There has been a flurry of moves this offseason as teams try to replicate the success that the Rams and Bengals achieved after being aggressive last offseason. Some running backs have new opportunities with new teams, whereas others found that the best outcome was re-signing to stay with their 2021 teams. Here are the biggest free agency losers at the running back position.
2022 Free Agency Losers: Running Backs
The fact that the Dolphins signed not one, but two, running backs in free agency speaks to their lack of confidence in Myles Gaskin. Chase Edmonds signed a two-year, $12 million deal, and Raheem Mostert signed a one-year, $3 million deal. Neither are being paid massive contracts, but Edmonds projects to be the lead back considering his annual salary, and Mostert is familiar with incoming head coach Mike McDaniel’s scheme from their time together in San Francisco. Their additions push Gaskin down the depth chart and erode his fantasy relevance. However, while Gaskin is one of the biggest free agency losers at running back and projects for a much-reduced role to start the 2022 season, he should still be a buy-low at the price of a third-round rookie pick or less. Mostert hasn’t been able to stay healthy in his career, and Miami is likely to utilize a committee backfield under Mike McDaniel, making Gaskin a candidate to be the 1B with RB2 upside if either Edmonds or Mostert were to miss time.
Christian McCaffrey has now missed the majority of the last two seasons due to injury after not having missed a single game in his first three seasons in the league. As a rookie last year, Chuba Hubbard averaged 17 percent of offensive snaps played in the six games where McCaffrey was fully healthy compared to a 52 percent snap rate in the 10 games that McCaffrey missed. Even in the 10 games where Hubbard started, Ameer Abdullah was utilized in a receiving role, limiting Hubbard’s fantasy production to just 10.9 PPR points per game over that span. With the Panthers now having signed D’Onta Foreman to a one-year deal, Hubbard’s upside remains limited even if McCaffrey were to miss time again in 2022. Foreman played well last season when filling in for Derrick Henry, and his presence is a big detriment to Hubbard’s short-term potential as McCaffrey’s handcuff. And when both McCaffrey and Foreman are healthy, Hubbard may not see the field much, if at all, eliminating any standalone upside for him in fantasy.
Antonio Gibson was listed among the recommend pre-free agency sells, so it should come as no surprise that he’s listed among the free agency losers at running back. With J.D. McKissic having re-signed in Washington on a two-year, $7 million deal, McKissic seems poised to maintain his passing-down role with Gibson mostly relegated to an early-down role, as he was for much of 2021. In the two full games last year when both Gibson and McKissic were healthy, Gibson averaged a 56 percent snap share and just two total targets as a receiver. Only after McKissic was injured did Gibson’s role expand to a 65 percent snap share and 4.8 targets per game over his final six games. The newly-renamed Commanders may not feel comfortable giving Gibson a large workload going forward considering his toe and shin injuries in his first two seasons, and McKissic’s return to Washington after a brief flirtation with Buffalo caps Gibson’s fantasy ceiling as a high-end RB2 in PPR formats.
The Bills rotated their running backs frequently in 2021 with a “hot hand” approach until Devin Singletary solidified his role as the lead back around Week 12 last year. He averaged a 74 percent snap share on offense over the last seven games and scored six total touchdowns over that span. There was some optimism that Singletary could take on a bigger workload on an efficient Buffalo offense heading into 2022, but that no longer seems to be the case. The Bills signed Duke Johnson to a one-year contract to replace Matt Breida on passing downs, which will continue to limit Singletary’s usage as a receiver. On top of that, Buffalo has met with a number of running backs in the incoming 2022 class, including top prospects like Breece Hall and Isaiah Spiller. The Bills don’t seem confident in Singletary handling a larger role, and dynasty GMs would be wise to sell for any second-round rookie pick at this point.
Luckily, reports are that Chris Carson‘s neck injury last year was not career-ending, but Carson will head into the 2022 season without a clear role, if any. With Carson still rehabbing post-surgery, the Seahawks re-signed Rashaad Penny to a one-year deal as insurance, and following Penny’s hot stretch of performances to close out the 2021 season, Carson could be looking at a vastly-reduced workload this coming year even if he’s healthy enough to play as the 1B to Penny’s 1A. Penny staying in Seattle makes Carson one of the biggest free agency losers at running back, and the fact that Carson will turn 28 in September doesn’t help his waning dynasty value either. Still, Penny has had his own share of injuries since entering the league, so Carson could be a value buy in dynasty for a third-round rookie pick or less with fantasy RB2 upside in the event that Penny was to miss time in 2022.
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