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Impact Rookie Running Backs for Redraft Leagues (2022 Fantasy Football)

by Bonnie Robinson | @FantasyQueenB | Featured Writer
Jun 8, 2022
Breece Hall

The Jets selected Breece Hall at the top of Round 2, locking him in as the team’s RB1 for the foreseeable future.

There’s a preconceived notion that rookies don’t produce for fantasy in Year 1, but that’s mainly a fallacy regarding running backs. Of all the skill positions in the NFL, they have the shortest learning curve and can contribute right away. Some also land on RB-needy teams, propelling them into starting roles. Here’s a comprehensive look at the rookie RBs that could impact redraft leagues this season, listed in order of preference.

Fantasy Football Redraft Draft Kit

Breece Hall (RB – NYJ)
The running back most likely to win Rookie of the Year honors is Hall. The Jets selected the Ohio State product at the top of Round 2, locking him in as the team’s RB1 for the foreseeable future. The Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year led the conference in rushing with 1,472 yards and 23 total touchdowns. While he may lose some touches to Michael Carter, Hall’s three-down skill set makes him a better fit for the bell-cow role.

The Jets made a splash in the draft by selecting playmakers on both sides of the ball. Clearly, their goal is to give young QB Zach Wilson every chance to succeed. Already with an underrated offensive line, their pick of tackle Max Mitchell will further create running room due to his zone-blocking skills. If Hall matches or surpasses Carter’s snap shares from last year, he could quickly produce RB2 numbers. His landing spot shouldn’t give one pause.

Kenneth Walker (RB – SEA)
With a perpetually banged-up backfield, Walker has a real shot of becoming the starter in Seattle this season. Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny are no strangers to injuries and are already battling health problems. Penny dealt with a minor hamstring issue in OTAs, and Carson’s future looks iffy following neck surgery.

The Seahawks could have trouble moving the ball unless they upgrade their current quarterback situation. Luckily for Walker, the team has one of the most run-heavy offenses in the NFL, and they will likely continue leaning on the ground game.

Walker should warrant RB3 consideration and has RB2 upside if he becomes the feature back. After transferring out of a crowded Wake Forest backfield in 2021, Walker exploded for 1,600 rushing yards and 19 total touchdowns in 12 games in his lone season with Michigan. With the team’s propensity to rotate backs, he should see a minimum of 8-10 touches a game even if Penny is healthy.

James Cook (RB – BUF)
The Bills added another weapon to their arsenal, selecting Cook in the second round of this year’s draft. He could be a top change of pace back to pair with starter Devin Singletary. However, he has a slighter build than his brother, Dalvin Cook, and lacks some power in the run game. But what he lacks as a rusher, he makes up for in the receiving game. With his running/receiving profile, lateral agility, and short-area burst, the Georgia product is a difference-maker and can line up in multiple formations, including as a receiver. With the loss of Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders, Cook should get plenty of work in this pass-happy offense.

Isaiah Spiller (RB – LAC)
Spiller was regarded as one of the top 3 backs in the class until he tested poorly at the Combine and his Pro Day. The former Aggie needs to work on his hands and pass pro but has the traits and size of a foundation RB, backed by his college body of work. He’s the perfect complement to pass-catching specialist Austin Ekeler, who’s taken a beating throughout his career and wants a lighter workload this season. The duo could form a formidable one-two punch in this high-powered offense.

Rachaad White (RB – TB)
It was James White with the New England Patriots the last time a running back with that surname excelled in a Tom Brady-led offense. Can Rachaad White follow suit with the seven-time Super Bowl champion QB at the helm in Tampa Bay? It’s no secret Brady loves to use his backs on screen passes, and there’s arguably no better candidate than Rachaad. He has a versatile skill set, rushing for 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2021 while averaging 10.6 yards per reception for 43-456-1. The former Sun Devil should beat out Giovani Bernard and Ke’Shawn Vaughn for the top backup spot behind starter Leonard Fournette. White has workhorse upside if Fournette is bit by the injury bug.

Dameon Pierce (RB – HOU)
Maybe we should pump the brakes a little on Pierce. Houston has demonstrated an affinity for using veterans at the position and added Marlon Mack to an already crowded backfield in the offseason. That’s on top of having a lackluster offense, a bad defense, and an offensive line that had rough patches last season. For most of his tenure at Florida, Pierce shared the backfield, producing 1806 yards and 23 TDs on 329 attempts in four years. He added 422 yards and 5 TDs on 45 receptions. The Texans RBBC combined produced a league-low 1,184 yards and 5 TDs rushing in 2021. Someone has to pick up the slack, and Pierce should get opportunities.

CTAs

Deeper targets/sleepers/handcuffs

Tyler Allgeier (RB – ATL)
Keep an eye on Allgeier as the preseason draws near as he could gain a significant role in Atlanta. The Falcons shied away from using Cordarrelle Patterson in the backfield during the stretch last season, and he’s now another year on the wrong side of 30. However, with one of the worst offensive lines in the league, the ground game could struggle without Matt Ryan.

Hassan Haskins (RB – TEN)
Here’s why you should buy the dip. Derrick Henry could undoubtedly defy the odds and have another epic season. However, after suffering a foot injury last year and tons of mileage on the tires, it’s hard not to imagine some regression or even him holding up for the season. Haskins could have standalone value if the Titans decide to spell Henry more often moving forward. His contingent value is massive if something were to happen to Henry.

Brian Robinson (RB – WAS)
Robinson was a bit of a baffling pick for the Washington Commanders, but their goal may be to keep Antonio Gibson fresh throughout the season. Gibson dealt with injuries last year, and his efficiency decreased. Coach Ron Rivera said he’s trying to emulate the “good two-back system” he used with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart in Carolina. Robinson has a little more power and should get chances, especially in short-yardage and goal-line situations. Tread carefully, though, as J.D. McKissic is also still with the team, further muddying the outlook for the backfield.

Tyrion Davis-Price (RB – SF)
Whenever San Francisco drafts an RB in the third round to add to Kyle Shanahan’s dynamic rushing scheme, it should be on everyone’s radar. The team already has Davis-Price penciled in as the No. 2 on the depth chart. If you listen to the chatter, there seem to be three scenarios for him; he takes over the starting role, emerges as half of a powerful two-headed monster–or he’s this year’s version of Trey Sermon.


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Bonnie Robinson is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Bonnie, check out her profile and follow her on Twitter @FantasyQueenB.

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