Three RBs Who Lost Value on Draft Day (Fantasy Football)
Draft week is the unofficial start of dynasty argument season, and the first time a lot of people start thinking about football again post Super Bowl. It’s always exciting, surprising, and confusing, no matter how clear and obvious team needs may seem going into it. This weekend followed up on an insane offseason with an equally insane first round, with blockbuster trades flying in just as frequently as the selection index cards. Two bonafide stud wide receivers may have changed teams in the blink of an eye, but thankfully the running back landscape remained surprisingly calm in comparison to the last few years. There were still plenty of winners and a few key losers at first glance. Playing time is not guaranteed in the NFL, but draft capital and front-office decision-making usually paint a clear picture of potential changes in skill position rooms.
There were three key losers at the position from my view:
Michael Carter – RB, New York Jets
The obvious grenade was the one tossed into the Jets backfield, and it wasn’t a particularly great situation in the first place. Michael Carter showed some promise last year, but the Jets lacked offensive firepower so his goal-line opportunities remained limited. Carter nearly racked up 1,000 yards but only found the endzone four times. The starting running back role for the Jets isn’t a promising fantasy situation in 2022 unless Zach Wilson improves immensely.
Now we throw Breece Hall into the situation. Hall was the clearcut RB1 in this class and a pre-draft coinflip for first-round draft capital. He ultimately slipped into the second round, but that was more due to teams finally learning how to value running backs than Hall’s talent. He’s a potential workhorse who will demand a lot of touches from day one. The modern NFL backfield utilizes multiple skillsets, but Michael Carter is a safe bet for third-down work at best. His fantasy potential was entirely dependent on volume, and that volume was just evaporated by the best prospect in the draft. Hall should see the bulk of the work from day one, and Carter will be a waiver wire asset at most, with a slightly higher ceiling in PPR leagues.
The Buffalo backfield has been a confusing place for a while now, but Devin Singletary has somehow always managed to stay borderline useable without ever feeling reliable. He’s maintained fantasy relevance on the ground and through the air, but there was always an aura of uncertainty around him in such a pass-heavy offense. Zack Moss and Grandpa Matt Breida were always still heavily involved, and it seems as if Singletary’s time may have come. Singletary’s receiving grade has been below average for three straight seasons per PFF, including his 2021 grade which was amongst the five worst in the NFL. The Bills have given him every chance to be a key piece of the offense, and he’s been a rusty key at best. Even if he remains the early-down back, it’s clear that the Bills want more from their passing game at the position.
James Cook is an intriguing prospect with a natural pass-catching skillset who could make an impact for Buffalo immediately. His 4.4 speed and excellent route-running ability made him a downfield mismatch waiting to happen during his time at Georgia. He was constantly put in a position to beat linebackers and safeties in the intermediate passing game, and his impact on the field went a lot further than his statistics reflect. The Bills prioritized him in the second round for a reason, and that may be the primary argument as to why he’s a sleeper in rookie drafts. There’s more to Cook than his family name, and Buffalo is an excellent fit for him. The only real question mark will be his ability to pass block at the highest level, but his size and agility should allow him to improve upon that quickly. I expect him to challenge Devin Singletary immediately, and potentially steal the 1A spot from him before the season fully kicks into gear.
Every Seattle Seahawk Running Back (Rashaad Penny, Chris Carson, Ken Walker III)
The Seahawks lost Russell Wilson this offseason, but you never would have guessed that based on their draft selections. They continue to prioritize the running game as if they’re only a few pieces away from a Super Bowl, and it’s incredibly frustrating to watch. The entire Seattle front office is stuck in the late 80s, and Kenneth Walker is the most recent time traveler to join their quest. Walker is an outstanding running back who could easily end up as a fantasy juggernaut if the Seahawks offense somehow finds a way to work….. but that’s a big if.
Rashaad Penny was a league winner in 2021 who re-signed for a jaw-dropping $5.75M over one year, and Chris Carson has made a full recovery and should enter training camp healthy. All three of these guys could make an impact in the right situation, but this situation is an ugly one. There won’t be many goal-line opportunities without a solid quarterback behind center to help get them there, and their ball-control style of offense can only work in certain environments. Drew Lock and “Ball-Control Offense” aren’t a very symbiotic pairing. I would fully expect these three guys to rotate equally in the backfield, and it’s anyone’s guess as to who will see the most work on any given week. Draft capital works in Walker’s favor here, but I’ve given up trying to predict Pete Carroll.
This is a situation to avoid until some clarity arrives. It’s likely that we learn more information between today and Week one, but there’s no denying the impact this draft pick had on Rashaad Penny. Volume is king, and Penny just lost a lot of it. Walker could have ended up somewhere with a more clear path to RB1 duties in year one, so he’s a loser here too. I’m interested to see where their ADPs land in redraft, but I’m still targeting Walker in dynasty. This entire backfield lost on draft night, as did the Seahawk fans that expect anything except more of the same from the Birds.