2017 RBs GET PAID!
The 2020 off season was one that had bred a lot of speculation. Some of the speculation was warranted and some was also just because we were bored and had too much time on our hands.
Big name running backs that were coming into the last year of their contract were one of the hot topics. Surprisingly to me, four of them got contract extensions! With all the talk about ‘running backs don’t matter in the NFL’ and that they are replaceable, why did these four receive extensions? After seeing past running backs such as Todd Gurley, David Johnson, and Le’Veon Bell (who coincidentally are no longer with their original teams) sign big contracts that the team soon regretted, should we be concerned with a similar result occurring with the current four? More importantly, how do these new contracts affect the way we should look at them from a dynasty point of view?
Alvin Kamara - New Orleans Saints
After rumors of Kamara missing practice due to a contract dispute, he ended up getting PAID! Not just a little bit of money … but he got Zeke Money! A five year $75 Million contract extension coming in at $15 Million/year.
Currently, people are high on Alvin Kamara because he is tied to the high flying New Orleans Saints offense. To be honest ... they should be! The Saints have been an offense that continually produces top fantasy running backs. The Saints throw to their running backs at a high rate. Since a reception is more valuable than a rush, it is no surprise why Kamara has been able to put up great numbers since coming into the league in 2017.
Yes, there have been a few rumblings about this possibly being Drew Brees’ last year, especially if they win the Super Bowl. Yet, he is still under contract for next year if they don’t win the Super Bowl and he wants to return. However, if Brees chooses to retire, it won’t damage Kamara’s fantasy value. The Saints are still going to use him quite a bit. It is a small sample size, but during Brees' four game absence last year, Alvin Kamara still averaged over a 75% opportunity share for the team. That meant Kamara received over 75% of the teams running back carries and receptions. Even if Brees doesn’t return, Sean Payton is still tied to the Saints until 2023. Peyton will scheme his offence to include Alvin Kamara - clearly the head coach believes in the talent of Kamara.
If I have Alvin Kamara on my dynasty roster, this signing alleviates any worries about keeping him on your roster. I am confident that he will continue to put up elite fantasy numbers for your team. If you are not a Kamara owner and someone is concerned with the dreaded “second contract” and thinks he is going to decline, then I am packaging a young RB and a future pick to get Kamara and start racking up those extra wins.
Joe Mixon - Cincinnati Bengals
Joe Mixon was another running back that had rumors flying around all summer about how he wasn’t happy and could possibly hold out. However, the new CBA makes it very tricky for players to hold out. Conveniently during the preseason, Mixon started to get “migraine headaches.” Hopefully, I never have constant migraines because clearly the best medicine is a boatload of money on a new contract neither of which I will ever see. Who knew! Right after Mixon signed his contract extension, he was back at practice and dynasty managers who had Mixon on their rosters breathed a big sigh of relief. Mixon received a four-year $48 million contract.
This year Cincinnati drafted their new franchise quarterback in Joe Burrow and also the heir apparent to AJ Green with wide receiver Tee Higgins. Last year, the Bengals also locked up their slot receiver position by giving Tyler Boyd a four-year contract extension. This offence now looks like it is primed to grow together with many of these young players locked in for the next four years. However, is Joe Mixon part of the Bengals’ future for the next four years?
Spotrac.com shows that there is a potential out of Mixon’s contract for the Bengals in 2022. If Joe Mixon underwhelms or under performs, the Bengals could move on from their so called bell cow back. Hopefully, the Bengals finally use Mixon to his full potential and unlock the elite talent that many have been waiting to see used properly.
If I have Joe Mixon on a current dynasty roster,I am holding on to him and see what this new Bengals offence is able to do with him. The new contract insulates his value enough that I am not trying to sell him. It is hard to find running backs in today's NFL that still get the snap share that Mixon receives. If he stumbles and under performs this year, I will be trading him away. If Mixon isn’t on my roster, I’m not currently trying to acquire him. I would rather go for someone else in his value range like a Josh Jacobs.
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Dalvin Cook - Minnesota Vikings
The very first rumors of a hold out by one of the 2017 RBs, first surfaced in Minnesota. However, Dalvin Cook like a few other of his 2017 classmates received a new contract extension. Cook signed a five year 63 million dollar contract. Last year, Cook was a monster during the fantasy regular season as he averaged 22.8 PPR points per game. This was second only to Christian McCaffrey.
While Cook had an amazing regular fantasy season last year, he left his managers disappointed during the fantasy playoffs going down with an injury in week 15, and ultimately not being available in week 16 during the championship. I don’t know about you but I’m not a fan of someone that has left me at the altar. Cook has one of the highest injury probabilities according to Playerprofiler.com, and has a long list of injury concerns. I am using this opportunity of a newly signed Cook to move him to a different fantasy team and moving on from him. If I can turn Cook into a package like D'Andre Swift or Antonio Gibson and a 2021 first round pick, I would. I would also target the Saquon Barkley owner if I was a middle of the road team. If I am squeaking into the playoffs I will gladly give up an injury prone Cook to get Barkley and help my draft stock and team for next year.
Kareem Hunt - Cleveland Browns
In a surprise turn of events, the Cleveland Browns decided to sign Kareem Hunt to a two-year 12 million dollar contract. During the NFL off-season he was a definite trade target of mine in hopes that he was able to move on after the 2020 season and possibly have a starting job after moving on from the Browns.
There is no denying the talent of Hunt. He catapulted onto the scene with the Chiefs after the presumed starter Spencer Ware went down to injury in the pre-season. Hunt as a rookie finished as the RB4 on the season in PPR formats. The issue with Hunt has been his off the field issues that have relegated him to a secondary role in Cleveland.
If I can get Hunt at a discounted price on a package deal, he is definitely someone that I would still be looking to acquire on my fantasy team. Some people may be disappointed with him getting a deal with the Browns and look at it as a negative. If I am a contender and need running back help to put me over the edge for a championship, I would have no problem trading my 2020 1st round pick to acquire Hunt. He has the floor of a RB2, a median of a high end RB2, and a ceiling of a high end RB1, if Chubb goes down (Chubb is currently on IR as of Week 4 - price might be a little more expensive now!).
Thank you for reading my article on the 2017 RB class getting paid! Agree or disagree with my take on each of them? Please leave a comment or message me on Twitter @TheFFAviator
Editor: Joe Simonetti (@joesimonetti77)
Graphic work: Dan Made Graphics (@DanMadeGraphics)