The fantasy sports world and the sports betting world have collided in recent years. And, no, I’m not talking about the situations with Calvin Ridley and Jameson Williams. The normalization of gambling for the average consumer is bringing to the forefront a lot of helpful terms and concepts for fantasy gamers like over/unders, spreads, home/away trends etc. The expansion of the betting industry has also created a market for player props which can help us gauge players for our fantasy football rankings - you can never have too many experts providing their yardage or reception projections right? But there’s one gambling concept that more folks need to take heed of when it comes to their dynasty fantasy football rankings. And it happens to be the single most difficult gambling decision there is. When to cash out.
At the end of the day, with gambling or fantasy football, we’re playing a numbers game. A game of odds. Of course, you might hit big money on that one dollar scratch ticket at some point. But does that mean it was a smart bet? Or did you get incredibly lucky? The same goes with players like Amon-Ra St. Brown. We know that, mathematically, Day 3 wide receivers have a pretty low chance of hitting. And for every Sun God, there are about 25 other guys from that range that you should have sold. In fact, if you sold every Day 3 or undrafted wide receiver the moment they flashed, you likely got back assets that well exceeded the Amon-Ra St. Brown you cashed in. It hurts a lot less looking back at that ARSB deal unless you also sold Preston Williams, Keelan Cole, Robert Foster, Travis Fulgham or any number of guys that briefly had value. The same goes for running backs like James Robinson, Michael Carter, Elijah Mitchell, or Tyler Allgeier. So today we are going to look at some running backs that you can still cash out now before it’s too late. And then invest that capital in somewhere with better odds.
Fantasy Football Running Backs To Sell-High On:
There are two ways to look at the Dameon Pierce situation. The glass-half-full folks look at what happened with Tyler Algeier/Bijan Robinson or Michael Carter/Breece Hall and they feel Pierce dodged a bullet in the draft. Which, I’ll admit, it could have been worse. But some of us look at that glass of running back work available in Houston and feel like it might not have a lot of juice in it to begin with. And the better half of it has already been given to another back - Devin Singletary.
Last year Lovie Smith was asked why Dameon Pierce didn’t get more snaps Week 1 and his response was essentially that there were some issues with pass blocking that needed work.
Well, Pierce didn’t quite change that narrative as he finished the season as RB124 in pass blocking, per Pro Football Focus. I know Lovie Smith is gone now but new offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik actually worked for PFF for three years so I have to imagine that he’s familiar with those grades and that analysis. And that’s part of why the regime brought in a vet like Devin Singletary who ran the six most routes of any back last year. We know based on the work done by Scott Barrett that targets are far more valuable than carries, even in standard formats, and the Texans aren’t likely to be in a position to be running the clock given Vegas has their win total set at 5.5 (second lowest behind the Cardinals). Plus, for a Day 3 running back of the previous regime, things could get even worse next offseason…
Speaking of Day 3 RBs who graded out poorly in pass blocking, Isaiah Pacheco was right behind Pierce at RB126. That’s why they used Jerick McKinnon so much on pass downs. And it’s why they brought Jerick McKinnon back for 2023. The one glimmer of hope we did see for Pacheco in the pass game was against the Cincinnati Bengals in the playoffs when he caught 5 of 6 targets. But, as it turned out, McKinnon was dealing with an ankle issue that game and, after a couple of weeks of rest, McKinnon was back up to speed and Pacheco then caught zero passes in the Super Bowl.
The arguments in favor of Isaiah Pacheco are mostly based on feelings. And I’ll admit that those feelings are both positive and measurable to some degree. “Isaiah Pacheco runs hard”. “The Chiefs are going to score points”. “He’s a good story”. All of that might actually be true. Statistically, Pacheco looks like a good runner and there are a lot of numbers regarding yards created and expected yards that back that up. The Chiefs also DO score a lot of points. And, as a seventh-round pick, his success IS a good story. But the translation of these to fantasy isn’t always as tangible as we think. Or sustainable. Guys like Alfred Morris, Jordan Howard, LeGarrette Blount, Phillip Lindsay etc. ran hard and started hot but didn’t catch many balls so their fantasy value was unpredictable at best. Pacheco was already getting the majority of the red area touches last year (he had 20 carries inside the 10 yard line and next highest was seven) but the Chiefs have other ways to score. And the unfortunate reality is that seventh round picks are often replaceable. In my opinion, those narratives are a lot easier to use to sell your league mates on Pacheco than they are to sell yourself on him having long term sustainable success.
Rashaad Penny’s signing with the Eagles this off-season was met on Twitter with great applause and, at surface level, it seems like a good landing spot for fantasy football. I mean, it’s a Super Bowl contender. They have a great offensive line. Having a mobile quarterback running the RPO opens up running lanes for big yards per carry. What’s not to like?
But, after peeling back some of the layers here, it might not be as good of a landing spot as folks think. The mobile quarterback might be good for efficiency on the ground but the Eagles were dead last in target percentage to the running back position last year. And Rashaad Penny himself has never caught more than 10 passes in a season. On top of that, Jalen Hurts himself had the second most carries inside the five yard line of any PLAYER in the league last year. Not just quarterbacks - only Jamaal Williams had more goal-line carries. That situation could be conducive to a lot of nice runs between the 20s and not much else.
Shortly after the signing, we found out that Penny signed for $1.35 million with only $600,000 guaranteed. And, in case the pass down work wasn’t looking ugly enough, they went out and traded for D’Andre Swift to go along with Kenneth Gainwell. At the end of the day, the situation for the 27 year old Rashaad Penny probably didn’t improve nearly as much in reality as it did in theory. And folks out there still looking at the situation from the surface level are good targets to ship him off to.
Compensation - The value for Penny has fluctuated pretty drastically in recent weeks. I would shoot for any 2nd round pick if possible.
Related NFL Links:
- 2023 NFL Draft: First Round Winners and Losers for Fantasy Football
- 2023 NFL Draft: Second and Third Round Winners and Losers for Fantasy Football
- 2023 Fantasy Football: Best Ball Running Back Targets
- Dynasty Fantasy Football: 2023 NFL Rookie Wide Receiver Rankings
- 2023 NFL Draft Top Running Back Prospects: Bijan Robinson Highlights Incoming Rookie RB Class
- 2023 NFL Draft Running Back Prospects: Tank Bigsby Headlines the Rookie RB Sleepers