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Eagles get smooth start and ideal finish, Dolphins face brutal early gauntlet, and more

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The wait is over. After slowly trickling out matchup announcements over the past two weeks, the NFL released its entire 2022 regular-season schedule on Thursday night.

As with anything in the NFL, there were clear winners and losers in the schedule announcement.

2022 NFL schedule winners and losers

The road to Super Bowl 57 will be paved with twists and turns for several teams as they look to make their way to a Lombardi Trophy. As with every season, some teams made out better than others on the schedule.

Winners

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles start the season on the road but face one of the presumed worst teams in the league in the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. From there, they have a home opener against the wild card Minnesota Vikings and face the Washington Commanders (a Carson Wentz reunion special) on the road. Then, they will square off with the Jacksonville Jaguars at home and battle the Arizona Cardinals without DeAndre Hopkins on the road.

There’s a very strong chance that Nick Sirianni and company can start 4-2 or 5-1 in their first six matchups.

The Eagles also have the ability to close out strong. After three consecutive road matchups against the New York Giants, Chicago Bears, and Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia closes out with two home games, a battle against the New Orleans Saints, and a rematch with the Giants. The Eagles can improve their extra 2023 first-round pick against the Saints one week and potentially clinch the NFC East division title the next.

Cleveland Browns

While the possibility of a suspension still lingers for QB Deshaun Watson — due to his 22 civil suits stemming from accusations of sexual misconduct — the Browns are set up to succeed with or without their new franchise leader early on. Cleveland has drawn a fairly favorable early-season slate.

The Browns begin the campaign on the road against the seemingly directionless Carolina Panthers before hosting the New York Jets at home. From there, they host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday Night Football and travel to Atlanta to face the Falcons in Week 4. All four of those games are winnable, even with Jacoby Brissett at QB.

The Browns then close out the season against three middling squads. They will host the Saints in Week 16 before finishing up on the road against the Commanders and the Steelers.

Denver Broncos

Russell Wilson’s new squad will benefit early on from his presence. The Broncos face a relatively advantageous first-half schedule, and Wilson will get plenty of rest before a big Monday Night Football matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 6.

The Broncos will travel to face the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football in Week 1. From there, they’ll host the Houston Texans, San Francisco 49ers, and Indianapolis Colts. All three of those teams are in weird spots with their QBs, and the Colts matchup, which takes place on Thursday Night Football, will earn the Broncos a mini-bye week before their crucial game against the Chargers on MNF.

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Following the showdown with LA, the Broncos can coast into their bye week with matchups against the Jets at home and the Jaguars in London.

While their second-half slate ends with two contests against the Kansas City Chiefs (Week 14 and 17), a faceoff against the Los Angeles Rams (Week 16), and a rematch with the Chargers (Week 18), the schedule is set up for the Broncos to get off to a fast start and then build momentum down the stretch — if they are true contenders.

Losers

Miami Dolphins

Yikes! The Mike McDaniel era didn’t get a kind introduction from the schedule-makers. Miami will face off against the Patriots (home), Ravens (away), Bills (home), Jets (away) Bengals (away), Vikings (home), and Steelers (home) in the first seven games.

While the Dolphins are vastly improved, especially on offense, they start their climb against a buzzsaw of 2021 playoff teams and potential 2022 contenders in the first three weeks. Like the Dolphins, the Vikings and Steelers are going through transition phases, so those games could be toss-ups.

The Dolphins also have a brutal December. They’ll face back-to-back road games out west against the 49ers (Week 13) and Chargers (Week 14) before traveling to Buffalo to face the Bills (Week 15) in a rematch. Then, they’ll need to host the Green Bay Packers in Week 16.

New York Jets

Like the AFC East rival Dolphins, the Jets have a murderer’s row setup to start the season. To begin the campaign, they face the gauntlet of the Ravens (home), Browns (away), Bengals (home), Steelers (away), Dolphins (home), Packers (away), Broncos (away), Patriots (home), and Bills (home) before their Week 10 bye. Every single one of those teams is expected to battle for a playoff spot this year.

Zach Wilson will have his hands full with weekly defensive nightmares and shootout challenges. While the Jets, like the Dolphins, are significantly improved on paper, this schedule projects to be a terrible early draw for Gang Green.

