The 2022 NFL Season is nearly over. We have just one more meaningful game. But the dynasty season is heating up. Soon, we’ll have Free Agency, rookie drafts, and more as we attempt to remain on top or make the moves needed to be a contender. Over the next four installments, I’ll be offering some Buy, Hold, and Sell suggestions for players. I’ll have three in each category for the four major offensive positions—QB, RB, WR, and TE. Today, I look at RBs.
Buy: Travis Etienne, Jacksonville Jaguars
About: Etienne was one of two backs that went in the First Round of the 2021 NFL Draft. He is also a player that didn’t see a single snap as a rookie, thanks to a pre-season foot injury. He went into his second year something of an unknown after being a high pick in the 2021 Rookie Drafts. After starting the season behind James Robinson, he quickly seized the top role and thrived. Etienne finished as RB15 and shows few signs of slowing down. He’s also on an ascending offense. Etienne was a force as a rusher and receiver, giving him good PPR value. It might be too late, but if I can, I’m buying him low as a player who could have fringe RB1 value for years to come.
Buy: Rhamondre Stevenson, New England Patriots
About: Stevenson made a solid showing as a rookie, but it’s long been a concern that Patriot backs don’t get a reliable workload. Stevenson also appeared to be in a timeshare with Damien Harris. All that went out the window in 2022. Stevenson finished as RB10. His 1,040 rushing yards were impressive, but he also saw 88 targets and caught 69 passes. Harris is a free agent, and Stevenson has already shown himself a capable three-down back. The Patriots have plenty of needs on offense, but Stevenson is proving running back isn’t one of them. He’s a Top 24 RB option that doesn’t yet have that kind of name recognition, I’m scooping him up where I can.
Buy: Khalil Herbert, Chicago Bears
About: This is a speculative add. David Montgomery has led the running back touches the past few years, but he’s a free agent. We’ve also seen Herbert, when given a chance, has proven more explosive in the Chicago offense. It’s a rich free agent, and rookie class at running back, and the Bears have both picks and cap space. They’ll add someone, and it’s possible Herbert remains little more than a role-playing back. But I like his potential, and I like the potential of the opportunity. I’m picking him up and hoping he gets a shot at more snaps and touches.
Hold: J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens
About: It’s been tough to roster Dobbins, who was a top pick in the 2020 Rookie Drafts. Unfortunately, injury cost him his 2021 season and limited him to eight games and less than 100 carries in 2022. That’s not great production for a player at a crucial position. So, why hold? Because there is potential. Dobbins rushed for 520 yards, averaging 5.7 yards per carry when he did get touches to end 2022. After what should be a full off-season, the hope is Dobbins comes right back into being the alpha back on the offense in 2023. It’s taken a while, but he looks poised to finally deliver a Top 24 running back season. For those that invested early and have remained patient, I’m holding on and waiting to reap the rewards.
Hold: Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams
About: Few players saw the kind of monumental value shifts that Akers endured in 2022. He’s another player taken high in rookie drafts in 2020 that lost the entire 2021 season and part of the 2022 season due to injury. He also seemed to slide out of his team’s good graces during the middle of 2022. Then, a funny thing happened. He returned to the team and returned to the field. That turned out to be a good thing. From Week 13 on, Akers got more than 10 carries each game and finished as RB4 during that period. It’s the kind of strong stretch that builds momentum and a big reason why I’m holding Akers for 2023, as his value appears to be on the upswing.
Hold: Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys
About: Pollard had a spectacular 2022 season, looking at times like the Cowboys’ best offensive player. Then he broke his fibula in the team’s Divisional Round game. Now, he’s recovering from injury and heading into free agency. Despite all those challenges, I expect him to have a strong 2023. Whether back in Dallas or if he lands on another RB-needy team, I expect Pollard to produce. His injury and looming free agency haven’t scared me off, so I’m holding him and waiting to cash in as his value either rises or he becomes a reliable start for a contending dynasty squad.
Sell: Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals
About: This isn’t an overreaction to last week’s charges. In fact, Mixon was on my list of sells before any of that even broke. The issue is simple—his production. Mixon’s Top 10 finish is deceiving as he produced only 814 rushing yards and averaged less than four yards per carry. He also ceded plenty of time to Samaje Perine, a better blocker, and carries a bloated contract. The Bengals can save money without much dead cap space if they release Mixon this summer, and I think that’s what they do. Some still value Mixon as a Top 12 option, I’m finding one of those people and selling him this off-season.
Sell: Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
About: You’re probably looking at this and wondering what gives. Kamara was fairly durable in 2022, and despite an uneven offense and the departure of Sean Payton, he finished as RB16, putting up comparable rushing and receiving numbers to his previous years. I have long loved Kamara and loved having him on my dynasty teams, but age and situation catch up eventually. Kamara is a player that has plenty of wear and tear, and he’s heading into a still uncertain offensive situation in 2023 as the Saints look for stability at quarterback, wide receiver, and offensive line, among other slots. If you’re a contending team, maybe you hang on to Kamara for a last push. Otherwise, I’m selling while his value is still high and looking to invest in someone with a more promising future.
Sell: D’Andre Swift, Detroit Lions
About: Again, you might be wondering what gives. Well, for me, it’s about perceived value versus production. Swift is a player perceived to have a Top 10 value. He is explosive and has the potential to put up huge performances. He’s also in a strong offense for the ascending Lions. The problem is that Swift hasn’t been a consistent fantasy producer to match his perceived value. He finished as RB21. He ended up the second-best running back on his own team, with Jamaal Williams finishing as RB13. Williams is a free agent, but it’s unclear that even if he moves on, the Lions would commit to giving a bigger workload to Swift or that he could stay on the field long enough to make the most of it. People see Swift as a Top 10 value, but his production hasn’t matched it. I’m selling high.
Matthew Fox is a die-hard NFL fan and Broncos’ homer. He’s a member of the FSWA. You can find more from him on Twitter @knighthawk7734 or as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a part of the Campus2Canton Network.