Dynasty: 3 Third-Year Running Backs You Should Buy Right Now!
I know we always hear about the third-year breakout in terms of wide receivers – but what about the running backs? Typically, we see production sooner, but sometimes external circumstances can slow the production like an injury or a crowded backfield. Here are three players you should be buying right now before they break out.
Damien Harris overtook Sony Michel as the lead back last year in New England and I personally see nothing changing in that backfield. In the three games where both players were active (I know small sample size, but they both had injuries last year), Harris out touched Michel 41 carries to 17. With the passing down back, and James White being an unrestricted free agent this offseason, assumed not to be brought back, this makes 62 running back targets available. Damien Harris is actually a competent receiving back, having 52 career receptions for Alabama during his college career. I expect Damien Harris to inherit the role with some J.J. Taylor worked in. Damien Harris will not be a league winner for your dynasty team. BUT getting a lead back who can have a 100-yard rushing game any given week for a late rookie 2nd can bolster up any team’s running back depth or be a solid set-and-forget RB2 for a needy team.
One of my favorite buys this offseason, with or without owning Ezekiel Elliot. Though I do believe Zeke is still the unquestioned starter, he did show a decline over the back half of 2020. This opens the door for Pollard, who is a BIG play waiting to happen. Pollard was one of only five running backs to have multiple rushing touchdowns over 40 yards. The others included Derrick Henry, Aaron Jones, Miles Sanders, and Jonathon Taylor. Whether we see Pollard unleashed or not, he still is the best handcuff in all of fantasy football, which we saw last year. When Ezekiel Elliot was out Week 15, Pollard exploded onto the scene. He finished #1 overall running back that week and scored 31.2 PPR fantasy points, rushing for 69 (nice) yards and 2 touchdowns while also catching 6 passes for 64 yards on 9 targets. Tony Pollard is only one Ezekiel Elliot injury away from being a Top 5 Running Back. That being said, he may have stand-alone value if Mike McCarthy has his way with the offense. We saw in Green Bay that McCarthy likes to use multiple running backs and already Pollard went from 86 carries in his rookie year to 101 in his sophomore campaign, while also doubling his targets from 20 to 40. Pollard has earned a bigger share of the pie in Dallas. Tony Pollard is a lottery ticket at worst, but I think he is so much more than that. At a minimum, he will have flex appeal for your dynasty team.
The most expensive on this list, but the one with the most upside. Now we all expected the breakout last year with him having 2nd round start up draft ADP. Miles Sanders was expected to ascend into Top 12 running back territory, but he let us down finishing RB23 on the season. I know he burned a lot of fantasy managers last year, but this creates the buying window. As mentioned before with Tony Pollard, Miles Sanders was one of only five running backs with multiple 40+ yard rushing TD plays. So, the BIG play is there. With Doug Peterson leaving, along with his obsession of a Running Back by Committee approach gone, we can truly see Miles unleashed. Now with a Dual-Threat QB in Hurts presumably under center in 2021, we will more than likely see lanes open up for Sanders. We saw Sanders’ best game of the season in Jalen Hurts’ first start versus a very good run defense of the New Orleans Saints, in which he scored 29.6 PPR points while rushing for 115 yards and 2 touchdowns, while also catching 4 passes for 21 yards on 5 targets. With a full offseason and an offense built around the read-option with a workhorse workload, we will see Miles Sanders be the player we all thought he would be last year.
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