Understanding and projecting player value is a key factor in dynasty fantasy football. Keeping ahead of a player’s constantly fluctuating value, whether the shift is positive or negative, can promote rapid team improvement and success. Included below are the biggest risers and fallers in Dynasty Trade Value (DTV) over the 2017 NFL season at the running back position. Additionally, it includes brief analysis on what prompted the changes in value, as well as some brief thoughts on what to expect from each running back moving forward. Unless otherwise specified, all Dynasty Trade Values are based on a 12-team PPR league.
Alvin Kamara was a late first round rookie pick in 2017. Today, he’s considered a first round startup pick. What a difference a year makes! Early in the 2017 season, the New Orleans backfield was crowded, and Kamara found himself splitting work with Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson. Peterson was shipped to Arizona, and both Kamara and Ingram achieved wonderful chemistry that allowed both backs to shine. The Saints shifted and centered their offense around the running backs. Kamara finished the season averaging 19.7 PPR points per game which is elite level production for a solid floor along with the upside of week-winning potential any week of the season.
Todd Gurley burned owners during the 2016 season, and his value during the 2017 preseason reflected this disappointment. His 2015 rookie season was fantastic which made his 2016 season all the more hurtful for owners. But with Jeff Fisher being shown the door after the 2016 season, and Sean McVay taking the over the Rams in 2017, Gurley was unlocked. He had more rushing attempts and more targets last season than in either of his first two, and the production followed. McVay showed he was going to rely on Gurley to be a workhorse. A Rams offense that is young and dynamic now features the 23-year-old running back. A dynamic offense, workhorse level usage, and meaningful production now leave Gurley sitting as the most valuable running back in dynasty fantasy football.
Kareem Hunt was a second round rookie pick in 2017. Like Kamara, once he got his opportunity, he seized it. Spencer Ware was the expected starting running back for Kansas City, but an injury ended his season before it started and Hunt immediately became the feature back. Despite going through a lull midseason, Hunt scored less than 9.3 PPR points only once the entire season. Scoring 98.8 PPR points through his first three games raised the bar to a level that could not be maintained. The 8.7 PPR points he averaged from Week 8 to Week 13 was disappointing, but he rebounded and averaged 27.7 between Week 14 and Week 16.
Ty Montgomery went from wide receiver to running back for the Green Bay Packers which ultimately caused a spike in his value as the 2017 season was approaching. Despite drafting multiple running backs, it was Montgomery who was primed to be the feature in a potent offense. Montgomery started the season out with two great weeks averaging 24.2 PPR points per game, but he could not physically handle the increased workload. He battled injuries for weeks before being shut down for the season after Week 10. Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams split work after Montgomery’s injury, and Montgomery now sits like a man without a position. He could return to a wide receiver role if the Packers part ways with Randall Cobb and/or Jordy Nelson for financial purposes.
Lamar Miller had his worst season since 2013. Though healthy the entire season and unchallenged as the feature back, Miller failed to break 900 yards rushing, had only 36 catches, and just six touchdowns. His contract with the Texans makes him a likely cut candidate so he could be searching for a new team in 2018. If he returns to the Texans, D’Onta Foreman will be returning from injury and should challenge him for rushes and ultimately cut into his workload. Miller has been a complimentary back the majority of his career and does not appear to be able to handle being a feature back. Heading into 2017, Miller was valued as a feature back; one that should have been a solid starter for your fantasy team. He has since fallen from that status and is now valued as a bye week or depth running back.
David Johnson is the biggest loser at the running back position in 2017. After averaging 25.7 PPR points per game in 2016, Johnson entered 2017 as the most valuable dynasty running back. Arizona returned their offense and coaching in 2017, and the expectation was that of a repeat of their 2016 season. Johnson injured his wrist in Week 1 and did not return. After the season, head coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Carson Palmer both retired. The offense is in flux in Arizona. Can Johnson return completely healthy? Who will be leading the Cardinals offense? Will the new coaching staff rely on Johnson as much as the previous staff did? The injury, the questions, and the rise of younger running backs to provide more options at the position have all brought Johnson’s value down. A return to health and a coaching staff that features Johnson could have Johnson being the 2018 version of the 2017 Todd Gurley.