Free Agency Roundtable: Running Back Rapid Reactions

The staff gives quick-hitting fantasy slants on some of the less heralded running back moves from around the league.

Give me your one-to-two sentence fantasy slant on the following running backs who changed teams during the free agency period:

LeGarrette Blount

Jason Wood: Detroit has been colossally inept at running the ball in recent years, and the new coaching staff appears hellbent on rectifying the run/pass imbalance. LeGarrette Blount proved in New England and Philadelphia he can be a useful component of a high-octane offense, but he shouldn't be mistaken for the main cog. If Blount is part of a committee and settles into a short-yardage and goal-line role, he could have value in an era where very few running backs are "must" starts. Set reasonable expectations on draft day and pay no more than low-end RB3 prices.

Phil Alexander: Played well last year, but not enough to revive Detroit's woebegone running game.

Stephen Holloway: Inexpensive one-year contract for a running back by committee contributor on an offense that has long been pass-heavy.

Daniel Simpkins: A few more teams to go and he will have made the circuit around the entire NFL. Jokes aside, I’m not excited about this signing because Detroit has a proven track record of misusing their running backs.

Justin Howe: The Lions don’t run the ball nearly enough to turn Blount, who needs volume and touchdown opportunity for value, into a workable RB2 option.

Isaiah Crowell

Alessandro Miglio: He's only 25? Too bad he's on the Jets.

Jason Wood: Isaiah Crowell is young, talented, and joining a team ready to make use of him, but I can’t see him as more than a low-end RB2 at the moment. If the Jets ignore the running back position on draft weekend and emphasize the offensive line, Crowell becomes worthy of drafting as a high-upside RB2. If the Jets go the other way in the coming weeks, Crowell is no better than a flex stuck in a committee.

Phil Alexander: Goes from early-down thumper on a team that couldn't build many leads to...early down thumper on a team that doesn't figure to build many leads. Talented player, but this is the definition of a lateral move for fantasy purposes.

Stephen Holloway: Decent three-year, $12 million contract ($6 million guaranteed), but he lands in another low performing offense and shares snaps with a better receiving option in Bilal Powell.

Daniel Simpkins: In real football terms, the Jets win big with this signing. In fantasy terms, it’s probably a landing spot similar to Cleveland.

Justin Howe: He’s panned out to some degree, but remains wildly inconsistent and dependent upon his offense for strong value. He’ll struggle to find his footing in a crowded backfield that still lacks a prime passer.

Dan Hindery: He should be the starter for the Jets. But he will likely remain in a two-down role and heavily dependent upon scoring touchdowns to be a valuable fantasy contributor. The rebuilding Jets offense probably isn’t going to score enough for that to happen.

Jeremy Hill

Alessandro Miglio: Corey Dillon 3.0 in New England? Not so much, but Jeremy Hill will be undervalued in drafts this year.

Jason Wood: Value arbitrage at its finest. Hill isn't the multi-dimensional threat we've come to covet in fantasy circles, but he is a big, powerful running back that produced when healthy and given a defined role. The Patriots love to mix and match running backs, but with Dion Lewis gone, Hill is the kind of last-round flier who can end up paying dividends. If the hype train pushes him into RB3 territory, I pass. If he can be had as a bench player, he's a must target for the obvious upside as we remember what Blount did two seasons ago.

Phil Alexander: His play has fallen off a cliff since a breakout rookie year, but he’s still effective at the goal line. The Patriots won't go wanting for goal line opportunities.

Stephen Holloway: Depth signing by the Patriots. At best, Hill will compete with Mike Gillislee for third on the depth chart.

Daniel Simpkins: The Bengals know how to scout running backs, and lately, the Patriots have exploited that fact. As usual in New England, it will be hard to predict weekly usage, which makes Hill a boom-bust option.

Justin Howe: Less versatile and productive than Gillislee, Hill is no lock to make the Patriots (or any other team’s) roster.

Dan Hindery: Very little guaranteed money, so it wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up getting cut. If he sticks, he has a chance to be fantasy relevant, like any other Patriots back who carves out a role in their offense.

Carlos Hyde

Alessandro Miglio: Kyle Shanahan squeezed the most he could out of Carlos Hyde last season. Can the Browns do the same?

