We’re half way into the 2014 season, now more than ever and as previously discussed at nauseam, the running back position is the ficklest of fickle in dynasty and presents inevitable change year-over-year as running backs continue to take their turns on the carousel of fantasy starters. Let’s check in and review the latest movers including Mark Ingram and more as we continue to build our dynasty teams for the future.
Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints
Mark Ingram shredded the porous Green Bay Packers’ run defense to the tune of 172 Yards on 24 carries. His 7.2 Y/C performance wasn’t entirely surprising given the inactive statuses of both Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson. What was surprising was seeing how healthy Ingram looked, and after a few years battling injuries Ingram appears ready to live up to the first round draft hype. After a few years of questioning why the New Orleans Saints trade up to draft him, those questions appear to have been answered in just one match.
Ingram is going to be an unrestricted free agent in 2015, so it will be interesting to see if he is prioritized in New Orleans or if his price outweighs what the Saints will be willing to match, or conversely how much Ingram is willing to sacrifice for the home town team. Market value has had Ingram being traded for mid to high 2nd round rookie draft picks so far, but that price is now a first rounder. With ambiguity around landing spot in 2015, you’ll have to decide if you’re a buyer or a seller.
Ronnie Hillman – Denver Broncos
Much like the aforementioned Mark Ingram, it’s taken a long while for early Ronnie Hillman investors to reap the benefit of Hillman production, and chance are someone else is now reaping that benefit after Hillman was kicked to the curb as early as two years ago outside of the deepest of rosters. Montee Ball is slated to return Week 9 at the earliest but his groin injury will keep him limited.
*Hillman stepped in for the injured Ball
**Hillman had a couple long runs and a touchdown called back for penalties
***Ball injured his groin and left this game early.
It’s clear as crystal that the Broncos are more efficient with Hillman carrying the load with Juwan Thompson taking short yardage duties.
Theo Riddick – Detroit Lions
Reggie Bush owners can’t like what they’ve seen as Theo Riddick has stepped into the Bush role and has done so with more burst and reliability. It took a while for the offseason hype surrounding Riddick to realize, but it’s happened nevertheless. Reggie Bush is still signed through 2016, and it doesn’t fiscally make sense to cut him early in 2015 as he counts for only $5.2MM against the cap. Should they cut him in 2015 he would account for $3.5MM in dead money with only $1.7MM in cap savings according to Overthecap.com. 2016 is a different story, however, as Bush counts for $5.7MM against the cap and the Lions could potentially save $4MM by letting him go. While the short term may still create a log jam at the position and adversely impact Joique Bell’s stock as well, Riddick appears to be the hold and the play when he’s on the field.
Lorenzo Taliaferro – Baltimore Ravens
Lorenzo Taliaferro seems to have been the odd man out as of late in the Ravens backfield, but Bernard Pierce was a surprise healthy inactive in Week 8 and Taliaferro turned in a nice fantasy performance as the lead back-up with short yard duties. Expectations should still be tempered, but “Zo” is the back to own in this backfield heading into the 2015 season.
Denard Robinson – Jacksonville Jaguars
Denard Robinson turned in another nice performance, against a run defense that is somewhere between average and bad. While this looks good for Robinson, he’s done this against two easy matchups, and I’m not sure if I’m buying in. The passing woes still remain , the offensive line issues are still there, and Robinson runs with a style that is best served right now as he’s able to bounce outside and distance himself from all that woes this team between the tackles.
Regardless of the above, Robinson will get more easy matchups against the Bengals, Cowboys, and Colts the next three weeks, so you have to ride him out if you’re competing this year. If not, I’d look to cash in for a pick if I could as the Jaguars will look to involve Toby Gerhart in 2015 some as they attempt to address their issues at offensive line and attempt to delineate whether or not they threw money out the window by signing Gerhart.
Tre Mason – St. Louis Rams
It wasn’t a stellar performance by any means, and Tre Mason did have to share the backfield, but it was nice to know that he is the favorite to receive the early down work going forward and provide the most upside in this backfield. Benny Cunningham was technically the starter, but Mason is the guy in this backfield to own if investing in St. Louis. Zac Stacy is now rumored to be on the block, so I’m still trying to buy Mason if I can while he is coming off a sub-par performance.
Jonas Gray/ James White – New England Patriots
After Stevan Ridley went down it wasn’t Brandon Bolden that was the next man up, it was newly promoted Jonas Gray from the practice squad. A cake match against the ailing Chicago Bears’ defense allowed the Patriots to further inspect their backfield as they were able to provide 17 early-down carries and 6 (COP) change of pace carries to James White in his first live action of the year.
Ridley will likely be gone after this year, but it’s hard to believe the Patriots won’t figure out a way to make Shane Vereen a priority this offseason. Gray will have a defined role unless the Patriots head to free agency or the draft to address the position. Both are holds for now, but it would sure be grand to see wither C.J. Spiller or Mark Ingram land in a Patriots uniform.)
Christine Michael/ Robert Turbin – Seattle Seahawks
With only 6 combined carries in Week 9 between Christine Michael and Robert Turbin, both guys saw an uptick in dynasty and keeper value as rumors are flying around the scene regarding the Seahawks’ feelings of discontent about Marshawn Lynch and his “All about that drama” ways. While this makes sexier headlines for articles and spins the attention on Lynch rather than the Seahawks, the fact of the matter remains: Lynch would count for $8.5MM against the cap in 2015, and the Seahawks can save $7MM of that by letting him go.
With many question marks already surrounding their defense, stack the free agent questions on top of that for 2015 and 2016 and understand that there is absolutely no way that Lynch remains a Seahawk next year. I wrote about this more here in the early offseason. (Had you read this piece, you already knew that Russell Wilson was about to go all ham, but I digress.)
Charles Sims – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Much like the aforementioned Michael and Turbin not getting work, Charles Sims has not seen action yet this year yet his dynasty stock is screaming. He’s an absolute must-target for dynasty owners. Doug Martin is not a Lovie Smith guy, and he was already rumored to be on the trade block before he ran for an abysmal 27 yards on 10 carries against a terrible Vikings rush defense. To add injury to insult, Martin left the game in the 3rd quarter with an ankle injury.
Martin will be a giveaway at this point if he is traded, and if you’re hoping for anything it’s a chance at some work in a new uniform because he’s done in Tampa Bay. Sims, on the other hand, was purposefully drafted by the Lovie regime to be that arbitrage Matt Forte type all-around back. This Shawn Siegle post is the best case made for Charles Sims that I’ve seen so far, and Sims owners can expect him to be a volume hog going forward once he gets on the field. While he’s older, he’ll get his chance to shine for a few years in this backfield with Bobby Rainey likely to remain the COP back.