With the NFL Draft just over a month away, I’ve been breaking down top prospects and their ideal fits for Dynasty fantasy football. If you need a refresher on Dynasty, I wrote about how fun it can be in my previous articles. Here are the prospects I’ve covered so far:
- Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
- Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
- David Bell, WR, Purdue
- Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M
- Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
- Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
- Dameon Pierce, RB, Florida
- George Pickens, WR, Georgia
- John Metchie III, WR, Alabama
- Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
- Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina
Lucio Vainesman also broke down the best landing spots for these prospects, too:
- Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
- Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
- Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
- Drake London, WR, USC
- Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
Today, let’s talk about Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III. Walker is commonly billed as one of the best running back prospects in the class. He just makes running look easy. Kyle Crabbs specifically touted Walker’s ability to work off-script and create space for himself. The main area of concern comes in Walker’s lack of refinement and experience in the passing game.
“Walker’s resume has little question as a ball-carrier but the supplementary areas of his game can still unlock further levels to his skill set and help him become a more complete player at the NFL level,” wrote Crabbs.
Teams that draft Walker probably shouldn’t expect major involvement in the passing game, at least not early on. Still, he can be a significant boost to an underwhelming run game, especially on these five teams. Just don’t expect him to be a PPR god.
If you’re a regular reader of my dynasty series here at TDN, then you know the Falcons have become a staple of the series. They have plenty of holes on their offense, including at the running back position. Now, Atlanta did somehow manage to get by with Mike Davis and Cordarrelle Patterson in 2021. But Patterson‘s value mainly came as a receiver, while Davis averaged 8.1 fantasy points per game. Interestingly enough, Patterson and Davis were both top-ten in targets among all running backs. So if the Falcons do draft Walker, he already has a clear path to becoming the team’s early-down back. That’s exactly the situation Crabbs said Walker can thrive in. With quarterback Marcus Mariota replacing Matt Ryan, it’s fair to expect more from Atlanta‘s run game. That’s especially true with second-year head coach Arthur Smith—who was Derrick Henry’s offensive coordinator for two seasons prior. Of course, there are no running backs like Henry, but simply put, the Falcons have a hole at the position. Walker can be the guy to plug it. And as I’m sure you’re aware of, volume is king in fantasy football. We should expect Walker to see enough of it in Atlanta.
The Bills have an interesting situation in their backfield. Some may argue their most dangerous run threat is quarterback Josh Allen. Devin Singletary and Zack Moss have flashed at times, but for the most part, they leave a lot to be desired. Enter Walker, who could take over an early-down role in one of the NFL’s best offenses. That alone would boost his fantasy stock. Buffalo added Duke Johnson as a receiving back out of the backfield, which is another indication Walker wouldn’t be too involved in that aspect. The great fantasy running backs see significant volume and targets. The good fantasy running backs see at least one of those. Walker may never be a great fantasy running back but the Bills could provide him a ceiling of, say, 16+ touches a game. Every top running back in 12-team PPR leagues hit that threshold last season, excluding James Conner. Singletary and Moss combine for 22.6 touches a game, though Singletary’s mark of 13.4 touches would be a likely floor for Walker. This is a great situation where Walker can see enough opportunity to become a fantasy starter right away.
Let’s talk about another team that can have a great opportunity for Walker to start. First, keep in mind opportunity doesn’t always translate to fantasy success. Still, what I just said about running backs who see 16+ touches a game is pretty eye-opening. Expand that stat further and you’d see that every running back who hit that threshold finished as the second running back or higher in fantasy points per game. Looking at the Texans’ backfield from last season, only Mark Ingram surpassed double-digit touches per game with 14.1. Rex Burkhead was second with 9.2 and David Johnson was third with 7.6. Ingram and Johnson are gone and I’m not too confident Marlon Mack or Royce Freeman can fill their void. While touches include carries and receptions, it’s safe to say Walker wouldn’t be too involved in the latter. Either way, I think we can all agree Walker would immediately be the most talented running back on Houston’s roster. I don’t love his long-term fit in Houston as much as the other teams on this list, but he has a clear path to fantasy success early if he were drafted by Houston simply due to potential opportunity. That may be enough to lead to a long, successful career—and thus, very happy dynasty managers.
No team opted to run the ball more last season than the Philadelphia Eagles. Their 51.2% rush rate led all teams. Of course, a big part of that decision was Jalen Hurts’ ability as a runner and, well, his developing ability as a passer. Meanwhile, Miles Sanders, Boston Scott and Jordan Howard each averaged more than 10 touches a game. With Sanders and Scott slated to be free agents next offseason, the door is open for a rookie like Walker to stake his claim as the team’s future top back. And boy, what a claim he can make. We didn’t get a full chance to see Head Coach Nick Sirianni operate his offense with a bellcow running back, and maybe we never will. But just speculating here, don’t you think he’s tired of churning through multiple running backs a game? Looking at Philadelphia’s running back usage, it’s clear they opted for a running back by committee most of the time. I get people are still holding out hope for Sanders, but Walker is arguably just a better runner. He would be a shiny new asset to pair with Hurts, which could lead to valuable opportunities. The real value in the situation, though, lies in the future. As I said, Sanders and Scott may not be with the team next season. We often see running backs arrive a season late to the fantasy party, and Walker could easily follow suit if he lands in Philly.
Don’t let the Russell Wilson trade distract you from what Seattle has done well this offseason. They re-signed Rashaad Penny! Rejoice, Seahawks fans! In all seriousness, Penny was hot down the stretch last season; he was the overall leader in fantasy points among running backs. Do we really think Penny can maintain that level of success in the next season, though? He’s yet to play a full season in four years. Meanwhile, Walker seems like the perfect running back for Head Coach Pete Carroll’s run-favoring offense. I say “run-favoring” because in 10 years with quarterback Russell Wilson, Seattle was never above the league average in pass attempts but with a significant downgrade at quarterback from Wilson, we should expect a run-heavy offense. Walker is perfectly built to be the every-down back Seattle has lacked since Marshawn Lynch. A better offensive line would boost Walker‘s immediate fantasy value, though his dynasty value would still be pretty intriguing based on his fit alone. As I’ve said countless times, it’s futile to project how good a team will be in two-to-three years. As long as Carroll is in charge, the Seahawks will be devoted to running the football. Think of it like Jonathan Taylor in Indianapolis, just with—and I can’t stress this enough—a worse offensive line. I’d still consider Walker as a top pick in rookie drafts, though.