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons aren’t expected to contend for a playoff berth this year, but their schedule adds another level of difficulty to their outlook. Presumed to have one of the worst rosters in the league, they are set to face nothing but bumps in the road to start Year 2 of the Arthur Smith era.

In Week 1, they’ll face off against the Saints at home, and while that might not seem like a daunting task, New Orleans is still significantly better — on paper — than the Falcons. From there, they face back-to-back West Coast battles against the Rams and Seahawks. After that two-week excursion, the Falcons will host the Browns — with or without Watson — who have a strong roster built around the QB spot.

Then, the Falcons will travel to Tampa Bay to face the Buccaneers and host the 49ers in Atlanta. They’ll then go back on the road to face the Bengals before hosting the Panthers and Chargers. Realistically, the first eight weeks of the season could lead to a 1-7 or 2-6 start for the franchise.

The Falcons also close out the season against four likely playoff contenders. They’ll face the Saints and Ravens back-to-back on the road before hosting the Cardinals and Buccaneers to close out the season. Hopefully, Arthur Blank has low expectations this year and craves the No. 1 overall pick.

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Should you trade up for Kenneth Walker III?

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We are in the middle of the rookie draft season when it comes to dynasty fantasy football. As more data becomes available and the further we get away from the 2022 NFL Draft, the more reliable ADP becomes. As we then head into our own drafts, we can see where the value is and where we might need to trade up to grab the desired target. Let’s take a look through a 2022 fantasy football rookie mock draft based on current ADP.

In this mock draft, we are going to do things slightly different. Rather than me telling you who I would pick, we’ll lay out the consensus rookie mock ADP from Sleeper right now according to the data collected by Twitter user Adeiko_FF. We will then look at what this means in terms of how you should approach drafts in the coming days.

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The ADP data is from 60 rookie mocks that have been done in the last week. All 60 are 12-team leagues with a mixture of scoring settings in terms of TE premium.

1.01) Breece Hall, New York Jets (RB1)

At this point, it really seems like the only way you are getting Breece Hall in a rookie draft is if you have the first pick. There is a 5% chance that Hall slides to pick 2, but around 95% of the time he’s being taken first overall.

With uncertainty over the rest of the running back room, this presents an opportunity if you hold the first pick. Hall’s value may never be higher relatively than it is right now. Therefore, if you are loaded at RB, why not shop this pick and see what offers you get. A9 desperate owner may very well offer up a solid packet with more safety and equal amounts of upside.

1.02) Kenneth Walker III, Seattle Seahawks (RB2)

The second pick is where it gets interesting. Unsurprisingly, Kenneth Walker III is currently only being selected with the first pick in 0.4% of drafts. Therefore, Walker’s virtually a lock to be there with the second pick. After that, it drops to 55.7% availability with the third pick and 28.8% with the fourth.

With this in mind, if you’re picking outside the top four, you’re likely going to have to trade up to get Walker. In terms of whether you should, now that’s where I’m high on Walker.

The opportunity presented to the young RB in a run-heavy Seahawks offense with no clear QB1 is immense. Combine that with the injury uncertainty for Chris Carson and the injury-proneness of Rashaad Penny, and Walker could easily be the RB1 of this class when we look back in the next few years.

1.03) Drake London, Atlanta Falcons (WR1)

After Hall, Drake London is tied with Kenny Pickett as the next most likely player to be selected first overall. Even so, it’s only happening in just 1.6% of leagues. There is a 74% chance London will be available at No. 3 overall and as high as 20% when we get to pick 5.

London is definitely an intriguing option from a volume perspective. He has the opportunity to establish himself as the main receiver but will have Kyle Pitts and Cordarrelle Patterson hogging up targets. The uncertainty of Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder is a concern. Nevertheless, the Falcons should be chasing a lot of games in the next year or two, so if you need a receiver to hit the ground running, London could be that option.

1.04) Treylon Burks, Tennessee Titans (WR2)

After the Titans essentially swapped A.J. Brown for Treylon Burks, it’s no surprise to see the former-Arkansas receiver with an ADP of fourth overall. Burks makes it beyond this pick just 50% of the time and is selected fourth overall in 25% of drafts.

