2022 Fantasy Football Rankings Differences: Should we pump the brakes on Najee Harris?
ECR stands for “Expert Consensus Ranking,” which means the average ranks of the fantasy football industry and is typically similar to ADP (which differs from site-to-site). This will be an ongoing positional series highlighting some big differences between ECR and my own ranks.
One analyst goes against consensus rankings: QBs | RBs who should go higher | RBs who should go lower | WRs who should go higher | WRs who should go lower | TEs
Running Backs I like less than consensus
Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers (ECR = RB6 vs DDD = RB10)
Volume was huge for Harris’ impressive rookie campaign when he played a whopping 171 more snaps than the next closest RB. He ranked 48th in fantasy points per opportunity, somehow turning just four of his 307 carries into 20+ yards. And now Harris is projected to see a lesser workload in 2022.
While he admittedly had to deal with poor quarterback play last season, more of the same can be expected in Pittsburgh, as Mason Rudolph has reportedly outplayed both Mitch Trubisky and Kenny Pickett this summer. Trubisky is the heavy favorite to start (Pickett continues to look like a flat-out wasted draft pick), which is bad news for Harris’ involvement in the passing game, as David Montgomery saw his targets cut in half with Trubisky on the field (conversely, late-career Ben Roethlisberger was all about checking down).
Playing for a team with one of the worst offensive lines and quarterback situations in all of football and projected to see a lighter workload this season, Harris is unlikely to justify his lofty ADP.
Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans (ECR = RB4 vs DDD = RB7)
Henry is one of the most fun running backs to watch ever, but he’s a risky first-round fantasy pick at this stage of his career while coming off foot surgery that required metal plates and five screws. While he was dominating in fantasy last year before suffering the injury, Henry’s Broken Tackles plus Missed Tackles percentage (BMT%) had declined dramatically, although to be fair he’s always gotten better over the second half of seasons.
Still, this is a 28-year-old back coming off major surgery whose lack of work in the passing game could hurt more with the Titans likely to regress in a big way. Over the last three seasons, Henry’s PPR production has dropped 45% (10+ points per game!) during Tennessee losses, and the Titans are projected to be around .500 this season (their over/under is 9).
Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams (ECR = RB17 vs DDD = RB21)
As impressive as Akers’ early return from his Achilles tear was, he also looked like a shell of his former self while getting just 2.6 YPC over 67 rush attempts in the playoffs. While it’s entirely possible Akers returns in 2022 with more explosion further removed from the injury, history suggests this may just be the new him, unfortunately. Moreover, Rams running backs haven’t combined for better than a 12.5% target share (RB average is 19.0%) in any of the past three seasons, and a whopping 80% of the team’s touchdowns came via the pass last year.
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While Sean McVay has typically liked to use a feature back, the Rams have been splitting work with the starters evenly between Akers and Darrell Henderson this summer. Henderson has durability issues, but he also may be the team’s best running back.
Akers is a real risk being drafted as a borderline top-15 fantasy RB.
David Montgomery, Chicago Bears (ECR = RB18 vs DDD = RB27)
Montgomery plays for one of the lowest projected scoring offenses and has a teammate in Khalil Herbert who’s likely better than him. Chicago’s new coaching staff has no ties to Montgomery, who’s not the best fit for the team’s new outside zone-blocking scheme. In fact, Montgomery has even been seeing time on special teams this summer.
Having to overcome a rough situation running behind one of the league’s worst offensive lines in Chicago was bad enough, but Herbert appears to be the real deal and a budding star in the same backfield, making Montgomery an awfully shaky fantasy pick as a top-20 RB.
Antonio Gibson, Washington Commanders (ECR = RB22 vs DDD = RB26)
Gibson was one of fantasy’s biggest offseason losers when Washington re-signed J.D. McKissic and drafted Brian Robinson. McKissic figures to dominate passing downs (although new QB Carson Wentz rarely throws to his backs anyway), and the rookie Robinson has already been discussed to take over short-yardage and goal-line work (and Gibson's persistent fumbling issues won't help). That would leave the less valuable (TRAP) carries between the 20s on a team led by Wentz, who was one of the league’s worst quarterbacks last season and has continued to battle extreme accuracy issues this summer with Washington.
I’d rather gamble on Rashaad Penny or Devin Singletary instead.
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