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Where does Miles Sanders fit best?

There are not many open spots on current NFL depth charts where a high-end free-agent or draft pick at running back can go and moonwalk into a featured gig. The Dolphins have one of those rare open spots.

Miles Sanders was verifiably electric last year and has averaged 5.0 yards per carry over the course of his career. The Dolphins’ top two backs from last year are set to hit the market and while they aren’t flush with cap space, the team likely won’t have to break the bank to make this work.

The Dolphins offense hit some slumps last season. I’m of the opinion that if their running game was more consistent, that would help them level out. Remember the Bills game where they went down to the wire with Buffalo in the snow? That was one of their best rushing performances of the season. Sanders can help bring those types of games around more often.

Ultimately, while there are a handful of other fun fits for Jamaal Williams around the NFL, I believe he finds his way back to Detroit. He’s a team leader and a trusted player in their backfield rotation. A rotation, by all accounts, they’d like to continue to employ going forward.

Williams would be a fascinating fantasy debate this season in a return-to-Detroit scenario. He’s unlikely to lead the NFL in rushing touchdowns again. However, I’d still project him to lead the team in carries if they make a financial commitment to him. I can’t imagine he’d be slotted near his ceiling when summer ADP crystallizes.

Most of the Ravens’ additions at wide receiver over the last two decades have either been early picks in the draft or veterans in the final chapters of their careers. In Jakobi Meyersthey can break that cycle and add a proven starting receiver squarely in the middle of his prime years.

Meyers might not be the type of blocker they want — that could lead them to JuJu Smith-Schuster (more on him later) if they’re shopping for receivers — but he’s a perfect fit in the slot for when they spread the field in Todd Monken’s passing concepts. Meyers excels on crossing routes and digs, which overlap with some of Lamar Jackson’s best throws. Rashod Bateman can still be the guy as the primary outside receiver but Meyers gives them a steady layup presence to keep the offense moving.

The Chiefs likely feel they don’t need to make a big move at the wide receiver position after winning the Super Bowl with a collection of role players. This is a big-name addition but it’s hard to imagine Odell Beckham commanding a big-money deal given the current crossroads status of his career.

The Chiefs have a few possible slot and/or gadget receiver prospects on the roster Kadarius Toney and Skye Moore but are still lacking a proven man-coverage beater at X-receiver.

Beckham was that guy last time we saw him play football. It’s a flier worth taking.

The Raiders appear set to draft a quarterback high in this year’s draft. Whether Jimmy Garoppolo wants to admit it or not, he’s in the high-end placeholder portion of his NFL career. If the Raiders take a rookie who would benefit from sitting behind a veteran, they can roll out Jimmy with a straight face and feel confident he’ll get something close to the best out of their pass-catching talent.

Garoppolo has familiarity with Josh McDaniels from the New England days and should be able to hit the ground running. At this juncture, Garoppolo signing with the Raiders might be the best-case scenario for the fantasy football projection of guys like Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller. That’s a talented trio and we’ve seen Garoppolo be a top-five efficiency quarterback when surrounded by quality pieces.

JuJu Smith-Schuster to the Chicago Bears

While I want the Bears to swing big and trade for DeAndre Hopkins, dreams often don’t come true. So JuJu Smith-Schuster is a fine solution for the Bears as a power slot receiver. He’s also a physical player who brings some pop as a blocker. That’s an added bonus for a Bears team that is likely to remain run-heavy Justin Fields under center.

JuJu would give the Bears offense a reliable player who knows how to settle into soft spots of zone coverage on shorter routes. They did not employ a player like that in 2022. A Darnell MooneyJuJu and Chase Claypool trio isn’t one of the best in the league but it’ll no longer be an embarrassing spot for the Bears.

Dak Prescott has often found good on-field relationships with his tight ends but the Cowboys have typically just rolled out former Day 3 picks at the position. In Mike Gesicki, they get a player who can actually move the needle. Forget about how Gesicki flamed out with a new coaching staff in Miami. He can still be a big slot player on a team that spreads the field. I know Mike McCarthy has given lip service to being a run-heavy team, but as long as Prescott is under center, they’ll remain a high-volume, quick-strike passing team. Gesicki gives that type of offense a weapon it sorely lacked in 2022.

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Jacoby Brissett was excellent as the placeholder for the Browns last year and he can run it back in that role for the Panthers. The setup is similar. The Panthers have a good offensive line, will likely emphasize the run game and have a top outside receiver DJ Moore who needs to be funneled targets like Amari Cooper was early last year. Brissett has familiarity with new head coach Frank Reich and can help in the grooming process of the eventual rookie drafted by Carolina.

Reports on Javonte Williams’ health are complicated and the nature of his knee injury could cause him to miss a few games, or at least not be near 100% in September. I think Damien Harris is really underrated in this running back market. He’s a competent, powerful early-down runner who can function in the passing game if asked. He always reminded me of former Saints back Pierre Thomaswho had some good years in Sean Payton’s offense.

D’Onta Foreman to the Carolina Panthers

Another running back relationship that just makes too much sense not to continue. D’Onta Foreman ran well for Carolina last year and helped set a physical tone. He’s not a feature back by any means, but new running backs coach Duce Staley deployed a three-man committee in Detroit last year and said he wants the same in Carolina.

Allen Lazard gives the Texans some badly needed bodies at the receiver position. He’s likely a No. 3 receiver but provides some inside/outside versatility with reliable hands. He’s also one of the best blocking receivers in the NFL and you’d assume Bobby Slowik and this new Texans coaching staff is going to bring some Shanahan elements to this offense. You need guys who are willing and able blockers — good news for you Dameon Pierce if you are just dying for a fantasy needle-moving note in this blurb.

It sounds like a divorce is on the way Dalvin Cook and the Vikings. The team has always gotten strong play out of Alexander Mattison whenever Cook has missed time. This gives him a shot to prove he can hang in that role full-time. Although, I imagine he’d face some level of competition from a rookie.

Rashaad Penny’s injury history is long but so are his explosive runs. Terrible joke, but the point stands. Penny brings juice to any backfield for however long he plays. The Bucs aren’t likely to let Rachel White own the backfield all to himself but this would allow him to be the 1A of this rotation.

A shameless “new coach, former player” connection. Sue me. Dalton Schultz is likely just an average starter but that would still represent an upgrade for the Chargers. Los Angeles first and foremost needs to add speed to this pass-catching corps, but Schultz adds another middle-of-the-field option for Justin Herbert.

Tyler Allgeier was an efficient and effective option as a rookie. Even in this scenario, I think he has the best odds to lead the team in carries. But the Falcons’ leadership has said they want to add more bodies to the backfield and Kareem Hunt provides a proven resume.

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