Playing Best Ball formats makes running backs the make-or-break position since this is the most injury-prone player on the team. Not being able to pick up a free agent to replace injured running back makes it tough for a team to climb to the top of the leaderboards. On the other hand, hitting on the running backs that stay healthy or grabbing a running back that would see a massive usage bump if something were to happen to the running back in front of them on the depth chart is crucial to Best Ball success.
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Top 4 Best Ball Value Running Backs
Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys (DraftKings ADP – 38)
The hate on Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has gone too far this offseason. While many see him as an injury risk and are calling for a Tony Pollard surge, Elliott finished the 2021 season as RB7 in PPR scoring. He managed to play in every game for the Cowboys last year, playing through multiple injuries, including a torn PCL.
Elliott is being drafted as RB17 on DraftKings but certainly has top-10 upside at the position. The Cowboys have also been vocal that they plan to use Elliott and Pollard more than they have in the past. The Cowboys have been decimated at the wide receiver spot this offseason after trading away Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns. Michael Gallup doesn’t look like he will be ready to go for Week 1, and newly signed James Washington will miss the first couple games of the season because of a foot injury suffered in training camp. The team will have to rely on Noah Brown and third-round rookie receiver Jalen Tolbert, but Pollard should play more as a wide receiver in the early going of the season, leaving Elliott with the carries. Elliott can also be bought out of his contract at the end of the season, so the team is going to be happy to ride him into the ground.
Elliott is currently being drafted outside of the top 15 running backs, which seems like a floor price to pay for a potential RB1 for Best Ball teams. See where Elliott ranks against the other running backs in Stokastic’s Best Ball Draft Guide. Get $100 on Underdog AND a FREE Stokastic 2022 Best Ball Subscription. Follow THIS LINK.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (DraftKings ADP – 84)
The whole fantasy community is down on Clyde Edwards-Helaire after a sophomore season where he dealt with various injuries that limited him to just 10 regular season games. He finished as RB40 last season as teammate Darrel Williams enjoyed a breakout season, going over 1,000 yards total and adding eight touchdowns (RB22).
Edwards-Helaire has not performed up to par since being taken 32nd overall by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2020 NFL Draft. His rookie season showed promise, as he recorded 803 yards rushing and 36 receptions for just under 300 yards in just 13 games. He was a top-22 running back in his rookie season, and because he has not lived up to his draft capital, people are ready to let him slide.
Another big point people are looking at is that the team signed former Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones to a one-year deal worth $1,500,000 and re-signed 29-year-old Jerick McKinnon. Neither signing is great for Edwards-Helaire’s value, but they don’t hurt him as much as people think. Jones is not going to steal passing work, while McKinnon is as injury prone as they come. The most recent surge in the Kansas City backfield has been Chiefs seventh-round rookie Isaiah Pacheco. He seems to have usurped Jones on the depth chart and could steal the goal line work. Pacheco averaged just over one reception per game throughout his college career.
Edwards-Helaire is a great bet to exceed his draft day price, as he is currently being taken as the 27th running back off the board in Best Ball drafts. His upside is a potential top-15 running back on a team that traded star wide receiver Tyreek Hill and let go of Demarcus Robinson and Byron Pringle in the offseason.
Kenneth Walker III, Seattle Seahawks (DraftKings ADP – 115)
The 41st overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft has seen his stock fluctuate all offseason with word out of camp that he could become their three-down back, to now possibly missing a week or so into the season with a minor abdomen procedure. The Seahawks don’t officially have a timeline for Walker to return, but many expect him to be back for Week 1 of the season, or Week 2 at worst.
This has no doubt sent Walker’s stock into a slump, but drafters shouldn’t be concerned. Rashaad Penny has been plagued by injuries throughout his entire NFL career but did have an incredible run from Weeks 14 to 18 in 2021 where he ran for 671 yards in five games, adding six touchdowns. Penny is going around pick 84 of DraftKings Best Ball drafts this offseason, while Walker is going multiple rounds later around pick 115. Walker is a touchdown machine, scoring 18 last season at Michigan State, he and is an injury away from being a top-15 back with upside.
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Brian Robinson Jr., Washington Commanders (DraftKings ADP – 150)
Speaking of risers and fallers, the Washington backfield has become even more muddied after starting running back in 2021, Antonio Gibson, has struggled in training camp. Brian Robinson drew the start in the most recent preseason game against the Chiefs and looks to be the lead back and goal line back at this point.
Gibson has struggled with ball security, and the team seems ready to give rookie Brian Robinson a real crack at leading the team in carries this season. Gibson will still get his share of carries this season, but he may be in a timeshare with J.D. McKissic for passing game work. Robinson should be barely involved as a receiver, work with Gibson and McKissic still in the fold, but goal line carries and the occasional catch all seem in his range of outcomes for 2022.
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