Known for being an excellent player in passing situations, Perine proved in 2022 he can handle being the main guy in an offense, averaging 15.4 non-PPR/20.4 PPR points in two starts with Joe Mixon sidelined. After signing in Denver this offseason, Perine should fit in not only as the Broncos' passing-downs RB but also as a full-time starter for however many games rusher Javonte Williams misses in his recovery from a torn ACL. Also, the track record of running backs catching passes in Payton's offenses is prolific, adding to Perine's appeal. If Williams participates in camp, Perine is a good insurance policy with a modest weekly PPR floor (think Round 9 or 10). But if Williams is slow in his return and Perine begins 2023 as the Broncos' lead back, then he can serve as an early-season RB2 with some pretty good upside before settling as their pass-downs back (think Round 6 or 7).
Perine’s 2023 fantasy value ultimately hinges on Javonte Williams’ recovery from last October’s multi-ligament knee injury. There’s a chance that Williams isn’t ready for the start of the season – and his effectiveness when he does return is in question.
That makes Perine worth considering in RB3-4 territory. Just be careful not to overrate a player who’s been no better than average through six NFL seasons.
What We Learned Last YearPerine set career highs last year with:51 targets38 catches287 receiving yards4 receiving TDsAll four of those marks ranked top-21 among RBs.Perine added 394 yards and two TDs on 95 carries (4.1 YPC).He finished 36th among RBs in PPR points and 38th in non-PPR – the best finishes of his career.Perine started two games last year with RB Joe Mixon out.In Week 12, Perine carries 17 times for 58 yards and a score and caught four of seven targets for 35 yards. He finished the week RB10 in PPR points and RB11 in non-PPR.In Week 13, Perine tallied 106 yards on 21 carries and 49 more yards on six catches. He ranked fourth among RBs in PPR points and seventh in non-PPR.Among 48 RBs with 90+ carries last season, Perine ranked:35th in Pro Football Focus rushing grade22nd in PFF’s Elusive Rating38th in NFL Next Gen Stats’ Rush Yards Over Expected Per AttemptHe was more a bit more effective as a pass catcher, ranking 24th in PFF receiving grade and 20th in yards per route run among 43 qualifying RBs.Perine was basically a non-factor in fantasy football over his first five NFL seasons. He finished RB43 in PPR points and RB41 in non-PPR as a rookie in 2017 but didn’t crack the top 60 in any of the next four years.
What to Expect in 2023The Bengals let Perine hit free agency this offseason. He wound up joining the Broncos on a two-year, $7.5 million deal with $3 million guaranteed.That lands Perine 20th among RBs in average annual salary.Perine joins a Denver backfield alongside Javonte Williams, who’s rehabbing a torn ACL, torn LCL, and torn posterolateral corner suffered Oct. 2. Williams’ availability for the start of the season and his effectiveness when he does return are uncertain.New Broncos HC Sean Payton has a long history of deploying split backfields. He had at least 2 RBs average 9+ touches per game in 14 of his 15 seasons as Saints HC.Payton on Perine in May: “When we signed Samaje, this is a guy that gave us flexibility. We signed him because we knew he was durable and reliable. We felt like we got another solid runner who’s built in a strong way. There are a lot of things he does well. When we signed him, there was still uncertainty (with Williams). I was taught a long time ago to stack them up at that position. It’s a tough position in our league.”Denver’s offensive line ranked 15th in Pro Football Focus’ run-blocking grades and 20th in Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Line Yards last year. The unit projects to be better in 2023 after the Broncos spent big money to add RT Mike McGlinchey and LG Ben Powers in free agency. LT Garrett Bolles will also be back after missing the final 12 games of last season with a broken leg.
Perine signed with the Broncos after stints with Washington, Miami and Cincinnati during his six NFL seasons. The 2017 fourth-round pick put together his best fantasy campaign last season (681 yards and six TDs on 133 touches) and showed some lead back potential, producing 330 yards and four TDs on 63 touches during three games Joe Mixon was injured. Perine has been a backup most of his career (401 carries, 122 targets) and that will be his role in Denver, but it's possible he'll be called on for a larger workload early in the season as Javonte Williams (torn ACL last season) gets back to full speed. Perine, now 27 years old, will be on the RB2 radar only if Williams is sidelined.