At this time of year, we should be stocking our dynasty benches with long-term upside plays if we are out of the playoff hunt, and even if we are in the playoffs, it’s time to cut your depth to a lean and mean level and still maximize your bench spots for future growth. For the next four weeks, we’ll look at each position and sort out end of season dynasty stashes and players to monitor next offseason into Snorkel, Scuba, and Submarine levels of league depth. This week, running back, where in December we remember that depth charts can get turned upside down in the blink of an eye.
Justice Hill, BAL, Darrell Henderson, LAR, Damien Harris, NE, Tony Pollard, DAL, Darwin Thompson, KC - All of these rookies still have possibly bright futures and should be rostered despite disappointing opportunity in year one. Double check to make sure an impatient team didn’t drop them and get those offseason buy low offers ready.
Justin Jackson, LAC - Jackson has had an injury riddled season and he wasn’t very valuable while Melvin Gordon III was holding out even though he averaged almost eight carries per carry during that stretch. With Gordon likely to move on this offseason, Jackson will a #2 back for the Chargers next year with his arrow still pointing up in his age 24 season to come.
Gus Edwards, BAL - Justice Hill has the acceleration and long speed, but Edwards stole his thunder off of the bench this year with more burst and just as much power as he showed in 2018. He’s next in line behind Mark Ingram II and that probably won’t change next year in this potent running game.
Nyheim Hines, IND - Hines looks like the Colts fastest player on offense with TY Hilton and Parris Campbell out and he might be able to keep up with them in a footrace when all three are healthy. He deserves more work in the passing game and just turned 23.
Ryquell Armstead, JAX - Armstead hasn’t gotten many chances to touch the ball this year because the once known as injury prone Leonard Fournette has been a Christian McCaffrey level workhorse this year. Armstead flashed some surprising receiving ability and should continue to be the clear handcuff to Fournette going forward.
Jaylen Samuels, PIT - Samuels lost some snap and burst in his game after he had knee surgery this year, but he is still established as one of the better receiving backs in the NFL and a better than advertised runner. The Steelers long term picture in the backfield is a mess, but Samuels versatility should eventually get him a bigger role there or somewhere else on his second contract.
Chase Edmonds, ARI - Edmonds had a coming out party with three scores against the Giants, then got hurt, and then found Kenyan Drake in his backfield when he returned, and no role for him. David Johnson might be on the outs with the team and Drake is a free agent, so Edmonds could be the incumbent back next year. The Cardinals will certainly make some additions in the backfield, but Edmonds could be the most familiar with the offense and enter the season with the most opportunity next year.
Mike Boone, MIN - Boone isn’t really far off of Alexander Mattison in terms of ability, and he might be behind him at all. He’s got more acceleration and quickness than Mattison, and maps better to Dalvin Cook’s skillset. Even if he remains blocked for the next two years, Boone has the look of a player who should pop once playing time finds its way to him.
Bryce Love, WAS - 2017 Love was one of the best running backs in college football. He suffered a serious knee injury and hasn’t been the same, and he has been in the custody of the Washington medical staff, but offseason spots are for speculative young talents who can increase in value while we’re waiting for next year. He could replace Chris Thompson as the receiving back and if he ever regains form, you’ll be glad you rostered him.
Jordan Wilkins, IND - Wilkins has always impressed when he has gotten a chance to run the ball, but a foot issue has kept him from making a bigger impact this year. Marlon Mack also took a big step forward and he’s the clear starter for this team, but Wilkins is proving that he is at worst good NFL depth and at best a future starter.
Patrick Laird, Myles Gaskin, MIA - With Mark Walton released, Kenyan Drake traded, and Kalen Ballage hurt, the Dolphins will give this pair of rookies a long look in December. Gaskin is more a third down back type, while Laird is more rugged but also has good receiving skills. Laird is likely to get the first shot but Gaskin was regarded higher coming out of college. The Dolphins line won’t do either of them any favors.
Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington, OAK - Richard and Washington are playing for free agent contracts, and with Josh Jacobs nursing a painful shoulder injury and the team on the verge of getting eliminated from the playoff picture, they might be able to audition for potential 2020 teams if Jacobs gets shut down for the season. Richard has explosive play ability and could become a PPR factor at the right destination next year, while Washington has a more balanced game.
Devine Ozigbo, JAX - Ozigbo was a lot of draft analysts favorite combine snub and undrafted back. He has power and all-around skills and when the Saints tried to get through waivers, the Jaguars would have none of it and they claimed him. When teams keep a young player despite their not contributing to the active roster, that means they see something worth developing.
Trayveon Williams, CIN - Williams joined Rodney Anderson as late round running backs with a lot of promise sadly drafted into a situation with two quality backs in Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard. To complicate matters further, Bernard got signed to an extension. Anderson also went down with yet another serious knee injury, taking one obstacle out of Williams way. Joe Mixon will reach the end of his rookie contract next year. Williams shouldn’t be forgotten in deep dynasty leagues.
Travis Homer, SEA - Homer has hung around the Seahawks roster all season despite being behind even CJ Prosise on the depth chart. Prosise is likely gone this offseason, which should promote Homer to getting active on gamedays and possibly getting some change of pace touches as a third back. He was regarded as more than a late round pick by some and had a great predraft workout.
John Kelly, LAR - Kelly has exhibited a similar combination of contact balance and combativeness as Devin Singletary and David Montgomery, but can’t seem to get an extended shot at playing time. He’s currently on the Rams practice squad but could easily get poached as the season winds down and I’m not ready to give up him at only 23.