The NFL Draft is behind us, rookie drafts are taking place, and as dynasty owners, we are looking ahead to the upcoming season. In the Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Update series, we break down all the incoming fantasy-relevant rookies, looking at their profiles and where they fit.
Name: Isaiah Spiller
Position: Running Back
Pro Team: Los Angeles Chargers
College Team: Texas A&M
Draft Status: Round Four, Pick 123
You can find more videos right here on Spiller’s DLF player page.
PRO DAY REVIEW
- Workhorse size and traits
- Excellent vision and does well to follow his blocks
- Great footwork and short-area agility (trains with the ‘Footwork King‘)
- Durable and physical in nature
- Faster than advertised (dealt with a groin strain leading up to Pro Day testing)
- Good hands catcher, adequate route runner
- Lacks long-speed and breakaway ability
- Can get caught gearing down when changing direction
- Does not break tackles frequently
- Was arguably less efficient than his fellow backfield running mates
Despite the “poor” draft capital, as the fourth round is often viewed, Spiller has a very good opportunity laying at his feet. The Chargers have been seeking an adequate running mate to pair with and spell Austin Ekeler throughout a full season. They have struck out more times than hitting, but potentially lucked out on a very talented back falling to them in the fourth round.
Spiller should have a decent chance to lock in RB2 duties straight out of camp this season, as his fellow running mates have been underwhelming, to say the least (discussed in Threats). In the best-case scenario, he may have the opportunity to secure goal-line carries as well as short-yardage work to spell Ekeler, which would likely add up to somewhere between 8-12 touches a game with a chance for high upside volume if Ekeler were to struggle with another significant injury.
Can we say that Joshua Kelley is a threat? It is safe to say that Kelley is no more a threat to Spiller’s potential RB2 role than Spiller is a threat to Ekeler’s RB1 role. There are pros and cons to that statement, as Spiller will carry some low-end upside with a handful of touches each week, but that will largely be capped by Ekeler hogging a large volume throughout the season.
Spiller’s efficiency could wind up being a potential threat to his future role, as well. While the Chargers have been seeking a solid running mate in the backfield, if Spiller does not improve upon his own inadequacies then it may force the team to draft yet another running back in the near future.
- Fractured Toe: 01/02/2021 vs North Carolina, suffered during the Bowl game
- Bruised Tailbone: 10/09/2021 vs Alabama, returned to the game
- Adductor Strain: 03/2022, limited leading up to the combine and Pro Day
Spiller has a low injury risk moving forward into the NFL. He played in 35 games in his college career, missing zero due to injury. All injury information was collected via Dr. Ethan Turner’s 2022 Rookie Injury Guide (@ETurnerFF).
The short-term expectations have been stated: if he secures the role that most of us believe he will secure out of camp, he will likely be seeing 8-12 touches on a weekly basis barring game script or injury. He is likely a better best ball player in year one than a standard league starter or flex play. If anything were to happen to Ekeler, who has struggled recently with soft tissue injuries, then Spiller could be in line for some large weekly upside in leagues.
Austin Ekeler will be 28 years old in 2023 with a potential cap savings of just under $6 million. The odds of the Chargers moving on from Ekeler by next year are slim, but these days you never know when it comes to running backs. There is a nice perk of having a starting running back on a cheap rookie contract, and Spiller fits that bill.
The keys will be if he can prove to be the underrated workhorse that many viewed him to be pre-draft before he slipped to the fourth round. The risk is there for the team to draft another high-end running back in the near future given his minimal draft capital (example: Michael Carter was drafted in round four in 2021 and was replaced after one season).
NFL PLAYER COMPARISON
PROJECTED ROOKIE DRAFT RANGE
In DLF’s May 2022 Rookie Dynasty ADP, Spiller has been selected as the RB6, and as the 17th overall player off the board. In my own leagues, I have seen him come off the board as high as the 13th overall player off the board in the early second. Many are still viewing Spiller as the high-upside pre-draft RB2 or RB3, ignoring his round four draft capital. However, the LA Chargers really is a fantastic landing spot for him and should provide ample opportunity for production moving forward.
If you want Spiller, you may need to reach in your drafts in the early second or bank on him falling to the middle of the round. Always a good recommendation: know your league-mates. Study their approach and how they like to draft to help you navigate moving up or moving back from your picks. Draft the best available player, and trade for need.
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