- Top-five potential near the third round: Tony Pollard is set to deliver his best fantasy season yet. Currently being drafted as RB9, he’s one of the best bets to deliver above already high expectations.
- Value that is impossible to ignore: Injury history aside, Rashaad Penny has been very effective when healthy, and playing behind one of the best offensive lines in the league should only help him way outperform his RB40 ADP.
- Health is going to be key: Not just for Penny, but Javonte Williams‘ optimism around his chances to start the season healthy would be significant for his current value in drafts.
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
July officially kicks off fantasy football draft season, so that means there are some early trends in average draft position to take advantage of, whether it involves fading or targeting a player at their current ADP.
Using ESPN’s live draft trends, this list identifies five running backs that are currently getting drafted beyond where I have them ranked, so I make a case to target each player at their current ADP.
- ESPN ADP: 133.0
- ESPN Position ADP: RB40
- My rank: RB29
Injuries have plagued Penny’s career thus far, causing him to miss at least five games in every year that he’s been in the league, including 19 of his last 34 these past two regular seasons. As a result, drafters have clearly been avoiding Penny out of fear that he will continue to miss time, but at RB40 in the double-digit rounds of drafts, there may not be a better value, especially if he can get over a lot of the injury issues of year’s past.
Penny’s 2022 season was brief, appearing in just five games, but highlighted a lot of his upside as one of the most effective backs in the league during that span. Now, heading to a new team in Philadelphia, he projects to be the clear favorite to replace Miles Sanders, who finished as RB15 in PPR leagues last season, essentially as an early-down back with a non-existent receiving role. Sanders did accomplish this by staying healthy, of course, playing in all 17 games for the Eagles, but playing behind one of the best run-blocking offensive lines in the league allowed for a career year for the former Penn State product.
Penny will need to stay healthy to be worth grabbing three to four rounds earlier than his current ADP, but for those who are willing to risk it, he figures to be the best bet to outperform those expectations when he’s in the lineup, even without much of a receiving role. The risk, of course, is that he gets hurt again and misses significant time, but even for those not taking him as the 29th back off the board, the value is too great to pass up within the top-40 running backs drafted right now.
Rashaad Penny ranks among running backs with at least 50 carries last season:
|Yards per carry||6.1||1st|
|Yards after contact/attempt||4.23||1st|
|Explosive run rate||17.54%||2nd|
|Missed tackles forced/attempt||0.19||T-11th|