- RB Rankings
- Week 1 provides a unique situation with rankings, as we enter the season blind on the usage for many players and offenses. Leonard Fournette and James Conner are two players that I am higher on than consensus due to the safety that they will provide this week. Both players are paired with good quarterbacks and have previously established roles that we can count on right out of the gate in 2022. Compare that safety to Saquon Barkley, for example. We assume that he will be heavily utilized in this new Giants offense, but we also have no idea if this Brian Daboll-led offense will be any good. A matchup in Tennessee provides a tough opening test, as the Titans gave up the second-fewest rushing yards in the league last year while holding running backs in check in the passing game as well. While there are certainly reasons to be down on the Titans compared to last year, a home matchup against the rebuilding Giants may allow them to delay the decline for at least one week. Will Barkley look like an elite fantasy option in the first game of this new Giants offense? I’m skeptical, and our rankings tool shows the higher floor for Conner which confirms my beliefs.
- Elijah Mitchell gets a boost up my rankings in a matchup against the Bears that profiles as a run-heavy affair. Chicago faces a tough San Francisco defense, which should keep the score low and allow the 49ers to ease in Trey Lance with a run-heavy game plan. The Bears’ defense gave up the seventh-most rushing yards last year and is a roster in flux, setting this up well for a comfortable 49ers win, even on the road. With Trey Sermon and JaMycal Hasty off the roster, the backups behind Mitchell lack experience, other than Jeff Wilson Jr. Kyle Shanahan showed a lot of trust in Mitchell last year, who just returned to practice on Sunday and looks ready to roll in Week 1. Mitchell is a clear RB2 in positive matchups like this one until Shanahan gives us a reason to believe otherwise.
- Cam Akers is a tough Week 1 start against a Bills defense that allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to the running back position last year. Akers has missed some time in camp and could be set to share work with Darrel Henderson Jr. as they ease into the season, so this could be more of a committee than it might appear at first glance. Compare Akers to AJ Dillon, who is also in a committee but draws a better matchup against the Vikings, and it’s easy to start knocking Akers down this list this week. The Vikings allowed the eighth most rushing yards last year and are now without defensive guru Mike Zimmer, setting up both Packers running backs well for an early spike week.
- Miles Sanders appears to be healthy (for now) and draws a high-upside matchup against a Lions defense that allowed the fourth most fantasy points to opposing running backs in 2021. With an excellent offensive line, Sanders is in a great spot in Week 1, and I trust his role over players like Breece Hall and James Cook, who I am high on for the season as a whole, but whose roles still need to be determined.
- For as much as we all love Dameon Pierce grabbing the starting role in Houston, his opening week matchup is less than ideal. The Colts were one of the five toughest defenses to score fantasy points against last year, and they will be heavy favorites in Week 1. Until we see just how much of a committee this backfield will be, and if Pierce will have any role in the passing game or not, he’s just too risky to start in the opener as a heavy underdog.
Green=Strong Starter, Yellow=Solid Starter, Red=Look for Better Options