Yesterday, I dove into my favorite wide receiver fits for the upcoming fantasy football season from this year‘s draft class. Today, let’s talk about the running backs. It’s an interesting year for the position. There’s no consensus top running back, which makes the draft class even more exciting. Like with the wide receivers, I tried to keep these fits somewhat realistic, but the beauty of the NFL draft lies in its uncertainty. Still, if these five selections happen, you should be all over them in fantasy football.
KENNETH WALKER III: ATLANTA FALCONS
How much confidence do we have in the Falcons’ current running back room? Walker would undoubtedly be a better option than Mike Davis, Damien Williams, Qadree Ollison and Cordarrelle Patterson. Although, Patterson and Davis were both top 10 in targets among all running backs in 2021. Even if Atlanta were to keep those two backs in the rotation, it could at least give Walker a path to being the team’s early-down back. While many scouts question Walker’s receiving ability, at the bare minimum, Walker could see valuable touches in the backfield. Another x-factor is how this offense evolves with quarterback Marcus Mariota swapping in for Matt Ryan. Head Coach Arthur Smith was a big proponent of the run game when he coached running back Derrick Henry in Tennessee–and while Walker is no Henry–we should expect more involvement from the Falcons’ run game. Walker’s potential volume and opportunity would be enough to make a huge early impact in fantasy.
RACHAAD WHITE: BUFFALO BILLS
Buffalo seems to be a popular pick for drafting a running back, and while they certainly could, I can see them waiting to draft one. Enter White, who probably won’t hear his name called until mid-Day 2. White isn’t on the level of Hall, Spiller and Walker, but he offers something extremely valuable: receiving ability. White is one of the best pass-catching backs in the class, which is something Buffalo can use. The jury’s still out on Devin Singletary and Zack Moss, though neither are touted as good receivers. Even with Duke Johnson now in town, White brings fresh blood to a running back room that isn’t utilized much. That can change if the Bills draft White, who can add a new wrinkle to one of football’s best passing offenses. Since Buffalo threw the fifth-most passes last season, there’s plenty of room for White to become a PPR machine.
ISAIAH SPILLER: HOUSTON TEXANS
Count Houston as another team with a confusing backfield. Marlon Mack, Royce Freeman and Rex Burkhead headline a less-than-inspiring group. For my money, Spiller would be the Texans’ best running back. His receiving ability and versatility alone present a solid floor to build on in fantasy. At Texas A&M, Spiller thrived on high-reward routes like screens and wheels. He shouldn’t be mistaken for just a receiving back, though. What’s stopping Spiller from taking over an every-down role in Houston? He’s well-rounded enough to where he can be a three-down back. Still, the big pull in fantasy simply comes from potential opportunity. I’ll be closely monitoring Spiller’s landing spot, but if he lands in Houston, I’ll be jumping at every chance to draft him (as should you).
DAMEON PIERCE: MIAMI DOLPHINS
How good is Pierce’s fit in Miami? Just check out what I said in my Dynasty fits article for Pierce:
“On the surface, the Dolphins’ running back room seems a bit crowded. They added Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert to go with incumbent starter Myles Gaskin. When healthy, that’s a solid trio of running backs. Do you notice anything different between those three and Pierce? Let’s take a quick look at their sizes:
Edmonds: 5’9, 206 pounds
Mostert: 5’10, 195 pounds
Gaskin: 5’9, 195 pounds
Pierce: 5’9, 224 pounds
Adding Pierce to that group would bring some much-needed strength and physicality to Miami’s offense. Yes, they signed fullback Alec Ingold in what could be a Kyle Juszczyk-like role. There’s no reason to suggest Pierce couldn’t take valuable short-yardage snaps among this group, especially at the goal line. From a schematic standpoint, this fit makes a ton of sense.”
BREECE HALL: SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Depending on who you ask, Hall is the bona fide ‘RB1’ in this year‘s draft class. TDN scouts seem to generally be lower on Hall than the majority opinion. Keith Sanchez specifically said in Hall’s scouting report that he could be best in a zone scheme where Hall’s patient running style can thrive.
“He should be viewed as a back who can take advantage of the running lanes that the offensive line has created,” wrote Sanchez.
Does that not sound like San Francisco to you? To the chagrin of countless fantasy managers, Kyle Shanahan has famously rotated between running backs during his tenure as head coach. Last season, we saw Elijah Mitchell own the hot hand for most of the season, though other running backs like JaMycal Hasty and Jeff Wilson had their shares of dominance. Even better: Shanahan doesn’t ask his running backs to catch passes often, which wasn’t Hall’s strong suit in college. San Francisco is a perfect scheme fit to maximize Hall’s value in fantasy, especially in best ball.