The Case Against Devin Singletary (2022 Fantasy Football)
I am going to open up my argument by admittedly bending the rules of this article series. There is increasing hype surrounding Devin Singletary this upcoming season and it’s not difficult to see why. My colleague, Aaron Larson, will point out all of Singletary’s wonderful opportunity in his supporting piece. However, I have some serious reservations about just how high we are getting on the running back. With that being said, I understand why fantasy managers are excited about his opportunity and I don’t hate his current average draft position (ADP). Still, I don’t trust that Singletary will finish as high as I have seen folks expect.
Total Fantasy Finish vs. Recency Bias
First and foremost, if you are not a member of the #FootClan, stop what you are doing and sign up right now. Right now. There are invaluable tools available to members that would take ages to find online by a paltry Google search. One of those features is the Career Snapshot Tool and the Weekly Consistency Tool.
Looking over the Weekly Consistency Tool gives us an excellent illustration of what I mean by recency bias. In Weeks 15 through 18 (I’ll include Week 18 here, even though it really shouldn’t count), Singletary finished as an RB1 in consecutive outings as the RB6, RB11, RB4, and RB4 respectively. He finished just outside of the RB1 tier in Week 14 as the RB16. The last time he had a decent finish was all the way back in Week 2 as the RB11. He was likely either a league winner or a league ruiner if you had to play against him in the fantasy playoffs.
That’s all well and good, but let’s look at his season as a whole. He was the RB30 or worse (as bad as RB57) a whopping nine times leading up to the end of the season. Despite averaging over 11 attempts and almost three targets per game, he only managed an average of 51.2 yards and 10.5 points with a 60% snap percentage.
I understand that while he did have the best season of his career, he still finished as the RB20 with four weeks of inflated numbers down the stretch which is misleading compared to his actual fantasy finishes leading up to that point. In Weeks 1 through 13, he averaged 51% snap percentage, 11.8 attempts, 41.3 yards, and 7.2 fantasy points.
Establishing the Run Does Not Equal a Bell Cow Role
Sean McDermott was frustrated at various times in the year with the poor run game in 2021. Whether that blame can be put on former offensive coordinator Brian Daboll’s play calling or the inefficiency of the running backs is up for debate. Either way, new OC Ken Dorsey will be assuming the role of making McDermott happy and keeping the ball on the ground more often than his predecessor.
While this should be good news for Singletary as the leading rusher, I am not convinced. Simply running the football more doesn’t mean they will use only (or mostly) Singletary to do it. That is especially true when we look at his production for the majority of the season. He was unable to eclipse 50 rushing yards nine out of those 12 weeks leading up to Week 14.
Both Josh Allen and even Zack Moss had a stake on the ground. Moss only played in 13 games but was on pace for 125.5 attempts, 451.2 yards, and 5 touchdowns. That’s just enough to be annoying for Singletary in fantasy.
Too Many Mouths to Feed
Keeping along the same lines as my previous argument, I’m going to explore Singletary’s supporting cast this season. Not only are Allen and Moss still on the roster, the Bills also added Taiwan Jones, Duke Johnson, and Raheem Blackshear. Let’s not forget that they also spent expensive 2nd Round draft capital on James Cook to compliment the running back corps.
It stands to reason that the Bills want to keep their elite QB healthy and that likely will take shape by keeping Allen in the pocket. He finished second-highest in the run game behind Singletary with 122 attempts, 763 yards, and six touchdowns. Singletary was only at 188 attempts, 870 yards, and seven touchdowns. It’s fair to assume Allen’s rushing numbers will go down in 2022.
Taking away rushing opportunity from Allen isn’t a guarantee those attempts will go to Singletary. I doubt they would draft a running back of Cook’s caliber in the 2nd Round to not use him. Even with the best season of his career, Singletary finished as a low-end RB2. If there had not been any significant changes to the roster where the running backs are concerned, all of my reservations would go straight out of the window. However, the Bills have gone out of their way to add more mouths to feed in the run game. That also shows me where their confidence level is with Singletary, despite his grandiose finish at the end of the season.
As I mentioned in my opening statement, I am going to bend the rules with this article. Yes, this is the case AGAINST Singletary and I will stand by that. However, I also understand that his ADP accounts for his risk. He is currently being drafted in the 8th Round in half-PPR formats. If I already had a solid RB corp on my roster, that ADP gives me the safety I need to take a shot on Singletary. However, there are other options I would rather take if they are available such as Hunter Renfrow.