The 2024 NFL Draft is in the books and the biggest wave of free agency is over. That makes it a perfect time to take stock of NFL rosters as we head toward the 2024 season. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be looking at the quarterbacks, running backs, and pass catchers for all 32 NFL Teams. I’ll be ranking each unit 1-16 in their conference. When it comes to taking stock of the whole unit, it’s not just about star power but depth. After starting with quarterbacks, it’s time to talk backfields. We’ve seen a rise in the committee approach to running back in recent years to the point that 144 running backs recorded fantasy points in 2023. Today, I look at the bottom eight rooms in the AFC.

No. 16: Cincinnati Bengals

On the Roster: Zack Moss, Chase Brown, Trayveon Williams, Chris Evans, and Elijah Collins

About: Look, the Bengals could end up with a solid room. Last year, Joe Mixon finished as RB6. We know there is volume and potential in the group. But can this group maximize that? I’m not sure, which is why I have them at No. 16. Moss performed admirably last year filling in for Jonathan Taylor. But during his time in Buffalo, Moss chronically felt short of expectations. Even last season, he wasn’t asked to carry the load all season. He started eight games, rushing for a career-high 794 yards and five touchdowns. Now, the Bengals will need more.

I also liked what we saw from Brown, but his sample size is limited. He rushed for just 179 yards and caught 14 passes. The potential is there, and the opportunity is there, but the Bengals lack experience. That was why I dropped them to No. 16.

No. 15: Las Vegas Raiders

On the Roster: Zamir White, Alexander Mattison, Ameer Abdullah, Dylan Laube, and Britton Brown

About: The Raiders aren’t in much better shape than the Bengals. In fact, for me, it was a coin toss. I gave the Raiders an edge because Mattison and Abdullah have a bit more experience. This will likely come down to whether White can hold up for a whole season. White started for an injured Jacobs for four games, rushing for 451 yards and grabbing 14 passes. It was a good sample, but now he’s being asked to do more.

The Raiders also added Mattison, a veteran who has shown ability as a complementary back. When given a shot to lead the backfield in Minnesota last year, he fell short. That means he has experience, but the upside might be limited. So, much like with the Bengals, the opportunity is there, but it’s fair to question the group.

No. 14: Los Angeles Chargers

On the Roster: J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, Kimani Vidal, Isaiah Spiller, and Elijah Dotson

About: This is a re-building unit. New coach Jim Harbaugh and Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman are re-making this unit, along with the rest of the offense. To that end, Roman added Dobbins and Edwards in free agency, two backs he’s familiar with from his time in Baltimore. Dobbins has enormous potential but has been injury-plagued since coming into the league. If he’s finally healthy, he could offer some big upside.

But the steady option is Edwards, whose been a steady performer over his career, including in 2023 when he led the Ravens’ backfield. He rushed for 810 yards and 13 touchdowns last season and figures to lead the Chargers’ attack. That gives them a more veteran presence than the two teams below them. In addition, the Chargers have some prospects in Spiller and the rookie Vidal. That, combined with Dobbins, gives them an interesting mix. But the questions were enough to keep them in this range.

No. 13: New England Patriots

On the Roster: Rhamondre Stevenson, Antonio Gibson, Kevin Harris, and JaMychal Hasty

About: The Patriots have good potential, with a strong lead back in Stevenson. In 2022, he rushed for 1,040 yards and caught 69 passes. He took a step back, missing time with injury in 2023. But he gives them a good lead back, arguably the best lead back so far on this list.

Behind him, the Patriots added Gibson, who has strong pass-catching and third-down back potential. He could be deployed similarly to James White, providing the Patriots with a good tandem. Harris and Hasty are depth backs, but the top two here were enough to bump the Patriots to this spot.

No. 12: Kansas City Chiefs

On the Roster: Isiah Pacheco, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Deneric Prince, Keontay Ingram, Emani Bailey, and Carson Steele

About: The Chiefs land next, owing this ranking to Pacheco. In his two years, he’s rushed for 1,765 yards and 12 touchdowns in his two seasons. Last year, he even upped his game as a receiver, catching 44 passes. He’s a solid lead back that fits the Chiefs’ offense well.

Behind him, the team retained former First-Round pick Edwards-Helaire. He hasn’t produced as expected in his four years with the Chiefs, but he’s a solid rotational back who knows the offense. That’s the good part. Beyond them, the room is thin. Prince is an interesting prospect, as could be rookies Bailey and Steele. Then there’s Ingram, who joins the Chiefs after being released by the Cardinals. There could be potential in the room, but it’s hardly a sure thing. That’s what keeps the Chiefs, behind a good lead pair, from rising higher on the list for me.

No. 11: Baltimore Ravens

On the Roster: Derrick Henry, Justice Hill, Keaton Mitchell, and Rasheen Ali

About: The Ravens have Henry, who has been a beast in the backfield for the past decade. So, why so low? It comes down to Henry’s age and the lack of experience. Hill has been oft-injured, Mitchell is coming off a major injury, and Ali is a rookie. So, the Ravens will need the power and experience of Henry to carry the day. In eight years with the Titans, Henry has rushed for 9,502 yards and 90 touchdowns. But that’s also come with more than 2,000 carries, and Henry started to show signs of wear for the Titans in 2023. The Ravens have a good rushing offense, so he should be a weapon for the team. But he’s getting older, and the group is thin behind him, so they land at No. 11 for me.

No. 10: Denver Broncos

On the Roster: Javonte Williams, Samaje Perine, Jaleel McLaughlin, Audric Estime, Blake Watson, and Tyler Badie

About: As a big Broncos fan, I’m always weary of being a homer in these rankings. I’m also weary of being too critical. So, it seems fitting this group lands at 10 for me. They have a good, potentially deep group. But it’s not without questions.

Last season, the Broncos ran three deep in the backfield, with Williams, Perine, and McLaughlin all having a role. Despite Denver’s struggles offensively, that trio combined for nearly 1,500 yards and five touchdowns. They also combined for 128 receptions. To that, the Broncos added a solid draft pick in Estime, out of Notre Dame, and an intriguing undrafted free agent in Watson. It’s likely only four at most will make the active roster, creating some fierce competition and some depth.

With Williams another year removed from his knee injury, he could take a step forward as the leader of this backfield, too. I like the depth and the pieces in this offense, which was enough to boost the team to this tenth spot.

No. 9: Buffalo Bills

On the Roster: James Cook, Ty Johnson, Ray Davis, Darrynton Evans, and Frank Gore, Jr.

About: Cook is the best back so far on this list, and he proved it in a feature role in 2023. He rushed for 1,122 yards and caught 44 passes, adding six touchdowns. He is a great feature back in this offense.

Behind him, the Bills have some interesting options but no sure locks. Johnson was a great role player in 2023, while Evans profiles as more of a Special Teams option. But the team added a pair of rookies in Davis and Gore, who could contribute. I’m especially excited to see what Davis can do in the offense. So, that potential, combined with Cook’s performance, was enough to move this group up to the top of the first half of this countdown.

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.

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