Three Running Back Sleepers for 2022

Marlon Mack Indianapolis Colts

3 Running Back Sleepers Entering the 2022 Season

If you are drafting from the 7th to 12th spot this season, your first and second-round selections could end up being wide receivers. This is even more likely in full-PPR leagues or in leagues with several flex positions. Regardless of the league type, running backs go at a very high rate in most leagues and you will need to find some value later on in the draft.

Last week I wrote about four wide receiver sleepers this year and today I will go over three running back sleepers entering the 2022 season. The ADP listed below is based on our PPR average draft position (ADP). If you haven’t completed any mock drafts yet - what are you waiting for? There’s just over a week until the season begins - visit our mock draft lobby so you can prepare for your upcoming drafts.

Dameon Pierce, Houston Texans (ADP: 6.12, RB 33)

Dameon Pierce had himself quite the preseason, rushing for 86 yards on only 11 carries and scoring 1 touchdown. He looked electric while playing and the Houston Texans all but confirmed him as the starter to open the season after giving him the “starter treatment” by sitting him during the second preseason game and giving him full rep with the 1s during the preseason finale.

Pierce opened the offseason basically undrafted to start the year, but as the preseason unfolded, he quickly shot up the ranks. With a week to go until the season, Pierce’s ADP now sits at 6.12. In home leagues, he’s going even earlier. As teams were forced to cut down their roster to a 53-man squad, the Texans gave Marlon Mack the boot, which further showcases their confidence in the rookie.

If there is a weakness, it’s that Pierce wasn’t utilized as a pass-catching back, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t valuable for fantasy purposes. At an ADP of 6.01 to 6.12, Pierce still offers immense upside as he should see a strong percentage of the team’s work on the ground. Houston should also continue utilizing him as the goal-line back as they did during the preseason. While the team itself isn’t expected to do much in terms of wins and losses, Pierce is now an immediate RB 2 starter on your team for those that went WR early in drafts.

Rhamondre Stevenson, New England Patriots (ADP: 7.05, RB 34)

Rhamondre Stevenson is another sleeper on the season who is not being viewed as the team’s best running back. He might not start the year with the most touches on his team, but as the season goes on, he could demand 60%+ of touches (carries + catches) out of the Patriot's RB group.

Last year, Damien Harris scored 15 touchdowns on the ground and he severely overperformed; the touchdown rate is not sustainable and his statistics are going to regress. Harris is a decent running back but he’s nothing special. If Stevenson can get assigned to most of the goal line work, in addition to his pass-catching work, he could sneak into RB 2 territory for your team and is a flex play at worst.

Stevenson is the better pure runner in New England and he’s a great pass-catcher too. The Patriots will have a harder time keeping up with teams this season so they aren’t going to be able to put Harris on the field to run out games like last season. I expect Stevenson to establish himself by mid-season as the RB 1 for the Patriots which should be serviceable as an every-week play.

Darrell Henderson, Los Angeles Rams (ADP: 10.03, RB 45)

A late-round sleeper to target in your drafts is none other than Darrell Henderson - do you see where I’m going with this? Cam Akers miraculously returned early from a torn Achilles last season, which seemed impressive, but ultimately was inefficient and he did not really make any impact on the Rams’ Super Bowl run during the playoffs.

While Cam Akers missed the entire regular season, Darrell Henderson was quite productive for the Rams. He was given 149 carries and ran for 688 yards and 5 touchdowns. As a pass-catcher, Henderson had 29 receptions for 176 yards and 3 touchdowns. He was more than capable of leading the Rams’ backfield and was a large contributor to their success.

While Cam Akers is the deemed #1 running back for the Rams, the clock will be ticking for him to make an impact. If he continues to be extremely inefficient, looks slow, or ultimately re-injures himself, Henderson will be ready to take over. While Henderson will be a low-end RB1 if Akers does get injured, he still will have fantasy value as a flex play as Coach Sean McVay loves Henderson and doesn’t see him as a downgrade to the offense.

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