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The start of free agency is just around the corner, so what better time to take a look at potential landing spots than now? Let’s analyze the top four running backs hitting the open market this offseason and determine their best destinations from a fantasy perspective.
Chris Carson — Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills boast a phenomenal offense, but there’s still an obvious hole in their backfield. Josh Allen can still carry some of the weight on the ground, as he’s rushed for 400+ yards in each of his three seasons. 687 yards from Devin Singletary and 481 yards from Zack Moss simply won’t cut it. While Carson struggled to stay on the field in 2020, he’s proven to be an extremely tough rusher when healthy, as shown by his career 4.5 yards per attempt. Buffalo could limit his touches to around 15 per game in order to maintain his health and maximize his efficiency, while also adding a solid piece to their offense. It’s a win-win scenario.
Kenyan Drake — Pittsburgh Steelers
While I’m not extremely high on Drake, he put together a solid 2020 campaign, racking up 1,092 total yards on his way to a PPR RB16 finish. While he’s not the most dynamic back, he would provide something that Pittsburgh has seriously lacked at the running back position — durability. In his five-year career, Drake has missed just three games. In James Conner’s last three seasons, he’s missed 12 games. You see where I’m going with this. Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland are decent change-of-pace options, and they can keep their respective roles if Drake is added to the equation. This is all about bringing in a solid, dependable running back for the Steelers, and it makes sense for Drake too.
James Conner — New York Jets
As I mentioned previously, Conner has seriously struggled to stay healthy over his three-year span as the Steelers’ starter. At this point, a split makes sense for him and Pittsburgh. As for potential landing spots, I believe that Conner needs to sign somewhere where he could act as the lead back in a committee, and New York actually presents that opportunity. The Jets seem to be high on their impending sophomore La’Mical Perine, but it’s pretty clear that he doesn’t have what it takes to lead a backfield right now. Throw Conner into the equation as the head of that committee and divide the workload into a 70/30 split, and you could strike gold. Similarly to Carson, I believe that Conner would excel in a situation where his touches are limited to maintain his health. Given his injury concerns, Conner won’t command a huge contract either. This could be a low-risk, high-reward pickup for the Jets.
Leonard Fournette — Atlanta Falcons
Playoff Lenny earned himself a long-term contract, it’s just unclear which team will be the one to give it to him. Fournette racked up 448 yards and four touchdowns in the postseason alone, playing a huge role in Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl victory. At just 26 years old, I believe Fournette has 2-3 prime years left in the tank. Meanwhile, Atlanta is looking for their next franchise running back. Why not bring in Fournette on a cheaper deal? He could play a huge role in their offense and jump right back into the top-10 RB range he found himself in with the Jaguars. Make it happen, Atlanta.