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Free Agent Market Values: Lower Salary RBs

By Steven Van Tassell (@SteveVT33)

It’s less than a week to go until the Super Bowl and congratulations to the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams on getting there. While talking about the Super Bowl matchup is interesting and I believe that it’s going to be a good game, it’s not going to help anyone with their Dynasty Owner roster. That’s why you are likely reading this article. Therefore, no Super Bowl game analysis. Just a quick prediction that the Rams defeat the Bengals by a score of 23-19.

After the Super Bowl is over, the most important timeline for Dynasty Owners becomes the 33 days between the end of the Super Bowl and the start of the 2022 Dynasty Owner league year on March 18th. That’s when all of the new 2022 contracts signed already will take effect, as well as any new contracts signed now until that day. Dynasty Owners will need to navigate the new salary cap that is anticipated to be $145.74 million (70% of the expected $208.2 million NFL salary cap), and figure out how to structure their team to compete to win in 2022 while staying under that salary cap. Just like real NFL GMs have to do!

And just like real NFL GMs, Dynasty Owners need to prepare for the upcoming season by looking at their roster of players already signed for the 2022 season, players available to them currently in free agency (the Free Agent Auction) and players who have expired contracts and will be NFL free agents. It’s a lot to navigate and more than your standard dynasty league, so more preparation time is needed. Dynasty Owners can start thinking now, or wait until after the Super Bowl, about what they need to do to remake their team for the 2022 season. It’s up to you!

One element of this planning is deciding what to do with your own free agents. Dynasty Owners have options, but their options are limited by the 30-player roster maximum (and 25-player minimum including draft picks) as well as the salary cap. It’s great to say that your Dynasty Owner team is going to keep Josh Allen when his contract goes up to $43 million per season, but that decision has ripple effects on the rest of your team. Can you keep Allen and both of those guys who just got a $2 million per year salary increases, or do you need to trim one of those other players from your roster? Is that player who did well in 2021 worth his new expected salary, or not? And what salary should I be expecting the free agents on my Dynasty Owner team to get for 2022 and beyond?

There is plenty of information about those anticipated market values for free agents on Spotrac (https://www.spotrac.com/). Since not everyone has the time to go check out the market value for all of the impending NFL free agents, I’m looking there for you, posting their Market Value estimates, comparing it to the player’s 2021 Dynasty Owner salary and giving a recommendation for what to do with the player at that new salary.

Last week was fun with the potential high salary players ($5 million or more average annual salaries), so let’s move on and look next at the lower salary RBs. These are players who are projected to get contracts of less than $5 million per year. There aren’t any QBs with listed market values, so we’ll leave them out. Just like last week, we first will review how players score Dynasty Owner fantasy points.

All stats cited are based on the Standard Dynasty Owner scoring system as outlined in the updated Dynasty Owner Constitution. Standard Dynasty Owner scoring gives you .1 points for every yard rushing or receiving, .1 point for every 2 yards passing, 1 point per reception, 6 points for a rushing, receiving or passing touchdown and 2 points for a successful 2-point conversion (rushing, receiving, or passing). Interceptions or fumbles lost cost you 3 points, while a fumble that is recovered by the player’s team is a loss of only 1 point. Bonus points are available for 100-199 yards rushing (2 points), 200 yards rushing or receiving (6 points), 300-399 yards passing (1 point) and 400 yards passing (4 points). There is also a 3 point bonus for clutch scoring, which is a score that results in a lead change in the final two minutes of the 4th quarter or overtime. Kickoff and punt return touchdowns are worth 6 points for the player and kickoff and punt returns are worth 1 point for every 40 yards.

For the purposes of this article, all statistics, roster percentages and 2021 position ranks were current as of the afternoon of February 7th. Spotrac has market values are available for select players at https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/free-agents/.

