Welcome back fantasy fanatics. Everyone loves a good underdog story. Anyone remember the mere 6th round pick that made a big impact on their team (and hopefully your fantasy roster) immediately in 2021? That would be no other than Elijah Mitchell of the San Francisco 49ers. Nobody expected this player to soar the way he did after incumbent starter Raheem Mostert went down for the year after the 49er’s 1st game of 2021. If you were lucky enough to grab Mitchell off waivers, or even luckier for grabbing him at draft night over previously popular breakout candidate Trey Sermon; I am sure your lineup depth was surely envious. Sure, he sat some games for injury (what RB doesn’t nowadays) but getting that kind of production at the end of your draft or on waivers cannot be more valuable to your success as a manager. Today, we will look at a few names who can either be great insurance policies for injury or players who could impress throughout camp/preseason so much, that they run away with the job outright. Keep these guys in mind toward the end of your drafts to either handcuff your starters, or (even better) emerge as stars at the position.
Brian Robinson, Washington Commanders: Sometimes being reliable and available is better than being dynamic and butterfingered. Incumbent RB Antonio Gibson still sits on top of the depth chart, but don’t be surprised if Brian Robinson takes some work away (or the job altogether) from him along the way. The big back from Alabama has shown to punish opposing bodies and find the endzone early in his career. Meanwhile, Gibson is getting stuffed in the backfield routinely during practices and his lone preseason game while putting the ball on the ground deep in his own team’s territory to boot. I am not personally big on Gibson as a result, and he is still relatively new to the position, so Washington could exercise patience. Thing is, we know Football is a results business and we have seen the best of them get benched if their counterpart is producing. Handcuff Gibson with this man if you go this route during your draft, but be mindful JD McKissic still exists and will take the majority of passing game work.
Tyler Allgeier, Atlanta Falcons: Yes, the Falcons are terrible, BUT they are also building their foundation for the future. Could Allgeier be one of those guys? We know Cordarrelle Patterson was arguably one of the best waiver additions of 2021, but we also know he is reaching the end of his career and wore down big time at the end of the season. If Head Coach Arthur Smith wants to pound between the tackles, he should be giving the powerful rookie a long look especially since they invested a draft pick on him. Allgeier also progressively improved as a pass catcher each year at BYU, so don’t count him out in the passing game. Make sure you are locking this guy in at the end of your drafts, especially if you take Patterson beforehand.
Khalil Herbert, Chicago Bears: Yes, even a backup to a well-known producer should be highlighted here. Chicago has a new regime in town, and David Montgomery has not been engaged in extension talks. Add in his injury history along with his increased use on special teams during camp, and there might be a timeshare brewing here. Herbert impressed greatly filling in for the injured Montgomery last season and is a better fit for the zone blocking scheme they are implementing in Chicago. As long as Herbert remains productive when he touches the ball, we could be seeing him eat into the starting gig this year with the team’s intent to prepare him for the full-time job in 2023.
Zamir White, Las Vegas Raiders: Just like some of the other RBs we have already addressed, we have White impressing in Raider’s camp. His 75 total yards in the Hall of Fame game put the running back room on notice. With current starting RB Brandon Jacobs being a healthy scratch for the 2nd preseason game along with no contract in hand, we might be seeing a changing of the guard here as well. Sure, we they have Kenyan Drake as well, but we know it will likely be for more passing work than anything else. White was chosen by leadership for a reason after all and could just as easily trade Jacobs midseason. Make sure to lock this player up if you are looking for a jolt, especially if you chose Jacobs earlier on.
Dameon Pierce, Houston Texans: Last, but not least we have the former Gator who is now a Texan. He has solid competition in Bruiser Marlon Mack, but we haven’t seen him do extended work since his Achilles tear when he was a Colt. Incumbent Rex Burkhead is on the wrong side of 30 and mostly known for his pass catching chops. Pierce has the size to hit the holes with authority and improved his pass catching ability each year at Florida, so he has the capacity to serve the 3 down role. At worst, he could split carries with Mack, but at best he could take the job himself if Mack looks diminished. The Texans drafted him for a reason (id imagine), so keep an eye on this name to wrap up your draft.