Burks is another player who should command a high percentage of targets. However, the Titans are generally a run-first team, and in the short term, that hurts his upside. Additionally, the Titans are expected to be competitive this year. Thus, we could see them leading a lot, which could further hurt Burks’ opportunities. Burks may not be the best short-term pick, but looking longer term, his ceiling is certainly worth his current ADP.

1.05) Garrett Wilson, New York Jets (WR3)

In contrast to Burks, Garrett Wilson landed in a prime spot for his short-term dynasty value. Sure the Jets took Hall in the second round, but we have no idea what their run game will look like behind that line. Additionally, the Jets are expected to be chasing games a lot. Wilson has more competition for targets, but there should be more targets to go around.

That is why he is essentially seeing a similar ADP pattern to Burks. Wilson is available with the fourth pick 78% of the time and with the fifth pick 58% of the time. That then drops nearly 30% to pick 6, indicating a clear tier ending. Therefore, if you want to get Wilson’s upside, you’ll likely have to trade into the top five.

1.06) Jameson Williams, Detroit Lions (WR4)

Jameson Williams has the potential to be the steal of rookie drafts, especially in the short term. Take all the positives we’ve said about the guys above and you have them all in Williams. He should command a decent share of targets, and the Lions could be chasing a lot.

Williams also has the home-run hitting speed that could see him put up some exciting long-range touchdowns which are gold for fantasy managers. Available more than 80% of the time with the sixth pick, if you need a receiver, sitting at six and taking Williams is the smart move.

1.07) Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Steelers (QB1)

The intricacies of superflex have given Kenny Pickett a strange ADP profile. He is essentially picked periodically throughout the first round, and it can be tough to predict. A lot will depend on the quarterback situations in your league.

If you have a player picking early who desperately needs a QB, expect Pickett to go early. If that’s not the case, he’s available as much as 25% of the time with the ninth pick in drafts.

1.08) Chris Olave, New Orleans Saints (WR5)

If the QB situation in New Orleans was better, you could imagine Chris Olave being up alongside his former Ohio State teammate in ADP. Still, he does have an opportunity in what is a largely second-rate receiving group outside of Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry.  However, there is uncertainty surrounding both of them. If they cannot get back to their old ways, then Olave could establish himself as the WR1.

1.09) Skyy Moore, Kansas City Chiefs (WR6)

Judging what to do with Skyy Moore is tough, and it reflects in his ADP profile. There is a clear ADP drop-off from Olave to Moore with Moore being selected just 10% of the time in the top seven selections. The problem is that the opportunity in Kansas City looks perfect, but we’ve seen players struggle to make the most of that opportunity consistently.

Moore seems like a huge gamble with the ninth pick, but it also reflects the uncertainty that there is after the top eight. Moore is a swing-for-the-fences type pick, and the guy going behind him might be the better player for that.

1.10) Christian Watson, Green Bay Packers (WR7)

There is a lot of expectation on Christian Watson. Anyone expected to be catching passes from Aaron Rodgers gets that expectation. However, being on the board 80% of the time with the ninth pick shows that the hype has not gone overboard for Watson. He has the talent and opportunity to be an intriguing value here.

1.11) James Cook, Buffalo Bills (RB3)

Do not get sucked in by the name when reading this fantasy rookie mock draft. While James Cook is the brother of Dalvin Cook, they are very different backs. They are also in very different situations in terms of who is around them. The Bills have a high-octane passing offense, and Josh Allen plays as essentially a goal-line back outside of his QB duties.

The ceiling for Cook is extremely limited. That reflects in the fact that he is available with the last pick of the first round in 50% of rookie drafts. At this point, gambling on an RB is never a mistake, but going any earlier in the first should be avoided.

1.12) George Pickens, Pittsburgh Steelers (WR8)

Whenever the Steelers draft a wide receiver, there will always be excitement. That was no different with George Pickens, who has all the tools to have success in the NFL but comes with plenty of question marks. Immediately, the QB situation is a concern that needs to be considered. Pickens’ short-term value feels capped by that, but talent-wise, there is certainly the potential for incredible value here.