Players Who Are Going to Get Paid Over $2.5 Million Per Year

There is quite the gap in market values among the current crop of free agent RBs. Last week, we looked at several players who are anticipated to make at least $5 million per year and inadvertently left out Melvin Gordon who is  projected to get about $5.2 million for one year. After those guys in the $5 million or more range, the market values drop down by over a million dollars. There are four RBs projected to be paid over $2.5 million per year, but less than $5 million. Let’s check out who they are and what Dynasty Owners should do with them. Don’t bother to scan the Free Agent Auction for these guys as all of them are rostered in more than 90% of Dynasty Owner leagues currently.

The RB projected for the highest average salary in this range is J.D. McKissic.

Position RankAge2021 SalaryMarket ValueSalary Increase
RB3928$1,635,000$3,566,533$1,931,533

McKissic’s market value is projected at 2 years and $7,133,066, or $3,566,533 per year for Dynasty Owner salary purposes. I’m pretty confident that few Dynasty Owners thought they were getting a top 40 RB when McKissic signed with Washington back in 2020 for two years and $3.27 million. Dynasty Owners with McKissic on their roster currently should expect to have to find almost $2 million more in salary cap space to keep him on their team. What should they do?

Current Recommendation: Trade – preferably before he signs a new contract

McKissic has been wonderful for Dynasty Owners who grabbed him in either of the past two seasons and a steady source of Dynasty Owner fantasy points. He averaged 11.8 Dynasty Owner fantasy points per game in 2020 and 11.6 Dynasty Owner fantasy points per game in 2021. He had double-digit points in almost half of the games he played in (13 out of 27). He ranked as the RB18 in 2020 and RB39 in 2021 after playing in only 11 games. In both years, his Dynasty Dollars per Fantasy Point (DD/FP) rank was in the same range.

This tells me that McKissic is priced very well at his current salary of $1.635 million, but will be overpaid at $3.566 million. He might help get your team Bench points and maybe be in your Starting lineup a couple of times per year, but he’s not going be a Starter on a Championship team. Time to trade McKissic to another Dynasty Owner before he signs that new contract.

Ronald Jones is the next RB expected to get a contract worth over $2.5 million in salary for 2022.

Position RankAge2021 SalaryMarket ValueSalary Increase
RB6424$1,767,977$2,785,813$1,017,836

Jones’ market value is projected at 2 years and $5,571,626, or $2,785,813 per year for Dynasty Owner salary purposes. It’ll be his second NFL contract and likely the first time that he’ll play for a team other than the Buccaneers. Dynasty Owners with Jones on their roster currently should expect to have to find just over $1 million more in salary cap space to keep him on their team. What should they do?

Current Recommendation: Trade

His market value contract is pretty much about what Mike Davis signed with Atlanta for last season (2 years, $5.5 million). Davis was expected to be the top RB in Atlanta, especially after they didn’t take one RB in the NFL draft, but he ended up as the RB36 in Dynasty Owner. He only scored 134.2 Dynasty Owner fantasy points (7.9 points per game) and was outplayed by Cordarrelle Patterson. Both Jones and Davis had their best seasons in 2020 and ranked as RB15 (Davis) and RB16 (Jones) before declining in 2021.

Another Dynasty Owner is likely to be intrigued by Jones’ age (only 24) and convinced that he’ll be better somewhere besides Tampa Bay. Dynasty Owners might get more if they wait for Jones’ landing spot, especially if it’s similar to Davis and the Falcons, but don’t get too greedy. Find that team in your league who covets Jones and his potential, then make that deal.

Just trailing Ronald Jones on this list is D’Ernest Johnson from Cleveland.

Position RankAge2021 SalaryMarket ValueSalary Increase
RB4925$585,000$2,661,961$2,076,961

Johnson’s market value is projected at 2 years and $5,323,922, or $2,661,961 per year for Dynasty Owner salary purposes. Out of all of the players with a market value discussed so far, Johnson is the only restricted free agent (RFA). There’s a lot of information about RFAs, but the basics are that Johnson can sign an offer with any team, but Cleveland has the right to match it. Dynasty Owners with Johnson on their roster currently should expect to have to find just under $2.1 million more in salary cap space to keep him on their team. What should they do?

Current Recommendation: Keep him. Only trade if the offer is too good to pass up.  

