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The 2024 NFL free-agent class is loaded with big names at the skill positions. Here is a look at the running backs potentially on the move and the dynasty impact of their free-agent status.
Last year and in general with the biggest names in free agency, most returned to their incumbent team. Running backs in 2024 are a different animal. The sheer talent level and depth of the outright free agents point to a chaotic level of potential player movement at the critical fantasy position based on opportunity.
Saquon Barkley headlines the free agent class with his 27-year-old season upcoming and a perennial top-10 fantasy option outside of two injury-marred seasons. Barkley has yet to be paired with a strong offense or quarterback, a piece of allure for Barkley to change teams in the offseason. Josh Jacobs is the youngest of the quartet and a classic foundation back who has played through injury and absorbed strong volume in recent years.
Austin Ekeler will be 29 years old in 2024 and on a five-year run of top-12 production. Ekeler is one of the premiere two-way backs in the NFL and, like Christian McCaffrey, would tilt any offense to utilize his pass-catching talents. Derrick Henry is having a down year in 2023 compared to his previous four-year run of elite production. Hitting 30 years old as an old-school power back likely continues his downward trajectory. Plus, will his next team feature him as much as Tennessee did for years without a strong quarterback?
Tony Pollard just misses Tier 1 status for two reasons. First, Pollard will be older than most would assume at 27 in 2024. Second, Pollard has underwhelmed this season with a clear workhorse opportunity in his first season without Ezekiel Elliott on the depth chart. D'Andre Swift was a tough-to-trust feature back until being one of the fantasy surprises in 2023 after being traded (for dirt cheap) to the Eagles. Antonio Gibson fits the profile of an under-the-radar mid-career value after multiple seasons as an NFL starter with two-way ability. Gus Edwards is a perfect fit in Baltimore, but the Ravens have been one of the weakest HLO (high-leverage opportunity) offenses in the NFL for years.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire makes Tier 2 with his Round 1 pedigree alone, and generally, an outcome like Sony Michel is a worst-case scenario, who was still relevant for multiple teams. Edwards-Helaire does have a top-24 finish under his belt, albeit years ago as a rookie. Zack Moss was nearly out of the NFL before finding the right confluence of factors in Indianapolis (Jonathan Taylor's holdout, Evan Hull's injury, Deon Jackson being lackluster) to thrive as a foundation back early this season. Moss will have more NFL opportunities in 2024, and deservedly so.
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