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Where do Kyle Pitts, Darren Waller, and Dalton Schultz rank?

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The 2022 TE fantasy football rankings have a very similar feeling after a somewhat sleepy offseason for the position. With only one significant tight end change during the early part of the offseason, all eyes were on the 2022 NFL Draft. However, an underwhelming class meant there has not been much change heading towards 2022. Let’s take a look at the consensus TE fantasy football rankings from PFN fantasy analysts Tommy Garrett and Jason Katz.

The one big trade that really shook up the position was Noah Fant heading to the Seahawks as part of the Russell Wilson trade. That move impacted only Fant’s rank but also gave Albert Okwuegbunam a boost in the rankings. The one domino we are still waiting to see fall is Rob Gronkowski. Currently a free agent, the expectation is that Gronkowski will head back to Tampa Bay in 2022.

Has Okwuegbunam cracked the top 10, and where does Fant fall? What value does Gronkowski hold with his status still up in the air? What about the rookies — do any of them sit in a draftable range, or will we have to wait and see if they can develop into valuable fantasy assets?

1-12

1. Travis Kelce | Kansas City Chiefs
2. Mark Andrews | Baltimore Ravens
3. Kyle Pitts | Atlanta Falcons
4. George Kittle | San Francisco 49ers
5. Darren Waller | Las Vegas Raiders
6. Dalton Schultz | Dallas Cowboys
7. T.J. Hockenson | Detroit Lions
8. Dallas Goedert | Philadelphia Eagles
9. Zach Ertz | Arizona Cardinals
10. Dawson Knox | Buffalo Bills
11. Albert Okwuegbunam | Denver Broncos
12. Rob Gronkowski | Free Agent

13. Pat Freiermuth | Pittsburgh Steelers
14. Mike Gesicki | Miami Dolphins
15. Cole Kmet | Chicago Bears
16. David Njoku | Cleveland Browns
17. Noah Fant | Seattle Seahawks
18. Logan Thomas | Washington Commanders
19. Hunter Henry | New England Patriots
20. Gerald Everett | Los Angeles Chargers
21. Robert Tonyan | Green Bay Packers
22. Tyler Higbee | Los Angeles Rams
23. Evan Engram | Jacksonville Jaguars
24. Austin Hooper | Tennessee Titans

25-36

25. Irv Smith | Minnesota Vikings
26. Hayden Hurst | Cincinnati Bengals
27. Dan Arnold | Jacksonville Jaguars
28. Brevin Jordan | Houston Texans
29. C.J. Uzomah | New York Jets
30. Adam Trautman | New Orleans Saints
31. Jelani Woods | Indianapolis Colts
32. Jonnu Smith | New England Patriots
33. Mo Alie-Cox | Indianapolis Colts
34. Jared Cook | Los Angeles Chargers
35. Tyler Conklin | New York Jets
36. Trey McBride | Arizona Cardinals



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Which rookie RBs could you draft for best ball in 2022?

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As NFL fans brace themselves for the slow months of the offseason, best ball drafts featuring some of the top rookies are taking place by eager fantasy football managers. With the NFL Draft not long ago and rookie minicamps taking place, which 2022 NFL rookie running backs could be valuable during your fantasy football best ball draft?

Which rookie RBs could you draft for best ball in 2022?

The 2023 rookie class of running backs is quite a step down from some of the recent classes. Add in some unfavorable landing spots along the way, and it becomes challenging to find rookie running backs who significantly impact your best ball team in 2022.

However, that is not to say they do not exist. Given how the format favors upside rather than weekly consistency, there are some rookie running backs sliding in drafts that could prove to be worthwhile picks when on the clock in your 2022 best ball draft.

Breece Hall, New York Jets

Let’s start this off with a more obvious name. The RB1 in the vast majority of rankings, both fantasy and NFL, Breece Hall was the first RB selected in the 2022 NFL Draft, coming off the board at No. 36 to the New York Jets.

Hall instantly comes in and dethrones Michael Carter off the No. 1 spot on the depth chart despite Carter playing very well as a rookie last season. With that said, everything Carter can do, Hall can do just as well, if not better. Although this will be a touch on the committee side, Hall carries 250+ touch upside as Carter absorbs the work of both Tevin Coleman and Ty Johnson. Hall is closer to a back-end RB2 given the landing spot, but of the 2022 rookie class, he has the best chance to be an impact player for your best ball lineup.

