One of the hottest topics in fantasy football early on the season is how underwhelming the running backs have been. As the NFL moves more toward the running back by committee (RBBC) approach, it’s becoming more difficult for fantasy managers to navigate since typical starting running backs average fewer touches. Below are some suggestions for how to get an edge on current and future RB point production for the rest of the 2022 season.
Start “cuffing” season a little early
Usually you would wait until later in the season to “handcuff”running backs. By traditional definition, a handcuff is picking up a backup running back that is on the same team as your RB1. As injuries pile up and RB rooms become thinner, having a handcuff or two can make a huge difference in making a playoff push while other teams fade. In 2022 with the slow scoring starts for the running back position, getting a head start on favorable running back rooms would be the smart play. Guys like Alexander Mattison, Jamaal Williams, Khalil Herbert and Jaylen Warren should all be rostered considering the RB1s ahead of them are already banged up.
Identify the RB2s who are getting opportunities
There was an easy read or two early, such as waiting for Dameon Pierce to overtake Rex Burkhead as the lead back. What we’re referring to here is seeing if you can nab an RB2 who is trending to, or is an injury away, from having fantasy relevance. Players like the Jerick McKinnons of the world, who just a week ago saw a higher snap percentage than Clyde Edwards-Helaire for the high-scoring Chiefs. Or look to the Seahawks who currently have a struggling Rashad Penny as a starter yet gave Kenneth Walker six touches in his nine snaps and just lost Travis Homer due to injury. If you can spare a spot on the bench, take the player and be patient.
Look around for Offensive Line stats
Football Outsiders, Pro Football Focus, and other groups are making more concentrated efforts toward evaluating offensive line play. Even if you don’t shell out the extra cash for subscriptions, there’s still plenty of research out to help you identify which teams are the best in creating space and rushing yards for their RBs. No, James Connor and Najee Harris are not washed up, but a big factor in why they’re off to disappointing starts is their offensive lines don’t produce a lot of space. Meanwhile, early data suggests the Lions, 49ers, Jaguars and Falcons offensive lines are off to great starts. As the season moves along and you try to bolster your RB depth, take the extra few minutes to research which offensive lines are performing well as they should continue to produce favorable RB options.