Israel Abanikanda
Jets Running Back Israel Abanikanda Primed for Bigger Role
2 months ago

With a lack of competition for touches behind Breece Hall, the second-year man out of Pittsburgh should see increased opportunities.

While the starting offense for the New York Jets looks promising on paper, depth continues to be a pressing issue — especially at the skill positions. At wide receiver, there is a lack of experience and talent behind Garrett Wilson and Mike Williams, with Xavier Gipson and Allen Lazard both coming off shaky 2023 campaigns. At running back, Breece Hall figures to be one of the league’s best, but if the former Iowa State standout goes down, the Jets are suddenly left with one of the worst rushing attacks in the NFL.


Although general manager Joe Douglas addressed pressing needs along the offensive line during free agency with the additions of Tyron Smith, Morgan Moses, and John Simpson, expect New York to select a running back with one of their draft choices in April. Behind Hall, the Jets’ depth chart is riddled with inexperienced and unproven options, including Izzy Abanikanda, Xazavian Valladay, and Jacques Patrick. Yikes!


Of that trio, Abanikanda figures to see an uptick in usage during the 2024 season. Coming off a largely underwhelming rookie season in which he registered 22 carries for 70 yards, Dalvin Cook’s departure should pave the way for Abanikanda to become the main backup to Hall, barring any further additions during the offseason. Valladay has zero career rushing attempts to his name, while Patrick has a mere two rushes for six yards.


In terms of fantasy outlook, Breece Hall figures to handle the bulk of the work after finishing 2023 with a 37-carry, 178-yard, one-touchdown performance against the New England Patriots. He figures to be drafted as a plug-and-play RB1 in 2024. As for the rest of the Jets’ backfield, their fantasy value is solely dependent on Hall’s health. Should New York’s starter go down for an extended period, Abanikanda would serve as a valuable handcuff, relegating Valladay and Patrick to gather dust on the waiver wire. If Hall remains healthy, Abanikanda can be best considered as a shot-in-the-dark late-round selection.