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Overvalued 2022 NFL Draft Targets: Running Backs (Fantasy Football)

Feb 7, 2022
Kenneth Walker III

Kenneth Walker III may lack all the tools to become a bellcow running back at the NFL level.

After reviewing the 2021 Rookie Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Wide Receivers, and Tight Ends, I thought it was time to start digging into the most important position to get right in fantasy football, Running Backs.

For now, I want to get you familiar with some names that will be heavily talked about over the coming weeks. To start with, let’s have a look at some players whom I worry will be overvalued by NFL Scouts and teams come the NFL Draft in April.

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Kenneth Walker III (RB)

  • College: Michigan State
  • Height: 5″10
  • Weight: 210lbs
  • 40 Time: 4.46 seconds

Walker is being slotted in at the de facto RB1 in mock drafts across the country. And I, for one, just don’t get it. People will point to his 6th place in the Heisman Trophy voting, his 1,646 Rushing Yards in his junior year at Michigan State, and leading the nation in broken tackles (89).

However, whilst his 2021 profile looks impressive, the rest of his career does not. Despite rushing for 3,485 yards in High School, he was only a 3-star recruit. This limited his options, leaving him with Wake Forest as his destination. Stuck behind Senior Cade Carney, who went undrafted in the 2020 NFL Draft in his junior year, and behind Christian Beal in his sophomore year, Walked flashed, but didn’t excite many.

Whilst he did have 10 Touchdowns in his sophomore year, he did only have 6 receptions in his freshman and sophomore years combined. Even in his junior year, he still only managed 13 receptions.

There are some comps to Le’Veon Bell due to the Michigan State connection. However, let’s settle this once and for all. Walker isn’t even in the same league as Bell when it comes to talent, production, or profile.

19 receptions in college, with 1 going for a Touchdown will put some NFL teams off. Walker is also a below-average blocker in the pass and run game. As a result, he has one element to his game. And, whilst he is quick, he doesn’t appear explosive. With his size and hesitation when looking for holes to burst through, I am not convinced he is guaranteed success in the NFL.

It is looking more and more likely that Walker will be taken in the second round. For me, he is not worth much more than a late 3rd round, or even 4th round pick. I truly believe he is a limited back who will work well as a change of pace back in a committee. I don’t see a strong bell-cow role for him at the next level.

Brian Robinson Jr. (RB)

  • College: Alabama
  • Height: 6″1
  • Weight: 226lbs
  • 40 Time: 4.51 seconds

Robinson will get a lot of draft buzz purely due to the school he is coming from. However, despite the size and pedigree of Robinson, be very wary about him at the next level.

The positives are he had a very good senior year, he has good physical traits and has exceptional footwork. He also caught 35 passes in his senior year, which shows he can be utilized in the passing game.

The big negatives on him are his age, because he will be 23 when he is drafted in April, and only having one year as a lead back. Whilst you cannot knock Robinson for being behind Josh Jacobs and Najee Harris for his career, he still only has 1 year of solid production. That 1 year, however, did only see him go for 5 yards per carry, and under 1,400 rushing yards.

He’s also not particularly fast, nor does he carry that home run threat. He rarely troubled the secondary. The longest run of his college career was just 37 yards. He also struggles to get to top speed fast enough, which is why he can be brought down sooner than he should.

Also, we have rarely seen him in the open field and taking on Cornerbacks or Safeties on a regular basis. He rarely runs to the corner or gets used on open field screens and end arounds.

Lastly, he has rarely been used to pass or run block. This means these areas will need some development to work at the next level.

All in all, Robinson projects to be a solid back, who again could carve out a useful committee role. However, whilst most mock drafts have him as a Top 100 prospect, I just cannot endorse him being drafted this high. I think if he goes in the 4th or 5th round, then he would be fairly priced. However, as I see him currently falling inside the top 100, I think NFL teams need to be wary about what they are drafting.