Kenneth Walker III, Seattle Seahawks

From a pure rushing standpoint, Kenneth Walker III is the best of the class. Following a breakout performance at Michigan State, the 2021 Walter Camp and Doak Walker Award winner came off the board at No. 41 to the Seattle Seahawks.

Walker is in an intriguing spot. For one, this is not the Russell Wilson-led Seahawks we have grown accustomed to. It is the Drew Lock show. Add in the subpar roster, and Seattle’s offense lessens Walker’s upside in 2022. Also, who is the RB1? Is it Walker or Rashaad Penny?

Healthy for the first time seemingly since 2018, Penny went on a tear at the end of the 2021 season, rushing for over 130 yards in four of the final five games, finishing as the RB1 in fantasy over this stretch (19.6 PPR/game). Penny did receive a one-year contract in the offseason to keep him around, but injuries are a concern.

Not to mention Chris Carson is still in town. Once one of the most underrated backs in the league and fantasy, Carson’s season-ending neck injury is a massive concern. How much work will he receive this season? More than likely, an injury or two will reset this backfield. Based on the track record of Penny and Carson, Walker could find himself in a 16+ touches-per-game role if either/both are unable to suit up.

James Cook, Buffalo Bills

Truth be told, I was not high on James Cook heading into the NFL Draft. His game film at Georgia is impressive in some areas, but he is not the complete back like some want to make him out to be. If not for his last name, I can’t help but wonder if those comparisons to Dalvin Cook would still be mentioned.

However, draft capital must be factored in as well as the landing spot. It’s hard to beat second-round draft capital (No. 63) and be on the Super Bowl favorite Buffalo Bills. Cook is by far the best pass-catching RB of this class. Not only can he come out of the backfield, but time and time again, we saw Cook out wide, running a stop-and-go or a comeback to beat the corner or nickel who rotated during the pre-snap motion.

He is another weapon for Josh Allen to utilize. The downside of this landing spot is the RB roles are split between two, maybe even three players. Devin Singletary is still the No. 1 and will be handing most of the two-down carries plus some receiving work. Cook projects to be a passing-down focused RB, which is great for PPR, but he will struggle for reliable goal-to-go carries. Singletary will be involved, as will Duke Johnson Jr. and even Zack Moss. Not to mention Allen is always a threat to keep it himself.

If I take a shot on Cook in a redraft format in 2022, best ball is where I want to do it. The format helps mitigate the weekly risk of relying on Cook’s utilization and potentially low floor. If an injury were to happen to Singletary, Cook will be the RB1 of arguably the NFL’s top offense. At worst, he is Allen’s checkdown weapon. Likely an RB4 in 2022, there is a path for RB2 upside for Cook. That alone makes Cook a rookie running back I want to take a shot on for best ball leagues in 2022.

Dameon Pierce, Houston Texans

I know, a Houston Texans running back. However, I would not be so quick to dismiss the landing spot as the opportunity sitting in front of Dameon Pierce is one of the best for any rookie RB in 2022.

After using a plethora of backs last season, Pierce has a shot to be the starting running back out of the gates. I feel Marlon Mack likely has the nod, but Pierce should be in the conversation. The only reason Pierce fell in the draft (pick No. 107) is that Florida, for some reason, opted to hardly use him. It certainly is not due to talent, as Pierce is a bowling ball with extreme contact balance and enough speed to break one loose. Pierce is currently being selected as the RB41 in best ball drafts, 12 spots ahead of Mack.

Tyler Allgeier, Atlanta Falcons

Along with Houston, the Atlanta Falcons were a team with a rather vacant opening for the RB1 position. Sure, Cordarrelle Patterson is coming off a breakout season, but they need someone else in the backfield. Especially someone who can be a two-down back and get those tough yards.

Luckily for them, Tyler Allgeier can do just that. A bruising running back, Allgeier appears to be in line for the No. 1 spot, especially after the team released Mike Davis. Patterson is one of the few weapons on this offense, making the selection of Allgeier critical as it keeps Patterson’s role flexible for head coach Arthur Smith.