This is the same recommendation as Leonard Fournette, but for very different reasons. Johnson is not as experienced as Fournette and hasn’t performed well for two different teams. In fact, he’s only played a significant number of snaps in three games. He scored over 20.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points in all three of those games. It’s all about the potential for Johnson.

The fact that Cleveland can match any offer means whoever gets Johnson is going to have to want him pretty badly. If Cleveland matches an offer, it’s clear that they see a role for him in 2022. If they don’t, the other team will have definitely wanted Johnson and think he can help their team since they had to go out on a limb and sign him to the offer sheet. Either way, Johnson’s team will have incentive to use him next year and that’s a good thing for his Dynasty Owners.

The final player with a market value of over $2.5 million is Marlon Mack.

Position RankAge2021 SalaryMarket ValueSalary Increase
RB12525$2,000,000$2,531,776$531,776

Mack’s market value is projected at 2 years and $5,063,551, or $2,531,776 per year for Dynasty Owner salary purposes. This is very surprising considering that he has only played in seven games in the past two years. However, Mack was a top 25 RB in both 2019 and 2018 before the Colts drafted Jonathan Taylor. Dynasty Owners with Mack on their roster currently should expect to have to find only an extra $531,776 to keep him on their team. What should they do?

Current Recommendation: Hold

If you held Mack as he dropped to fourth on the Colts depth chart last season, then you can’t just go out and get rid of him because of a small $531,776 salary increase. If the Dynasty Owner with Mack in your league drops him, then I’d take a chance and pick him up, regardless of how your team projects for 2022. He’s the type of player who can help a contender turn into a league winner if he gets a chance and plays well. For rebuilding teams, he’s exactly the type of player who you can turn into future draft picks if he has a good game or two.

Regardless of his landing spot, Mack is a Hold for me. Any team can have a rash of injuries and he could end up on the top of the depth chart. Nobody thought Devonta Freeman would be the RB1 anywhere in 2021, but it happened. Mack is four years younger than Freeman and while he hasn’t played much since 2019, that could be a good thing as he’s fresher and has less wear and tear on his body than most 25-year old RBs.

Players Who Are Going to Get Around $2 Million per Year

There is only one RB in this salary range and it’s Darrel Williams. Williams is also the only RB in the under $5 million salary range who is projected to get a 3-year contract.

Position RankAge2021 SalaryMarket ValueSalary Increase
RB2126$1,600,000$2,279,167$679,167

Williams’ market value is projected at 3 years and $6,837,502, or $2,279,167 per year for Dynasty Owner salary purposes. Williams has spent his entire NFL career with the Chiefs and was only signed to a one-year deal last season after his undrafted rookie free agent contract expired. Dynasty Owners with Williams on their roster currently should expect have to find only an extra $679,167 to keep him on their team. What should they do?

Current Recommendation: Hold until something positive happens for him on his new team, then Trade immediately

Williams’ value was likely at an all-time high when he replaced an injured Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the Chiefs’ starting lineup in Week 6 and reeled off 23.9 Dynasty Owner fantasy points against Washington. Either that, or after he had 25.7 Dynasty Owner fantasy points in the playoff finals (Week 17) against Cincinnati. Hopefully, Dynasty Owners with Williams traded him for a nice haul of players and/or picks after those games.

His value has taken a hit since as he was injured for the first game of the NFL playoffs, then barely used in favor of Edwards-Helaire and Jerick McKinnon (who is also a free agent). This playoff playing time situation will likely lower his value to other Dynasty Owners from where it was just weeks ago.

Once Williams signs with a new team, keep tabs and wait for a positive off-season development, a glowing report about how he looks in training camp, or a solid pre-season game. At that point, make your best deal and move forward.

Players Who Are Going to Get Less Than $2 Million per Year

Finally, we have the last two RBs with a Spotrac market value. Both of them are projected to have salaries under $2 million per season and should be viewed as veteran depth RBs for whatever team signs them. Both of them are still on over 80% of Dynasty Owner rosters and unlikely to be available in the Free Agent Auction.

David Johnson is the first of these two RBs.

