Five SOLID Late-Round RBs to target with Value: Fantasy Football 2022
In fantasy football, the majority of us can agree that the most vital position to fill while constructing a championship-winning roster is the running back position. With injuries and the diminishing shelf-lives of premier running backs shortening, it is always a smart idea to have competent back-ups who can put points on the board if your main bell-cow RB is out. In this article, we’ll look at five running backs that are often available in fantasy football drafts in Round 10 or after. This season, each back on this list is going to see significant playing time, and will more than likely get opportunities to emerge into RB1s.
Disclaimer: This list is in no order
Darrell Henderson, Los Angeles Rams (ADP 11.4)
With Cam Akers on the IR, Henderson stepped in as the Rams’ starting RB in 2021. He had a stellar first eight games of the season, posting double-digit carries in all of them, and finding the end-zone 7-times during this stretch. The RB appeared to be one of the league’s best fantasy running backs early in 2020 and 2021, before being hampered by injuries both seasons.
The 24-year-old took only 23 offensive snaps in the final six regular-season games and didn’t play in the first three rounds of the playoffs. He returned in time for the Super Bowl though, where he was utilized as a third-down back, while fellow RB Cam Akers took a majority of his snaps during earlier downs.
The Rams appear to be comfortable with their two-back committee heading into the 2022 season. Sony Michel left in free agency for Miami, and the Rams only staked a fifth-round pick to replace him. Henderson could play on passing downs while also receiving some carries, just like the Super Bowl. When this is his job, he should only be in fantasy lineups as an emergency.
Nonetheless, Henderson should be drafted for the weeks when he does not have that role. Henderson could reclaim his starting spot for the Rams if he outperforms Akers or if Akers is injured. When healthy, Henderson is one of the most powerful handcuffs, making him a must-start if Akers spends any time as the starter.
Jamaal Williams, Detroit Lions (ADP: 13.2)
As we know, Williams spent the first four seasons of his career in Green Bay with Aaron Jones. Despite missing two games, he finished as RB35 in 2019, whereas Jones finished as RB2. Jones missed two games in 2020 and Williams capitalized, finishing in the top 10 amongst fantasy RBs both weeks.
As we all know, he signed with the Lions last offseason joining D’Andre Swift as the two main backs in D-Town. During games in which both players played and were not sidelined, their carry splits were EXACTLY 50/50. Although Swift had more explosive runs, which led the rookie to have slightly more rushing yards, Williams was more consistent on a run-by-run basis, that led to a higher rushing grade, according to PFF.
A healthy offensive line should certainly help both backs boost their productivity. Last season, the Lions never had all five of their offensive lineman healthy and available at the same time. Only a season later, the Lions find themselves in a completely different situation up front on offense, featuring a stout line that could be one of the best in the NFL, which will help open up holes for both players.
Williams does have some stand-alone value and potential as well, notably against weak run defenses. The better the Lions operate as a unit, the more they will be able to run the ball, which will favor Williams above Swift. If Swift ever gets injured, Williams should be the team’s clear every-down back and will be a must-start in fantasy.
Jerrick McKinnon, Kansas City Chiefs (ADP: 18.6)
McKinnon signed with Kansas City in 2021 and managed to earn one of the squad’s three RB spots. During the first month of the season, he was limited to single-digit snaps each game before Clyde Edwards-Helaire sprained his MCL. He finally started playing, but he wasn’t receiving many opportunities to touch the ball.
Once Edwards-Helaire recovered, McKinnon missed several games due to a hamstring problem that landed him on IR. After McKinnon returned, CEH sustained another injury (shoulder) and was sidelined once again. McKinnon was then promoted to the starting lineup when backup Darrel Williams experienced a toe injury. Over three playoff games, he ran for 150 yards on 34 attempts and hauled in 14 receptions for 165 yards respectively.
Kansas City was content with Williams leaving for Arizona in free agency after McKinnon’s postseason success. The Chiefs played their starters frequently during the preseason, suggesting that McKinnon will indeed be their third-down back this season.
Kansas City is uncertain who will back up Edwards-Helaire on early downs. Isiah Pacheco, a seventh-round rookie, made headlines during the preseason playing with the first team, while new signing Ronald Jones played snaps in the final preseason game. McKinnon has so far displayed what he can do for the Chiefs in early-down situations.
If he can play on some early downs as well as third downs, he might start having performances similar to the ones he had in last year’s playoffs. Selecting running backs in high-scoring offenses featuring fluid backfields is always a wise choice. McKinnon is extremely affordable ADP wise as a result of Pacheco’s rise, but adding him to your roster later on in your draft will most likely reap some benefits.
Kenneth Gainwell, Philadelphia Eagles (ADP: 11.1)
The 23-year-old running back spent the 2021 season in Philly as part of a four-man committee, largely as a receiving back. He had at least five targets in five games, including their final two games of the season, and had one of the highest threat rates in recent memory for a rookie running back.
He had at least five targets in five games, including their final two games of the season, and had one of the highest threat rates in recent memory for a rookie running back.
Despite being a pass-catching back, he logged double-digit carries three times a season ago, two times during blowout wins when the Eagles were missing their other backs, and the other in Week 18, when the team rested its starters. This season, he could take on a prominent role in the run game.
Outside of an undrafted rookie, the Eagles have not re-signed Jordan Howard or acquired any new players to put in their backfield. Gainwell is the Eagles’ sole back under contract through 2022, so they’ll need to see what they’ve got in him prior to next season. Philadelphia also plans to pass more this season, meaning there will be more plays in which Gainwell is the likely the running back in the formation. Miles Sanders is the team’s top rusher, but he’s been one of the league’s least efficient, with the fourth-lowest PFF run grade among the 30 backs with 400 or more carries over the last three seasons — two of the three running backs with a lower grade are already out the league.
Philadelphia must undergo a change.
Gainwell is unlikely to become a full-time three-down back, but several running backs have had top-10 fantasy seasons with high target shares and averages of just less than 10 touches per game, which is certainly within Gainwell’s range of outcomes in 2022.
Khalil Herbert, Chicago Bears (ADP: 13.0)
The 2021 sixth-round draft pick was the Bears’ third back on the depth chart starting last season, but he only played nine offensive snaps mostly in garbage time over the first month, before David Montgomery landed on IR for five weeks. Herbert and Damien Williams split time in Week 5, and Williams missed Week 6 due to COVID-19, allowing Herbert a chance to impress. Herbert generated 38.2 PPR points in the two weeks following for any fantasy manager bold enough to start him. By mid-season, Montgomery had returned as the stater, but Herbert remained ahead of Williams on the depth chart and took more reps.
On a small sample size, the 5-foot-9 back looked excellent. There is potential danger that he will regress with more playing time, but the goal of the mid-to-late rounds in fantasy drafts is to take a gamble on a player who has played well in a limited amount of time.
Herbert’s fantasy value has improved this summer, as the Bears let Williams go to the Atlanta Falcons in free agency and only allocated a sixth-round pick in addition to a waiver wire pickup that will fight for the third spot on the depth chart. The Bears hired defensive-minded head coach Matt Eberflus this offseason as well, while former Green Bay Packers quarterback coach Luke Getsy was appointed as the Bears new passing game coordinator. The Packers utilized a split backfield in Getsy’s prior time with the team, and it might not be a bad idea to implement it in Chicago. Montgomery’s 1,401 offensive snaps over the last two seasons are the second-most for a running back.
If Chicago takes this approach, Herbert may be given more rushing opportunities while Montgomery manages the passing downs, offering Herbert some fantasy value every week. If Montgomery had been injured, Herbert would be a fantasy starter yet again, with very little competition from backups.
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