The 2023 Season is in the books. While there’s still some playoff football to help us see how players do in the clutch, for dynasty players, it’s a time to sit back, take stock, and see how players fared. Over the next couple of months, I’ll be looking back at the 2023, 2022, and 2021 classes by position. I’ll be evaluating if their stock rose, remained the same, or dropped during the course of the season. Now could be the time to sell high, buy low, or hold on to a winning hand. Today, I continue with the 2021 Running Backs.
Stock Up: Travis Etienne, Jacksonville Jaguars
About: Etienne went through some uneven periods down the stretch for the Jaguars, but he was unquestionably the lead back. He started all 17 games and finished as RB3 on the season. He had 11 rushing touchdowns and saw a big uptick in receiving work. Etienne looks like a solid workhorse back for the Jaguars and a good return on investment for fantasy players.
Stock Up: Chuba Hubbard, Carolina Panthers
About: Heading into the season, it was fair to wonder how Hubbard would do. The Panthers were a new offense, with a new scheme and signed Miles Sanders to a free-agent deal. But it was Hubbard who ended up taking control of the backfield by the end of the season. He finished as RB27, giving him fantasy-relevant appeal. But he was RB16 from Week 10 on, showing that he’d taken the lead in the backfield. He also finished with a career-high in carries, yardage and receptions. There are questions about what the Panthers will be on offense in 2024 as they seek a new coach, but Hubbard looks like a valuable young piece of the puzzle on offense.
Stock Up: Trey Sermon, Indianapolis Colts
About: I’m not delusional, nor am I suggesting Sermon is a startable player throughout 2024. But I am saying he’s worth a roster spot, which isn’t something that would have been true 12 months ago. Sermon was a Third-Round pick that never caught on with the 49ers or Eagles. But with the Colts, when he got an opportunity, he looked decent. Sermon figures to be in the mix behind Jonathan Taylor. For now, he’s worth a hold to see how the off-season shakes out.
Stock Neutral: Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers
About: Few players benefitted more from a change at Offensive Coordinator than Harris, who had seen his production and playing time slip while Matt Canada was calling the shots. In fact, Harris had been displaced by undrafted running back Jaylen Warren. But, down the stretch, we saw the Harris of old. He finished with his third-straight 1,000-yard season and sprung back to fantasy relevance. In fact, he was RB14 from Week 10 on. With the Steelers focusing on bringing in a new Offensive Coordinator in 2024, Harris should have a shot at weekly value again. For now, he’s a strong hold.
Stock Neutral: Khalil Herbert, Chicago Bears
About: Yes, the Bears’ offensive season was uneven in 2023. The team also is unsettled moving into 2024, as they’ll have a new Offensive Coordinator and possibly a new quarterback. But Herbert seemed to make the most of his opportunities. The backfield is still something of a mess with Roschon Johnson on the roster and possibly others. But, for now, at least, Herbert is a hold with some upside.
Stock Down: Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos
About: No one loves Williams more than me, and no one wants to see him achieve all his potential more than me. But through three seasons, it’s time to admit that he’s not offering the return on investment we’d hoped. In Sean Payton’s offense, despite playing the whole season, Williams was just RB29. He split carries and touches with veteran Samaje Perine and rookie Jaleel McLaughlin. He had a career-high in carries and receptions but less rushing yardage, less receiving yardage, and fewer touchdowns than his rookie season. He’s an RB3/Flex in this offense, maybe with RB2 upside. That’s a step down from where we’ve had him the past few off-seasons.
Stock Down: Rhamondre Stevenson, New England Patriots
About: Last season wasn’t great for Stevenson. In fairness, it wasn’t great for anyone on the Patriots’ offense. But Stevenson, after a career year in 2022, saw his games played, carries, yardage, yards per carry, targets, and receptions all decline in 2023. He was still, arguably, the Patriots’ best offensive player, but he wasn’t a great and reliable option in fantasy. Now, with the Patriots going through a coaching change and likely making some big changes, Stevenson’s role is far from certain. He’s still a player to roster, but I’m not bullish on his RB1 upside in 2024.
Stock Down: Michael Carter, Arizona Cardinals
About: The good news is Carter might have found a fit as a role player for the Cardinals. The bad news is the production is reduced from his first two years, and he’s, at best, going to be part of a rotation. But at least he caught on and has a role. That was no guarantee after he faded from the lineup with the Jets and was released. Carter is worth a low-end roster spot, but he’s little more than a deep-league, desperation flex option at this point.
Stock Down: Elijah Mitchell, San Francisco 49ers
About: Mitchell is a handcuff and role player. He’s worth a roster spot, especially for players who roster Christian McCaffrey, but he lacks standalone weekly value. Perhaps when his contract expires, he’ll get a shot with another team, but it’s a far cry from the value of a player who put up 963 yards in 11 games as a rookie.
Stock Down: Kenneth Gainwell, Philadelphia Eagles
About: Gainwell seemed to get his shot to be the guy to start the 2023 season. He was quickly displaced by D’Andre Swift. Yes, Gainwell had a career-high in carries and yardage in 2023. But he’s never cracked 85 carries or 400 yards in a season. He’s little more than a role player, and given the possible changes in Philadelphia this off-season, he’s little more than a deep bench option.
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.