Here are 6 of my personal top 36 RBs that I have way above their current ECR.
Leonard Fournette (TB) - RB#4 (ECR RB#10)
Tom Brady will regress, he’s sooo old now! The Bucs will regress, no way they can repeat their performance from last year. Right?
Didn’t we say that last year already? We did. And have been wrong.
At some point, even a Tom Brady will have to show signs of age regression. But why should that be at age 45, when at 44 and 43 he played the best seasons of his outstanding career? I’ll stop betting on Brady’s regression until I see it.
As for Leonard Fournette, it’s his backfield, and his alone. Rachaad White will get some carries - more on him later. Ke’Shawn Vaughn could even see some carries. But Fournette will be the lead back.
Since Brady won’t occupy any of the rushing volume in Tampa Bay, Fournette’s volume share will be north of 50%. And he will be the main pass catcher out of the backfield. Yes, that’s what they got White for. But how often in his career have we seen Brady throw many passes to rookies? Like Aaron Rodgers, he’s a trust guy. Fournette had an 82% catch rate last year. He has Brady’s trust.
The only cloud on Fournette’s bright blue sky is the question how many games he will miss. Last year, he missed 3 games. Had he played all 17 games, he’d have been RB#4. Which is exactly where he comes out in my projections, based on 17 games played.
Ken Walker (SEA) - RB#15 (ECR RB#36)
See my “Ken Walker vs. Breece Hall” thread for details:
TL;DR: if Penny misses at least 6 games and Carson remains limited, Walker gets elevated into RB2 territory, despite the Seahawks being terrible in 2022. Yes, there are some "if"s there. But who would bet against a Rashaad Penny injury?
I wouldn’t. Walker is a mid-round steal, even in redraft.
Rachaad White (TB) - RB#25 (ECR RB#59)
Wait a minute - two value RBs from Tampa Bay at the same time? Yup, if White can keep Ke’Shawn Vaughn in check. Nb: “in check”, not “off the field”. I still have Vaughn at RB#78, 2 spots above his ECR.
If White gets most of the relieve work for Fournette, and doesn’t get completely ignored in the passing game, his volume will be enough to elevate him into RB3 territory. Should Fournette even miss a few games…
White is a steal in the late rounds of drafts. He has FLEX appeal even with Fournette active in a lead back role, and could become a league winner if Fournette would miss some time.
Rhamondre Stevenson (NE) - RB#27 (ECR RB#38)
Handle this one with care. While I do believe Stevenson is undervalued when looking at the overall season production, he could still turn out to be a headache on your roster. Damien Harris is expected to lead this ridiculously crowded RBBC. Stevenson will chip in quite a bit, though, and will have a few great games.
But as long as Harris is healthy, we won’t know which these will be. If you draft Stevenson at his ADP, you might regret every start/sit decision you make.
Should Harris miss time, Stevenson will be an RB2+, though. Which makes him a value pick at ADP RB#38.
Nyheim Hines (IND) - RB#29 (ECR RB#42)
This one is valid in PPR formats only. Hines got a shiny new contract before the 2021 season, only to take a backseat in the unfolding Jonathan Taylor show.
That will change in 2022. The Colts are not paying him to leave his butt print on the bench. Hines will see an increased role as a pass catcher out of the backfield. As the Colts’ passing offense is expected to improve with Matt Ryan at the helm, this could turn out to be a very profitable role. With Pascal and Hilton gone, the WR room looks a bit understaffed.
If Hines can establish himself as the #3 receiver for Matt Ryan, it would elevate him into RB3/FLEX territory already. Should rookie Alec Pierce struggle, he could even become the #2 receiver, which gives Hines ridiculous upside, even without Jonathan Taylor missing a single snap.
With an ADP of RB#42, Hines should be on every fantasy roster, at least in PPR formats.
Tyrion Davis-Price (SF) - RB#35 (ECR RB#75)
This one is a gamble, plain and simple. But let’s look at the last two 49ers drafts:
In 2021, they invested a 3rd round pick in Trey Sermon, who was supposed to become their new lead back. And a 6th round pick in Elijah Mitchell, to provide depth.
We know how that worked out. So in 2022, they invested 3rd round draft capital in TDP. And everybody treats him like fantasy poison, only because Sermon fizzled last year, hurting all dynasty managers who invested a 1st round pick in him.
That’s not rational. There is no guarantee whatsoever that Mitchell will remain the lead back. If that was the Niners’ clear intention, then why did they use their second pick in 2022 on TDP?
We have an ambiguous backfield here, that is devalued further by the fact that there will be a rushing QB under center now. I gave Trey Lance 25% of the team rushing volume, and that may still be a conservative guess.
Behind that, I do see Mitchell doing most of the ground work. But not all of it. TDP will get his opportunities. But most importantly, no 49ers RB is a pass catcher. The pass catching back last year was WR Deebo Samuel.
TDP is a capable pass catcher, and if he can secure as little as 3 targets per game, he would reach for RB3/FLEX territory already. And that is not a lot of volume by any standards.
If Lance needs to dump the ball off a lot, both Kittle and TDP could see a steady influx of air targets. With only 1 more target per game, TDP would reach for RB2 territory already.
The upside here is massive. The only reason he’s been ignored in drafts is Trey Sermon. Owners have been burned by a 49er 3rd round rookie RB last year, and now they avoid the new kid in town. Don’t be that kind of owner.
Even if TDP busts (and the risk is there), he won’t hurt you a ton. Not with an ADP of RB#75. But if he delivers on the promise Trey Sermon broke, you got a startable RB for free.