3 Running Backs You Need to Acquire Before Your Dynasty League's Trade Deadline

Breaking down three running backs whose dynasty values will skyrocket this offseason as current starters likely leave.

The fantasy football savant (or addict) can get overwhelmed during this time of year: lots of football watching, weekly waiver requests, crafting daily fantasy lineups, and trying to seal the deal on one last trade before your league's deadline.

One thing that might get put on the backburner is making trades on a dynasty team that isn't in contention this year.

The effort to get a dynasty deal done can seem burdening for a middling squad, but today's dynasty trades lay the championship foundation for years to come.

With that said, which backfields could see the current starter elsewhere in 2016? And how likely it is that the current backup will ascend to starter in 2016?

Chicago Bears

Rusher Cap Number 2016 Dead Money 2016 Cap Saving 2016 Rushes Rush NEP/P Tar Rec NEP/Tar
Matt Forte UFA UFA UFA 136 -0.05 36 0.36
Jeremy Langford $660,906 $407,718 $253,188 65 0.02 18 1.07

Anyone who has been watching the Bears the last couple weeks knows that rookie Jeremy Langford looks like the real deal. His 3.5 yards per carry might have you a bit worried, but you can see that he's been a positive contributor in the running game with a positive per-rush Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) score, which compares a player's performance to expectation-level.

When we contrast his productivity with the soon-to-be 30-year-old Matt Forte, you can see that Langford is bringing much more value in the running and passing games.

Forte's current contract paid him $7.6 million over the last four years, so you can see why the team was hesitant to re-sign the aging running back in the offseason. What seals the deal on Langford's 2016 breakout is that Forte isn't under contract for 2016, and it's hard to imagine the Bears' paying much for the declining Forte when they have the productive Langford waiting in the wings at less than $700,000.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Rusher Cap Number 2016 Dead Money 2016 Cap Saving 2016 Rushes Rush NEP/P   Tar Rec NEP/Tar
Doug Martin UFA UFA UFA 161 -0.07 23 0.57
Charles Sims $836,023 $342,046 $493,977 66 -0.03 33 0.32

Like Forte, Doug Martin is an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. While Martin is younger than Forte, he'll still be 27 in January, meaning his next contract is likely the last big one Martin will sign. Martin has had an up-and-down career with the Buccaneers, breaking out as a rookie only to follow that with two seasons of mediocrity before returning somewhat to form this year.

Charles Sims was the last year's draft choice of the current Buccaneer regime, plus he's been involved and productive enough this year for management to feel comfortable turning over the reins. Though Sims' current Rushing NEP per play (-0.03) is negative, it's close to the actual average mark for backs of roughly -0.02. Martin's -0.07 ranks 23rd among 28 backs with at least 100 carries this year. It's tough to see Martin and Buccaneers agreeing on a contract that satisfies both parties, especially with Sims under his bargain rookie contract through 2017.

Miami Dolphins

Rusher Cap Number 2016 Dead Money 2016 Cap Saving 2016 Rushes Rush NEP/P Tar Rec NEP/Tar
Lamar Miller UFA UFA UFA 107 0.07 38 0.49
Jay Ajayi $580,203 $165,609 $414,594 11 0.48 0 N/A

How the Dolphins' backfield will look next year is murkier than the Bears and Bucs, even though Lamar Miller is also an unrestricted free agent after this season.

The reason I say that is the uncertainty around who will fill the void if Miller leaves. Rookie Jay Ajayi is the most logical choice, but he's missed most of the season, and his draft stock fell this offseason supposedly on concerns around chronic knee issues. However, the little we've seen of Ajayi is year has been encouraging; he's averaging 8.1 yards per and a otherworldly, small-sample per-carry Rushing NEP of 0.48.

I'm not sure if Ajayi is a threat to Miller this year, but how well Ajayi plays to finish the season and how big of a role he's able to carve out are extremely important in determining if the Dolphins let Miller walk after the season (he won't come cheap at 24 years old). I'm guessing that Miller will walk, as the team has never been willing to lean on Miller fully, giving substantial roles to Daniel Thomas, Knowshon Moreno, and now Ajayi.

Ajayi is such a hot prospect this offseason that I'm not sure you can acquire him at a good risk/reward price, but it wouldn't hurt to poke around and see how you league's Ajayi owner feels about him right now.