Dynasty League Football


2022 Rookie Running Back Reactions: Part One

We examine the performances of a handful of rookie runners last season.

Breece Hall

The Rookie Reactions series is back! In my last article, I wrote about the 2022 rookie quarterbacks and their dynasty fantasy football futures. Now it is time to shift gears and move along to the running back position. Like the quarterbacks, most people in the NFL draft and fantasy football community did not love this running back class, thinking it was very weak behind a couple of big names. In retrospect, it does not look too shabby. We have a couple of top-tier players, and then a handful of prospects with interesting potential with their offenses.

Breece Hall, NYJ

During his career at Iowa State, he set the NCAA record for the most consecutive games with a rushing touchdown with 24, breaking the previous record holder – Arkansas running back Bill Burnett, who played from 1968-1970. I was a big Hall fan and was upset he did not go in round one. He just missed the mark, going 36th overall to the New York Jets.

Hall was excellent in his first seven NFL games before suffering a knee injury. He put up 463 yards on 80 rush attempts, adding 19 catches for 218 yards, and scoring five total touchdowns. His 17-game pace would be 194 attempts for 1,124 yards, 46 catches for 530 yards, and 12 total touchdowns. His 16.4 PPR points per game would have led him to be a top-ten fantasy football running back this season if he had just played 15 or 16 games.

Unfortunately, Hall tore his ACL in the middle of the season. The question is: how will this impact his future? His injury is very comparable to Dalvin Cook‘s rookie year. Cook tore his ACL in the middle of his rookie season, and it was a clean tear with not many complications. Then, he came back in 2018 the next year and was excellent right away. Just like Cook, Hall is extremely young, the injury took place in his rookie year, he has a limited injury history, and the tear is a clean one that should not affect his long-term health very much, assuming there are no major setbacks in the recovery process.

People may tell you to avoid Hall because of what we saw with Saquon Barkley in 2021, he was a shell of himself after his ACL injury. While true, take into consideration that he was not as young, had more injury history, and more NFL mileage on his legs at the time he sustained this injury compared to Hall. Additionally, while preparing for the 2021 season, there were clear setbacks as the news and reports on his health were always so shady and inconclusive. Based on the information we have now, Hall is set up for success coming back from this injury significantly more than Barkley was.

The Jets have had a lot of links to quarterbacks early into this off-season. Aaron Rodgers and Derek Carr have been the top two names floating around the Jets radar, and these two would be fantastic for Hall’s fantasy football production.

They would both be excellent because they are both significant upgrades over Zach Wilson and Mike White, which gives this offense more trips to the red zone, and more touchdowns.

Additionally, both are veteran pocket passers with little mobility, which results in many dump-offs for Hall, who we all know is an excellent pass catcher. Just look at Josh Jacobs and Aaron Jones, they have combined for 218 receptions over the past two seasons.

For those out there who may be worried about Zonavan Knight, do not be. He started hot in his first three starts and then really burnt out. He was a fluke early and then defenses quickly found out how to stop him, and from there it was a disaster.

All things considered, Hall is a big buy in dynasty fantasy football. His price is already high, but his value could increase from here. Managers are frightened by his injury, but based on his youth, the severity of the injury, and the time he will have to recover, there is little reason to worry. In addition, a new quarterback will be coming into town for the New York Jets. As long as it is not Lamar Jackson, which seems likely given the situation in Baltimore, Hall should have a pretty significant upgrade in market value, and he will be much harder to buy at that point.

Brian Robinson, WAS

Robinson did not show much throughout his college career. He has shoved down the depth chart behind Josh Jacobs, Najee Harris, and Damien Harris until his senior year where he ran for over 1,300 yards and 14 touchdowns. His physical abilities were not astonishing, but he seemed like a very sturdy, powerful running back. He was selected 98th overall by the Commanders.

In the preseason, Robinson looked really impressive in the midst of his backfield mate Antonio Gibson struggling. Just days before the regular season began, Robinson was shot in the leg during an attempted robbery in Washington, DC. He had to sit out about a full month of the 2022 season.

Even after all of that, he actually put together a solid rookie campaign. In 12 games played, he put together 205 rush attempts for 797 yards (3.9 YPC) and two touchdowns, adding on nine receptions for 60 yards and a score. Considering the fact that the Commanders switched their starting quarterback four times, Robinson did not play too poorly.

In dynasty fantasy football, selling Robinson is the best choice. Could he have a solid pro career? Sure. However, for fantasy football, the ceiling is just not there. He is a good but not great ground-and-pound running back with very little explosiveness, and little pass-catching ability. As I mentioned earlier in the Hall piece of this article, catching the football is huge for running backs in fantasy football. Unless you score an unreal amount of touchdowns, you will not be great for fantasy football.

Adding onto that, he is in an offense that is currently mediocre at best, but a whole team that is also going to be behind in a good portion of their games. That leads to less running the ball, and Robinson being easily game-scripted out. Since he is young, and some fantasy players are so done with Antonio Gibson, you may be able to sell Robinson for a valuable price. I would aim for an early second-round pick type of value in a super flex dynasty league, or a player near that value. If you can get more, great!

If you cannot get that price, I would just hold on and hope that Gibson somehow leaves the Commanders. Given the season he just had, I would not be surprised if the Commanders wanted to trade him away. That would set up Robinson to look like he could be a star.

