The NFL offseason moves quickly. Free agency and the NFL Draft are already in the rearview mirror. It is now full steam ahead toward the 2023 fantasy football season. But before we really dive into redraft, there are keeper leagues, dynasty leagues, and Devy leagues with year-round action. With the new landscape following the draft, let’s take another look at some dynasty RB trade targets.
Top Dynasty RB Trade Targets for the 2023 NFL Offseason
Heading into the 2022 season, I was very concerned about the average age of the top running backs. I predicted the RB landscape would look wildly different by 2024, and that looks like it will come to fruition.
The 2022 season was one of the worst for running backs in a long time. The elite guys weren’t as elite. The average RB1 was worse than normal. More running backs were relevant, which devalued the guys at the top outside of the elites.
Entering the 2023 season, we still have a situation where many of the top backs are past the age apex. Several of these guys are just going to be done by the end of this season. For some, this may be the season they fall off. As a result, it’s time to make moves.
For dynasty RB trade targets, it’s much more difficult than the other positions. We often have to think outside the box and acquire guys who don’t have much value now but have a plausible path to considerable value.
For those looking for guys already in the league, let’s take a look at a couple of RBs fantasy managers should target in trades this offseason.
Miles Sanders, Carolina Panthers
I never thought I’d see the day when I endorsed Miles Sanders. Yet, here we are. Those following me for the past few years know I’m no fan of Sanders. I’ve always thought he was overrated — as both a prospect and a player. But in fantasy football, it’s all about value. And right now, it looks like Sanders is being undervalued for perhaps the first time in his career.
Sanders is never going to be an RB1, nor will he be the type of running back that wins you fantasy leagues. He’s just a solid RB2 that appears to be overlooked right now.
2020 was Sanders’ best season. He averaged 14.2 PPR fantasy points per game. Outside of 2021, Sanders has finished as the RB17 or RB21 in each of his other three seasons.
The Eagles let Sanders walk after his rookie contract expired. Sanders signed a four-year, $25.4 million deal with the Carolina Panthers. What other moves did the Panthers make? Nothing. They didn’t sign or draft anyone.
We can’t rule out the Panthers ultimately signing someone like Ezekiel Elliott or Leonard Fournette, but it seems unlikely. Sanders is set to be the lead back, and his only real competition is Chuba Hubbard. Duce Staley likes his committees, but Sanders is clearly this team’s best running back.
Sanders is still just 26 years old. He should have at least three quality years left. The Panthers have an above-average offensive line, and they just secured their franchise quarterback in Bryce Young. If you can acquire Sanders at a reasonable price, he could be a solid value for the next 2-3 years.
Travis Etienne Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars
It’s no secret that fantasy managers should target talented young running backs. But sometimes the obvious move is the best move. Dynasty RB trade targets don’t exclusively have to be under-the-radar guys. It’s OK to pay up for a guy who is worth it. Travis Etienne Jr. is that guy.
I do think there’s a bit of a difference between Etienne and the other young backs. Perhaps I’m off in my perception, but I believe Etienne is not viewed on the same level as guys like Saquon Barkley, Breece Hall, or Bijan Robinson. While Robinson is my dynasty RB1 and well ahead of Etienne, I might rather have Etienne than Barkley, and, at least for 2023, Etienne over Hall.
2022 was Etienne’s second NFL season but his first actually playing football. He missed his entire rookie year with a Lisfranc injury.
If you only look at Etienne’s full-season numbers, he was pretty bad. He averaged 12.1 PPR fantasy points per game, finishing as the overall RB23. Etienne was considered to be more of a pass-catching back, but he was seldom used as a receiver, with just an 8% target share on the year.
What I love about Etienne, though, is his total numbers don’t tell the full story, which provides for a buying opportunity.
Etienne was really efficient with his touches, averaging 5.7 yards per touch — top 10 in the league. Additionally, from Week 7 onward, he averaged over a 75% snap share in games where he was healthy. In a league where the three-down back is going the way of the VCR, Etienne has a very desired role.
Despite his overall numbers, Etienne’s peripherals suggest a massive leap forward in 2023. The Jaguars’ only move at running back was to select Tank Bigsby in the third round. While it’s possible Bigsby takes some receiving work from Etienne, I don’t think it will be much.
Tied to an ascending quarterback on an ascending offense, I expect Etienne to be ranked as a top-eight RB in redraft leagues. At just 24 years old, he is someone fantasy managers should seek to acquire via trade.
Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys
Actions speak volumes. The Dallas Cowboys’ actions indicate they are fully committed to Tony Pollard as their RB1 of the future. While the team hasn’t extended Pollard just yet, a deal is likely coming.
The Cowboys released Ezekiel Elliott. Their only other moves at running back were to sign Ronald Jones as a camp body and draft undersized satellite back Deuce Vaughn in the sixth round. Pollard’s current backup is 2022 UDFA Malik Davis. Everything points to Pollard finally getting the true lead role beginning in 2023.
Pollard is still just 26 years old. While that’s past the age apex, Pollard has just 631 career touches. The reason running backs have such short shelf lives is because of volume, not simply age.
Pollard is a young 26 in terms of usage. He can easily maintain a 230-250 touch workload for the next 3-4 seasons. The Cowboys are never going to make him a 300-touch back, and we don’t want them to.
Pollard is remarkably efficient. He was fifth in yards per touch and fourth in the percentage of runs to go for 15+ yards last season. He averaged 15.6 ppg, finishing as the overall RB8.
Not only does Pollard have proven RB1 upside, but he has also proven overall RB1 weekly upside. By no means do I think Pollard can finish as the overall RB1 without massive volume. However, on any given week, he’s a threat to score 30 points.
Currently, Pollard is being valued as a low RB1 in dynasty. He belongs right up there with Taylor and Barkley and is an excellent trade target for fantasy managers.
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