We may be less than two months away from football season, but it’s never a bad time to start preparing to dominate your fantasy football league. That’s why TDN’s very own Jaime Eisner unveiled his fantasy football rankings for 12-team, half-PPR leagues.
And there were some *interesting* decisions. I already broke down Jaime’s quarterback rankings, so today, we talk about running backs.
Before I attempt to tear down Jaime’s ego, his rankings and projections are some of the best in the business. He spends hours researching and developing in-depth projections, which you can check out below. So I won’t get too picky about minuscule differences in the rankings, though I certainly could make a case for something small like Derrick Henry over Christian McCaffrey.
With that said, let’s see what else stood out from Jaime’s fantasy football running backs rankings for half-PPR leagues. Stay tuned for the other positions over the next two weeks.
Jaime’s full Fantasy Football RB Rankings
Jaime’s full RB Stat Projections
Most Overrated: Antonio Gibson (RB15)
I had a feeling Jaime would place Gibson higher than I believed he should be. So I pulled up my recent article on best ball players to avoid to back my point:
“Speaking of bad offseasons, poor Antonio Gibson. Following the 2021 season, it looked like Gibson could finally get Washington’s backfield all to himself. Unfortunately for him, the Commanders had other plans. They re-signed J.D. McKissic and drafted Brian Robinson in the third round. McKissic averaged 1.5 more targets than Gibson and ran about six more routes per game than Gibson, per PlayerProfiler.com. Meanwhile, TDN’s Washington Commanders czar, Ryan Fowler, thinks Gibson’s miscues have opened the door for Robinson to eat into Gibson’s role.
Like Jacobs, Gibson did produce some pretty big games, so we know Gibson is capable of RB1 performances. Also like Jacobs, Gibson’s value would be much more enticing if he were being drafted a round or two later. There’s just too much evidence to suggest a role reduction for Gibson, which severely caps his weekly upside. And even if Gibson maintains Washington’s RB1 role, Head Coach Ron Rivera doesn’t seem eager to give Gibson more than the 56.7% of snaps he saw in 2021.”
Most Underrated: Travis Etienne (RB32)
There is plenty to be uncertain about heading into the Jaguars’ 2022 season. They have a new coach, new weapons and a sophomore quarterback coming off a shaky rookie season. They also get Etienne back after he missed all last season following a preseason foot injury. On top of that, Jacksonville’s leading rusher, James Robinson, is nursing a torn Achilles from week 16. Needless to say, this could be Etienne’s backfield for quite some time. That’s why I was a bit confused to see Etienne rated so low in Jaime‘s rankings. Even if Robinson only misses, say, a month, we should still expect Etienne to have quite a big role in the offense – specifically in the passing game. Now, some of that value is mitigated in half-PPR compared to full-PPR, but I’d still value Etienne over running backs like Kareem Hunt, Devin Singletary and both of Miami’s new running backs. Jaime lists Etienne below all four of those guys. TDN‘s Justin Melo even wondered if Etienne will get the coveted Deebo Samuel treatment. While I wouldn’t go that far, I do think Etienne could get a big enough workload in the run game supplemented with a main role in the passing game. He’s someone who shouldn’t be overlooked, especially at the value Jaime places on him.
Deserves Applause: Javonte Williams (RB17)
Jaime ranks Williams eight spots below Williams’ fantasy football ADP (Average Draft Position), which is the largest deviation from consensus among his top-32 running backs. And I totally get it. Williams flashed fantasy greatness at times last season. Only Leonard Fournette scored more half-PPR points than Williams between Weeks 12-14 last season. In many fantasy drafts, Williams has consistently been taken near that ceiling. Alas, Williams finished as RB17 in total fantasy points and only RB28 in fantasy points per game. Some people have assumed Williams will take a big next step in year two, which looked like the case until the Broncos re-signed Melvin Gordon. Don’t get me wrong, Williams should be Denver’s main running back. We just can’t rule out Gordon still seeing a significant workload. The pair saw nearly identical snap counts last season. So even if Williams sees more snaps, there’s no telling how Gordon factors into that offense. Kudos to new coach Nathaniel Hackett for weaving Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon into Green Bay‘s offense during his time with the Packers. Still, Denver’s addition of Russell Wilson may signal fewer carries to go around. I like Jaime‘s ranking of Williams and I think more people should follow suit
Sneaky Selection: Darrel Williams (RB40)
Is it just me or did almost no one notice when the Cardinals signed Williams in May? It makes sense since Chase Edmonds left for Miami. While Arizona did draft Keaontay Ingram to pair with incumbent backup Eno Benjamin, Williams is the more proven back of the bunch. Let’s not forget Williams had eight games of double-digit scoring in 2021.
With Edmonds gone, Williams could be a sneaky replacement. Prior to Edmonds’ injury in Week 9, he saw 18% more snaps than James Conner. Of course, Conner‘s snaps were more valuable since he was the primary back in short-yardage and the red zone. Without Edmonds, Conner went on to have a phenomenal fantasy season. This isn’t a knock on Conner since I think he can still be a consistent RB2 for your team while still splitting a workload.
I just can’t understand why some people are writing off Williams entirely. Jaime has Williams a whopping 14 spots higher than Williams’ fantasy football ADP, which I really like. Jaime has also Williams surrounded by Michael Carter, Miles Sanders, Rhamondre Stevenson, Kenyan Drake, Melvin Gordon and James Cook. If you find yourself searching for a running back in that tier, don’t forget about Williams. He’s a true sleeper heading into the 2022 fantasy season.
Best Late-Round Value: Kenneth Walker III (RB50)
When Seattle drafted Walker in the second round of this year‘s draft, the fantasy community was understandably split. Some felt Walker was a shoo-in to be Seattle’s primary running back, while others pointed towards Rashaad Penny‘s late-season success in 2021 as an indicator that it was Penny’s backfield to lose.
Well, according to ADP, no one is certain about the Seattle backfield. Heck, I don’t even think Head Coach Pete Carroll knows what to do with his running backs. After all, the Seahawks haven’t exactly been too consistent in handing out carries to their running backs lately. Carroll often rides the hot hand, which explains Penny’s second-half burst to the top of the fantasy leaderboard. We even saw Chris Carson stay fantasy relevant a season ago.
Here’s how FantasyPros lists each running back’s ADP:
Penny – RB31
Walker – RB37
Carson – RB44
Jaime’s rankings value those three running backs less than their consensus, yet he has Carson above Walker. At that value, you should be all over Walker. Seattle ran the ball at a rate just below league average last season, though their current quarterback situation suggests they’re probably not too keen about passing the ball more. Any of these running backs have the chance to quite literally be the foundation of the Seahawks’ offense. For my money, Walker’s the most talented of the bunch. His ceiling could be league-winning at the value Jaime places on him.