Chris Carson came into the NFL in 2017 as a seventh-round pick for the Seattle Seahawks, and no one would have predicted the path of his career. Carson did not do much in his first season only seeing the field in four games. He then came out of nowhere in 2018 and proceeded to post back-to-back seasons over 1,000 rushing yards. He only played in 12 games in 2020 and still managed to put up 681 yards rushing. Chris Carson now is hitting free agency and it could get very exciting! Let’s take a look at the top three fantasy football destinations for the bruising back.
Fantasy Football: Top Destinations for Chris Carson
The Buffalo Bills have improved vastly as a team. This is mainly due to Josh Allen progressing as a passer and the addition of Stefon Diggs via trade. The Bills do have a glaring need at RB however. Zack Moss and Devin Singletary do not seem to be the answer at the position. This was evident in the playoffs when the Bills could not get anything going on the ground against the Kansas City Chiefs, which contributed to them losing the game.
Chris Carson would bring a tough mentality to that backfield. He is a very hard runner and is decent at catching the ball. He has posted two seasons of 37 receptions and over 250 yards receiving in his four-year career. If the Bills decide to add him in free agency I would project him to get a decent deal but not huge. I think possibly a three-year deal for eight to ten million per year. He has the potential to be a viable fantasy football option in Buffalo.
The Bills may be better served signing Chris Carson in free agency rather than trying to draft a running back. It has not worked out so far over the past two drafts and they have pick 30, 61, and 94 in the first three rounds. They really should address other needs such as CB, with Josh Norman hitting free agency, or possibly the offensive line to protect their young QB. Buffalo would be such a fun landing spot for Carson and it happens to be my favorite probable free agency destination for his fantasy football value. Bills Mafia would break tables for this man!
This spot makes plenty of sense even though I do like Myles Gaskin. Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed played well this season, however, Chris Carson would be a clear upgrade to a team that is building to be a yearly contender. The Miami Dolphins have excess salary cap room ($33,890,422) and draft capital. This makes signing Carson to a three-year deal an interesting move. They will be able to offer him a solid amount of money in his contract which will entice an aging, but not old, 26-year-old back likely on his final deal.
While Gaskin did put up a very good season, it is hard to pass up a player that has two seasons eclipsing the 1,000-yard rushing mark. Carson is more of the workhorse size and his burst score according to PlayerProfiler is in the 87th percentile compared to Gaskin in the 53rd percentile. Carson’s production premium which compares his situation-agnostic efficiency to the rest of the league according to PlayerProfiler ranked him 2nd in the league compared to Gaskin at 38th. Not only would Carson be an improvement for Miami, but he’d have a chance to produce as a consistent fantasy football option as well.
Chris Carson also adds more breakaway runs. During his injury-riddled 2020 season, he had five compared to Gaskin’s three. In 2019 in a healthy-ish year for Chris Carson, he had thirteen. PlayerProfiler has an “expected points added” stat now and Carson in 2020 had +14.8 compared to Gaskin’s -12.8. This is a stat that measures how the players impact their NFL team’s point totals (see here on PlayerProfiler for a breakdown of how it is measured). Gaskin seems to be a slightly better pass catcher but Carson is an upgrade in most other areas of their game. Even so, Carson’s fantasy football value should rise if he signs with Miami.
If the Dolphins did sign Chris Carson they could target some offensive line prospects to protect Tua Tagovailoa, grab another wide receiver, or focus on defense at linebacker or defensive end. The Miami Dolphins took a huge step forward last year under Coach Flores. If he can keep this team on its upward trajectory they will be stiff competition for Buffalo in the AFC East.
New York Jets
The New York Jets landing spot makes your stomach turn when you first see it but let me tell you why this spot could be great. Chris Carson would come in as the clear top back above the RBs remaining on this roster, Ty Johnson and La’Mical Perine. The Jets have more than enough cap space ($78,946,774) and have shown in the past that they will spend on the running back position with Le’Veon Bell. Adam Gase is gone and the Jets made what many believe to be a great hire in Robert Saleh and he can hopefully bring the Shanahan offense to the big apple.
Last year the Jets leading rusher was old enough to be the father of his “peers” in the RB room. I am of course talking about the inevitable one, Frank Gore. He handled 187 rushing attempts and managed just 653 yards rushing. Carson could come in and elevate this rushing attack immediately. He could also be a solid safety net on check-downs for a young QB whether it be Sam Darnold, Justin Fields, or Zach Wilson. For that reason, if Carson signs with the Jets, his fantasy football production is likely to spike.
Chris Carson has shown what he can do with a full workload in 2018 and 2019 carrying the ball 247 times in 2018, and 278 times in 2019. He gained 1,150 yards and nine TDs in 2018, while rushing for 1,230 yards and seven TDs in 2019. The Jets would love to have this type of production as their last 1,000-yard rusher was Chris Ivory in 2015. If they bring Chris Carson in he can be a high-end RB two for fantasy football easily purely off of volume.
The Pittsburgh Steelers may just be my dream landing spot for Carson. They are listed last on this list solely due to their cap situation ($-8,612,797). If they were in a better financial position they would be high on my list of fantasy football destinations for Carson. The Steelers lost their identity rushing the ball. Carson could come in and fix that on a team that is filled with plenty of talent at the WR position, even with potentially JuJu Smith-Schuster leaving in free agency.
Developing a better running game could give the Pittsburgh Steelers that extra boost to propel them to another Super Bowl before Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement. With the announcement of James Conner‘s departure this offseason, they will not want to rely on the tandem of Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland. I expect them to make a move if they don’t re-sign Conner. Carson would step in nicely as a starter and provide immediate fantasy football production.
This is a decent free agent running back class and I would probably have Carson second in the class behind Aaron Jones. No matter where he lands I feel like Chris Carson can succeed. He has already overcome the odds as a seventh-round pick to becoming one of the better running backs in the NFL. Look for Carson to bounce back next year and be a relevant fantasy football option in 2021.
Thank you for reading my article on the top 3 fantasy football destinations for free agent RB Chris Carson. Let me know where you would like to see him land in free agency!
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