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I recently published an article titled “RB3s with RB1 Upside”, but in this article, we will dive a little deeper than RB3s. Most of the running backs on this list will go undrafted in most standard-size redraft leagues, but all three have value in some way and could provide you with some decent production as a late-round-flyer.
Khalil Herbert (RB – CHI)
David Montgomery is a solid running back and is currently being drafted as the RB16 in early redraft mocks. He is sandwiched between James Conner and Ezekiel Elliott in FantasyPros’ recent ECR — and that’s probably where he should be going. However, sitting behind Montgomery on the depth chart, Khalil Herbert might be the better of the two running backs.
In a small sample size in 2021, Herbert had a higher yards-per-carry average (4.2 vs. 3.7), a higher yards-after-contact average (2.67 vs. 2.56) and a higher missed-tackles-forced percentage on a per-carry basis (19% vs. 15%) per FTNFantasy.com. Herbert also ranked significantly higher in his elusive rating with a 59.4 rating — suitable for 14th best in the league — compared to Montgomery’s 36.4 rating, which ranked him 44th, behind guys like Latavius Murray and Ronald Jones.
Metrics aside, the Bears are in a transitional period with a second-year quarterback under center and an entirely new coaching staff in 2022. In addition, in the last year of his rookie deal, David Montgomery may not be part of the Bears’ long-term plan, meaning the Bears may want to see what they have in the cheaper Khalil Herbert. I can see a scenario in which both Herbert and Montgomery split carries. While Montgomery will get the larger piece of the pie, Herbert’s much lower average draft position (ADP) makes him a tremendous value if that happens.
My final point on Herbert is the possibility of injury. No one wishes for injuries, but the fact is, running backs get hurt and Herbert is the clear replacement for Montgomery should something happen. Behind Herbert on the depth chart is third-year RB Darrynton Evans — who has barely seen the field in his career, sixth-round rookie Trestan Ebner and an undrafted free agent rookie De’Montre Tuggle. Not exactly stiff competition.
Marlon Mack (RB – HOU)
Mack is currently the RB55 in FantasyPros’ ECR, but there is a good chance he could end up as the starter in Houston. The running back position in Houston hasn’t had much fantasy value in recent years, but grabbing a potential starting running back with the 164th spot (basically undrafted), is worth a shot.
Mack only appeared in six games in 2021 and almost missed all of the 2020 season, so the last time Mack played any meaningful snaps was in 2019. In that 2019 season, Mack had 247 carries, 1,091 yards, and eight touchdowns, averaging 4.4 yards per carry. That’s not exactly world-beating numbers, but still respectable and well worth a shot at his ADP.
Mack isn’t a lock to land the starting job, but according to some beat reporters in Houston, Mack has the upper hand. His competition isn’t much to look at with the oft-injured Rex Burkhead, journeyman Royce Freeman and rookie Dameon Pierce all in the mix. Mack doesn’t have the upside as some of the other names in this article, but if he wins the job, he will have a solid floor.
Tyrion Davis-Price (RB – SF)
If you follow me at all, you know my love affair with Elijah Mitchell. I was drafting him everywhere last year, long before he stepped onto the field. But the 49ers have this fascinating trend. Over the previous four seasons, the “cheapest” 49ers’ running back in pre-season ADP has ended the season as the running back with the most fantasy points. I don’t expect that trend to continue because I still love Elijah Mitchell. However, the 49ers have been known to use a committee, and there is a chance they lessen Mitchell’s workload to keep him healthy — something he struggled with last season.
The biggest draw for TDP is as a handcuff to Mitchell. I believe the 49ers brought him in to be the No. 2 running back, and if Mitchell were to go down, I think it’s TDP who gets the carries — not Trey Sermon, Jeff Wilson or JaMycal Hasty. He would only be someone to add if you are in a deep league or if you drafted Mitchell, but he has RB2 upside if he were to fill in for Mitchell at any point this season.
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