As we close the book on the 2017 season, it’s time to take a look at 2018’s free agent market. Last week I gave detailed write ups for each of the top 6 free agents at the running back position. This week we go dumpster diving, to gather a bit of information on the remaining 28 free agent running backs coming in to 2018.
The top 6.
(Age as of February 8th, 2018)
1. Le’veon Bell (25)
2. Carlos Hyde (26)
3. Isaiah Crowell (25)
4. Jerrick Mckinnon (25)
5. Dion Lewis (27)
6. Rex Burkhead (27)
The bottom 28.
7. Jeremy Hill (25) –
Hill rushed for over 1,000 yards as a rookie along side Giovanni Bernard. In years two and three he hung around 800 yards on the ground, before falling off heavily in 2017. Hill played only 7 games this season after the Bengals drafted the talented rookie, Joe Mixon, in the second round.
8. Alfred Morris (29) –
Morris started his career with 3 straight 1,000-yard seasons, including 1,613 yards as a rookie. His contract expired in Washington and he moved on to Dallas. He provided little upside as Zeke Elliot’s back up but rushed for 4.8 yards per attempt in his 6 starts this season.
9. LeGarrette Blount (31) –
Blount saw massive regression in 2017 from his 18 touchdowns the season prior. Despite hitting the wrong side of 30, Blount managed to produce 766 yards rushing for the Eagles and played a significant role in their Super bowl push.
10. Eddie Lacy (27) –
Since 2015 Eddie Lacy has shown little to nothing resembling his first two seasons in which he totaled 2,317 yards combined rushing. Lacy managed to catch on with the Seahawks; signing a contract riddled with weight incentives. He shed the weight, but he seemed to have shed the talent as well.
11. Frank Gore (34) –
Frank Gore’s lowest rushing total in a season since his sophomore year is 853. He has more 1,000-yard seasons (9) in his career than Legarratte Blount had receptions in 2017 (8). The age doesn’t seem to matter. If Gore decides to play he’s going to produce.
12. Terrance West (27) –
West entered the 2017 season with a great shot at the starting job for the Ravens. He was surprisingly overtaken by both Alex Collins and Javorius Allen after suffering a minor injury. West still has the physicality to produce in short yardage situations.
13. Charles Sims (27) –
Sims has spent his time with Tampa Bay seated firmly behind Doug Martin. He has generous size at 6 feet tall and 214 pounds. Sims has a shot to catch on with a team in need of a powerful back.
14. Orleans Darkwa (25) –
In Darkwa’s first season as part of a backfield’s rotation, he rushed for 751 yards with an average of 4.4 yards per attempt. At only 25 he could find himself in another rotation with the opportunity to produce.
15. Shane Vereen (28) –
Vereen has always made his money in the receiving game. As part of the same rotation as Darkwa, Vereen averaged his lowest yards per reception in his career.
16. Jamaal Charles (31) –
Since his sophomore year Charles has over 1,000 yards in every season that he’s played at least 15 games. His problem has always been injury. Specifically, ACL tears. 2017 was his first season ever with over 3 games played that he averaged less than 5 yards per attempt. He just isn’t the same player at 31, but who is?
17. Darren Sproles (34) –
Sproles managed to tear his ACL and break his arm in the same game. His 2017 season ended early, and there’s no telling if his career will end as well. If he finds a way on to another roster he will provide fantasy value in PPR formats.
18. C.J. Spiller (30) –
Spiller has regressed significantly in each season since his 2012 campaign where he totaled 1,244 yards and was selected to the pro-bowl. In 2017 he played for the Chiefs but touched the ball only twice. If he is to have any opportunity at all, his new team is going to have to see at least a flash of what he once was.
19. Brandon Oliver (26) –
Oliver filled a Sproles-like role for the Chargers in 2014. He flashed early in his career but failed to complete over half of the 2015 or 2016 season. In 2017 his role was replaced by the rookie Austin Ekeler.
