Samaje Perine Fantasy Impact 2018
Heading into the 2017 NFL draft, one of the objectives for the Washington Redskins was to look at improving a rushing attack that finished 21st in the NFL in total rushing yards. Backed by the #2 passing offense and an offensive line that featured Pro-Bowlers Trent Williams and Brandon Scherff, the Redskins viewed their offense as being one more running back away from being a formidable running back by committee.
In the 4th round, they would select Samaje Perine, the all-time leading rusher from the University of Oklahoma, who shared backfield duties with fellow running back Joe Mixon making him already accustomed to being involved in a running back timeshare. For the Redskins, Perine was supposed to be the perfect complement to incumbent Robert Kelley, forming a powerful “1-2” punch in the backfield. Unfortunately, due to an early-season hand injury and some general ineffectiveness, Perine was forced to sit on the bench behind Kelley and pass-catching back Chris Thompson on the team’s Depth Chart.
Perine’s best opportunity would come later in the season, as both Kelley and Thompson would succumb to season-ending injuries which would thrust him into the starting lineup. Unfortunately, by this time, he would be running behind an offensive line that was slowly being decimated by injury.
Perine would finish the 2017 season rushing for just 603 yards while averaging 3.4 yards a carry and just 1 rushing TD.
A closer look at his numbers also showed that when the offensive line was somewhat intact and he was given ample volume (20+ touches), Perine would average 94.6 YPG and 4.17 yards per carry. This gave fantasy fans a glimmer of hope, but ultimately was just a small sample size (one early-season game against the Rams and two more games later against the Saints and Giants). However, the five remaining games after the Giants game on Thanksgiving night would quickly dampen that optimism as his production began to decline and he would only average 35 rushing YPG, never seeing the end zone.
ESPN’s John Keim believes the Redskins will “try to upgrade” at the running back position, however, NBC Washington’s Rich Tandler expects Samaje Perine to open 2018 as the Redskins’ starter. With all of this in mind, the question we must ask is, what can we make of Perine’s fantasy value going into 2018? To be fair let’s first look at some of the variables that may have contributed to his subpar play in 2017:
- Offensive Line Play: As stated, the offensive line was riddled with injuries for much of the season, one of the primary factors into why the Redskins finished 28th in the league in total rushing (NFL.com). Additionally, according to Football Outsiders, the Redskins ranked 28th in Power Success which measures short yardage (1-5 yards) conversions, 22nd in 2nd Level Yard Success, where the running backs earn 5-10 yards past the line of scrimmage and 28th in Open Field Yards, where the running backs earned more than 10 yards past the line of scrimmage.
- Durability & Opportunity: Several factors impacted Perine’s capacity to mature as a runner. Robert Kelley and Chris Thompson were both ahead of him on the depth chart. In addition, Perine’s ability to stay on the field due to an early-season hand injury and an overall lack of productivity, when given an opportunity, were knocks against his durability as a runner.
- Reputation: In college Perine made his name as a bruising short-to-intermediate runner who gained most of his yards after initial contact. However, scouts did not see him as a multi-dimensional threat out of the backfield, as he lacked the breakaway speed necessary to be a truly successful every down back in the NFL. This is evident by his 4th round grade and the reason he was the 9th running back taken in the draft.
Perine’s lack of playmaking ability and breakaway speed makes his 2018 fantasy value highly suspect. Washington expects their offensive line to return to health and with the imminent returns of both Robert Kelley and Chris Thompson by OTA’s and Training Camp, Perine will have his work cut out for him in trying to carve out an RB1/RB2 role on this team.
Looking at what is available this offseason, Carlos Hyde and Dion Lewis are both set to become free agents, and have tremendous upsides, but would most likely come with hefty price tags, as well as their own durability questions. Isaiah Crowell, is another name that has some appeal and as Mark Bullock of the Washington Post writes a running back like Crowell would improve the running game, but size would be comparable to that of Perine and Kelley, which would give Washington more of the same from a talent perspective.
Drafting a running back in the later rounds would seem to make the most sense and add more competition for Perine. One running back of note would be Ronald Jones II out of the University of Southern California. Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com was quoted by the College Football 24/7 Staff as saying, “Jones is one of my favorite players to watch in college football,” …. “He’s always been an explosive runner, capable of scoring from anywhere on the field. He’s added a new element to his game this fall — power.” According to Rotoworld, another positive attribute that Jones possesses is his ability to hang onto the ball, fumbling once every 207.7 touches. Explosiveness, power, and ball security would most certainly be an improvement over what Perine had done last season as well as make for one heck of a running back competition during training camp.
All in all, I wouldn’t put much stock in Samaje Perine going into 2018 from a fantasy perspective. Every running back faces adversity and extenuating circumstances that could be excused for subpar performance, but the ones you want to draft in fantasy football should be without a doubt ones that give you plenty of upside. I just don’t see that developing for him in Washington this season. However, with all things, time will tell!
Leave a comment, tells us your thoughts below.
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Thanks for reading
Hailing from the Washington D.C. area I’ve always been passionate about following my local sports teams throughout the countless hours of entertainment, heartbreak, and triumph they’ve provided me. Ten years ago that passion carried over to fantasy football where I’ve enjoyed every aspect of this game both competitively and entertainment-wise.