Jason Wood: I've never been a Hyde fan, so a move to the Browns doesn’t change my lack of enthusiasm. The homecoming of sorts will be overhyped in the coming months and I suspect the price will be too high for my liking.

Phil Alexander: Had more receptions last year under Kyle Shanahan than he did in his previous three seasons combined. Duke Johnson Jr all but guarantees a repeat isn't happening.

Stephen Holloway: Hyde should be more productive in Cleveland than Crowell, who finished as the RB31 in standard leagues last season.

Daniel Simpkins: Hyde ended up in a disappointing landing spot that will continue to prolong the agony of owning him in dynasty leagues.

Justin Howe: If Saquon Barkley isn’t brought in, Hyde should lock down a better touch share (and more productivity) than recent fantasy RB2 Isaiah Crowell. If Barkley is drafted, Hyde will be a strict backup and starve for fantasy value.

Dan Hindery: His dynasty value is perilous with Cleveland possessing so many early picks. If the Browns don’t draft a running back in the first two rounds, Hyde should be a solid RB2 in what should be a much-improved offense.

Dion Lewis

Alessandro Miglio: Takes over for DeMarco Murray in Tennessee, but I don't expect him to cut into Derrick Henry's value too much.

Jason Wood: Beware of betting on Patriots castoffs. What players do in the Patriots system is often far different than what they produce on other teams. Dion Lewis is talented but oft-injured, and I can't buy into the Titans finding a way to make both Lewis and Henry fantasy viable on a weekly basis.

Phil Alexander: Better for best ball than redraft leagues. There will be great games, but have fun guessing when they're coming.

Stephen Holloway: Lewis had a career-high 180 carries a year ago for the Patriots and moves to another committee in Tennessee with Henry. Should definitely be the top receiving back for the Titans, but could also get more carries than expected.

Daniel Simpkins: Lewis could have a very productive PPR year in an ascending offense.

Justin Howe: I’m not sure how much effectiveness Lewis will find without the Patriots offense opening up the middle of the field. He could easily steal more work from Henry than most think, but his weekly touchdown upside takes quite a hit.

Doug Martin

Alessandro Miglio: Joins the AARP Raiders in Oakland. Nothing to see here.

Jason Wood: Jon Gruden's decision-making thus far has been disheartening. Keeping Marshawn Lynch on the roster and signing Doug Martin leaves a quandary I'm going to avoid. I look at the Raiders as a team set to disappoint offensively thanks to one of the league's worst play-callers in Greg Olson combined with an aging, old-school roster construction.

Phil Alexander: Washed.

Stephen Holloway: Martin may not make the roster after the Raiders kept Marshawn Lynch. He’ll have a minimal role unless he somehow turns the clock back to 2015.

Daniel Simpkins: I wouldn’t go as far as to call Martin washed up, but I’m not sure Gruden’s 1980’s offense is going to propel him to fantasy relevance.

Justin Howe: I can’t believe he’s still a thing. A wildly inefficient runner who doubles as one of the league’s worst receiving backs, Martin is already 29 and will get lost in the Oakland shuffle. I’m convinced Gruden will bring in a dual-threat type to run his classic scheme.

Jonathan Stewart

Jason Wood: The Giants' running game has been abysmal but optimism abounds thanks to the new coaching staff. Mike Shula won't be confused with Bill Walsh as an offensive innovator, but he does believe in a power running game and knows Jonathan Stewart from their days in Carolina. Expect Stewart to be the calming force in the locker room and a backup set to take 30-35% of the carries behind whoever the Giants draft as the starter.

Phil Alexander: I sincerely hope this isn't Plan A for the Giants running game this season.

Stephen Holloway: An unusual two-year, $6.9 million signing by the Giants ($3 million guaranteed). Stewart just turned 31 and his yards per carry average has declined each year since 2014.

Daniel Simpkins: Stewart is nearly finished and this landing spot was horrible, even if the offensive line improves slightly from last year.

Justin Howe: The Giants, starved mightily for backfield production, won’t get much of it from Stewart, who’s clearly at the end of the line. He’ll platoon with Saquon Barkley or another ball-dominant rookie, and his touchdown upside isn’t as strong as it’s been in Carolina.

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