens, Cowboys, Texans and Bills. If Henry could land with one of those teams, his value would cost more for those looking for his service in dynasty. If you have Henry, you may want to wait until he signs to sell.

Henry Trade Market Pre-Free Agency – BUY/HOLD

Josh Jacobs

Josh Jacobs will try free agency in 2024 after being tagged in 2024. I don’t think the Raiders will make that mistake in tagging him again. Jacobs is 26 years old, so you could get another three seasons of great production. There would be some regression after leading the league in carries in 2022. Once he got going in week four, he was great in fantasy as he was RB4 from weeks four to 12 before suffering a season-ending injury. Jacobs hasn’t been one to be labeled an injury-prone running back. He has been the healthiest in his career.

Jacobs has also seen more work over these last three seasons. Jacobs has been linked to some great teams like the Cowboys, Texans, Ravens, and, of course, back to the Raiders. That wouldn’t be bad since we saw that offense lean on the run game last season under Antonio Peirce. Jacobs, for a late 2024 first, is a deal for a contending team.

Jacobs Trade Market Pre-Free Agency – BUY/HOLD

Austin Ekeler

Austin Ekeler had a 2023 season that was one to forget in fantasy football. He had his worst rushing output in terms of yards per carry. He would finish with 179 carries and have a 3.3 YPC. He would have the lowest targets since 2020, when he missed games due to injury. Ekeler has been brilliant in three of the last five seasons. He has been a touchdown and reception machine during his elite seasons. Ekeler has been given the workhorse-type treatment the previous four seasons since Melvin Gordon left. He has had no competition behind him with Joshua Kelley, and Isaiah Spiller has his backups.

Since being the starter, he has never had a bruiser back to take away his goal-line work in the offense. Ekeler hasn’t seen as many links to destinations as other guys on this list. I don’t think Ekeler will be in a workhorse role moving forward. That upside is going to be capped wherever he lands in free agency. If Jerry Jeudy or a second-round pick are your options for trading away Ekeler, I may wait to see if his landing spot can increase his value. If I can get a first-round pick, I’d be selling Ekeler now.

Ekeler Trade Market Pre-Free Agency – HOLD/SELL

Tony Pollard

Tony Pollard disappointed many dynasty owners, as many believed he would have a breakout season. The departure of Zeke Elliott had Pollard looking to have the RB1 season with a potentially bigger workload. Pollard wasn’t the same as his 2022 season; his YPC dropped from 52. to 4.0. His touchdown output fell from 12 to 6, and he went eight scoreless games during the season. We may have all forgotten that Pollard suffered a fractured left leg and a high ankle sprain in January of 2023. We assume too much that NFL players can quickly return from injuries and be as productive as before.

Pollard isn’t getting the traction so far from what I’m hearing as some other running backs. It seems clear that returning to Dallas may be a long shot. Pollard could land with the Ravens, Chargers, or the Titans. There haven’t been many great trades involving Pollard in this offseason. Pollard going for a 2024 second-round pick feels like a bargain for a player in their prime. Drake London is solid value to give up for a player like Pollard. Pollard’s value in the first trade above feels like some dynasty owners don’t believe he can bounce back. Pollard should be someone you try to buy low or hold on to and see what happens to him in free agency. He could be the best signing when 2024 is over. 

Pollard Trade Market Pre-Free Agency – HOLD/BUY

Saquon Barkley

Saquon Barkley is also looking to get a chance to be a free agent this offseason. Barkley was tagged last year and never made it. I doubt the Giants will tag him, but there is interest on both sides. Barkley also likely has interest from the Cowboys, Ravens, and Texans in this offseason. Barkley would finish with 1,200 all-purpose yards and ten touchdowns last season. Everyone in the world is hoping that he leaves the Giants for a contending team. That could be a good and bad thing. A better offense will give Barkley more chances to produce and score touchdowns.

Barkley was the Giants whole offense for many years. If he lands elsewhere, he may not be the entire offense. He was in the top four in targets each season with the Giants. He never trailed more than 19 targets from the target leader in any season. Every team that Barkley is linked to may feature Barkley differently, especially in the passing game. His dynasty value will rise if he lands with a contending team, so holding and then selling makes sense. He could also go back to the Giants; his value won’t change much or potentially decrease.

Barkley is 27 years old and has missed time due to a similar injury to the right ankle over his career. Injuries could reoccur for him in the back half of his career, which would not be great for the dynasty owners holding him. Barkley is tough because selling him for solid value makes sense. After he lands, managers may not want to pay up. The best value is holding him until he lands with a team that everyone will get excited about and then sell. Looking at trades Barkley has been involved with, it seems better to hold him until he finds a landing spot.

