🤠 Best Free Agent RB Landing Spots

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March is the first month without football since July. At least it’s Friday…

In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by Moby:

  • Best RB landing spots: Cowboys, Chargers, more 

  • “The Office” has a fantasy football league

  • Dynasty Trade Targets: Rashee Rice’s future looks bright

  • It’s 3/1. Take it away, Ian Hartitz…

One decent-sized domino fell in the RB landscape on Thursday night.

The move isn't THAT big of a surprise. Last season Mattison led the NFL in most rush attempts without scoring a TD at 180 (Dalvin Cook was the next-highest RB at 67, lol). Advanced metrics like PFF rush grade (70.2, 39th), rushing yards over expected (-0.25, 35th) and yards after contact per carry (2.8, 33rd) all tell the same story: The former 2019 third-round pick was a replacement-level back at best in 2023.

Looking at the bigger picture: Mattison's release leaves the Vikings as one of the league’s more wide-open backfields when it comes to available opportunities. The table below denotes every backfield’s percentage of vacated carries, carries inside the five-yard line and targets from all 32 NFL squads based on their current free agents.

Of course, not all opportunities are created equal; touches in a high-scoring environment with a great offensive line go a lot further than they do in, well, New York.

The following three offenses REALLY seem to stand out in terms of being the most fantasy-friendly RB landing spots out there ahead of free agency.

🤠 Dallas Cowboys

  • Free agents: Tony Pollard, Rico Dowdle

  • Available carries: 341 (94% of the team’s 2023 RB total)

  • Available carries inside the five-yard line: 17 (94%)

  • Available targets: 87 (93%)

Postseason failures aside: This Cowboys offense has been pretty, pretty, pretty good at scoring points with Dak Prescott under center in recent years.

  • 2020 pre-Dak injury: 32.6 points per game (No. 2)

  • 2021: 31.2 (No. 1)

  • 2022 post-Dak return from injury: 32.5 (No. 1)

  • 2023: 29.9 (No. 1)

Throw in the potential for the Cowboys to add an offensive tackle with their Round 1 pick, and it’s hard not to see someone putting up some serious fantasy numbers in this backfield next season.

Los Angeles Chargers

  • Free agents: Austin Ekeler, Joshua Kelley

  • Available carries: 286 (87% of the team’s 2023 RB total)

  • Available carries inside the five-yard line: 16 (100%)

  • Available targets: 80 (91%)

The Chargers posted the league’s sixth-highest pass play rate, with Kellen Moore running the offense in 2023. Give me the under with Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman, now in charge.

One of just eight teams to not use a single day one or day two pick on their backfield over the last five years, it’d make sense if the Chargers add multiple RBs throughout the offseason — maybe even a certain Michigan man.

 😈 Baltimore Ravens

  • Free agents: Gus Edwards, J.K. Dobbins, Dalvin Cook, Melvin Gordon

  • Available carries: 299 (82% of the team’s 2023 RB total)

  • Available carries inside the five-yard line: 20 (83%)

  • Available targets: 37 (55%)

Unlike the Eagles: The Ravens haven’t attempted to start a revolution by utilizing their dual-threat QB non-stop near the goal line. Overall, Jalen Hurts had a position-high 16 carries inside the five-yard line last season — more than Lamar Jackson has in the last three seasons combined (15).

Baltimore boasts PFF’s fifth-ranked offensive line from 2023 and should offer plenty of fantasy-friendly scoring opportunities inside the league’s reigning fourth-ranked scoring offense. Derrick Henry, you know what to do.

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Around the Watercooler (August 2022)

👑 Our friends at Webex continue to be unbelievably helpful to our daily fantasy product. For those about to tech, WE SALUTE YOU.

👀 Odds for Justin Fields to the Falcons keep on climbing. It seems inevitable at this point.

🤣 The Office cast has been playing fantasy football for 19 years running. Guess who can’t quite capture championship glory.

🤔 Brock Bowers has two QBs he would love to catch passes from. One is in his projected draft range.

🎉 The NFL no longer relying on old men eye-balling crucial spots? Now there’s an idea.

🏈 J.K. Dobbins is looking spry while recovering from his Achilles injury. America loves a comeback.

🙃 Washington’s new owner is staying BUSY at his new job. What could go wrong?

🤦 Prospect quotes at the combine are a helluva drug. Are we positive birds are real? What about space?

Fantasy Life Dynasty Trade Targets

March is considered the offseason for many — but dynasty fantasy football managers never sleep. NEVER. Not even if there’s a fire.

Lucky for you: Fantasy Life’s Sam Wallace is BACK with his weekly breakdown on who you should be looking to acquire on dem trade streets. Some might say it’s a great day to be great.

📈 Rashee Rice, WR - Chiefs

Fresh off a Super Bowl victory in his rookie season, I’m honestly surprised that Rashee Rice isn’t valued higher in dynasty formats. His current ADP comes in at WR20 which feels…fine? I kinda figured the undisputed WR1 for Patrick Mahomes would be ranked a touch higher. After all, Rice had almost 50 more targets than the Chiefs’ WR2 (Justin Watson).

I guess that makes him a dynasty trade target. Let’s dive in.

Even before entering the league, Chris Allen wrote up a dynasty rookie profile on Rice and said the following:

Taken over a two-year sample from PFF, Rice is one of four prospects with an above-average target per route run (TPRR) rate from the slot and out wide. He commanded targets regardless of alignment. Plus, he was efficient in both positions. … Rice’s 2.61 YPRR from the perimeter (10th) and 2.67 YPRR from the slot (6th) highlight his talent to contribute from Day 1.

Rice did come in at No. 10 in our Rookie WR Model, but his landing spot with Mahomes couldn’t have been any better. Despite taking a bit to secure a full-time role on the field, Rice finished the season about as well as he could have.

Rashee Rice Utilization Report Game Log

Even heading into the Divisional Round, Dwain McFarland highlighted just how special Rice’s usage was and how it compared historically to other wideouts:

The targets are high-end WR1 material, but his air yards and aDOT are below WR1 thresholds. However, based on the last 12 seasons of data, Rice’s comp group fared well, finishing as the WR13 on average with 16.4 points per contest.

  • Amon-Ra St. Brown

  • Chris Godwin

  • Jarvis Landry

  • Jaylen Waddle

  • Julian Edelman

  • Keenan Allen

That’s not too shabby. Those WRs have all posted at least one top-12 finish, and most have multiple in their career. Playing in a pass-first offense with Mahomes, it’s hard to imagine Rice not paying off at least WR2 value next season while offering WR1 upside if he follows the path of St. Brown.

Fantasy Life Dynasty Trade Targets

While our own Matthew Freedman has the Chiefs selecting WR Troy Franklin from Oregon with the final pick in the first round, having a teammate who can stretch the field would only benefit Rice and his skillset. Chris Allen noted a similar idea back in his dynasty rookie profile.

Needless to say, a WR20 price tag does not scare me away from Rice. He’s shown enough after one season with an elite head coach and an elite QB to warrant consideration as a priority trade target in dynasty formats this offseason.

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