20. Damien Williams (25) –
Williams has had around 20 receptions in each of his first 4 seasons with the Dolphins. After Miami moved on from running back Jay Ajayi, Williams was given the starting nod but was intended to split carries. After just two games Kenyan Drake took over as the lead back. Williams is still young and can add some production in the passing game
21. Benny Cunningham (27) –
After 4 years in a change of pace role for the Rams, Cunningham found his way on to the Bears roster. The niche he came to fill ended up being covered by the rookie Tarik Cohen, but Cunningham managed to add 20 receptions for 240 yards, and 2 touchdowns on the year.
22. Lance Dunbar (28) –
In his 5 years with Dallas Dunbar never managed a start. He also spent the 2017 season mostly a healthy scratch for the Rams. He produced 51 yards on 11 carries and added a touchdown this season.
23. Andre Ellington (29) –
Ellington was released from the Cardinals mid-season and claimed off waivers by the Texans. Though he has been subpar throughout his career, Ellington was forced into a slot roll late in 2017 and demonstrated versatility. His receiving ability should at least land him on a roster.
24. Alfred Blue (26) –
Blue has totaled 14 starts in his 4 years with the Texans. He produced 420 yards or more in his first 3 seasons but totaled a career low 262 yards rushing in 2017. Blue stands to make a team and be a serviceable handcuff on your roster.
25. Christine Michael (27) –
Michael has changed teams almost as many times (4) as he’s played seasons in the NFL (5). His career high rushing total is 583 yards in 2016 with an average of 3.9 yards per attempt with both the Packers and the Seahawks. Outside of the 2016 season, Michael has failed to produce over 250 yards rushing. There are still truthers out there, but I’d be willing to bet there’s still Trent Richardson truthers as well.
26. Kenjon Barner (26) –
Barner “started” the first game of his career in 2017 with the Eagles but failed to register a single touch. He was brought back to the team via Darren Sproles' reference after Sproles managed to break his arm and tear his ACL in the same game. He’s still young which makes him almost roster-able in deeper formats.
27. Stevan Ridley (29) –
Ridley has made it on to 7 different teams. He has tallied multiple productive seasons, most notably his 2012 season with the Patriots in which he rushed for 1,263 yards. In 2017 Ridley started week 17 for the Steelers as they rested Le’Veon Bell. He carried the ball 17 times for 80 yards and a touchdown.
28. Brandon Bolden (28) –
Bolden spent all 6 years of his career with the Patriots, where he earned himself 2 rings. New England added Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee before the 2017 season which pushed Bolden to 5th on the depth chart. His production on special teams should find him a roster spot.
29. Travaris Cadet (29) –
Cadet found himself on two different teams in 2017. He finished the year with the Jets but totaled only 4 touches. He plays a bit of special teams, so he should find a job and attempt to work his way up from there.
30. Jordan Todman (27) –
Todman is a journeyman by trade. He spent his most time on a single team with the Jaguars from 2012-2014. He provided some production in spot duty early in his career but has failed to reach 10 total carries in each of the last 3 years.
31. Bishop Sankey (25) –
Sankey came into the NFL with the Titans, and was highly sought after in dynasty rookie drafts. In his first season he managed 589 yards rushing on 152 carries. Since then his production has been nearly non-existent. The Vikings gave him a shot to start 2017 but his opportunity was lost to a torn ACL in August.
32. Fitzgerald Toussaint (27) –
In 4 seasons Toussaint has not registered a single start. He dressed out for 6 games in 2017 with the Steelers. He carried the ball 6 times for 25 yards and added 2 receptions on the season.
33. Taiwan Jones (29) –
Jones has failed to rush more than 16 times on any given season, to go along with zero career starts. He’s a long shot to make a roster after the Bills send him packing.
34. Cedric Peerman (31) –
Peerman played his freshman season with the Lions. his sophomore campaign when he found his way on the Bengals roster. He's been buried on the depth chart ever since. He was placed on IR before the 2017 season for a shoulder injury. Peerman will still likely squeeze his way on to a roster in a special teams / veteran role.
35. Mike James (26) –
James found himself on the Detroit roster after a season with Tampa Bay. He suffered a concussion before the start of 2017 and landed on IR.