Week 4 is complete, and the Chicago Bears are on track to pick first and second in the 2024 NFL draft. Performances by players like C.J. Stroud and De'Von Achane caused a shift in the dynasty landscape. Weekly, the Footballguys staff will share their thoughts on the dynasty ranking movement to monitor while answering a question you may face in your league.
Question: What is your panic level on Jahmyr Gibbs? How do you handle young running backs without large workload shares?
I'm a zero out of 10 on the panic meter. Anyone panicking about Jahmyr Gibbs' stats after one month of what's likely to be a long NFL career should be cautious about accepting any inbound trade offers. If you're panicked, chances are you'll do something rash and sell Gibbs at a discount. Instead, be the one reaching out to your league mates who have Gibbs and make them an offer they can't refuse.
Some worry is that Gibbs' usage resembles D'Andre Swift's last season, and David Montgomery's workload closely mirrors Jamaal Williams'. Some have sounded the alarm bells, noting Montgomery is better than Williams, which is true. But news flash: Gibbs is also better than Swift.
Even if you think Gibbs' 2023 redraft value won't match his ADP, dynasty rosters have the luxury of looking beyond a single season. You've got a talented rookie with ultra-high draft capital who's averaging 4.6 yards per rush and has a 70%+ catch rate on a playoff contender with a sustainably productive offense. Montgomery may be a league winner this season, but he's 26 years old and can be released without much cap pain after the 2024 season. Patience is a virtue since you play in a dynasty format instead of redraft. Buy low, sell high. This window may be your one chance to buy low on Gibbs.
My panic level is at absolute zero. Negative, if that makes sense. I will buy every share of Jahmyr Gibbs from every worried manager. In his first four games, he has touched the ball 53 times. He ranks 30th in carries, 7th in receptions, and 26th among all running backs in total touches. D'Andre Swift was a top-25 running back last year on fewer touches per game. This situation is a case of plenty of smoke where there is no fire.
As a redraft fantasy manager, I would be concerned about how Gibbs is used. On a dynasty or non-fantasy basis, he is being used correctly. His long-term development is vital to the franchise, but while they have an experienced back with the proven quality of David Montgomery, why would they not use him to maximum effect? Gibbs will have breakout games, and if he passes all his tests, he will get more usage. Detroit has proven it will discard a lack of quality when they let D'Andre Swift go. Gibbs has to earn more playing time, and he will.
Like most of the others here - I don't have a lot of panic for Gibbs in a dynasty league. The Lions added David Montgomery before the draft, so it was clear when they drafted Gibbs that there would be questions about how much or how little he would contribute during his rookie season. He only played 19 snaps to open the season, but he had 42 against the Falcons two weeks ago. Montgomery has the hot hand right now, but his 3.8 yards per carry isn't anything to get excited about. He's the veteran back, getting most of the touches, including the goal-line carries. Gibbs will see more action as the season wears on. In a dynasty format, there's plenty of time for him to assume a more significant role in subsequent seasons and take over the primary spot. If you drafted Gibbs for your fantasy team - take a breath and realize he will get his chances. Just give him a little time.
Rookie running backs have become a wait-and-see type of pick. Very few come into a primary back position like in years past, where you could expect an easy 1200-1400 yards from scrimmage, even in their rookie season. Bijan Robinson is the closest rookie running back this season to that all-in hype, and he has not posted more than 20 carries in any of the first four games this season. In dynasty leagues, rookie running backs must supplement your current squad - and add them into the lineup as your veterans age out.
I'm not ready to sound the alarm on Jahmyr Gibbs just yet. The allure of the rookie running back with high draft capital remains. I can still see the clips of the Detroit executives high-fiving in the draft war room when they selected Gibbs with the twelfth pick of the first round.
It's also worth remembering that through the first four games of last season, Kenneth Walker had amassed 15 carries for 58 yards and six receptions for 14 yards with zero touchdowns. Gibbs has plenty of time to show why the Lions view him as a "weapon" on offense that won't be confined to just the running back position.
My level of concern on Jahmyr Gibbs is about a 5. There is no reason to truly panic, but my excitement for him has dimmed a bit. The Lions are winning with their current approach, and it may make sense even over the longer term to keep Gibbs in a change-of-pace role alongside a bigger back.
I am more nervous than most of the rest of the panel. David Montgomery, and a power running back in general, will be what most people point to. It is no secret Dan Campbell wants that element as a significant part of his offense. But that should have always been a given, and we have seen passing backs like Alvin Kamara work well besides that element.
An NFL team only uses top-12 draft capital on a running back if they expect heavy involvement in the passing game. The Lions closed the 2022 season with receivers Khalif Raymond and Josh Reynolds playing significant roles. Gibbs's versatility paints him as an offensive weapon. The selection of Sam LaPorta was an unexpected development when Gibbs was selected. Suddenly, LaPorta and Amon-Ra St. Brown fill the areas of the field in a pass-catching back would excel. Gibbs faces a situation that squeezes him from both sides.
