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Bust RBs for Fantasy Football in 2024

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Getting a fantasy football draft pick wrong can be damning, no matter when in the draft it happens. Getting it wrong early can ruin your whole season, but even getting it wrong later makes your job that much harder. 

 

In that department, arguably the worst position to get wrong is running back. It’s a position that requires multiple starters in fantasy, but it’s very shallow overall, so if you miss, it’s that much harder to recover.

Monday, I offered up some of the key sleepers at running back heading into 2024. Today, it’s the other side — the busts. Which running backs are most likely to disappoint in fantasy in 2024? It’s too early for hard-core ADP to be relevant, so this is more about guys coming in short of general perception.

Check out our whole sleepers/busts series here: QB sleepers | QB busts | RB sleepers | WR sleepers | WR busts | TE sleepers | TE busts

2024 Fantasy Football Busts: Running Back

Derrick Henry, Baltimore Ravens

Derrick Henry became all-caps KING HENRY in 2019. In the five years since, his 2023 was:

  • His worst in yards per attempt (4.2)
  • His worst in yards per game (68.6)
  • His worst in attempts per game (16.5)
  • His worst in yards after contact per attempt (2.1)
Derrick Henry Baltimore Ravens 2024 Fantasy Football Running Back Busts

To be fair, some of those were his worst by just a little, and he was still the RB8 in fantasy despite some decreased efficiency and Tyjae Spears stealing some of his work. Henry isn’t going to disappear. But he turned 30 in January and is on a new team now, one that basically never throws to running backs and one that has an exciting lightning bolt in Keaton Mitchell due back early in the season and has Lamar Jackson taking away touches from the backfield. Henry is still very likely to be a fantasy starter, but pushing for overall RB1 status might be out the door.

De’Von Achane, Miami Dolphins

De’Von Achane was electric last year. He was RB24 despite missing six games and playing fewer than 10 snaps in two more. He averaged 7.3 yards per carry and scored 11 touchdowns on only 130 touches. It screamed ridiculous efficiency. But there are also warning signs in there. Those six games he missed came in three different sections, with Achane missing Week 1 to injury, sitting on the IR Weeks 6-9, and making it back in Week 11 for only three snaps before getting hurt again and missing Week 12. Is he — all 5-foot-9, 188 pounds of him — going to be ready for the kind of workload that would let him finish as a mid-range RB1 or better? And if he gets that workload, how many games can we count on? “Injury prone” is always a questionable tag to put on a player — everyone is injury prone — but “too small to realistically stay healthy” is at least something to be aware of.

Saquon Barkley, Philadelphia Eagles

In New York, the offensive weaponry basically started and ended with Saquon Barkley. That will decidedly not be the case in Philadelphia. And that can be a boon for overall productivity, because a team that scores more gives everyone more touchdown opportunities. But now Barkley has to deal with the ultimate touchdown vulture in Jalen Hurts and the Tush Push. Maybe Jason Kelce’s retirement hurts or kills the play, but until we see that, we have to be aware that Barkley might get plenty of yardage in 2024 but see his touchdown total not at all reflect that. 

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Aaron Jones, Minnesota Vikings

It’s not that Aaron Jones looked washed in 2023. Set aside his injury, and he still averaged 4.6 yards per carry and closed his year with five straight hundred-yard performances (counting the postseason). The problem is what the league was telling us. Jones, entering his age-30 season, was released by Green Bay to make room for new signee Josh Jacobs. Fine, totally fair. But then Jones was only on the market for a day when he signed with the Vikings on a one-year deal worth only $7 million. That tells us the market was not robust for Jones despite his end-of-2023 success. And if the league is out on a guy, maybe we should let that inform our own decisions. He’ll enter the season as a fantasy starter, but there’s way more downside than we’re used to.

D’Andre Swift, Chicago Bears

D'Andre Swift Chicago Bears 2024 Fantasy Football Running Back Busts

D’Andre Swift has had one of the worst performance-to-reputation ratios in a long time. He’s been a popular back and an exciting fantasy pick every year of his career, but 2023 was his first season of more than 620 rushing yards. He hasn’t had 10 touchdowns since his rookie year in 2020. He had his first 1,000-yard season of his career in 2023, but that came with a career-low 6 touchdowns. And after a hot start to his season, Swift averaged an RB33.3 weekly fantasy finish over his final six weeks. Now, he’s in Chicago, where he’ll be battling Roschon Johnson and Khalil Herbert for touches and will have a rookie quarterback who has the best set of weaponry in Bears history. That’s not a recipe for a single running back to have big fantasy numbers.

Austin Ekeler, Washington Commanders
Tony Pollard, Tennessee Titans
Joe Mixon, Houston Texans
Zack Moss, Cincinnati Bengals

There’s a common bond in this article. Everyone listed so far except De’Von Achane is a running back who changed teams this offseason. All but Joe Mixon changed teams as a free agent. There’s a reason for that! Guys who move in free agency are (a) generally on the older side of the running back aging curve, and (b) not franchise tagged by their former team. In his “best free agent signings in recent memory” piece a few weeks ago, our Adam Pfeifer and I had to bounce ideas back and forth to even find running backs. Among the five names we landed on at the position, four of them (Priest Holmes in 2001, Michael Turner in 2008, Curtis Martin in 1998, Darren Sproles in 2011) were more than a decade ago, with only James Conner in 2021 being a recent signing. And while Conner has been good as a Cardinal, he’s played 41 of a possible 51 games in three seasons and just topped 1,000 yards for the first time. Running backs who change teams often fall flat. Beware all these guys.

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