As we are gearing up for training camp season and watching trends, this offseason has been a lot of fun. We have seen plenty of ups and downs for players at every position this offseason. First were the end-of-season recency bias grades. Then we had the shifts after the NFL draft. Now we are starting to see some of the rookie fever die back down and veterans to even their keel.
One name that I have kept my eye on all offseason is Rashaad Penny. Penny, a darling to some and a “would not touch” to others, has had many shifts this offseason. Much of this has to do with the situation in Seattle. The team traded their franchise quarterback away this offseason. Then they drafted a running back in the second round.
But where should we be grading Rashaad Penny? Was the end of last season a fluke? Or is he a potential buy-low candidate now?
Rashaad Penny’s 2021, like many of his seasons before, started very lackluster. As a first-round pick in the 2018 NFL draft, Penny was a highly valued rookie in dynasty. But since entering the league, Penny has failed to play an entire season.
In fact, the most games Penny has played in a single season is 14. And that was his rookie season. Not many owners were surprised last year when Penny was only active four times during the first 12 weeks.
Then something happened. Something every owner who has held on to Penny for four years has been waiting for. The running back stayed healthy. He was given the opportunity in his offense and excelled. In Week 14, Penny was given the majority of the Seahawks carries (16) and finished the day with 137 yards and 2 touchdowns.
After an ordinary Week 15, Penny finished his season with 135 yards, 170 yards, and 190 yards rushing in Weeks 16, 17, and 18. He scored at least one touchdown in every game.
Penny’s Weeks 14 to 18 were good enough for RB1 in all football. And that wasn’t particularly close. In those five weeks, Penny scored 16.2 points higher than the RB2 (Devin Singletary) and 31 points higher than the RB3 (Austin Ekeler). Penny won owners their fantasy championships this past year.
That brings us to this offseason. Penny’s stock has jumped around a little bit since the 2021 season ended. This is fairly common, but Penny’s shift has been a little more dramatic.
Coming off the stellar end of his season, Penny was being drafted as RB28 in startups in February 2022. His ADP was 83.33. Having such a great end of the year excited owners about Penny’s future. He was also a free agent and had the potential to land elsewhere as a lead back, which is always intriguing. Seattle historically runs more of a running back by committee.
Then March came, and Penny started to slide. Seattle traded Russell Wilson to the Broncos at the beginning of the month. Then Penny re-signed with the Seahawks in the middle of the month, staying in a murky backfield. His ADP dropped to 113.17, and he was being drafted as RB37.
Even furthering his dip, the Seahawks drafted Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker in the second round of the draft in late April. Penny’s ADP fell to 125.83, and he was being picked as RB41.
Penny, a running back who missed 7 of his team’s first 11 games of the season, still ended the year as RB36 in 0.5 PPR. He finished weeks 14-18 as RB1. Yet, in three months, his stock dropped 13 spots, and his ADP fell over 40 picks.
Since the May dip, Penny has started to level back out. He currently sits at RB37 and 110.33 in ADP in July. But this stock still feels a bit low to me.
It may be unfair to cherry-pick a five-week stretch where Penny was RB1. But even if we just say the second half of 2021, Penny’s numbers are great. He was RB8 in weeks 10-18, although he was inactive for two games and only got two carries in another. This was a back that was racking up the points when he had his opportunity.
Meanwhile, players like James Cook, Damien Harris, Tony Pollard, Rhamondre Stevenson, Kareem Hunt, Rachaad White, and Chase Edmonds are being drafted in front of Penny. These players are in running back committees, most not being the first option.
Meanwhile, Seattle reporters are saying Penny is slated to be seeing 20 carries a game in 2022:
Argument for Penny
If Penny sees the top workload in Seattle, you have to draft him ahead of the above-listed RBs. He has been dominant when given the opportunity. There is no reason to think he can’t excel if he gets his chance.
This leaves the question of Penny’s health. There is no way I will ever sign off as “comfortable” with Penny’s health history. He has been injured and has not played in 28 of the 65 games he has been on the Seahawks. This is anything but consistent. Often, consistency is what you are looking for in your dynasty players. Penny being injured so often makes him a nightmare for owners. That frustration may be enough for some to keep away.
However, if I am choosing between Penny and a back slated to be the second running back on their team, Penny’s upside is very exciting. I don’t need consistency from my RB4 on my team. I want upside at that spot. Few difference-making running backs are available when we start getting into picks in the 90s and early 100s in startups. Penny can be and has been that guy before.
Rashaad Penny is an oft-injured, frustrating back to own. But there is no denying that when he is healthy and given an opportunity, he can be dynamic.
If Seattle truly plans on letting him be the RB1 in their committee, everyone should be interested in Penny. At the right price, of course. And call me Bob Barker because right now, the price is right.
Penny is currently being drafted as an RB4 as the 37th back selected. While his RB1 five-week stretch is cherry picking, there is no denying that it happened. When Penny was given the opportunity and stayed healthy, he was a difference maker.
I would not be afraid to see the cost of acquiring Penny as his stock has slipped. In the Dynasty Nerds Trade Browser, we see Penny being traded for second-round picks and rookie players like Tyquan Thornton. A difference-making running back that you can add as depth is never a bad idea, especially if you are a contender.
Meanwhile, when drafting a startup, don’t forget Penny in those mid-rounds. Instead of another up-and-down year from a Patriots running back or Ezekiel Elliott’s committee member, you could end up with the top back in the Seattle backfield.