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Samaje Perine Fantasy Football Analysis: The 10th round sleeper your friends aren't thinking about

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

After an effective 3.5 years in Cincinnati, Samaje Perine signed a two-year, $7.5 million contract with the Denver Broncos this offseason.

It's an especially noteworthy signing considering that backfield mate Javonte Williams is recovering from a torn ACL AND torn LCL that is expected to keep him on the shelf when the season opens up in September.

That tentatively pencils Perine in as the RB 1 in a Sean Payton offense.

And even when Williams DOES return, credible medical experts believe he won't be nearly as effective as usual, likely keeping Perine heavily involved all season regardless of Williams' availability.

Consider this 5/9/2023 evaluation of Williams from Dr. Deepak Chona, MD from SportsMedAnalytics (@SportMDAnalysis on Twitter, one of the best in the business):

"Major skepticism about week 1 readiness. Optimism for week 8+."

"Javonte Williams will probably not play week 1. It's medically possible, but average is 15 months."

"JK Dobbins took 13 months, and week 1 would only be 11 months (removed) for Williams."

And when Williams does return, "young RBs need an average of 3-4 games to ramp up their snap counts."

Translation; Dr. Chona is expecting a delayed start for Javonte Williams in 2023, and we should keep expectations dangerously low even when Williams DOES find the field.

If you'll recall, Baltimore's JK Dobbins suffered a similar injury in 2021 and didn't make an appearance until week 3 last year.

And even when he did return, he exceeded 10 touches in just one of the next 4 games before needing to be shut down again until week 14.

Alllllllll of that points towards a big opportunity and a big year for Samaje Perine as a one-year fill in before Williams is ready to get back to business in 2024.

And Perine has proven more than capable when given the chance.

In 20 career games—including playoffs—with 10 or more touches, Washington's 2017 4th round pick from Oklahoma is averaging:

💪 14 PPR points per game

💪 17 touches per game (including 2.8 catches on 3.1 targets)

💪 78.5 scrimmage yards per game (including 2.1 receiving yards)

💪 0.6 TDs from scrimmage per game (6 total rushing, 6 total receiving)

Perine scored 15 or more PPR points in 7 of those 20 games (35%), with a career high of 30.2 PPR points (he dumped 3 TDs and 82 scrimmage yards on 15 touches—including 4 catches—on the Steelers in week 11 last year).

For what it's worth, in 13 career games where he had at least 15 touches, Perine's averages jumped to 15.6 PPR points per game, noteworthy if he's the lead dog in Sean Payton's offense come week 1.

In 15 years as the New Orleans Saints' Head Coach from 2006 to 2021, Payton's offenses ranked:

🚀 1st (6 times), 2nd (2 times), 4th (2 times), 6th, 8th, 9th, 12th and 28th in yards

🚀 1st (2 times), 2nd (2 times), 3rd (2 times), 4th, 5th (2 times), 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th and 19th in scoring

🚀 1st (3 times), 3rd, 5th (3 times), 6th (2 times), 7th, 10th, 20th, 23rd and 24th (2 times) in rushing TDs

At the micro level, here's how Saints RBs finished in 15 seasons with Payton:

📈 2006: RB 9 (Reggie Bush) AND RB 16 (Deuce McAllister)

📈 2007: RB 11 (Reggie Bush) and RB 35 (Aaron Stecker)

📈 2008: RB 22 (Pierre Thomas) and RB 29 (Reggie Bush)

📈 2009: RB 18 (Pierre Thomas) and RB 28 (Reggie Bush)

📉 2010: RB 48 (Chris Ivory)

📈 2011: RB 5 (Darren Sproles) AND RB 21 (Pierre Thomas)

📈 2012: RB 12 (Darren Sproles) and RB 32 (Pierre Thomas)

📈 2013: RB 16 (Pierre Thomas) AND RB 24 (Darren Sproles)

📈 2014: RB 15 (Mark Ingram) and RB 33 (Pierre Thomas)

📈 2015: RB 11 (Mark Ingram)

📈 2016: RB 8 (Mark Ingram)

📈📈📈 2017: RB 3 (Alvin Kamara) AND RB 6 (Mark Ingram) 🔥🔥🔥

📈 2018: RB 4 (Alvin Kamara) and RB 32 (Mark Ingram)

📈 2019: RB 9 (Alvin Kamara) and RB 28 (Latavius Murray)

📈 2020: RB 1 (Alvin Kamara) and RB 34 (Latavius Murray)

📈 2021: RB 8 (Alvin Kamara)

TLDR: Payton produced TWO top 36 RBs in 12 of 15 seasons, and at least ONE top 12 RB in 11 of 15 seasons.

Now entering his age 28 campaign as the tentative lead back in a Sean Payton offense that *should* score plenty of points, Perine appears teed up for a career year, at least early in the season.

He's best approached as a rock solid RB 2 that *could* start to tail a bit late in the season as Williams ramps up.

That makes Perine decisively more attractive in season-long leagues than best ball leagues where you can't drop him later in the year.

That said, if Dobbins' injury history is a solid blue print and Payton's coaching past tells us anything, Perine *should* stay involved for all 17 games even when Williams IS ready to rock.

Currently the 40th running back off of draft boards around pick 113 overall (late 10th round), Perine looks like a terrific value pick and possibly the steal of the draft, especially for "Zero RB" drafters.

👇 Samaje Perine Fantasy Football Analysis 👇- What to do?

Best Ball:

Samaje Perine is currently the RB 40, drafted around pick 113 (mid 10th round) in early best ball leagues.

I'm thrilled to draft him there—especially with my "Zero RB" rosters—over several names drafted before him (Brian Robinson, Khalil Herbert, Geno Smith and Tyler Allgeier, just to name a few) and after-but-near him (Zay Flowers, Dalton Schultz, Allen Lazard, Derek Carr, for example).

When balancing my portfolio, I also look at Jamaal Williams, Russell Wilson, Odell Beckham, Damien Harris, Rashod Bateman, Elijah Moore and Antonio Gibson in this range

Max best ball exposure: 25%

Dynasty: Hold (buy low now, sell high later)


Entering 2023 with a chance to shine early on, Perine's fantasy stock is arguably the most valuable it's been in his career.

That said, it can still get higher if he shoots out of the gates as expected in 2023.

He's currently a "hold" and maybe even a "buy low" for RB-needy teams in dynasty leagues but, entering his age 28 season and just keeping the seat warm for Javonte Williams, Perine's stock is likely to peak early in the season, making him a "sell high" candidate in-season.


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