Bust Proof Running Backs in 2022 Fantasy Football
What does it mean to be a bust proof player in fantasy football? Well, to define that we have to know what a bust is. General speaking, I’d define a bust as someone who finishes the season 10+ spots behind their average draft position. That would mean that if they were ranked as the RB14 coming into the season and finish the year as the RB26. Bust proof running backs are seen as not having any likelihood to do that.
Bust proof players have a floor high enough that even in the worst case scenario they should be able to finish at their current ADP. Which makes them undervalued players at their current ADP and with the best fantasy football draft strategy you’ll be adding them to your team in 2022. Let’s take a look at a few players that fit that description heading into this season.
AJ Dillon (RB) – Green Bay Packers
Current ADP: 6.09 (RB28)
The now third year running back is coming off a 2021 season where he finished as the RB23 in total fantasy points. But somehow, after establishing himself in the offense last season after Jamaal Williams departure, Dillon is being drafted as the RB28. Despite finishing as the RB14 in the last 9 games of 2021. In that span Aaron Jones only missed 2 games, so he’s proven he can produce despite competition.
At his current average draft position Dillon is a must draft running back in fantasy football as he is bust proof at his current price. Davante Adams departure leaves a massive hole in the offense, especially inside the red zone. Adams had 11 red zone touchdowns, 7 of those being in the end zone, last season. That leaves some of the most valuable touches in fantasy football up for grabs.
Despite not earning a consistent snap share until week 8 of last season, Dillon out-touched Jones in the red zone. His 41 red zone carries ranked 10th at the position. He profiles as the much better red zone/inside the 5 option at his size and stature, he proved it last year ranking 7th in yards after contact at 2.8 yards.
Aaron Jones pass catching ability is well documented and his success in that department without Adams is impressive. He averages 7+ targets a game without Adams in the lineup. But Dillon is no slouch, he added 34 receptions last year for 313 yards, good for 9.2 YPR, almost two yards more than Jones. Why should we expect a 27 year-old Jones to see the highest touch count of his career when Dillon sticks out as the better option?
This isn’t to say Jones won’t be a valuable fantasy asset in 2022 but Dillon is the clear bust proof option. In a high scoring offense that lost it’s best weapon this off-season, Dillon is surely going to take a number of those touches. I can safely see Dillon getting 250 touches this season, combine that with his edge to earn valuable red zone touches and he’s top-20 in my running back rankings.
Kareem Hunt (RB) – Cleveland Browns
ADP: 6.06 (RB30)
When looking for a bust proof player it doesn’t have to be someone that will surpass their ADP. Sometimes it’s nice to know you have a running back that can provide you with a safe floor and expectation every week. Kareem Hunt can undoubtedly be that guy as the RB30 off the board this season. He’s coming off an injury riddled 2021 but when drafting in fantasy football I don’t avoid players based on injury history, it’s about their health heading into that season.
Despite playing in just 8 games last season, Hunt racked up 560 total yards and 5 touchdowns. He was actually the RB21 in fantasy points per game in PPR leagues. In 2020 he was able to put up 11 touchdowns as the backup to Nick Chubb. He doesn’t need to be the primary back to return value in fantasy football.
Whatever amount of time Deshaun Watson ends up missing will result in heavy usage of the Browns running backs. Hunt plays a crucial role on third down as a change of pace option. If Watson plays this season, that’s still of benefit to Hunt as the Browns lack receiving depth beyond Amari Cooper. In a full season, it’s safe to expect between 40-50 receptions.
Hunt’s upside exists solely as a handcuff, he won’t be able to surpass Chubb as the RB1 in the offense. But he can put up 13.8 fantasy points per game, like he did in 2021, as the second option. If you’re taking the hero RB approach or just looking for a safe, high floor option at the position he fits the bill.
Chase Edmonds (RB) – Miami Dolphins
ADP: 8.01 (RB34)\
Edmonds is a player that I’ve yet to make my mind up on this season, I think we will have more information to work with once training camp opens. He’s been discussed on our fantasy football show as a must avoid running back, I’m skeptical about that being the case. The concerns fantasy managers have about him is baked into his ADP right now, he’s going relatively late.
The biggest issue for Edmonds is whether or not he can be efficient in short yardage situations and more specifically the red zone. James Conner took all that work from him in 2021. For good reason too as Conner turned 18 inside the 5-yard line carries into 10 TDs while Edmonds turned 5 of those same touches into 1 TD.
Last season Edmonds was the RB28 in fantasy points per game, despite only scoring 2 touchdowns! He was efficient as a runner, averaging 5.1 yards per carry and added 43 receptions. What really intrigues me is Mike McDaniel, the former 49ers OC, stepping as head coach. The 49ers were one of the most run heavy teams in the NFL and he singled out Edmonds as a free agent acquisition.
Former SF run-game coordinator and OC Mike McDaniel is now the Dolphins HC.
Per @SportsInfo_SIS, the 49ers used zone blocking 282 times last season, 6th-most in the NFL.
Chase Edmonds on zone blocking last season (50+ carries)
EPA per play: 1st
Yards Per Attempt: 5.8 (1st)
— Connor Allen (@ConnorAllenNFL) June 13, 2022
There is competition for those valuable red zone carries, specifically Sony Michel and Raheem Mostert. But Edmonds was a better runner in 2021 then people give him credit for. He was 11th at the position in breakaway run rate at 6.0%, even with those explosive plays he ranked 9th in true yards per carry at 4.7 yards. True yards per carry removes runs of 10+ yards, painting a better picture on what to expect from a down-to-down basis.
The implied risk with Edmonds is already baked into his ADP. His competition, either hasn’t been able to stay healthy or hasn’t been efficient. He can be the RB34 with his pass catching upside alone. I don’t see a scenario where a healthy Chase Edmonds doesn’t meet his current draft position.
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