Position RankAge2021 SalaryMarket ValueSalary Decrease
RB6230$5,000,000$1,467,134$3,532,866

Johnson’s market value is projected at 2 years and $2,934,268, or $1,467,134 per year for Dynasty Owner salary purposes. Johnson is the only RB on this list expected to make less in 2022 than he did in 2021. Dynasty Owners with Johnson on their roster (83.4% of leagues) currently will find themselves with over $3.5 million in excess salary cap room if they keep him on their team. What should they do?

Current Recommendation: Hold if you’re a contender. Trade for anything you can get if your team is rebuilding.

Contenders can afford to have and may need 30-year old RBs on their Dynasty Owner roster. Rebuilding Dynasty Owners shouldn’t have them. Johnson had only 80.3 Dynasty Owner fantasy points in 13 games played in 2021 (6.2 points per game) and was overtaken on the Houston depth chart by Rex Burkhead. Houston even signed Burkhead to a contract extension before the end of the 2021 season. That’s not good news for Dynasty Owners with Johnson.

Johnson will likely be better if he plays anywhere else besides Houston. He could have a Devonta Freeman like season with Baltimore under the right circumstances. Freeman had 149.6 Dynasty Owner fantasy points in 16 games played for Baltimore in 2021 (9.35 points per game) for a salary of only $1.075 million. As a contender, your Dynasty Owner team can afford to see if this happens for Johnson. If you’re not a contender, find someone who is and trade for anything that might help you in your rebuild.

Finally, we come to Alex Collins, the RB with the lowest listed market value.

Position RankAge2021 SalaryMarket ValueSalary Increase
RB6827$990,000$1,201,097$211,097

Collins’ market value is projected at 1 years and $1,201,097 for Dynasty Owner salary purposes. Dynasty Owners with Collins still on their roster (74.0% of Dynasty Owner leagues) should expect have to find only an extra $211,097 to keep him on their team. What should they do?

Current Recommendation: Hold if you’re a contender. Trade for anything you can get if your team is rebuilding.

Alex Collins made less than $1 million last season and will sign with somebody for the veteran minimum salary in 2022. Based on other signings, that salary may be $1.12 million, but don’t count on it. Either way, it’s likely to be only a small increase in salary for Collins who had a couple of solid games for Seattle before suffering an abdominal injury and getting replaced by Rashaad Penny.

This is the same recommendation as for David Johnson and even though Collins is three years younger, he’s not worth as much.  Dynasty Owners holding on to Collins should have low expectations for how much they can get in a trade and what to expect from Collins if he finds himself playing a role in 2022.

Conclusion

There you have it. Over two weeks, a complete list of all but one of the RBs with a market value on Spotrac. As mentioned early, Melvin Gordon was left out of the first article despite a market value of about $5.2 million for one year. We only mentioned one QB (Jameis Winston) since none of the 34 listed free agents on Spotrac had a market value.

With RBs and QBs finished, I’ll move on to the WRs next week. Since there are so many of them with a market value, it’ll be split between high and low salary again. There are plenty of TEs too, so that should be another pair of articles. Don’t worry, there are no kicker market values so nothing on them. This series of market value articles will take us almost to the start of free agency and the 2022 Dynasty Owner league year, so at that point, it’ll be time to shift gears.

The weekly Dynasty Owner livestream with myself and Tim Peffer is back at its regular day and time – Wednesday at 4 PM (Eastern). Set the timer on YouTube so you don’t miss it live, or make sure to watch it afterwards. Either way, don’t forget to smash the Like button. You can also listen wherever you get your podcasts.

Please read all of the off-season articles and videos from our Dynasty Owner team as well. On Mondays, I’ll talk about players, salaries and contracts to help new and returning Dynasty Owners navigate how to play our unique game. Jay Pounds will talk everything about rebuilding your Dynasty Owner roster on Tuesday. Nate Christian is back for 2022 and will do prospect previews every Thursday. Finally, Friday is Free Agent Friday as Matt Morrison – The Jerk breaks down the free agents on every NFL team by division.

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Steven Van Tassell is the Head of Content for Dynasty Owner

Follow us on Twitter: @SteveVT33 and @Dynasty_Owner

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