The evolution of the NFL into a football league has made the bell cow running back somewhat like a fictional football unicorn in recent years.
Stars like Jonathan Taylor and Derrick Henry still have championship-winning pride, but without a top-five pick in your draft it’s hard to draft one of those stars, which could land you an RB1 out of a heaps not so much – great options.
That leaves you with two options: pull a so-so running back while passing on other game-changing talents or, preferably, shock the world by nabbing an impact sleeper in the later rounds. Here are three particularly intriguing names that fit as great late-round picks to help you round out your championship-winning team.
Coming into his sophomore season, Rhamondre Stevenson has a ton of desirable attributes based on value alone. An explosive rusher, Stevenson can pound an opposing defense with the best of them. His 2.7 yards per carry last year ranked fourth in the league in a cohort with Pro-Bowl level stars like Jonathan Taylor and Nick Chubb.
Stevenson’s hands are also an exciting part of his game, as he ranked second among Patriots running backs in 2021 in yards per target behind the departed Brandon Bolden. The ingredients clearly seem to be there for a breakout year skill-wise.
However, what takes Stevenson’s view to the next level is the context and system he projects to be a part of. With James White gone, the Patriots’ backfield is wide open, with its only real competition for touches coming from Damien Harris.
Since Stephenson has worked with the first team in a pass-rushing role during camp, the only question is whether there will be enough rushing opportunities for Stevenson to be a standalone value piece.
The 24-year-old has upside in the event of an injury to Harris, and with the continued development of McJones and the Pats’ pass rush, Ramondre Stevenson suddenly becomes a tempting high-ceiling bet. upcoming draft.
Chase Edmonds, Miami Dolphins
Right now, Chase Edmonds has an ADP of RB34, which is frankly ridiculous on many levels. The former Arizona Cardinal moves to a Dolphins team with plenty of incoming talent and a situation that could deliver a successful season.
For starters, despite the Dolphins adding plenty of bodies to their backcourt, no one had the payday that Edmond received. The fifth fullback was the first player signed anyone during free agency, indicating the Dolphins specifically targeted his services and will look to him in part to solve the club’s futile 30th-ranked offense from last season.
Additionally, the addition of Mike McDaniel as Miami’s new head coach further underscores the importance Miami’s running game will play this year.
Coming from the 49ers, McDaniels is known for producing high-quality rushing attacks, including Deebo Samuel’s outstanding 2021 campaign that McDaniels helped mastermind. That incoming “McDaniels effect” could affect other notable backs for the Dolphins, which makes other backfield additions like Raheem Mostert and Sony Michel worth a flier, but it’s Edmonds and his perch at the top of the map depths that make him remarkable. the sleeper goes into the 2022 season.
Rachaad White, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Rachaad White is the most volatile pick of these three players, especially since the gap between him and his competition is the most significant.
Leonard Fournette is again likely to be a starter in the Bucs offense given his outstanding season with Tampa Bay last year that saw him have similar target/catch numbers to last year’s RB2 Austin Ekeler. The pair ranked second and third respectively in receptions among RBs last year, with Ekeler just edging out Fournette. Needless to say, Fournette is obviously the no-hesitation guy and not a guy that should fade given the system he’s in.
What’s interesting about White, though, is the kind of numbers he could put up if something were to happen to Fournette on the injury front.
The rookie out of Arizona State was quite the skilled pass rusher himself out of the backfield for the Sun Devils, racking up 43 catches and an explosive 10.6 yards per catch on his receptions. Clearly, White has the tools to make things happen on the versatility front, and there isn’t much in the competition behind him that looks ready to challenge if an opportunity presents itself.
All of these circumstances surrounding White, a high upside pass rusher who could play a big role on an elite team, make the 23-year-old rookie the expensive insurance swing worth grabbing in the late rounds of your draft.
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