Barkley Trade Market Pre-Free Agency – HOLD/SELL

D’Andre Swift

DeAndre Swift hits free agency after a career season with the Eagles. He finished with 1000 yards but had career lows in targets and receptions in the Eagles offense. Swift used to be a hot running back in dynasty, but his value has dropped. He was good but not great with the Eagles, and his return to the team isn’t certain. Swift could be in the mix with the teams who need that premier back, but he may not get first dibs on those landing spots.

If Swift doesn’t return to the Eagles, he may be part of a committee rather than a full-time starter. The trades above are decent, but Swift’s name value may differ from dynasty owners. It may feel like selling low on Swift by only getting a second back with a player, but Swift may have had his best seasons already. I’d much rather use Swift to get a more secured back like the Kenneth Walker trade. If Swift doesn’t land in a prime situation, he may not be considered a strong flex option in 2024. You could hold to see if he lands back with the Eagles, but I could also see them bringing more competition to that backfield. Swift before free agency feels like a sell or a risky hold.

Swift Trade Market Pre-Free Agency – SELL/HOLD

Good Committee Backs

Gus EdwardsDevin Singletary
Zeke ElliottD’Onta Foreman
Zack MossJK Dobbins
AJ DillionAntonio Gibson
Dalvin Cook
In this next grouping, some players could be solid A/B in a two-man committee. They also can go through phases as the starter in a season and put together a stretch of games

Zach Moss was one guy who got a chance in 2023 as the starter and played well in the Colts offense. Moss was RB4 from weeks two to nine while Jonathan Taylor was out or returning from injury. He ran well with double-digit carries in six of the eight games and saw value in the passing game. Once Taylor came back with a full workload, Moss’s production decreased. This was the first year Moss showed consistent fantasy production since his early days in Buffalo. There is a good chance he returns to Indy to back up Taylor. Moss could also work in places like Tampa Bay or Tennessee as the 1B. Moss seems like a throw-in piece in many trades on the DynastyGM trade browser. If he does return to Indy, we know Taylor has missed games each of the last two years. Moss is a great depth piece to buy now.

Moss Trade Market Pre-Free Agency – BUY

Devin Singletary is again a free agent after a successful back-half of the season with the Texans. Singletary has led his team in rushing in five straight seasons now. There is a chance he could be back with the Texans. Singletary is a more attractive option for teams who don’t want to spend money on running backs, but it’s a talented class. Singletary doesn’t have an upside above 850 rushing yards and needs a full workload to produce RB2 numbers. He is another back that may be a better sell-off now before he lands in a situation that lowers his dynasty value. You could use Singletary to help boost trade and upgrade a position like the one above.

Singletary Trade Market Pre-Free Agency – SELL

AJ Dillon has seen his YPC fall in each season of his NFL career. Dillon has played second fiddle to Aaron Jones for the last four seasons. Dillon had a prime opportunity to show up with Jones missing half the season, but he failed and had his worst rushing output with 3.4 YPC. Dillon is more of that bruiser back that could be a 1B to a backfield. He likely will never be a workhorse back at this point of his NFL career. Dillon could be back with the Packers, but there is a chance he will move on to a better situation. Dillon’s dynasty value is still all over the place. The trade above shows Dillon has a cheap out to go out to get, but some trades still value him as a borderline RB2 future. Dillon is a hold for me in dynasty right now. I’m not actively buying, and the selling market is not there.

Singletary Trade Market Pre-Free Agency – HOLD

Gus Edwards has been the most consistent running back in the Ravens backfield for the last six seasons. He will be 29 entering the 2024 season. It seems like the Ravens don’t plan to bring Edwards back into the fold. Edwards has always been a two-down back who has relied on touchdowns and is efficient on the ground. I don’t think Edwards will find a landing spot that will be as good for him as the Ravens were for so many years. Teams like the Bucs could be a landing spot to pair him with Rachaad White. Edwards will likely be on a committee. You should expect Edwards to see a regression in touchdowns. He also had his worst YPC with 4.1 in his career. Edwards still has enough value to be used in trades as a buffer for either side of the trade you see him in. I’d look to sell Edwards rather than buy him for depth.

