Running back is a fungible position around the NFL and often players who are on the outside looking in aren’t there because they can’t play. Undrafted free agents hit seemingly every year and the gap between practice squad and starting talents isn’t as wide as you might think. Still, the more important thing to be tuned into here is impending opportunity because the chance to reveal ones talents clarifies value and you can move on quicker from duds and reinvest that spot in another unknown future.
Jay Ajayi, MIA - Obvious, but just know he proved out better than a fifth-round talent when he finally took the field - as expected. Whatever knee condition dropped him down the board didn’t seem to affect him on the field. Lamar Miller is a free agent, but there have been strong overtones that he’s returning to Miami. At worst, a high value handcuff.
Jeremy Langford, CHI - Obvious, and maybe not as exciting as he might appear. Yes, Matt Forte could (should?) be gone next year, but Langford’s speed is an asset that Bears clearly want to leverage. Ka’Deem Carey (see Scuba) was arguably a better inside runner and Langford could be headed for a committee back future.
Karlos Williams, BUF - Obvious, but just a reminder that he was a badass before his concussion and shoulder injury. Not to yadda yadda yadda his injuries, but a talent clearly worth investing in despite them.
Bilal Powell, NYJ - Powell has looked faster and more lively as a runner than he has at any point earlier in his career and he’s a useful back with a three-down skillset if called upon. Chris Ivory is awesome, but he’s also injury-prone, and Powell can provide PPR Flex value even with a healthy Ivory.
Khiry Robinson, NO - Robinson is an RFA, so he might not get a full opportunity until 2017, but he looked very good before going down with a broken leg and is worth the spot even in shallower dynasty leagues.
Lance Dunbar, DAL - Dunbar is a role playing back, but potentially a very valuable one in PPR leagues. He was dynamic and dependable before suffering a torn ACL.
Zach Zenner, DET - Zenner should have every chance to win the early down back job for the Lions next year. We’re not sure what that’s worth if they don’t get pointed in the right direction as a team, and Zenner’s serious chest injury will have to check out come training camp time.
Stevan Ridley, NYJ - Ridley was an above average between the tackles runner in New England, and he clearly never got back to 100% this year coming off of a multiple ligament tear in his knee. He’ll be a free agent next year and could find more opportunity, albeit in a buyer’s market.
Ka’Deem Carey, CHI - The Bears had been keeping Carey around despite his inability to contribute on special teams, and he has provided tough interior running when called upon. He might have a future as a committee back.
Robert Turbin, DAL - Turbin is still on the upslope of his career and the Cowboys backfield is wide open if they decide to bring him back in free agency.
Mike Davis, SF - Stuck behind Carlos Hyde, but Davis has talent and certainly is still worth carrying in deeper leagues.
Bishop Sankey, TEN - Sankey’s value is swirling down the dynasty drain, but more unlikely players have come back from early career slumps.
Rod Smith, DAL - Smith is huge and the Cowboys clearly have a fascination with him in addition to a wide open backfield entering 2016.
Terrell Watson, CIN - A size/speed practice squad back who could generate buzz with second-year development.
James Wilder Jr, CIN - A huge developmental practice squad back who could start to draw interest from other teams as he enters year three of his career.
Josh Robinson, IND - Robinson landed on injured reserve after looking mediocre, but the hope is that another year with show more of the determination and burst he flashed at Mississippi State.
Kapri Bibbs, DEN - Denver won’t have a true incumbent back in 2016 and Bibbs has been working on the practice squad for two years now to get a chance to do more on the active roster.
Malcolm Brown, STL - Brown looked the part in the preseason and some team is going to get wise to the Rams’ glut of backs and try to poach him from the practice squad.