Analytics & Advanced Metrics

2022 Colts Backfield Breakdown: Lonely at the Top

by Noah Hills, May 21, 2022

The Indianapolis Colts were on the run-heaviest teams in the NFL last season. Their 499 carries were good for No. 5 in the league and 47 more than league average. A presumed quarterback upgrade from the departed Carson Wentz to the newly acquired Matt Ryan could mean more passing volume in the year ahead, but the strength of this Colts team is their dominant running game. We shouldn’t expect that to go away in 2022.

Continue drafting Jonathan Taylor as an elite RB1 and don’t stress over identifying his handcuff. That role probably doesn’t exist behind him in the same way that it does behind other workhorses like Dalvin Cook and David Montgomery. There just isn’t a player in this backfield with the clear talent to step in and command a three-down role. If you simply must, there are worse at-cost investments than taking a late shot on D’Vonte Price.


2022 Chargers Backfield Breakdown: Sidekick Tryouts

by Noah Hills, May 18, 2022

We only have one season’s worth of decision making from which to draw conclusions about the way that Staley and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi want to run this team. But with Justin Herbert at quarterback, it seems reasonable that they would continue to be a pass-heavy team going forward. This is a team with both the propensity and the personnel to air it out.

Austin Ekeler has not needed an incredible share of opportunity in this backfield to be an effective fantasy contributor. We should expect him to be productive once again in 2022. Outside of Isaiah Spiller, nobody else on this team should have much fantasy value. He’s just inside my top-10 rookie running backs. Mostly on the strength of the quality offensive situation he landed in. Leddie Brown is vaguely interesting as a very deep dart throw.


2022 Broncos Backfield Breakdown: Blue Balls

by Noah Hills, May 12, 2022

The Denver Broncos were right at league average in total rushing volume last season. Their 55 attempts barely outpaced the league-wide mean of 452.9. They were similarly balanced in the other two years of the Vic Fangio era. They finished within 11 carries of league average in both 2020 and 2019. It’s very possible that those things change this season with the hiring of new head coach Nathaniel Hackett and the acquisition of Russell Wilson at quarterback. 

Melvin Gordon re-signed with the Broncos before the NFL Draft. Yet people still draft Javonte Williams in dynasty as if Gordon isn’t on the team. Other than hopes and dreams, there’s no reason to expect him to not share carries with Gordon again in 2022. I’m selling at first round prices. Gordon is likely to have standalone value once again. And he’d be an elite handcuff in the event that Williams takes over a bellcow role. He is one of the best win-now trade targets as a legitimate fantasy contributor who can be had for dirt cheap.


2022 49ers Backfield Breakdown: Shanahanigans

by Noah Hills, May 11, 2022

The San Francisco 49ers finished No. 6 in the league in total rushing attempts last season. Their 499 carries were almost 50 more than the NFL average. Kyle Shanahan loves his running game. San Francisco has been a run-heavy team nearly every year of his tenure, regardless of personnel or in-game situation. We should expect that to continue going into 2022.

His current cost is palatable, but I’m still divesting out of Elijah Mitchell and taking cheap shots on Tyrion Davis-Price. Trey Sermon might not be dead either. The main thing is that nobody knows what’s happening in this backfield year-to-year, so treading carefully is the move.


2022 Packers Backfield Breakdown: Misaligned Planets

by Noah Hills, April 23, 2022

Last season, the Green Bay Packers finished No. 17 in the NFL with 446 rushing attempts. That marks their lowest finish in the Matt LaFleur era. Though at No. 12 in 2020 and No. 13 in 2019, they’ve been right around league average each season. If they’re a high-volume rushing team on the aggregate, that’s generally because they’ve made smart (read: pass-heavy) decisions on their way to gaining leads that they are then able to nurse with the run game. We should expect that trend to continue in 2022.

Overall, I’m not investing heavily in any Green Bay running back in dynasty right now. Jones is near the end of his run. Dillon remains in a Tony Pollard-like limbo as a startable asset with super-handcuff upside. One that may never see the planets align in a way that results in him being fully unleashed.


