Fantasy Football 2022: Sleeper Running Backs to Target in Late Rounds
The running back class that came out of the 2022 NFL draft did not generate much buzz back in April.
The highest running back chosen was Breece Hall at No. 36 by the New York Jets. Two other running backs went in the first 90 picks.
Fast forward to the first week of training camp and the buzz is growing for James Cook of the Buffalo Bills and other rookie running backs who could be the biggest sleepers in fantasy football drafts.
As we all know from previous seasons, you can never have too many running backs on your fantasy football roster going into Week 1. You never know which players are going to go down with injuries, which stars will underperform and which rookies will come out of nowhere to become some of the most talked about names in fantasy football.
Cook is generating some of the most buzz among the young stars because of his talent, being the younger brother of Dalvin Cook and his potential to take over in the Buffalo Bills backfield.
A few other rookies could start the season as backups but emerge with more playing time in September and be serious contenders for the second or third spots on your fantasy running back depth chart.
Good luck trying to figure out the Buffalo Bills running back situation.
Devin Singletary and Zack Moss have both had their chances to take over the position, and they have thrived in spots, but Buffalo still drafted a running back in April in James Cook.
Singletary was Buffalo's leading rusher in 2021, and he came on strong at the end of the regular season with five touchdowns in his last four games. The problem for fantasy football players is Singletary had two touchdowns in his first 13 games.
Zack Moss had two performances last season with 60 or more rushing yards, and he only found the end zone on four occasions.
Moss had 12 or more carries in three of the last four games in 2020, which was thought to be a promising sign for 2021, but that hope never came to fruition.
Buffalo's running back situation is made more peculiar by the presence of Josh Allen, who at some point needs to stop running so much in order to protect his body. Allen had 763 rushing yards and six ground scores in 2021.
Cook could be the answer to Buffalo's conundrum as a tandem back for Singletary and as a player who takes away carries from Allen as the 2022 season progresses.
Cook is so intriguing because his older brother, Dalvin, has been one of the league's top running backs for quite some time with the Minnesota Vikings.
As always with any rookie, Cook should be approached with caution and not overdrafted, but he may be a nice player to stash on your roster in the final few rounds of your draft.
Buffalo's No. 2 running back job is not set in stone, and if Cook can take carries away from Moss, he could post some decent totals throughout the regular season.
We should be hearing more about Rachaad White as training camp progresses.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sit in an interesting spot at running back. Leonard Fournette came into camp as the top back, but there is little clarity regarding the depth beneath him.
Ke'Shawn Vaughn has not done enough in his career to warrant fantasy attention, and Giovani Bernard is a pass-catching specialist at this point in his NFL tenure.
Ronald Jones' departure left a hole on the depth chart that White could fill as early as the Buccaneers' final training camp practice.
White flew under the radar in college at Arizona State because the Sun Devils were usually out of the Pac-12 picture before you had a chance to mention their name in the conversation.
White ran for 1,000 yards in his senior season, and more importantly for fantasy players, he caught 43 balls for 456 yards and a touchdown.
The pass-catching ability of the 91st overall pick could give him more snaps right away next to Tom Brady, and he could make Bernard's role on the team nonexistent.
White will not be Tampa Bay's backfield workhorse unless Fournette gets hurt, but he could carve out a nice role for himself in pass-catching situations that makes him an intriguing FLEX or RB3 candidate as the season moves on.
Tyler Allgeier & Damien Williams
The Atlanta Falcons gave us the most surprising fantasy storyline of 2021 when they made Cordarrelle Patterson their top running back.
The Patterson selection worked, but it was also made out of necessity since the Falcons did not have any other viable options.
Patterson produced over 1,000 total yards and 11 touchdowns in 2021, but there should be an expectation for regression as the Falcons try more true running backs out in training camp.
Former Kansas City running back Damien Williams and rookie Tyler Allgeier appear to be the best candidates to either fill the No. 2 role behind Patterson or take over for him at some point in the season.
Atlanta needs to have an effective running game to provide breathing room in the pocket for Marcus Mariota or Desmond Ridder. The last part of that sentence sounds gross if you want to target Kyle Pitts or Drake London in fantasy drafts.
The Falcons do not have much promise, but if they start Mariota, they can at least get by while Ridder prepares to make some starts late in the season.
If the Falcons get no support from their running backs, their season will be over before it started. That is where Allgeier or Williams comes into the fantasy discussion.
Whichever player wins the No. 2 running back job should at least get a chance to see the field at a decent rate and spell Patterson in some situations. Atlanta could also mix Patterson in at wide receiver because of the lack of talent at the position.
Any Atlanta player should come with a large neon warning sign this season, but there is a case to be made that Allgeier or Williams could be one of your last two fantasy draft picks just in case they break out and the Falcons surprise us a bit.