Two veteran running backs reportedly found new homes on Monday, with Dalvin Cook signing with the New York Jets and Ezekiel Elliott landing with the New England Patriots.
The running back market has been a hot topic of conversation leading up to the season and it took time for both backs to receive one-year deals. Elliott can earn up to $6 million with incentives, while Cook agreed to an $8.6 million deal, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Now that we know where Cook and Elliott will suit up, how does that impact their fantasy value — and their higher-ranked backfield mates?
Fantasy fallout of Cook signing with Jets
Breece Hall has been drafted as a borderline RB1 on Yahoo. That is likely to change with the news of more competition for touches, but our analysts are only giving Hall a slight downgrade at this point.
Noted Hall hype artist, Dalton Del Don, moved him down just one slot in his running back rankings to RB10 and was far from worried about the Cook speculation when he wrote this in early August:
“Hall is something of a risk and may require patience coming off ACL surgery, but every running back has legitimate questions. Yet, it’s Hall who has league-winning upside and should be a late first-round pick but is somehow going at the top of Round 3.
Meanwhile, Cook, who ran for 1,173 yards and eight touchdowns last season, finished as fantasy’s RB10. He had spent his entire career with the Vikings, racking up 5,993 rushing yards and 47 touchdowns while boasting a healthy 4.7 yards per carry since entering the league. He’s made the Pro Bowl in each of the past four seasons while rushing for at least 1,000 yards.
Cook signed a five-year, $63 million contract extension with the team in 2020, but the Vikings released the veteran in June after failing to find a trade partner for him.
Even though he didn’t have an NFL team until Monday, fantasy managers have been drafting Cook around pick 70. Our analysts are divided on Cook’s fantasy value, ranging anywhere from a fringe RB2 to more of a bench option.
Despite questions from the fantasy community on what comes next, Alexander Mattison has no doubt what his former teammate can still do:
Fantasy fallout of Elliott signing with Patriots
Like Hall, Rhamondre Stevenson has also been drafted in RB1 territory on Yahoo. There seems to be more concern about him being able to maintain that fantasy ceiling, however, with Elliott now in the mix.
The Patriots have been looking for depth behind Stevenson, who finished as fantasy’s RB11 last season after running for a career-high 1,040 yards with six total touchdowns. Stevenson’s Yahoo ADP is currently 25.9, but is likely to take a hit with Elliott in the fold.
Among Yahoo analysts, Scott Pianowski’s view changed the most on Stevenson in the aftermath of the news, moving him from RB11 to RB16. Conversely, Andy Behrens moved Elliott up the most, bumping him up 15 spots to RB37. Elliott is being drafted in only 27% of Yahoo leagues, a number that is going to rise. He’s currently coming off the board in Round 13 in 10-team leagues.
Elliott spent his entire career with the Cowboys before joining the Pats, who first took him with the No. 4 overall pick in 2016. He started 102 games over seven seasons and led the league in rushing twice while racking up four 1,000-yard seasons.
Last year, however, Elliott ran for a career-low 876 yards and averaged a career-worst 3.8 yards per carry. His massive six-year, $90 million deal with Dallas became too much, and the team released him earlier this summer.