Long-term things can shift. Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson looks destined for a head coaching job, and scheme shifts likely follow his departure. However, the rapid development of LaPorta turned Gibbs from a necessity to a luxury. As it stands, he is not the primary option in the rushing or passing games. But there are fundamental elements in Gibbs's fantasy players that should apply to all young backs. He can make an impact in the passing game. For young running backs like this, identify environmental factors and bet on talent eventually delivering.
C.J. Stroud - After four games, Stroud looks poised and more pro-ready than any rookie from the 2023 class. He is already the QB10 for the season, and there is still room to improve the talent around him, specifically his offensive line. I originally had him third in this class; he is now first and even ahead of Trevor Lawrence.
Baker Mayfield - A surprising development in Tampa Bay, not only has the team far exceeded expectations, but Baker Mayfield has been resurgent and a primary reason for the team's success. That earns Mayfield a good rise in rankings, and while he is only backup fantasy material, he will be useful as a reliable NFL starter in an emergency, for now.
Mac Jones - Jones started the season well against the Eagles, but it's been downhill since. His short-term future, let alone long-term, could be better. Turning the ball over repeatedly and carelessly has a short shelf life for Bill Belichick. Jones isn't helped by the Patriots long-term and repeated failure at the draft and free agency to replenish skilled positions. Better options should be available.
Kirk Cousins - Cousins leads the league with 11 passing touchdowns. Let that sink in a second. The Vikings look terrible and will probably not make the NFL playoffs this season, but if Cousins is your fantasy QB, you're off to a good start. He has over 1200 yards passing (#3 behind Tua Tagovailoa and Matthew Stafford), and he's on pace to post some of his best stats since moving to Minnesota in 2018. From a dynasty perspective, the biggest knock on him is that he gets fewer rushing yards / TDs than guys like Josh Allen or Jalen Hurts. Cousins is also in his 12th NFL season, meaning he won't be taken early in any startup dynasty leagues. But as you get to the middle rounds and fill out your roster - Cousins is an excellent addition to a QBBC approach and should be in the starting lineup of most fantasy teams.
Mac Jones - Jones had a rough outing against an excellent Dallas defense, but the concern with Jones is that the Patriots appear to be losing confidence in him as their long-term solution at quarterback. He's had a couple of okay outings this year, but his 6.15 yards per attempt are the lowest of his career. Jones's stats have fallen off a cliff after a strong opening against the Eagles in week one. Jones's time in New England will be short-lived unless things improve over the next few weeks. His long-term potential with the Patriots or any other NFL team is dangerously low right now, and he could easily fall into fantasy irrelevance.
Derek Carr - Frankly, the 32-year-old Carr has been a let-down this year, even before his Week 3 shoulder injury. There was optimism that he could elevate the Saints' passing game and provide excellent value to fantasy managers, but he's averaging a meager 8 points per game. While it may be too early to write him off for the 2023 season, these are the first signs of rust for a player who's been - at best - above average throughout his career. I currently have him ranked in the QB2 range at 21st among quarterbacks, but I'll be moving him lower with another disappointing showing.
C.J. Stroud - Stroud has exceeded all reasonable expectations behind a makeshift offensive line. He looks like a guy who could be a first-round pick in Superflex startups next offseason.
Zach Wilson - It was just one game. But he did it. On the biggest September stage, with Taylor Swift in attendance, Wilson went toe-to-toe with Patrick Mahomes II II. He played with poise, leading his team back from down 17 to push the Chiefs until the end of the game. If Wilson can do it again, it starts to put some color on the start of his career. In his rookie year, he needed an actual number-one receiving threat, and the team struggled to protect him behind a poor offensive line with a first-time offensive coordinator. His second season began with a torn meniscus. When he returned, he struggled and was eventually benched. His arm talent has shown up in spots. If he can build off his Week 4 performance, the team would love to have him work out as quarterback of the future. That is not bad for a player wholly written off a month after turning 24.
C.J. Stroud -- The Texans were one of Vegas' picks to finish with the league's worst record, and yet they're off to a 2-2 start, thanks in no small part to the exemplary play of Stroud. He's thrown for 1,212 yards, six touchdowns, and no interceptions. That's the second-most passing yards to start a career in NFL history, behind Cam Newton. Importantly, Newton threw five touchdowns and five interceptions, while Stroud hasn't been picked. It's too early to declare a complete victory, but Stroud's long-term value has been de-risked.
Brock Purdy -- We can no longer call it a fluke. Purdy returned from a serious arm injury and looks as efficient as he did in the remarkable rookie starting streak. The 49ers are one of the NFL's best, and Purdy executes with surgical precision. His lack of rushing stats puts a cap on his fantasy upside, but his play style and proficiency set him up for a long career with 4,500+ yards and 30+ TD seasons well within his grasp.
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