Taking advantage of uncertain running back rooms- NFC

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Dallas Cowboys backfield: Ezekiel Elliott (ADP: 128) and Rico Dowdle (ADP: 141.5)

Though he’s seen his ADP rise considerably since the start of the bestball season, Elliott is still going too low in drafts. The Cowboys have one of the best offenses in the league and Elliott is likely to be both the goalline back and lead the team in targets from the backfield.

Last season with the Patriots, Elliott started just 5 games, but he still finished as RB32 in fantasy points. And in 2022 Elliott missed two games, ceded considerable work to Tony Pollard, and had questions of slowing down, yet he finished as RB 19. He’s currently going as RB 39.

Dowdle played well in relief of Pollard last season, and could see a larger role regardless this season. The concern is that Elliott could be both the primary goalline and pass catching back, so that does limit the stand alone value.

Advice: Take both at their current ADPs, but Elliott does feel like a major missed price asset right now. Elliott is definitely a player worth taking a stand on, as he could be a top 20 RB that you are taking rounds later than he should be going.

Washington Commanders backfield: Brian Robinson Jr. (ADP: 110.8), Austin Ekeler (ADP: 126.7)

Last season Robinson firmly took control of the starting job, and had 733 rushing yards and 5 TDs, and an additional 368 receiving yards and 4 more TDs through the air. Robinson might lack the ability to be an elite back, but he can be a good starter. The question is how firm is his hold on this starting role?

The Commanders brought in Austin Ekeler this offseason, as added competition, but he could end up taking a larger role. It was Ekeler’s worst year since taking over the starting duties for the Chargers, yet he still had 2 20 point games and three others of 18.5-19. Ekeler should at least retain the passing down work load in this offseason, but he could get more goalline opportunities than people expect.

Advice: I’d keep drafting both of this backs at this price point, as either could have enough spike weeks to justify the investment. I do like Ekeler a bit better given the savings, and we know his passing involvement gives him a much better baseline.

Chicago Bears back-up RB: Khalil Herbert (ADP: 179.1), Roschon Johnson (ADP 195.1)

Swift is unquestionably the starter on this team, but the back-up role is more open for business here. Currently Herbert has the more experience and higher ADP, but there are reports that he might not be in Chicago at the start of this season.

That still remains to be seen if it’s the case, as he’s been relatively productive when given opportunities. With his only real competition being Johnson, Herbert should be able to carve out a solid role. He out preformed Johnson both as a rusher and a receiver in yards per attempt and per target.

Advice: I’m taking a little of both, but I’m favoring Herbert right now. He’s shown more that he could more over an extended period of time. Even if there is some risk of Hervert possibly being traded, but that could potentially work out to his benefit if he goes to the right

Tampa Bay Buccaneers back-up RB: Bucky Irving (ADP: 170.9), Sean Tucker (ADP: 216.0), Chase Edmonds (ADP: Undrafted)

Raachad White has the starting role locked down, but the Buccaneers back-up job is open for business. Rookie Bucky Irving is the current leader to earn this role, but he will need to hold off 2nd year back Sean Tucker and veteran Chase Edmonds.

Irving has the upside to be a solid starter if anything were to happen to White, but it’s unclear how strong of a role this will be without an injury.

Advice: I’m taking some Irving below his ADP, but outside of that I’m not really taking any of the other Buccaneers back-up options.

Arizona Cardinals backfield: James Conner (ADP- 94.1), Trey Benson (ADP: 105.8)

Typically when we see these split backfields I think you can find value and hedge your bets, but taking a decent share of the lower ADP player. The Cardinals situation though could be the exception to the rule. James Conner has been one of the better backs in the league from a fantasy perspective when he’s been on the field over the last three seasons.

In that time Conner had 7 RB1 and three other RB2 games in 2021 out of 15 games played. In 2022, he had 5 RB1 games and 4 RB2 games out of 13 games played. And last season in another 13 games, he had 6 RB1 games and 1 RB 2 games. That is extremely good consistency, particularly on a team that has lacked a top QB for much of that stretch and has dealt with serious OL issues. With a healthy Murray and hopefully some improvements to the OL, Conner could be a steal going this late.

Benson is a talented rookie, but is he really going to unseat a back like Conner who has been so good over the past couple years? It feels like Benson will struggle to produce any real fantasy impact, unless there is an injury.

Advice: Load up on James Conner shares, and avoid Benson until his price accurately reflects his most likely role.


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