Edwards Trade Market Pre-Free Agency – SELL

Antonio Gibson is hopefully getting out of the dog house in Washington. Gibson had a fast start entering the NFL. He had 1000 yards in back-to-back season, but his pass-blocking and fumbling issues made him lose that starting job. He still has managed 1300 all-purpose yards over the last two seasons. Gibson is 26 years old and heading into a deep free agency class. There is still a chance he will come back to Washington, but he could quickly sign with another team. There is enough value in Gibson to use him to upgrade at running back in a trade. Gibson has talent, but teams won’t like his issues on the field. Selling on Gibson getting an opportunity to make an impact somewhere else could be a good pitch.

Gibson Trade Market Pre-Free Agency – SELL

Zeke Elliott is now in the backup stage of his NFL career. Elliott’s value in dynasty should be considered a sell right now. He was RB14 from week 12 to 19 once Rhamondre Stevenson suffered an injury. Elliott showed enough in fantasy that he could still produce at times. I don’t see him being that successful if he lands back with the Patriots or any other team. Elliott has lost a step, averaging under four yards per attempt in the last two seasons. There haven’t been too many trades for Elliott. If someone offers a trade like the one above, that is a quick sell. I’d want to sell before he doesn’t get with a team until training camp, like last year.

Elliott Trade Market Pre-Free Agency – SELL

JK Dobbins will come off yet another missed season in the NFL. Dobbins missed 2023 with a torn Achilles after missing a year and a half with a torn ACL. Dobbins is now a free agent, and we are still looking for Dobbins to show us that 2020 season where he looked like the next great running back. Dobbins has only touched the ball only 206 times in three seasons. If we look at the trade above, dynasty owners still believe in the talent, and a new situation could be great for Dobbins. He is coming back to Baltimore, as they’ve likely had enough. I don’t expect Dobbins to bounce back to anything we saw in 2020, so selling him off now makes sense. If he waits in free agency, his value may continue to drop. If I can secure 2024 second, that would be great. Even getting a young receiver like Khalil Shakir is a plus.

Dobbins Trade Market Pre-Free Agency – SELL

D’Onta Forman seems to be overlooked by many dynasty owners. I’ve seen many Foreman shares go for late fourth-round picks or throw-in options. Foreman is a great backup that could be a 1B option. He has shown the last three seasons that he can produce if given a decent workload. In 11 games in the previous three seasons, Foreman has 80 plus yards, and he wasn’t the full-time starter going into any of those seasons. Foreman is a good buy for an older player who should land with a team.

Foreman Trade Market Pre-Free Agency – BUY

Dalvin Cook had a disaster2023 season. The fit with the Jets was terrible, as was his play on the field. The offense wasn’t good and Cook needs more than five to seven carries per game. Cook may be a value pick before free agency. If he lands anywhere where folks will see value, getting him cheap won’t be there. There have been many trades for Cook recently, so I’d throw up a third or fourth-round pick to get Cooks on the team.

Cook Trade Market Pre-Free Agency – BUY

Best of the Rest

Cordarelle PattersonCEHDamien Harris
Cam AkersSalvon AhmedRashaad Penny
Jerick McKinnonD’Ernest JohnsonChase Edmonds
Craig ReynoldsKareem HuntJosh Kelley

The best of the rest are backup players who likely won’t compete for starting work. You have passing-catching backs like Jerick McKinnon and Chase Edmonds, who could find a third-down role in an offense. Cordarelle Patterson is on his last leg, and I don’t see him finding a spot. Craig Reynolds and Josh Kelley could be decent RB2s for a team, but a team would probably lean toward a rookie running back instead. I think the hype of a Rashaad Penny or Damien Harris would come if a team occurs an injury rather than still be part of a game plan for a backfield. Kareem Hunt is interesting since he hasn’t seen a market outside Cleveland. He would probably land back if Chubb is not ready for the season.

Cam Akers may not be ready for 2024 with his second torn Achilles. He could even miss the season to recover fully. D’Ernest Johnson put himself in a bad situation with the Jaguars but still has a chance if he lands in a better situation. Salvon Ahmed has deep sleeper appeal. When he sees an opportunity, he produces it at times. He was stuck in a deep backfield with the Dolphins last year. Clyde Edwards-Helaire needs a new situation and gets away from Kansas City. A new team may help open up CEH’s talent.

Ahmed, CEH, Johnson and Renyolds – Cheap Buy Lows for RB Depth.

2 Responses

  1. Steven, outstanding work. I don’t typically comment on stories, but you really put the time in and this was very informative. Thank you!

    1. Thank you Thomas! I appericate that. Ill have WRs and QBs/TEs coming out soon as well.

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