Do not get caught in that trap! He cannot catch the ball, and he is not a supreme talent on the ground either. He will be good with touchdowns but that is all. I would use the storyline of Robinson taking over the backfield to your advantage and sell him as quickly as you can.

Tyler Allgeier, ATL

Looked upon as a sleeper in the NFL Draft, Allgeier was not getting much hype coming into the draft and was selected in the fifth round by the Atlanta Falcons, not giving people much hope. Middle-round running backs from the NFL Draft tend to fall flat.

He actually played extremely well this year. In 15 games, he eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards, averaging 4.9 yards per carry, and got in the end zone three times. He added on a minimal 16 catches for 139 yards and one touchdown. He never caught the ball too well in college either. As I have mentioned before, little pass-catching for the running back position is a big red flag in fantasy football. We have to keep that in mind moving forward with him.

However, you have to put that good play into context. While Allgeier did play really well, he was not special when you compare him to the rest of the running backs on the team. All three running backs on the Falcons to hit 70 carries this season averaged at least 4.8 yards per carry, and even when you look at Avery Williams who had 22 carries, he even averaged five yards per carry. Also, Allgeier was set up for a lot of success. The Falcons offensive line was also one of the best in the league this year when you look at most run-blocking statistics. I am not saying Allgeier is a complete bum, but he was not the only Falcon who made a significant impact on the ground.

I want you to remember Michael Carter and James Robinson. Both were late-round running backs who had impressive seasons, showing a lot of flashes and showing they can potentially be good running backs in the NFL. After their rookie season, their values were shot up to the point where managers expected them to be very fantasy-relevant moving forward. Then, their teams both invested top-36 picks in the running back position and Carter and Robinson are now both not very relevant for fantasy football at this point.

I am not saying Allgeier is not talented, and that he definitely will not be the lead back for Atlanta for the next couple of years. There is a chance Atlanta rolls with him moving forward, it seems like he can be a very solid running back who can take the workload on the ground. It is just that we have seen how this story goes before, and to miss out on selling him before the cliff drop happens will feel really bad.

So when looking at trade options, Allgeier is a sell to me. The pass-catching upside is so low because he clearly does not really have that talent. Since he is a late-round pick, and the Falcons backfield is so empty right now, there is a very solid chance that major competition is coming his way. As we have seen in the past with late-round running backs, it could kill his value. Send him away in dynasty before it is too late!

Dameon Pierce, HOU

Pierce was always a very polarizing prospect. He never got the full workload in college – he was always limited in terms of his touches. On those touches, he showed immense amounts of talent. He averaged 5.5 yards per carry or more in three of his four college years and scored 13 touchdowns on 100 rush attempts in his last year with Florida. However, with all the impressive things he did, he never proved his worth as a premium pass catcher. While some people hoped he would go higher, he ended up going in the fourth round to the Houston Texans.

Heading into the 2022 season Pierce was extremely hyped up as the opportunity for touches on the Texans was massive. He showed a lot of talent during the preseason and he was one of the hottest names in fantasy football due to his performances. Managers believed he would sneak past Rex Burkhead for the lead role of the backfield, and some thought he would do it very quickly. There were some leagues where he was being picked within the first four rounds, above some big-time names in fantasy football.

That definitely turned out to be. In 13 games, Pierce put up 220 rush attempts for 939 yards and four touchdowns, and added on a very solid 30 receptions on 39 targets, which he never hit in college. He showed the ability to catch the ball easily and make plays after the catch. He had some huge games where he would look like one of the best backs in football. When the Texans were competitive, and running the football he was hard to stop. His aggressive running style along with his strength is extremely impressive. Also, he did, unfortunately, disappear in some games because the Texans fell behind early in a lot of games, and his pass-catching role in the offense was not enough to keep him in fantasy glory.

Unfortunately, Pierce’s season was cut short due to an ankle injury, which should not affect his health long-term. The real question with Pierce is whether or not he will be replaced this off-season. He was a fourth-round pick in this year’s draft, the Texans have four top 65 picks in the upcoming NFL Draft, and they could trade back for a lot of extra picks too. Adding on, as I mentioned above, this free-agent market for running back has a lot of intriguing names.

The Texans did not invest much in Pierce, and there is a possibility he gets replaced, but out of the running backs who are at this current risk, I believe Pierce has the best chance to make it out unscathed. Firstly, outside of Breece Hall and Kenneth Walker, you could definitely say Pierce is the most talented running back of this rookie class. He showed a ton of talent this year, especially with the way he can break and shed tackles. In some plays, it seemed like the defender was thrown not just onto but through the ground. He had some runs this year that gave me flashbacks of watching Marshawn Lynch. Adding on, Pierce showed us he can catch the ball well, and support a potential incoming young quarterback if he is under pressure.

In dynasty fantasy football, I think Pierce is valued pretty fairly in dynasty. He showed us immense talent but is in a questionable offense with the potential of competition coming his way. If you can find the Pierce manager under a bit of panic, or find someone in your league willing to pay top dollar, take advantage of that. Otherwise, Pierce is not a huge buy, or sell candidate to me.

Thank you for taking the time to read through this article, come back next week for the rest of the rookie running back reactions.

2022 Rookie Running Back Reactions: Part One
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Gregory Massa
1 month ago

Almost commented “WHAT ABOUT PACHECO?!?!” then remembered this article was title “part 1” xD good stuff! Can’t wait for “part deux”

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