Samaje Perine has spent most of his career as a backup running back, a good one, but still second fiddle. After signing a free-agent deal with the Denver Broncos in the offseason, Perine has the chance for an expanded role this season, maybe even some starting work.
2023 Fantasy Football: Samaje Perine Profile
Recap of 2022 season
Perine got two starts last season with Joe Mixon on the shelf in Cincinnati. In those two starts, Perine had 164 yards on 38 carries with a touchdown, adding another 84 yards on 10 receptions. On the season, Perine had 394 yards and two touchdowns on 95 rushing attempts, along with 287 yards and four touchdowns on 38 receptions. That was his best season with the Bengals.
Updated Broncos outlook
Broncos running back Javonte Williams is recovering from a torn ACL, and there’s a chance he may not be ready to play when the season begins. Even if he is cleared, it could be a situation where the Broncos are forced to ease him back into the mix. That opens the door for Perine’s biggest workload since his rookie season with Washington back in 2017.
Even without Williams’ injury, the team has been hyping Perine, with head coach Sean Payton telling the press that the veteran is more than capable as a three-down back and ready for an increased workload. There’s certainly precedent for Payton using two productive running backs in his offense.
There are a lot of “ifs” about Denver’s backfield situation. Still, it’s possible that Perine gets a hefty workload if Williams isn’t ready to play and limited upon his return. That could give him the chance to post starter numbers. Between 800-1,000 rushing yards and double-digit TDs with a healthy amount of production as a pass catcher may be within reach.
The worst-case scenario is that Williams starts the season healthy and is the clear RB1, so Perine gets relegated to a backup job again.
It’s safe to assume that Williams will be back in the fold sooner rather than later this season. However, all signs still point toward Payton using a true committee, which could give Perine’s production a boost over recent seasons he spent as a true backup. That should make him a decent FLEX option in fantasy football, with the potential to be a starter in some weeks.