With Week 5 of the 2021 NFL season in the books, fantasy football standings are beginning to truly reflect the strength of teams. With the first round of bye weeks on the horizon (the Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets, and San Francisco 49ers all have the week off) depth will begin to be tested. Dynasty rosters will especially be pushed to the limit over the next few weeks as deep bench stashes become starting options. Below is a look at a couple of rookie running backs that had varying performances in Week 5 yet both remain great options for dynasty teams.
RB Khalil Herbert, Chicago Bears
With starting running back David Montgomery suffering a knee injury in Week 4, Damien Williams and Herbert split the backfield work in Week 5 against the Raiders combining for all 34 carries. I wrote about Herbert in late August as a player to keep an eye on, particularly because Tarik Cohen was to start the season on the PUP list. I said Herbert “has a great opportunity to not only make the roster but have an on-field impact in the first few weeks of the season thanks to his explosiveness and blocking skills”, and he demonstrated this in the first significant action of his career.
On a 53% snap share, he turned his 18 carries into 75 yards – three of which were red zone rushing attempts. Though he didn’t record a target, Herbert looked solid and should improve as he sees more opportunities over the next few weeks. With Williams on a one-year contract and Montgomery scheduled to be a free agent after 2022, Herbert is a fantastic pickup if he’s still on your dynasty waiver wire and a good buy if he’s not. I would be willing to move a couple of back-end pieces at other positions (think Quez Watkins and James Washington) and would pay up to a rookie third-round pick and a back-end player.
RB Kenneth Gainwell, Philadelphia Eagles
After registering 19 rushes for 84 yards & two touchdowns along with 13 catches on 21 targets for 114 yards in the first four weeks of the season, Gainwell had just three touches in Week 5. Despite not exceeding a 39% snap share through the first four weeks, this was enough for him to rank as the PPR RB25 in that time period and still checks in at RB31 despite a Week 5 dud. His fast start has come at the expense of Miles Sanders’ production, who ranks just one spot higher at PPR RB30 after the first five weeks. Gainwell has been remarkably efficient with his opportunities and is flashing the same receiving abilities he showed at Memphis. With Sanders’ a free agent after 2022, Gainwell is a great buy for contending and rebuilding teams who should look to take advantage of a slight dip in his price. The Eagles play on Thursday night against Tampa Bay, a game in which Gainwell is certain to see plenty of work. I would certainly see if two rookie third-round picks for him, but his value has likely passed that in your league. A much more likely price (and one that I’d still be comfortable paying) is a second-round pick for a rebuilding team or a rookie second-round pick with an additional back-end piece (such as Ty’Son Williams or Rashaad Penny).