Good dynasty football managers will tell you that a working knowledge of NFL runningback depth charts is essential. Many NFL teams like to stash one high potential player either on their practice squad, or 3rd on the depth chart. This player typically has a chance to be 3 down explosive runner if they can overcome the issues that have put them in the position to be buried on the depth chart. Some have significant fumbling problems, others cannot pick up a blitz, and another common dilemma is lack of maturity. I like to fill my roster with these players. I do not have to invest much to acquire them and they could pay huge dividends. If they do not work out, just drop them and pick up the next one. Here are a few that I am looking to acquire (or already have).
Note: Roster Percentages from Fantrax 10/4/2021
Evans is an interesting talent. He’s from Indiana where he was a football and track star in high school. His talents were impressive enough to garner scholarship offers from rival schools Michigan and Ohio State. Evans identified as an Ohio State fan, but Harbaugh was the first to offer Evans and he stuck with Michigan even after Urban came calling. This Chris Evans was the Superhero Michigan fans had been hoping for. He averaged 7 yards per rush his freshman year. Wolverines RB coach Tyrone Wheatley called him the “Stephon Curry in the room. Meaning that he can create his own space, can win one on ones.” I would add that at 5, 11′ 220 lbs, he is powerful and good between the tackles. Chris spent his sophomore and junior years backing up Karan Higdon. 2019 was destined to be Evans’ time to shine, but he didn’t follow through on his academic commitments and wound up suspended for the entire 2019 season. Evans returned for the 2020 pandemic season but didn’t see much action in the wasted year. Joe Mixon possesses the ability to be an elite NFL RB, I don’t know that Evans possesses that same ability, but I’ll take a chance on his potential
The Green Bay Packers may have snagged the steal of the 2021 draft when they selected Kylin Hill in the 7th round. The four-star recruit had a great run at Mississippi State. Hill was a balanced and dynamic playmaker in his Sophomore season accruing 734 rushing yards (6.3 ypc) and 22 receptions for 4 TDs. His Junior year (2019) was even better! Hill piled on 1350 yards rushing and 10 TDs battling in the combative SEC. Then came 2020. Mississippi State hired Mike Leach as head coach and with Mike Leach comes his Air-Raid offense– an offense predicated on the passing game. On top of the new coach and new offense came a new pandemic. Kylin contracted COVID. Three games into the 2020 season, Hill opted out. It was a distracting year for Hill and his NFL stock paid the price. He went from what could have been a 3rd or 4th round pick to a 7th rounder. Kylin Hill was a smart pick by the Pack. He caught 23 passes in the 3 games he played in 2020 and had only 1 drop, so he has good hands. Hill also displayed great ball security in college by having 448 consecutive touches without fumbling the ball. Aaron Jones is not 100% healthy and neither is A.J. Dillon. Kylin Hill is getting close to must add.
Damarea Crockett BR Broncos (0% rostered)
5′, 11″ 225lbs and ran a 4.50 forty-yard dash on his pro day. That’s a pretty good start. But how does a guy with that combination of size and speed go undrafted and wind up buried on a depth chart? Crockett went to college at the Unversity of Missouri and he was a star right from the start. Crockett set the Missouri freshman record for yards (1,062), rushing TDs (10), and rushing yards in a single game (225), not bad for a freshman in running against SEC defenses. He was set to be crowned the King of Columbia, but then he got suspended for the final game of the season after being arrested for possession of Marijuana. After injuries plagued his sophomore and Junior year, rocket declared for the NFL draft. I would hope he developed some maturity after going undrafted and toughing it out on the practice squad for the Texans and then the Broncos. Even if it hasn’t, weed doesn’t derail NFL careers, furthermore, it’s not like he will get cited for holding dank in Denver.
The Giants grabbed Gary Brightwell with the 196th pick of this year’s draft. Brightwell is a 5, 11″ 220 lbs. slasher who reaches top-end speed quickly. Brightwell couples his speed with aggressive running. He accelerates to the line of scrimmage and runs through contact. More of a cut guy than a juke guy, but he can make defenders miss in the open field. Gary’s biggest issue is ball security, he fumbled five times in only 6 games in 2020. Brightwell was pretty quiet his first few years in college. He was a solid backup and a special teams contributor, which I’m sure was helpful to him when making the Giants roster. Brightwell blew up in 2020 He now sits at 3rd on the Giants RB depth chart. We all know Barkley’s injury history. Devontae Booker has had an up and down NFL career. Brightwell is a name to remember.
The first good reason to pick up Nwangwu is you can store him on your IR if you have an open spot. A better reason would be his 4.29 forty-yard dash recorded at Iowa State’s pro day. 4.29 is a great time for a speedy wideout, but Kene Nwangwu is a 6′, 1″ 210 lbs running back who put up 22 bench reps at 225 lbs. It’s safe to say Kene satisfies the three main criteria for NFL players: first be big, second be strong, and third be fast. He hasn’t played a ton of RB. His biggest contribution to the ISU Cyclones was as a returner. He holds the school records for average kick return (26.8 yards per turn) and total kick return yardage (2,470 yards). The Vikings drafted Nwangwu in the 4th round of the 2021 NFL which made many experts assumed Kene was drafted to be the Kick Returner. But the Vikings drafted return specialist Ihmir Smith-Marsette with their next pick. Minnesota might already be down one RB, and Nwangwu is eligible to come off IR this week.
If you have been keeping up with my writing here at Razzball you have already read some of my thoughts on the following players, but if you are a new reader, here are a few more players who fit this list.
Jaret Patterson RB Football Team (22% rostered)
One More Thought
I have seen some disparaging comments about Malcolm Brown infecting the fantasy football community. Please allow me to offer an antibiotic before this infection of ignorance spreads. Brown was the #1 Runningback recruit coming out of high school. He held offers from Alabama, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, and Stanford. He played his Highschool football in Texas for the newly opened Steele Highschool in Cibolo. Tommy Armstrong (former Nebraska QB) was the Quarterback on that team. Brown set the school record for rushing yards (2,500) and TDs (30). Tommy Armstrong and Malcolm Brown carried that team to their first 5A Division II Championship. I get it, it’s High school Football, but this is TEXAS high school football. Malcolm committed to Texas and played significant snaps in his true freshman year. Injuries slowed him down for Sophomore season and he went on the have a decent college career.
Malcolm Brown experienced a very different life in his NFL career. Brown was not the #1 RB coming out of college, not even close. That distinction belonged to Todd Gurley. Malcolm Brown went undrafted in 2015. Brown was eventually signed by the team that drafted the #1 RB– the Los Angeles Rams. But Malcolm Brown isn’t the typical egomaniacal High School football star. He didn’t pout, he didn’t quit, he didn’t go get arrested with an idiot friend from high school. No, that’s not Malcolm Brown. Malcolm Brown grew up in a military family and he is no Prima Dona. Brown got to work with his new team and made the Rams 53 man roster. By 2017 Brown was the No 2 RB in LA right behind Todd Gurley. He got in some games and even put some decent numbers.
Brown now finds himself getting 65% of snaps at RB for the Miami Dolphins. He has Fantasy experts in disbelief. I don’t know why. What has Myles Gaskin done? I like Salvon Ahmed, but he is nowhere near a proven commodity. We shouldn’t blame the Dolphins coaching staff for starting Brown. He probably is the best RB on that team. They are trying to build a culture down there in Miami. They need guys they can depend on. Players who show up and work hard every day. The Dolphins need leaders which means we will see much more Malcolm in Miami. Pick him up now if you can. Bye weeks are approaching…