Welcome to the Stock Watch. While the picture above might make you worried you’ve stumbled into a financial advice column, have no fear, this is about our fantasy football stock. Each year in dynasty leagues we look forward to rookie drafts, snatching up all the prospects we know will lead to glory. But it doesn’t always happen right away. Over the next few pieces, as this off-season draws to a close, I’ll be taking stock of prospects at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end for the 2018, 2019, and 2020 draft class. This isn’t about the stars that we already know are great, it’s about the players taken in the first three rounds that haven’t hit yet—and might never hit.
Welcome back into the Stock Watch as the look at the Class of 2020 rolls on to running backs. Last year’s draft was running-back rich, with players like Jonathan Taylor, J.K. Dobbins, Cam Akers, D’Andre Swift Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and Antonio Gibson returning some great value. But they weren’t the only backs taken, and others in the class didn’t have a chance to make a splash during their rookie year. Here are four backs whose NFL future isn’t yet determined.
Drafted: No. 62 overall by the Green Bay Packers
Situation: Dillon was a second-round pick by the Packers who saw the field some but not a ton as a rookie. The team already had star Aaron Jones to lead the way and Jamaal Williams as a key contributor. That left Dillon as the third wheel, resulting in him seeing more than five carries in a game only once. He ended the season with just 46 carries for 242 yards and two TDs. But in that, Dillon got a chance to show what he could do in Week 16 against Tennessee, carrying 21 times for 124 yards and a TD.
The Packers liked what they saw, too. For a while this off-season, Dillon’s value soared as both Williams and Jones hit free agency. But while Williams shuffled off to Detroit, Jones re-upped on a sizeable four-year deal. That leaves Dillon playing a supporting role again in 2021.
Stock Value: Rising. It hit a high early in the winter, then dropped again when Jones re-signed. But people that are ruling out Dillon having a major role because of Jones haven’t looked closely enough. Last season, Williams had 119 carries and more than 500 yards rushing. Dillon figures to step in and share the RB load with Jones, especially on the ground. I suspect he gets 160-175 carries and returns RB3 value even without being a big part of the receiving game. And if Jones misses time due to injury, it’s fair to expect Dillon to shoulder the load. He might not be an RB1 or RB2, but Dillon should have Flex value at least from week to week.
Drafted: No. 76 overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Situation: No one was more hyped about Vaughn when he was drafted than me. It seemed like the perfect situation, a third-round pick who had a diverse skill set going to a team without a clear-cut running back hierarchy. Then the Buccaneers signed LeSean McCoy and, worse still, Leonard Fournette. Combining those two with returning back Ronald Jones created a logjam that kept Vaughn on the pine, much to the dismay of those who drafted him in the late first or early second round of rookie drafts. Vaughn did appear in a limited role in 2020, carrying 26 times for 109 yards and catching five passes for 34 yards and a TD.
Not much changes for Vaughn in 2021. He’s a year older, but the team still has Fournette and Jones atop the depth chart, and this off-season added veteran pass-catching specialist Giovanni Bernard. Vaughn should get to play in some pre-season games, but his path to meaningful regular-season touches has more than a few obstacles.
Stock Value: Fading. Vaughn seemed to hold such promise last off-season, but he can’t seem to carve out a role in Tampa Bay. Maybe he needs time, or maybe he needs a change of scenery, either way, his value is low right now with no clear impression that changes anytime soon.
Drafted: No. 86 overall by the Buffalo Bills
Situation: Moss is another running back that shot up rookie draft boards a year ago thanks to his situation. He arrived in Buffalo, a good offense, facing little competition other than fellow Third Round selection Devin Singletary, who was taken in the 2019 Draft. Many suspected Moss would be the better back, particularly in the Red Zone, making him a boon for fantasy players. It didn’t quite work out that way. Moss didn’t get a pre-season and struggled with injuries that limited him to just 13 games. He had 112 carries, rushing for 481 yards and 4 TDs, catching 14 passes for 95 yards and a TD.
Heading into 2021, Moss faces the same kind of opportunity. Singletary played in and started all 16 games, but he didn’t run away with the job. The team added veteran Matt Breida, but Moss still has a good shot at meaningful touches. The biggest obstacle is likely quarterback Josh Allen, who has posted at least eight rushing touchdowns in each of his three seasons.
Stock Value: Rising. Moss had promise last year but didn’t quite bloom. I think the hype was, perhaps, just a year too early. With a full off-season and pre-season, combined with another year in the system and I think he ends up the better of the two backs. How much better is a fair question, as he’s probably still an RB3. But unlike in 2020, I think he should be startable each week.
Drafted: No. 93 overall by the Tennessee Titans
Situation: Evans was taken near the end of the third round with the hopes he’d add to the backfield production for the Titans. In his final season at Appalachian State, he had 255 carries for 1,480 yards and 18 TDs, catching 21 passes for 198 yards and 5 TDs. But that college production didn’t carry over to the NFL in his rookie season. While Derrick Henry rushed for more than 2,000 yards, Evans hardly saw the field. He carried just 14 times for 54 yards and caught two passes for 27 yards.
Henry is still with the Titans in 2021, but the team has a new Offensive Coordinator. While Henry will still carry the load, Evans has another year in the system with a full off-season and pre-season. Given the shallow depth chart at receiver and tight end, there could be an opportunity for Evans to contribute in a new way.
Stock Value: Holding. It’s hard for his value to drop any lower after a rookie season that saw him barely involved. In fact, some may have given up on Evans. I haven’t—yet. I want to see how he’s used this year, but I still think there’s an opportunity for him to be a contributor in Tennessee.
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.