Want to win your fantasy football league? You’re going to need a stable of underrated ball-carriers, so check out our guide to the fantasy RB sleepers via our friends at FanDuel.
Fantasy football managers will have to act quickly to nab a top running back talent in 2022 drafts. There’s a clear drop-off from first-round RBs to those available in the second, and things get even more unpredictable from there on. Taking at least one premier rusher is imperative, but managers should also have a few high-upside targets on their radar for later rounds.
Best Fantasy RB Sleepers of 2022
Note: Only running backs with an average draft position (ADP) of RB30 or higher were considered for this list. All ADP information is courtesy of FantasyPros.
3. Kenneth Gainwell, Philadelphia Eagles (ADP: RB46)
There’s significant buzz surrounding Kenneth Gainwell in training camp after a solid rookie season. He led Eagles RBs with 50 targets last year, which he turned into 33 receptions and 253 yards. He also recorded 68 rushing attempts and 291 yards as the RB4 behind Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, and Jordan Howard.
It’s not hard to see Gainwell carving out a bigger rushing role in 2022. He was productive at the goal line last year, turning four of his 10 red zone carries into touchdowns. Howard leaves behind 24 red zone attempts and 86 rushes overall after departing the team, opening up a clear opportunity for Gainwell on an offense that ran the second-most times in the league during the 2021 campaign. Incumbent starter Sanders is far from entrenched as the lead back, especially with his recent injury issues, so the potential is there for Gainwell to earn a bigger role. He’s worth stashing with a later-round pick at the very least.
2. Kenneth Walker III, Seattle Seahawks (ADP: RB35)
Speaking of buzzy camp names, rookie Kenneth Walker III could end up carving out a role from the jump. The Michigan State product was electric during his junior season, racking up 1,636 yards, 18 TDs, and 6.2 yards per carry.
Chris Carson’s retirement creates a starting opening in the Seattle Seahawks‘ backfield, which Walker will be in competition for at minimum. Though presumed frontrunner Rashaad Penny led the team with 119 rushing attempts in 2021, he’s also never played more than 10 games in any of the last three seasons. Walker has a very realistic path to earning starter-level volume if Penny is forced to miss any time. Seattle also likes to utilize a stable at RB, so Walker should see run regardless.
Now-free agent Alex Collins saw 108 carries in 2021 as the primary backup, and Walker could take on that role right away above depth options like DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer. If Walker ends up filling in or even taking over as the starter, he’d be a major value this late in the draft.
1. Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys (ADP: RB32)
Tony Pollard made it clear he’s much more than just a handcuff after going over 1,000 yards from scrimmage in 2021 for the Cowboys. Pollard set career highs in carries (130), rushing yards (719), receptions (39), and receiving yards (337) as he became a key part of a high-powered Dallas offense.
Pollard’s rise coincided with starter Ezekiel Elliott posting a career-low 237 rushing attempts and his fewest targets (65) since 2017. Though one could downplay Zeke’s decline by pointing out he played through major injuries, that’s actually part of what makes investing in Pollard smart. Elliott heads into this season older for an RB (age 27) and with a ton of miles on his legs already, which opens the door for prolonged absences to happen. Pollard would be the clear choice to immediately assume an even greater workload in that case, giving him the volume to go along with big-play ability. He already ranked as RB28 in PPR scoring while splitting the opportunities with Zeke last year, and he’d be a no-doubt, week-winning starter if Elliott were to sit at any point.
Isaiah De Los Santos is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Isaiah De Los Santos also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username zayyy05328. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.