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Factoid

Zack Moss

Bengals starter looks underrated

I participated in an experts draft the other night. First draft of the year, always fun to see how real-world people view players. There were some surprises, the biggest of which was the total lack of interest in Zack Moss.

The Bengals, recall, signed Moss and released/traded Joe Mixon. They're paying Moss $4 million this season; he's their starting running back. You wouldn't have known it from this draft, where I was able to select him at the end of the 8th round, after 32 other running backs had been taken. Several teams had multiple players at the position drafted before him. Kind of weird. If that continues, it looks like I'll have the guy on a whole bunch of teams this year.

Things never really worked out for him as part of a tandem in Buffalo. He scored 5 TDs in each of his first two seasons, creating hope he'd at some point take over backfield, but in his third wound up finishing the season in Indianapolis. Year four wound up being an up and down year, with Moss opening as a starter while the team waged a contract dispute with Jonathan Taylor, relegated to backup duties once Taylor returned, and then starting again when Taylor got injured.

What he did with his opportunities was pretty good, and that was enough to earn him the contract from the Bengals. Debatable whether he's better than Mixon, but he's cheaper and a year and a half younger, which counts for a lot.

And Moss was pretty solid as a starter last year -- on a per-game basis, a top-10 back in PPR leagues.

Table shows per game numbers for all the running backs who had a starter-type workload for at least 8 games a year ago, sorted by PPR points. Clearly Shane Steichen and the Colts had a good thing going (Taylor shows up just ahead of Moss), but ample reason to think he'll be a nice addition for Cincinnati.

RUNNING BACKS PER START, 2023 (8-PLUS)
PlayerStRunNoRecTotalTDPPR
Christian McCaffrey, S.F.1691.24.235.3126.41.324.7
Kyren Williams, LAR1199.32.918.5117.81.222.0
Raheem Mostert, Mia.1567.51.711.779.11.418.0
Alvin Kamara, N.O.1353.45.835.889.20.517.9
Jonathan Taylor, Ind.888.01.611.499.41.017.6
DeVon Achane (C), Mia.1172.72.517.990.61.017.5
Breece Hall, NYJ1758.54.534.893.20.517.1
Zack Moss, Ind.869.82.920.590.30.816.7
Travis Etienne, Jac.1759.33.428.087.30.716.6
Jahmyr Gibbs (C), Det.1563.03.521.184.10.716.3
Saquon Barkley, NYG1468.72.920.088.70.716.2
Rachaad White, T.B.1758.23.832.390.50.516.0
Bijan Robinson, Atl.1660.83.630.491.30.515.8
Joe Mixon, Cin.1760.83.122.182.90.715.7
James Conner, Ari.1380.02.112.792.70.715.5
Isiah Pacheco, K.C.1466.83.117.484.20.615.4
David Montgomery, Det.1472.51.18.480.91.014.9
Josh Jacobs, L.V.1361.92.822.884.70.514.1
Derrick Henry, Ten.1768.61.612.681.20.714.0
James Cook, Buff.1766.02.626.292.20.413.9
Austin Ekeler, LAC1444.93.631.176.00.413.8
Brian Robinson, Was.1548.92.424.573.40.613.5
Devin Singletary, Hou.1071.52.315.186.60.413.4
D'Andre Swift, Phil.1569.72.514.384.00.413.3
Kenneth Walker, Sea.1560.31.917.377.60.613.3
Tony Pollard, Dall.1759.13.218.377.40.413.2
Chuba Hubbard, Car.1262.32.314.777.00.412.5
Aaron Jones, G.B.1159.62.721.280.80.312.4
Jerome Ford, Cle.1544.72.719.664.30.512.4
Rhamondre Stevenson, N.E.1251.63.219.871.40.312.3
Jaylen Warren (C), Pitt.1746.13.621.867.90.211.8
Khalil Herbert (C), Chi.962.21.913.876.00.411.7
Najee Harris, Pitt.1760.91.710.070.90.511.6
Javonte Williams, Den.1648.42.914.362.60.411.3
Gus Edwards, Balt.1747.60.710.658.20.811.2
D'Onta Foreman (C), Chi.851.11.18.659.80.610.9
Alexander Mattison, Min.1350.82.113.464.20.29.9
Tyjae Spears (C), Ten.1726.63.122.649.30.29.0
Antonio Gibson (C), Was.1415.73.026.241.90.18.1
Kareem Hunt (C), Cle.1527.41.05.633.00.67.9
Ezekiel Elliott (C), N.E.1235.82.012.848.60.27.9
Tyler Allgeier (C), Atl.1639.00.98.847.80.37.7
Samaje Perine (C), Den.1714.02.926.840.80.17.4
AJ Dillon (C), G.B.931.11.715.346.40.17.0
Justice Hill (C), Balt.1624.21.812.937.10.37.0
Roschon Johnson (C), Chi.1523.52.313.937.40.16.8
Jaleel McLaughlin (C), Den.1527.02.011.138.10.16.6
Kenneth Gainwell (C), Phil.1417.71.911.629.40.25.8
Zach Charbonnet (C), Sea.1425.42.011.436.70.05.7
Latavius Murray (C), Buff.1618.81.17.426.20.35.2
Miles Sanders (C), Car.1122.01.16.628.60.04.0

The Bengals drafted Chase Brown in the fifth round a year ago, and he was also drafted the other night. Maybe some believe he'll emerge as the starter. Plus Moss hasn't been the most durable player, missing time due to injury each season despite never playing full-time. Brown didn't play much the first half of the season but in the final six games got 42 carries and caught 11 passes and a touchdown, with his most notable play a 54-yard touchdown reception -- against the Colts, coincidentally enough.

But it will be Moss in the starting lineup, getting most of the carries and probably some of the receiving work with Joe Burrow and company. Looks like a nice option for 2024.

--Andy Richardson

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