Fantasy Football NFL Free Agency Impact: Running Backs

Free agent signings and a few high-impact trades have changed the landscape for several NFL teams. What kind of impact will those moves have in fantasy football? Josh Larky and Ryan Reynolds continue their free-agent series by exploring fantasy-relevant running backs.


All contract figures are from Ari Meirov’s Free Agent Tracker, and all data comes from our flagship tool, The Edge.

Other Fantasy Impact Stories: TE | WR | QB

Fantasy Free Agent RB Impact

Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

Saquon Barkley

Giants Franchise Tagged Barkley for 1 year, $10.09M

  • Saquon Barkley was fourth in the league in yards rushing (1,312) and eighth in rushing touchdowns (10) for the New York Giants last season.
  • He was fifth among running backs in fantasy points last year.
  • Barkley had 295 carries (fourth most) and 76 targets (sixth most among RBs) last season.
  • Barkley had 352 total touches last season.
  • We are above consensus on Barkley in best ball, as he represents a tier break at the position.

Josh Jacobs

Raiders Franchise Tagged Jacobs for 1 Year, $10.09M

  • Josh Jacobs led the league in yards rushing (1,653) and tied for fourth in rushing touchdowns (12).
  • He was third among running backs in fantasy points last year.
  • Jacobs had 340 carries (second most) and 65 targets (11th most among RBs) for the Las Vegas Raiders last season.
  • Jacobs had 393 total touches last season.
  • We are right around consensus on Jacobs in best ball, but we are concerned about his massive workload from last season.


Tony Pollard

Cowboys Franchise Tagged Pollard for 1 Year, $10.09M

  • Tony Pollard fractured his fibula and suffered a high ankle sprain during the Dallas Cowboys’ playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers.
  • He is expected to be ready for training camp.
  • Pollard was eighth among running backs in fantasy points per game last season.
  • Pollard had 1,007 yards rushing (15th among RBs) and nine rushing TDs (tied for ninth among RBs).
  • He added 371 yards receiving (12th among RBs) and another three TDs through the air (tied for seventh among RBs).
  • The Cowboys released Ezekiel Elliott, opening the door for Pollard to have a bigger role.
  • We have moved Pollard up in our best ball rankings since Eliott’s release to the point we are above consensus on Pollard.

Miles Sanders

Signed With Panthers for 4 years, $25M

  • He probably fills D’Onta Foreman’s role, getting 12-15 carries per game with minimal receiving work.
  • Miles Sanders is a high-floor, low-ceiling pick and is not a player we’re targeting in best ball. Focus on players with a three-down skillset in the middle rounds of drafts.

David Montgomery

Signed With Lions for 3 Years, $18M

  • The Detroit Lions backfield led the NFL in fantasy points per game (PPR) last season, so David Montgomery should be fantasy relevant alongside D’Andre Swift. Detroit’s elite offensive line and Jared Goff’s penchant for dump-off passes to RBs should help too.
  • Sanders and Montogmery are going in a similar range in best-ball drafts, but Montgomery is the preferred pick.

Rashaad Penny

Signed with the Eagles for 1 Year, $1.35 million

  • Rashaad Penny is positioned to inherit Sanders’ run-centric role with the Philadelphia Eagles.
  • Sanders had 1,269 yards rushing (fifth in the league) and 11 rushing touchdowns (seventh in the league) last season.
  • Expect Penny to have a limited role in the passing game while Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott both see playing time.
  • We have been targeting Penny, but his ADP is quickly correcting.

Jeff Wilson, Raheem Mostert

Both Re-Signed With Dolphins for 2 Years

  • Jeff Wilson gets $6 million over two years.
  • Raheem Mostert gets $5.6 million over two years.
  • The Miami Dolphins will likely deploy these two in a timeshare similar to last season.
  • We’d bet on Wilson seeing more volume throughout the season.
  • We’re targeting Wilson over Mostert in best ball drafts, but we’re interested in both players at their current ADP.

Jamaal Williams

Signed with Saints for 3 Years, $12M

  • Jamaal Williams ran for 1,066 yards (10th among RBs) while leading the league with 17 rushing touchdowns last year.
  • The Lions had a top-five-level offensive line last year. The New Orleans Saints are one of the few teams Williams could have signed with where he won’t suffer from a massive drop-off in that area.
  • Williams only saw 16 targets last year, but he had 34 or more targets in his four seasons with the Green Bay Packers.
  • Williams is positioned to be the Saints’ primary ball carrier for however long Alvin Kamara could be suspended.
  • When Kamara is active, we expect Williams to have a notable, run-centric role.
  • We are slightly above consensus on Williams in best ball.

Samaje Perine

Signed With Broncos for 2 Years, $7.5M

  • The Denver Broncos are a fascinating landing spot for Samaje Perine, given Javonte Williams’ injury uncertainty.
  • We could see Perine getting a Pierre Thomas-type role in Sean Payton’s offense (at least 100 carries and 50 targets).
  • We are above consensus on Perine and are actively targeting him in best ball.

D’Onta Foreman

Signed With Bears for 1 Year, $3M

  • Foreman finished last season with 914 yards rushing (18th among RBs) and five touchdowns (tied for 20th among RBs).
  • That said, Foreman only had 12 total carries during his first five games.
  • From there, Foreman breached 100 yards rushing in five of his last 11 games.
  • Foreman only saw nine targets, limiting his fantasy upside.
  • We expect Foreman to push Khalil Herbert as the primary runner in Chicago. Both players could see double-digit carries per game regularly.
  • We are neutral on Foreman’s landing spot, which has us below the current consensus in best ball.


Alexander Mattison

Re-Signed With Vikings for 2 Years, $7M

  • Alexander Mattison returns to elite handcuff status in fantasy since he’s back with the Minnesota Vikings.
  • Minnesota has shown it’ll give Mattison a full role when injuries thrust him into the lineup.
  • The Vikings may move on from Dalvin Cook, which could put Mattison in a lead-back role.
  • We moved Mattison way up in our best ball rankings when he returned to Minnesota. He’s now a player we are trying to have a neutral (8 percent) type of exposure to.

James Robinson

Signed With Patriots for 2 Years, $8M

  • James Robinson was traded from the Jacksonville Jaguars to the New York Jets near last year’s trade deadline.
  • He was underwhelming in both spots.
  • Robinson’s contract strikes us as a good thing for Rhamondre Stevenson’s hold on his stellar role from last season.
  • We are not targeting Robinson in best ball.

Best Available: Damien Harris, Leonard Fournette, Devin Singletary, Kareem Hunt


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