2022 Giants Backfield Breakdown: SadQuon Barkley

by Noah Hills, April 20, 2022

In 2021, the New York Giants finished No. 25 in the league in total rushing attempts. It’s the highest they’ve ranked in that category in the four years of the Saquon Barkley era. Daniel Jones is likely starting at quarterback in 2022. Meaning you could make reasonable arguments for the Giants being both below- or above-average in rushing attempts. This is one of those situations where we really won’t know until we know.

I’m staying far away from Saquon Barkley at his current price in dynasty. The Barkley believers are staunch and the Barkley believers are many, so it’s likely you’ll be able to find a trade partner willing to give you a palatable deal in exchange for a player they view as having elite upside. Don’t get caught holding the bag on an athleticism-reliant running back who may no longer have the athleticism necessary to be effective.


2022 Rams Backfield Breakdown: Ake(r)s and Pains

by Noah Hills, April 18, 2022

The Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams blazed up with 420 (No. 23) rushing attempts last season. That marked their lowest finish in the Sean McVay era. We should expect the Rams to have a relatively pass-focused attack once again in 2022. Given the quality of the offense overall, there are certainly fantasy points to be had in this backfield.

Cam Akers offers one of the most high risk-high reward profiles among players currently going in the top three rounds of startups. It’s either a total “that sign can’t stop me because I can’t read” display of ignorance or a complete big dick move to take him there. I’m not sure I’ve got the stones to do it. Conversely, I’m hopping all over the upside that Darrell Henderson carries in the 12th round.


2022 Bears Backfield Breakdown: David and Khaliath

by Noah Hills, April 16, 2022

The Chicago Bears ran the ball 475 times in 2021, finishing No. 11 in the league in total rushing attempts. Last season marks only the second time in the Matt Nagy era that Chicago was in the upper half of the NFL in rushing. Nagy is now out, and replacing him is the defensive-minded Matt Eberflus along with new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. This will be Getsy’s first stint leading an NFL offense. But he was on Matt LaFleur’s offensive staff in Green Bay for the past three years.

I’m not a huge fan of any Bears running backs at their current costs in dynasty. Khalil Herbert is a fine value. But as with most backs in the RB20-30 range, I’m likely opting for wide receiver over David Montgomery in startups. If I can move him to acquire Rashaad Penny plus pieces in a trade package, I’m doing it all day.


2022 Eagles Backfield Breakdown: Post-Hype Party

by Noah Hills, April 14, 2022

The Philadelphia Eagles were one of the highest-volume rushing teams in the NFL last season. They finished 97 carries above league average and only one short of the league-leading Tennessee Titans. Regardless of where the carries are coming from, the Eagles are one of the most run-heavy teams in the NFL and have plenty of opportunity to go around.

Miles Sanders is likely to become a post-hype sleeper following this season. I’ll be in at cost if interest is unexpectedly low during his impending free agency. Kenneth Gainwell has one more chance, and his prospect profile hints at tantalizing upside. He’s one of the highest-upside zero RB targets in 2022. It would not shock me if he just outplayed Sanders this season.


2022 Texans Backfield Breakdown: Marlon Macktually

by Noah Hills, April 12, 2022

The Houston Texans had a low-volume rushing attack in 2021, finishing No. 24 in the league in attempts. Their total of 420 was over 30 carries fewer than league average. It marked two consecutive seasons with carry totals near the bottom of the league (they ranked No. 31 in 2020). Houston is likely to be bad again next season, and we don’t have much to go off of to project how much they’d like to either run or throw the ball in an ideal world.

The Texans are going to be bad next season, but volume is the tail that wags the fantasy points dog. If Marlon Mack is healthy, he’s easily the best running back on this team. The other backs currently under contract are Rex Burkhead, Royce Freeman, Scottie Phillips, Dare Ogunbowale, and Darius Anderson. Still only 26, Mack could have one more RB2-level season left in the tank.