One of the most fun parts of managing a deep dynasty roster is cultivating value by planting seeds at the end of your bench during the offseason. We’ll go position-by-position and separate players out into Snorkel, Scuba, and Submarine levels to serve dynasty players of all levels.
Let's look at running backs, a position where players can go from practice squad/healthy scratch to firmly in a team’s future plans quickly enough to give you whiplash
Pierre Strong, New England - We’re assuming here that guys like Zamir White and Isaiah Spiller have been rostered since rookie drafts. The same probably was true of Strong in some leagues, but he was on the waiver wire in many until late in the season, when an injury to Rhamondre Stevenson got him on the field. He impressed, and the Patriots might not be able to put this genie back in the bottle. Try to get a buy-low trade offer in for him if you weren’t the lucky one to draft or pick Strong up.
Jerome Ford, Cleveland - Ford should be the backup to 27-year-old Nick Chubb next season. Chubb’s contract is up before Ford’s rookie deal, and if Chubb breaks down next year, the Browns can easily get out of the final year of Chubb’s contract. Ford looked great in the preseason and is still flying below the radar in dynasty leagues because he landed on injured reserve.
Samaje Perine, Chris Evans, Cincinnati - Perine is the preferred stash and probably a cost-effective option in free agency for a Bengals team that will likely be replacing Joe Mixon. Evans was a project pick in the sixth round last year, and he has stuck around on the roster. Samaje Perine is a free agent next year, and his performances in place of a concussed Joe Mixon might have priced him out of the Bengals' budget. Evans is good in the passing game, and he was generating buzz this offseason before Perine came on to retain his backup job.
Nyheim Hines, Buffalo - This will be the year Hines usage tops out, really! Okay, we have taken this bait before, but if the Bills don’t make a splashy move at running back this offseason, we’re likely looking at a Hines-Cook backfield, which will make Hines at least a flex option in PPR leagues.
Jaylen Warren, Pittsburgh - Warren is blocked by Najee Harris for the time being, but the UDFA rocketed up the Steelers' depth chart this summer and has looked good any time he has gotten a chance this season in a mediocre offense. If Harris misses significant time, Warren could prove he deserves a chance to start.
Trey Sermon, Philadelphia - The Eagles have used a roster spot on Sermon all season, even though he hasn’t contributed to the team. That means they see something in him that the 49ers might have overlooked or misinterpreted. Miles Sanders is a free agent. If he leaves and Sermon endears himself to the team, he could have a role in the backfield next year.
Gary Brightwell, New York Giants - Brightwell has arguably outplayed Matt Breida in limited duty, and this regime kept him as a holdover from last year, so they like him. Saquon Barkley is a free agent, so Brightwell could get a chance to have a piece of this backfield if Barkley leaves.
Keaontay Ingram, Arizona - Ingram has outlasted other previous draft picks and free agent additions to back up James Conner, and if he can hold that job next year, he’ll likely get a chance to start and show his stuff.
Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson, Miami - Both backs are free agents, but they’ll be worth more to Miami than other teams, and they’ll have more chances to produce and increase their value in Miami than on other teams. We know this will be a productive running game; we just don’t know who will lead it.
Julius Chestnut, Hassan Haskins, Tennessee - Derrick Henry is still running strong, but he’s reportedly on the trade block. Haskins was drafted, while Chestnut was undrafted, but Chestnut also generated more buzz in training camp than Haskins. Don’t forget Dontrell Hilliard, who is a free agent but was impressive behind Henry before getting hurt.
Deon Jackson, Indianapolis - Jackson impressed as a receiver and showed he belongs on an NFL roster earlier this season. He’ll be an ERFA next year, which means the Colts can bring him back cheaply to backup Jonathan Taylor, a job he earned with his performance this season.
Malik Davis, Dallas - Davis stuck as an undrafted free agent, which should get him the #3 running back job in 2023 and #2 next season. This team will remain run-heavy, so Davis could have value during the season if injuries strike the backfield, and there’s no guarantee that Tony Pollard’s recovery will be uneventful.
Jordan Mason, San Francisco - He had to overcome some resistance after making the final 53 and being active in Week 1, but the 49ers finally relented and gave him some work in the backfield. Mason has proven to be a very efficient, effective, and physical runner in this system, while third-round pick Tyrion Davis-Price has shown nothing that should make us think he’ll eventually overtake Mason. We’re talking about the 49ers' third-string back here, but given Christian McCaffrey and Elijah Mitchell’s injury histories, that back could matter in 2023 fantasy leagues.
Trestan Ebner, Chicago - Darrynton Evans took over the backup/change of pace role from the team’s sixth-round pick. But Evans is a free agent, and so is David Montgomery. That means that a Khalil Herbert/Ebner backfield is in the range of outcomes, and Ebner could become a receiving back on a team with a shortage of established wide receivers.
Kene Nwangwu, Ty Chandler, Minnesota - Alexander Mattison was available on the trade market before the season, a strong sign that the team won’t retain him in free agency. Nwangwu was a pick of the previous regime, so Chandler has intrigue as a better receiving back, while Nwangwu has more raw speed. Dalvin Cook is getting into the part of his contract where the team can get out with minimal pain, so there could be more future opportunity there than we think.