Devy Fantasy Football: Incoming Freshmen Running Backs to Watch (2022)
Devy players pride themselves on being ahead of the game. On an NFL fantasy team being ahead of the game means knowing the college players moving to the NFL. On a Devy fantasy team, that means knowing the high school players moving to the NCAA.
Here are five running backs to keep your eye on that could make some noise in the NFL in a few years.
Nicholas Singleton is a 6’0, 210-pound running back from Reading, Pa. He is a five-star prospect and the country’s No. 1 overall running back in the 247Sports composite rankings. He is staying home and will be playing at Penn State.
Singleton already possesses NFL size with his 210-pound frame and is also a sub-11 second 100-meter runner in track & field. His acceleration is equally impressive as his long speed, and his cutting ability is off the charts. He is very physical as a runner, using his size to punish defenders. His contact balance is elite, and he is very elusive in the open field. With his team using a run-heavy scheme, he hasn’t caught the ball much, so that is the only area of his game that is somewhat unknown.
The traits he possesses as a runner will translate very well to college, and he is likely to see early opportunity at Penn State, given the current state of their backfield. Singleton is the level of prospect that projects highly and could be a first-round NFL Draft pick after his collegiate career.
Branson Robinson is a 5’10, 220-pound running back from Madison, Miss. He is a four-star prospect, the No. 4 RB in the country, and the top overall player for Mississippi in the 247Sports composite rankings. He signed with the Georgia Bulldogs, where he looks to continue the program’s incredible run of producing NFL RB talent.
Robinson is already a popular player amongst fans due to his staggering physique and 600-pound squats. His 220-pound frame is chiseled, and aesthetically, he already looks like an NFL player. He profiles as an early-down bowling ball that will wear down defenders with his physical running style. He’s lacking home-run hitting speed as you would expect from a back his size, but he is sneaky elusive while being tremendous after contact due to his ability to shed defenders.
He is physically ready for life in the SEC, and there is an opportunity at Georgia with both Zamir White and James Cook departing for the NFL. He will likely be the second back in Georgia’s rotation in 2022 behind starter Kendall Milton and should seize that starting role in 2023. If Robinson is as good on the ground as his film and measurables suggest, he should see day-two NFL Draft capital.
Jaydon Blue is a 5’11, 205-pound running back from Houston, Texas. He is a four-star prospect in the 247Sports composite rankings and is playing for his home-state school, Texas. Blue made national headlines as a high school player for his decision to forego his senior season to “get his body ready to play at the next level.” NFL Draft prospects sitting out bowl games is the norm nowadays; maybe Blue is the trend-setter for future top RB prospects wanting to manage the amount of wear & tear they endure in high school.
Blue has a perfect RB frame with the room to add more weight. He flashes elite athleticism on film and a complete toolbox of evasion skills. He’s a sub-11 second 100-meter track athlete and has even flashed soft hands on the seven-on-seven circuits.
Blue may have the highest ceiling in the class, but he will have to wait his turn as Texas’ current starting RB Bijan Robinson is the best back in the country. Blue should be his backup in 2022 and seize the bell cow role vacated by Robinson in 2023. Blue projects safely as a day two NFL Draft pick but could even grow into a first-rounder with his complete skill set.
TreVonte’ Citizen is a 6’0, 217-pound running back from Lake Charles, La. He is a four-star prospect and the country’s No. 9 ranked RB in the 247Sports composite rankings. He initially committed to play his collegiate football at his home-state school in LSU. However, it was Miami that ended up securing his letter of intent on National Signing Day.
Citizen enters college already possessing NFL size, but he’s far from a finished product as a running back. He was a menace on defense in high school, which led to him playing both sides of the ball throughout. Citizen staggeringly only had 65 carries his senior year and 200 total for his high school career. The crowd that likes low-mileage RBs will love Citizen.
His balanced package of athleticism should shine at Mario Cristobal’s new-look Miami. He brings the coveted combination of NFL size and being a track athlete. He doesn’t have the elite speed the top of the class has but is more than fast enough to translate. Citizen is undoubtedly raw but projects as a potential day two NFL Draft pick.
Justin Williams (RB – Tennessee)
Justin Williams is a 6’0, 210-pound running back from Dallas, Ga. He is a four-star prospect and the No. 26 overall player in Georgia. Williams was a late-riser in the recruiting process and committed and signed with Tennessee on early signing day in December.
As an early enrollee, he is already on campus practicing with the Vols and has received glowing reviews across the board. He has packed on some muscle and looks like a force to be reckoned with. Williams isn’t the fastest back out there, but his acceleration jumps off the tape. He gets to top speed quickly, which allows him to break a lot of big plays. He uses his impressive size to finish runs with physicality and fight for every extra inch he can get.
Josh Heupel’s offense at Tennessee produced over 3,000 rushing yards in 2021. The Vols return starter Jabari Small, but with Tiyon Evans’ transfer to Louisville and Williams already being on campus, an early opportunity is there for him. Williams projects as a day three NFL Draft pick with the upside of a day two pick.
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Christian Welch is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Christian, follow him @EvilEmpireFF.