James Cook (RB)

  • College: Georgia
  • Height: 5″11
  • Weight: 190lbs
  • 40 Time: 4.49 seconds

2021 was a great year for James Cook. He won the National Championship and established himself as a genuine draft prospect.

Cook has proven himself in the passing game as a genuine weapon in the backfield. He proved he could be a genuine third-down back in the NFL. Also, Cook showed he could line out wide and even be a mismatch on Linebackers in the NFL. His quick feet and legitimate Home Run threat will make him an attractive prospect to teams in the NFL. Also, he only carried the ball 230 times in his college career, meaning he has a lot of tread on his tires.

However, there are certainly some concerns. Currently being projected to be a top 100 player in mock drafts, I think taking him that high as a 3 down back is a huge risk.

First of all, there is no record of elite production in a season. He was a 1a/1b back in his senior year of college. However, prior to that, he had only 45 carries or less in each of his first three years with Georgia. Whilst it is great he has not been worn down, he has very little usage in his profile to make you believe he can carry a significant workload in the NFL. At best, you might see him in a specialist role. But if he struggled to get significant touches in the SEC, he will struggle to get that volume in the NFL.

Then you have his age. Cook will turn 23 before the end of the first month of the season. That is a significant disadvantage for someone who will need time to adjust at the next level.

Then, there are some character concerns. Cook was arrested in 2019 for driving with an open container of alcohol and having an invalid driving license. Whilst it is not the most serious of offenses, and nothing has come up since, this is still a blot in his copybook, that will turn off teams in the NFL.

Also, he is slightly undersized for the type of role you would expect for Cook in the NFL. If he cannot find the hole, which he struggles with at times, he will struggle to get any forward motion, and will likely be stopped for a short gain.

All of this, unfortunately, points to limited opportunities for Cook to excel in the NFL. He has too many red flags to be taken comfortably in the top 100 players in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Hassan Haskins (RB)

  • College: Michigan
  • Height: 6″1
  • Weight: 220lbs
  • 40 Time: 4.58 seconds

Haskins is the largest of the potential Running Backs likely to be drafted in the top 100 in the 2022 NFL Draft. Haskins has the perfect size and body shape for the position in the NFL. He also managed a very impressive 20 Touchdowns in his senior year, leading the Big Ten.

There is absolutely no doubt Haskins can handle a large workload, which would have been a concern after a COVID hit junior year in 2020, meaning he only played 6 games. 270 attempts in 2021 is a huge workload, which he handled extremely well as Michigan managed to qualify for the College Football Playoffs.

Also, he is the only player listed in this article that is a better than average blocker. In fact, Haskins is an extremely good blocker. Especially against the run. These elite skills will no doubt help him in tiebreaker situations against some of the Running Backs in this article.

However, there are some concerns regarding Haskins. For starters, there is that 40 time displayed above. That’s a pretty slow time. As a result, he doesn’t really show that explosiveness on tape.

Also, he does tend to go down a tad easier than I would like. He never seems to break a high volume of tackles when out in the open field, when he gets out there.

He also is very limited as a receiver. Just 24 career receptions, though 18 did come in his senior year. Haskins has a very limited skill set as a receiver. This is something he is going to have to improve at the next level.

Haskins is a power back, who should have a role in the NFL. He will be good in rotation, and especially good in the red zone and by the goal line. However, due to his limited receiving profile and limited speed, Haskins is someone who will struggle to be significant for fantasy football, or have a meaningful role in the NFL. He can make a nice career due to his size, but don’t expect to see his name called all that often on the team that drafts him unless they suffer significant injuries.

Personally, Haskins should not be taken before the 5th round of the NFL draft. A slow 40 time at the combine will secure that fate for him. I am also curious how he performs in the 3 cone drills to see if he can dispel the myth that he struggles to beat the Linebackers at the edge due to his inability to shift his feet and outmaneuver them.

Ten years ago, Haskins would have had a significant role in the NFL. However, times have changed.

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Adam Murfet is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Murf, check out his archive and follow him @Murf_NFL.

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