6 Zero RB Running Backs to Target (2022 Fantasy Football)
It’s important to be flexible as you prepare and complete your fantasy football draft. There are a bevy of fantasy football draft strategies to consider, but flexibility and the ability to take what the draft board gives you is key. It’s good to know of the different strategies so you can keep calm and build a solid roster even as your leaguemates and sniping you and otherwise throwing you curves with their picks.
One approach is the Zero RB Strategy. You can learn more about the strategy here. And our analysts have provided running backs you should target when implementing the Zero RB Strategy in 2022 fantasy football drafts.
Rankings noted using FantasyPros half-PPR Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) and Consensus ADP.
Zero RB Running Backs to Target
Rhamondre Stevenson experienced a very successful rookie season that should not be overlooked. After fully escaping the Bill Belichick doghouse in Week 9, Stevenson earned top grades across the board.
He was PFF’s third-highest graded running back (84.2). Stevenson also ranked 13th in rushing yards and in yards per route run (1.41). For fantasy, the rookie running back was the RB25 in total points scored, eight spots behind his backfield teammate Harris.
There’s a high ceiling for Stevenson, especially if you ask former Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich. The ESPN analyst went as far as saying that Stevenson “…will be one of the better, if not one of the top three, running backs in the league based on what I saw with his strength, explosion and catch-and-run ability.”
Buffalo invested second-round draft capital into a rookie James Cook this offseason, but that’s no reason to totally write off last year’s starting tailback Devin Singletary. The fourth-year back was unleashed down the stretch for the Bills, finishing as the RB3 in PPR scoring over the final six weeks of the season – 17 fantasy points per game. He gained the coaching staff’s trust by earning 54-plus snaps to close out the season, the highest snap number Singletary saw all season dating back to Week 1.
Buffalo also didn’t let off the Motor Singletary when the team hit the playoffs, with the RB1 averaging nearly 20 fantasy points per game from the Wild Card Round through the Divisonal Round.
With a proven track record and two years of bell-cow back usage in spurts, don’t be surprised when PFF’s fourth-ranked running back in rushes of 15-plus yards and seventh-ranked player in forced missed tackles in 2021 is the highly sought-after RB breakout that emerges from a high-octane ambiguous backfield.
This past year Chase Edmonds was viewed as the Arizona starting running back alongside James Conner. He stood as the RB21 through the first six weeks prior to suffering an ankle injury. Edmonds ranked fourth in the NFL in receptions among running backs (four catches and five targets per game).
Edmonds won’t ever be a true three-down back due to durability concerns, as he missed seven games this past season. But used properly and kept healthy, there’s no denying Edmonds can be a viable fantasy option because of his receiving and explosiveness.
His spot-start usage/production in Weeks 16-17 without James Conner in the lineup – 23.9 expected fantasy points per game – showcases a running back who can deliver massive fantasy upside any given week.
In 14 career games when Edmonds has commanded at least 11 touches – his average fantasy finish is RB18 (PPR).
Edmonds should see plenty of work in a Dolphins backfield splitting snaps with Sony Michel and Raheem Mostert. Considering Gaskins’ fantasy spike weeks in 2021 all came from his receiving usage, Edmonds should find similar success in that role with Miami.
The late signing of running back Mostert and Michel might have some fantasy gamers soured on Edmonds. However, Edmonds was never going to see a full bell-cow workload. Losing out on some early-down carries to Mostert or Michel was to be expected. I’d still prefer Edmonds in fantasy due to the pass-catching and hope the other signings keeps his ADP at a value.
Tony Pollard is coming off a career-high in rushing attempts (130) and targets (46). Pollard was one of the most efficient running backs in the NFL. Last season he was fourth in yards after contact per attempt behind only Rashaad Penny, Nick Chubb, and Jonathan Taylor (minimum 100 carries, per PFF). He was also first in yards per route run at the position. Pollard offers stand-alone RB3 production as he was the RB30 in fantasy points per game last season. If anything happens to Ezekiell Elliott, Pollard has league-winning upside.
Rookie running back James Cook has immediate sleeper fantasy appeal across all PPR formats based on his second-round draft capital, pass-catching prowess, explosiveness and offensive situation. The 5-foot-11, 199-pound running back has more than enough heft to manage a decent workload especially as a receiver out of the backfield. The 5-foot-7, 203-pound Devin Singletary was the RB3 over the last six weeks of the regular season when the Bills entrenched him as the featured guy. Cook with an ECR of RB44 seems priced closer to their floor than his ceiling considering Round 2 running backs have finished as top-36 running backs more than half the time (55%) since 2013.
Isaiah Spiller represents the latest rehash of the Chargers trying to find an appropriate thunder to Austin Ekeler‘s lightning, and I for one think Spiller is already the best bet currently on the roster. The former Texas A&M running back has the capacity for three-down spot start duties with an all-encompassing skill set and desirable size – 6-feet and 217 pounds .
Spiller should be a solid producer for the Chargers if given the opportunity although his lack of top-notch speed could keep him from being elite. He had only eight carries of 20-plus yards in 2021.
But I’d be hard-pressed to ignore his impressive age-adjusted production as one of his most encouraging traits. Since Day 1 at Texas A&M, Spiller has been the lead dog for the Aggies.
As a true freshman in 2019, he scored 10 rushing touchdowns and finished 16th in the nation in yards after contact per attempt en route to a 22% dominator rating.
The power running back capped off his first year in impressive fashion with back-to-back seasons of 1,000 rushing yards and 100 missed tackles. Spiller also displayed receiving prowess, commanding at least an 8% target share and an average of 25 receptions per season.
With Justin Jackson still an unsigned free agent, Spiller looks slated for instant impact in Year 1.
Mike Maher is an editor and content manager at FantasyPros and BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive, follow him on Twitter @MikeMaher, and visit his Philadelphia Eagles blog, The Birds Blitz.
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