Running Backs on New Teams in 2024

  • Arguably the most intriguing position of the 2024 fantasy football off-season has been the running backs, who saw multiple top players at the position find new homes over the last couple of months. There are over a dozen veteran running backs on new teams that have a chance to provide serious fantasy football production in their new homes for the 2024 season. With this piece, we’re going to discuss each fantasy-relevant RB that was on the move this off-season and predict how their 2024 fantasy football season will fare. The ball-carriers will be listed in ascending order based on their current off-season best ball ADP on Underdog as of mid-May 2024.

    Saquon Barkley – Philadelphia Eagles

    Contract: 3 Years / $37.75 Million ($26M Guaranteed)

    After a rollercoaster of a tenure with the New York Giants to start his NFL career, Saquon Barkley enters a new chapter with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles finished eighth in the NFL in rushing yards last season, and will likely find themselves closer to the top of the list with Barkley in tow. In my opinion, the biggest improvement that will come from the move for Barkley will be the raising of his floor on a weekly basis as he moves on from the often-sputtering Giants. Last season, Barkley finished as a top-10 fantasy RB in 6-of-14 games played, but he also finished outside the top-30 RBs in five separate performances. The overall production and efficient nature of the Eagles’ offense should help make him a more consistent contributor to fantasy lineups and less of the boom-or-bust profile he put together last season. 

    Barkley is currently being drafted as the RB5 in the early-second round of off-season best ball drafts, which strongly reflects his potential for the upcoming season. There is certainly something to be said about the potential of lost touchdown volume to Jalen Hurts and the tush push, but Barkley will surely have his share of opportunities to score. What’s most important is that this team should be scoring a ton as they look to build on a 2023 campaign that saw them finish seventh in the league in total touchdowns. Entering his seventh NFL season at age-27, there’s a good chance we see the best fantasy football season of Barkley’s career since his monstrous rookie year. He has a chance to contend for the overall fantasy RB2 this year, though I don’t think he’ll be able to catch a healthy Christian McCaffrey.

    Expected Finish: Top-8 RB with RB2 Overall Ceiling

    Derrick Henry – Baltimore Ravens

    Contract: 2 Years / $16 Million ($9M Guaranteed)

    The longtime Tennessee Titan, Derrick Henry has finally found a new home in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens after spending the last eight years dominating the league on the ground. Few running backs have the combination of size, strength and speed that Henry possesses, and it’s translated to a career 4.7 yards per carry, which is fourth-best all-time among RBs with at least 8,000 career rushing yards. Last season, Henry played all 17 games for the Titans and scored 12 touchdowns, which makes it six-straight seasons with at least 10 rushing touchdowns for the King. 2023 saw Henry finish as the RB8 and have eight weeks when he finished as a top-8 fantasy running back. The Ravens had multiple different running backs succeed in their offense last season, none of which sniff the talent that Henry still maintains as he enters 2024 at 30-years-old. Gus Edwards, Justice Hill and Keaton Mitchell all combined for seven top-12 RB performances last season, and Henry surely has a shot to easily clear that on his own, given he receives a sizeable workload in this efficient offense. The Ravens averaged 4.9 yards per carry as a team in 2023, good for third-best in the NFL.

    Unfortunately, we don’t really know how sparingly or intensely the Ravens intend to deploy their new weapon in the monstrous Henry. That said, he is coming off of another iron man campaign, playing all 17 games and leading the NFL with 280 rushing attempts last year. He also got paid the fourth-highest average yearly salary among running backs to sign deals with new teams this off-season. All signs point to him having another outstanding performance, and he should remain a top-12 RB at minimum in his debut season in Baltimore, assuming he can maintain a clean bill of health at this stage of his career. He’s currently going as the RB9 in off-season best ball drafts, costing fantasy managers a late-third or early-fourth round draft pick. He’s a solid value at this capital, and I view him in a similar tier to the next back on the list, though Henry has a higher floor. 

