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It’s that time of year to clean out the bottom of our dynasty rosters and restock with players still on the upslope of their career, preferably with opportunity on the horizon in a good situation. This week, running backs.
Andre Ellington, ARI - Ellington will be a 28-year-old free agent, so he could be at or past the peak of his career arc, but he is a known talent, albeit an injury-prone one, and he could land in a spot with some opportunity on the horizon on the open market. Realization of value would require Ellington getting over the injury bug, but the reward if he can overcome the injury risk includes explosive receiving abilities. A team that uses Andre Ellington in a part-time role could keep him healthy and create PPR value with a dedicated target share.
Jonathan Williams, BUF - Williams is a potential every down talent who stuck on the Bills roster despite a summer DUI. He might still be the third string back next year, but LeSean McCoy won’t last forever and Mike Gillislee will be a restricted free agent, so it’s possible the Bills don’t tender him high enough to stave off interest from other teams because they like Williams.
Jalen Richard, OAK - The Matt Waldman favorite stormed past DeAndre Washington on the depth chart and is poised to get a lot more work next year if Latavius Murray leaves in free agency. He’s a compact back with outstanding burst and one to hold onto if only as Murray’s handcuff if the Raiders retain their current starter.
Dwayne Washington, DET - Washington was a late round size/speed flier who made the team and then played a larger role because of injuries in the backfield. His raw physical talent is unquestioned and it’s already translating better than expected. Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick will be under contract for the next two years, so it’s a wait with Washington, but he can show his stuff and preserve dynasty value in the “big back” role complementing them during that time.
Mike Gillislee, BUF - Gillislee has found new life in Buffalo and he has made the most of it. He is running with conviction and should either be the backup to LeSean McCoy in a good running game or on a team that is willing to pay a little more for him as a restricted free agent with more immediate opportunity. His 5.9 yards per carry career average on 119 carries is indicative of a back that could do more in the future.
Karlos Williams, PIT - I know Williams has a ten-game suspension, but the Steelers didn’t release him, he was reportedly impressive in his first practice with the team, and his brother plays linebacker for them and signed an extension last year. We know Williams is a special talent when he’s right. Le’Veon Bell is likely to return to the team in free agency and holding Williams would require a commitment of a roster spot to a player who has the profile of someone who will never play again, but you don’t find talents like him on the dynasty waiver wire very often.
DeAndre Washington, OAK - Washington hasn’t been as good as Jalen Richard this year, but he was a bit of a raw running back coming out of Texas Tech. The possibility of Latavius Murray leaving in free agency means the Washington is still adjacent to big potential opportunity while he’s still developing as a running back.
Tyler Gaffney, NE - LeGarette Blount keeps on ticking, but Gaffney was good enough this summer to cause some to speculate that he would make the team and a few to even have him pushing Blount for a roster spot. It’s not impossible that he’s the team’s big back next year.
Darius Jackson, CLE - Jackson is a 98th percentile SPARQ freak who was claimed by four teams when he was released by the Cowboys. The Browns have Isaiah Crowell, but he will be a free agent in 2018. If a potential playoff team like the Giants was willing to create space for Jackson this late in the season, then it’s a good idea to do the same on your dynasty squad.
Peyton Barber, TB - Barber wasn’t eye-popping in his audition when injuries gutted the Bucs backfield, but he was competent and this as a back who was widely viewed to have to come out a year too early. Barber came out of school because his mom was homeless. It was speculated that he would have been a third or fourth round pick in 2017. His burst/size/power combination will improve with time and the Bucs seem intent on developing him.
Rex Burkhead, CIN - Burkhead has flashed in limited time after Giovani Bernard went down and just in time for free agency. He is a good enough receiver to play the slot and not a scatback as a runner out of the backfield. A team with immediate opportunity could poach him for cheap on the open market this offseason.
Tyler Ervin, HOU - Ervin failed to make an impact this year in the Texans backfield, but he’s still a dynamic open field talent who is just scratching the surface heading into his second year in the league. He matches the receiving back/playmaker profile that could get on the radar in PPR leagues.
Brandon Wilds, NYJ - Another Matt Waldman favorite, Wilds is on the active roster right now, and he’s behind two backs who are at or beyond their career peak. He’s a powerful, efficient back, although one that might lack upside.
Josh Ferguson, IND - Ferguson had a lot of momentum this summer, but it tailed off when he took a regular season field. He could still vie for a part of the backfield next year whether the Colts move on from Frank Gore or not.