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Sleeper RB Candidates for 2022 Fantasy Football

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Finding big-time fantasy football performances early in the draft is easy (or, at least, it should be). Finding it later is crucial. Everybody is on the lookout for sleepers.

Things have and are going to continue to change (especially this offseason), but let’s take an early look at the running back position to identify some sleepers for the 2022 campaign.

 

(Check out more: QB Sleepers | QB Busts | RB Busts | WR Sleepers | WR Busts | TE Sleepers | TE Busts)

Ronald Jones, Kansas City Chiefs

Ronald Jones 2022 RB sleepers player bio

After showing some flashes during his time in Tampa Bay, Ronald Jones is now in Kansas City. He’ll possibly form some sort of committee with Clyde Edwards-Helaire, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he handled more of the early-down/goal-line work, while Edwards-Helaire goes back to finally making an impact in the passing game like he did in college — especially since Jones has been one of the worst pass-catching running backs in the NFL over the last few seasons. (I’m not worried about the re-signing of Jerick McKinnon.) And we’ve seen the Chiefs refuse to give CEH a huge role in the entire offense, but especially from in close. Through his first two seasons in the league, Edwards-Helaire has seen just 12 carries from inside the 5-yard line, with half of those carries coming all the way back in Week 1 of his rookie campaign. So since his NFL debut, Edwards-Helaire has seen just six carries from inside the 5-yard line. Jones could take that role in a Chiefs offense that is still going to be very good. He also gets to play behind one of the top run-blocking units in football, as Kansas City generated the second-most yards before contact per rush in the NFL last season (2.08).

Tyler Allgeier, Atlanta Falcons

Tyler Allgeier 2022 RB sleepers player bio

The Falcons backfield still presents some ambiguity, but it also lacks high-end talent, which opens up the door for Tyler Allgeier to emerge. He fits the offense really well, as his 213 rushing attempts out of zone schemes last year were the fourth most in college football, while Atlanta runs a ton of zone running schemes. Mike Davis and Cordarrelle Patterson combined for 216 rushing attempts out of zone, which would have led the entire NFL for a single player. Over 74% of both players’ carries came out of zone. Allgeier finished second in the nation in yards after contact last season and has good size. While Atlanta is far from an elite offense, Allgeier has the opportunity to be a 15-touch running back, which is always notable in fantasy.

Darrell Henderson, Los Angeles Rams

Darrell Henderson 2022 RB sleepers player bio

This time last season, Darrell Henderson was being drafted within the first five rounds of drafts. After Cam Akers’ injury, Henderson operated as the lead back in Los Angeles, averaging nearly 14 fantasy points per game. And before dealing with some injuries, Henderson was playing around 90% of the snaps very often for the Rams. Akers returned for the postseason run and played over Henderson but if he doesn’t improve his play from the end of last season, Henderson could carve out a role once again, and we’ve seen him play well in this offense. 

 

Rhamondre Stevenson, New England Patriots

Rhamondre Stevenson 2022 RB sleepers player bio

It took a little while for Rhamondre Stevenson to become a consistent part of New England’s offense as a 2021 rookie. He barely saw the field in Week 1 and then was a healthy scratch for a few weeks, but as he got more comfortable and acclimated, the playing time improved. Stevenson showed serious flashes last year, averaging 4.6 yards per attempt and putting together a 3.26 yards-after-contact-per-attempt mark that ranked 11th among running backs with at least 100 carries. Stevenson is also in one of the best rushing offenses in football, as the Patriots generated the third-most yards before contact per rush in the NFL this past season (1.99), while New England ran the football at the seventh-highest rate in football (45.73%). Damien Harris is still the starting running back in this offense. but Stevenson will have a role and has shown he can be an every-down back.

Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks

Rashaad Penny 2022 RB sleepers player bio

It feels like we have been waiting forever for Rashaad Penny to do something at the NFL level, especially after the Seahawks drafted him at the end of the first round in 2018. While the selection is still questionable, it was great to see Penny remind Seattle of why they invested so much in him a few years ago. Per usual, Penny missed much of the 2021 campaign due to injury, but once he was at full strength, not only did Penny play well, but he was one of the best running backs in football. From Week 14 on last year, Penny led the NFL in rushing yards (671), rushing touchdowns (6), 100-yard games (4), yards per attempt (7.29), yards after contact per attempt (5.27) and fantasy points (110.2). Chris Carson obviously was inactive during that stretch and while both Carson and Penny are back in Seattle, the Seahawks would be wise to give Penny a long look, especially after re-signing him. Seattle was already one of the most run-heavy teams in football with Russell Wilson at quarterback so that shouldn’t change now that he is gone.  (The Seahawks did add Ken Walker in the draft, but he could be replacing Carson’s touches with Carson still a big injury concern, and Walker is currently going ahead of Penny in early ADP, so Penny still presents a value.)

Kenneth Gainwell, Philadelphia Eagles

Kenneth Gainwell 2022 RB sleepers player bio

Gainwell carved out a nice role in the Eagles offense last year, operating as the primary pass-catching and two-minute drill back. He caught 33 balls for 253 yards and a touchdown, while also scoring five rushing touchdowns. We’ve seen the Eagles rarely fully commit to Miles Sanders as an every-down running back and while the team did re-sign Boston Scott, I do believe Gainwell is ahead of him on the depth chart. He showcased that tremendous receiving ability we saw during his time at Memphis, averaging a healthy 1.73 yards per route run, top 12 among all running backs. And like he did at Memphis, Gainwell also lined up out wide plenty, doing so 16.7% of the time last season, the fourth-highest rate among all running backs. 

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