    Expected Finish: Mid-to-Low-end RB1

    Josh Jacobs – Green Bay Packers

    Contract: 4 Years / $48 Million ($12.5M Guaranteed)

    It was something of a head-scratching move when the Raiders opted to pivot away from what was shaping to be a true franchise cornerstone in RB Josh Jacobs. Jacobs has been a strong RB for much of his career, finishing with three-straight RB1 finishes between the 2020 and 2022 seasons. He peaked in 2022 after leading the league with 1,653 rushing yards and finishing as the PPR RB3, and even the overall RB1 in standard formats. Jacobs limped his way to a RB28 finish last season after missing the last four games of the season. He was the definition of boom-or-bust in 2023, finishing as a top-8 fantasy RB in 4-of-13 games played last season, but was also outside the top-20 running backs in 8-of-13 weeks. 

    Josh Jacobs’ new deal with the Packers is a “prove-it” deal disguising itself as a long-term contract signing. Only his initial season is guaranteed, with all three of the remaining years on the contract being team options going forward, meaning he could be cut after the season without paying Jacobs a dime beyond 2024. Thankfully, Josh Jacobs remains incentivized to be as dominant as ever in his new home this season, though the team has less hanging on to Jacobs if his season is derailed, and the team did draft an intriguing young back in the third round of this year’s draft, MarShawn Lloyd. There are certainly a few scenarios where Lloyd winds up the starting back for Green Bay before the season’s end, but the starting job will remain Jacobs’s to lose, and he should have no problem replicating the production that Aaron Jones consistently produced over the last seven years with the team, but more on the new Vikings RB later.

    The Packers employed a fantasy RB1 in Aaron Jones for four-straight seasons from 2019-2022 before multiple injuries sidelined him for six games at different times throughout the season. Still, the Packers ranked ninth in the league in yards per rushing attempt, and are a younger offensive line group that should only be better with another year of experience under their belt. Josh Jacobs. However, despite being top-10 in total touchdowns scored last season, Green Bay only had 10 rushing scores, which was tied for the eighth-lowest mark in the NFL. Jacobs is currently being drafted as the RB10 usually in the early-fourth round of off-season fantasy football best ball drafts, directly after RB9 Derrick Henry. Heading into 2024, Jacobs should be seeing a sizeable role on a top scoring offense in the NFL, with both his ceiling and any concerns or uncertainties baked into his draft price tag.

    Expected Finish: Low-end RB1 or High-end RB2 

    Joe Mixon – Houston Texans

    Contract: 3 Years / $25.5 Million ($13M Guaranteed)

    Joe Mixon is technically the sole back on this list to be acquired by his new team via trade, with the Texans giving up a seventh-round draft pick to acquire the longtime Cincinnati Bengal after seven seasons with the franchise that drafted him in 2017. Over his last three seasons, Mixon has finished as the RB4, RB10 and most recently the RB6 in 2023. Mixon has solid pass-catching abilities and has the potential to slot in as a workhorse back in his debut season with Houston. Mixon got the third-highest total of guaranteed money among RBs on the list, so it’s clear that the Texans envision the veteran back being a mainstay in the offense.

    There are definitely some concerns to be had about the efficiency of this running game in Houston, and also just how heavily the team leans on sophomore QB C.J. Stroud and his onslaught passing game. Former-Bills RB Devin Singletary was with the Texans in 2023, having a couple big games leading to overall RB2 and RB4 finishes in back-to-back weeks at one points, but ultimately sputtering to a PPR RB32 finish on the season. Singletary showed enough to net a multi-year deal with the Giants, and now Mixon gets an opportunity to be the Texans’ answer at RB for the next few years. He’s currently being taken by drafters in the late-fifth round of fantasy football best ball contests, slotting him in as the overall RB15. Joe Mixon has one of the most fascinating potential ceilings in his new role as the starting back on the young, high-flying Texans. If this team can increase its efficiency on the ground, which shouldn’t be too difficult given the lethality of its passing attack, Mixon has a real shot at making some noise as an intriguing mid-tier RB. Three-straight years of top-10 RB finishes for Mixon and joining arguably the fastest-rising offense in the NFL adds up somewhere north of RB15 in my opinion, and Mixon has the potential to be a great draft value heading into 2024.

    Expected Finish: Low-end RB1 or high-end RB2

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