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NFL Usage Report for Week 14: This Year’s Rookie RBs

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Michael Dolan

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In this week’s fantasy football usage report, I’m once again honing in on the 2022 rookie class, but this time I’m shifting my focus to the running backs. We all know it’s important to look at both rushing and receiving ability when analyzing the most important position in fantasy football, but sometimes the simplest way to effectively measure usage is by looking at just one of those two areas. 

 

The true sign of a bell cow running back is someone capable of carrying the majority of the workload for their team’s backfield. Maybe the easiest way to identify who these bell cows are in today’s NFL is by looking at rushing share (the percent of a team’s carries that go to a certain player). Below I’ve identified the five rookies with the highest rushing share in Week 13 and added a quick blurb about what you can expect from them rest of season. 

Dameon Pierce, Houston Texans (81%)

Entering the preseason, Dameon Pierce didn’t receive as much hype as many other rookie backs. His fourth-round draft capital wasn’t eye-popping, and the landing spot in Houston didn’t inspire hope that the offense around him would elevate his fantasy production. The one positive of the landing spot was Pierce entered a backfield that was his for the taking, and he’s done exactly that in his debut campaign. 

In half-PPR scoring, Pierce has been the RB16 on the year, which has been a fantastic return on investment for any fantasy managers who drafted him. Pierce leads all rookies with 16.5 carries per game, and he should continue to see the volume necessary to maintain his RB2 floor for the remainder of the season.

Zonovan Knight, New York Jets (62%)

Zonovan Knight Week 14 Fantasy Football Usage Report

While many predicted a Jets running back would possess league-winning potential in 2022, not many thought it would be Zonovan Knight, the undrafted rookie out of NC State. New York’s backfield has been a bit of a revolving door following Breece Hall’s season-ending injury, but Knight appears to be establishing himself as the go-to guy down the stretch. After logging zero rush attempts the first 11 weeks of the season, Knight has logged 14 and 15 attempts these last two weeks. He’s taken over the Jets backfield and accumulated fantasy points in the process. It’s unlikely Knight is still on your waiver wire, but if he is he needs to be picked up immediately. He’s looking more and more like a back you’ll be able to trust in your starting lineup for the fantasy playoffs.

Brian Robinson, Washington Commanders (58%)

There was plenty of hype around Brian Robinson entering the 2022 season, but a lot of that was wiped away when he was shot in the preseason and his recovery time was uncertain. He missed most of the offseason and the start of the regular season, but since his return to action in Week 5, Robinson has carved out a stable role in the Washington backfield. Over the past four weeks, he’s logged 26, 15, 18 and 21 attempts – extremely impressive numbers for a guy who doesn’t have sole ownership of the backfield. 

Robinson’s carries aren’t necessarily going to be the most efficient from a fantasy scoring perspective, but he has the volume necessary to continue being a reliable fantasy starter down the stretch. Washington’s coaching staff clearly loves him, and expecting 15-20 carries from him on a weekly basis as we close out the fantasy season wouldn’t be reaching at all. 

 

Isiah Pacheco, Kansas City Chiefs (56%)

Every year we let the allure of a dreamy landing spot for a rookie catch our eye, and this year that guy was Isiah Pacheco. Pacheco was drafted in the seventh round of the 2022 NFL Draft, so his odds of success based on draft capital were fairly low. Still, the murky situation in the Chiefs backfield made his upside tantalizing, and recent weeks are indicating he’s starting to tap into that upside. 

There’s not an offense in the NFL that’s friendlier for fantasy football efficiency than Kansas City’s, and Pacheco’s been establishing himself as a primary beneficiary in recent weeks. Andy Reid is known to rotate his running backs, and what the backfield breakdown looks like when Clyde Edwards-Helaire potentially returns from injury remains to be seen, so there’s a bit of risk in relying on Pacheco. Still, he appears to have the hot hand – double-digit fantasy points in each of the last three weeks – right as we’re entering the most important portion of the fantasy season. 

Rachaad White, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (45%)

Rachaad White Week 14 Fantasy Football Usage Report

After spending most of the 2022 season in Leonard Fournette’s shadow, Rachaad White has burst onto the scene in recent weeks – most notably with his game-winning touchdown Monday night. Like Pacheco, White has scored double digit points each of the past three weeks. Some of that was due to Fournette missing time due to injury, but even upon Fournette’s return White has demanded snaps and touches due to impressive on-field performance.

It’s looking more and more like this backfield will hover somewhere around a 50/50 split for the remainder of the season. If that’s ultimately what happens, I’d feel comfortable leaning on White as my RB2/flex down the stretch if there’s a need. It feels like both he and this Bucs offense are about to take a sizable step forward these next few weeks.

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