Allgeier likely takes a hit in PPR formats given his profile, but if he surprises us, there is a path to targets, as Davis was 11th in targets for the position in 2022 (58).

While I doubt Allgeier brings a ton of weekly upside given the state of the Falcons, his RB45 ADP makes him a worthy mid-round addition to a running back room.

Tyrion Davis-Price, San Francisco 49ers

Was I in love with Tyrion Davis-Price’s game film? Not really. He was a solid rusher at LSU, but I wouldn’t say he blew me away. Apparently, he impressed the 49ers’ front office as they surprised many by selecting Davis-Price with the No. 93 overall pick.

This is a pure best ball upside pick. I love Elijah Mitchell and especially his workload, as he recorded 16+ carries in nine of 11 games last season. What I don’t love is the number of times he missed games due to smaller injuries. For the first time, Kyle Shanahan ran a primarily one-back scheme. After watching Mitchell go down a few times too many, does he do it again in 2022?

Davis-Price is right in the mix with Jeff Wilson Jr. for the No. 2 job in what has proven to be a value backfield to target for fantasy. I certainly wouldn’t be holding my breath waiting for Trey Sermon to emerge. I’ll take a few chances with Davis-Price as a rookie running back worth drafting in best ball in 2022.

Keaontay Ingram, Arizona Cardinals

Keaontay Ingram struggled to get much done at Texas, opting to transfer to USC for one last season. I’d say it worked out as we saw a different back in 2021. The 6’0″ and 221-pound RB rushed totaled over 1,000 yards in his final year. He then showed his speed at the NFL Combine, running a 4.53 40-yard dash which is solid for someone of his size.

Although he went in the fifth round, there is upside here. James Conner is coming off a sensational season in which he scored 18 touchdowns as the RB5. With Chase Edmonds out of town, Conner is the unquestioned workhorse RB in Arizona. But can he stay healthy the whole season? Injuries have been a concern for Conner, especially when workloads increase. He has the size to handle it, just not the track record.

Behind Conner is Eno Benjamin, a seventh-rounder from 2020. But with 41 career opportunities, if anything were to happen to Conner, would they turn to Benjamin? He lacks the size of either Conner or Ingram at 5’9″ and 207 pounds. We likely see a similar game plan to last season, with either Conner or Ingram the rusher and Benjamin in the “Edmonds” role. Based on the injury history of Conner, lack of proven depth, and a high-powered offense, keep a close eye on Ingram, who is currently coming off the board past pick 200 in best ball drafts.

Isaiah Spiller, Los Angeles Chargers

It seems like bashing Isaiah Spiller is the popular thing to do, saying he is not that good of a running back. I’ll tell you right now, you are not going to hear that out of me. From a pure film standpoint, he is one of the best in this class. Footwork, vision, contact balance, receiving upside, it’s all there. The only thing lacking is the home-run speed, but if you watched his film at Texas A&M, you knew this already.

Sure, his 4.64 40-yard dash was on the slow end, but contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to run a 4.3 to play in the NFL. Spiller will not have breakaway plays, but he will have a role. Being the RB2 for the Los Angeles Chargers is a pretty darn good role. He is stuck behind Austin Ekeler, but as a complementary back, Spiller is set to succeed in one of the best situations and behind one of the best OLs in football.

Rachaad White, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Rachaad White was my first running back draft crush of this class. Everything about his game I love. Everything except for his contact balance as a guy his size (6’0″ and 214 pounds) goes down on soft contact far too often.

However, he brings a dynamic skill set with a second gear that pulls away once he sees daylight and has proven pass-catching ability. Leonard Fournette is unquestionably the top dog in Tampa, especially after signing a three-year extension in the offseason. The No. 2 is up for grabs following Ronald Jones’ departure for Kansas City. He’ll compete on Day 1 with Ke’Shawn Vaughn for the primary backup role, as Giovani Bernard is likely to remain the third-down/two-minute drill back.

White’s RB43 current ADP might be a touch higher than I would like to pay, but if looking for a potential rookie RB steal, White might very well be your guy in 2022 fantasy best ball drafts.



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