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A fantasy draft is all about obtaining the most value with each selection. There is value available throughout a draft, and grabbing it is one of the most important keys to a successful fantasy team. In an attempt to point out this value, we asked our staff to look through the Top 150 and identify players that should outperform their draft position.
Here are the players who received the most votes:
And here are all of the players mentioned and the reasons why.
Players Receiving 6 Votes
Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas
Gary Davenport: Yes, Elliott's per-touch effectiveness has waned the past couple of years—his 58.9 rushing yards per game last season was a career-low. But even in that "down" year, Elliott still topped 1,000 yards on the ground, scored double-digit rushing touchdowns and finished as a top-10 PPR fantasy option. There have been calls from pundits and fans alike to give Tony Pollard a bigger share of the workload in Dallas, but to date, there has been no indication that the Cowboys are actually going to do it. Elliott is also healthy this year after playing much of the 2021 campaign on a partially torn PCL, and Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy has raved about his conditioning.
Andy Hicks: Ezekiel Elliott finished as the 6th-ranked fantasy back in 2021. This was considered disappointing. One of the few big-name backs to play all 17 games, Elliott played through niggling injuries and had five games with ten or fewer carries. Tony Pollard is likely to play more receiver routes. With improvement in the offensive line expected, a fully fit Elliott could, for once in his career, be viewed as undervalued.
Chad Parsons: Elliott has been a top-15 fantasy running back every season, including in 2021 when playing through an injury for a chunk of the season. Leading the ground game for one of the better offenses in the NFL, Elliott has an all-time profile for production through his early years and his draft cost has waned into the double-digits of the position. Elliott is one of the easy value plays of the position.
Matt Waldman: The tendency to overrate Tony Pollard for his athletic ability and highlight-reel moments against defenses focused elsewhere sets the stage for us to underrated Elliott's ability to earn hard yards against defenses playing to stop him. Pollard is a good back who could deliver top production with high volume, but the idea he's better than Elliott is rooted in the misguided notion mentioned above. Elliott is still in his prime years, physically. He may not have top-three upside but he still has a top-15 floor, overall. Safe and productive and closer to top-five value than most think.
Christian Williams: Ezekiel Elliott played through injury in 2021, and that's important. Despite that, his overall RB7 finish was on par with his career marks. In fact, most of his counting and efficiency stats were on par with his career marks (his 10 touchdowns were the third-highest mark in his career). Reports of full health have flooded in this summer, and fully healthy Ezekiel Elliott will a) get volume and b) prove to be one of the better running backs in the NFL. He still possesses top-five upside for fantasy, as Amari Cooper's departure should see him earn a target share more in line with his career averages. That type of upside is hard to find after the first ten running backs are off the board, and the table is set for Ezekiel Elliott to have a massive bounce-back year.
Jason Wood: Some would have you believe Elliott fell off the cliff last year, but he finished as the No. 6-ranked fantasy tailback. While his per-touch efficiency is on a four-year decline, he was coming from such a high level it really doesn't matter, particularly at his discounted ADP. Those expecting Tony Pollard to grab a larger share are basing that more on hope than evidence. Elliott is being paid to be the franchise cornerstone, and more importantly, Jerry Jones still wants Elliott to be the offensive engine. Until Jerry gives up on Elliott, he's sure to continue amassing carries and every red zone opportunity the Cowboys can muster.
Elijah Mitchell, San Francisco
Sigmund Bloom: He's the clear entrenched starter. Third-round pick Ty Davis-Price doesn't scare me, although he could get a spot start or two based on Mitchell's accumulated nicks and bumps last year as the starter. The rushing offense could get even more efficient with Trey Lance forcing defenses to play 11 on 11. Mitchell should be going at least 1-2 rounds earlier.
James Brimacombe: Mitchell only played in 11 games in his rookie season and still nearly broke the 1,000 rushing yards as he finished with 963. His name wasn't even in the conversation as a fantasy asset when the season started last year, and he proved everyone wrong and, in the end, was one of the league-winner type of players. His ADP is not reflecting a player that is young and has the potential to do it again on a team that is focused on running the ball.
Kevin Coleman: In the 11 games Mitchell played last season, he had 207 carries for 963 yards and five touchdowns. He also proved to be a workhorse, having at least 17 carriers in nine games. In weeks eight and twelve, he carried the ball 27 times and would finish as RB8 and RB3 in those respective weeks. Mitchell also ranked 7th in the NFL in total touches per game with 20.5 last season. He showed that he could carry the volume needed to be a viable RB2 option in fantasy with the potential to be a weekly top twelve back.
Jeff Haseley: There may be some early uncertainty surrounding the 49ers' lead running back this year, but I'm here to tell you that won't be the case. Mitchell is the lead back and it all stems from his speed. He is the fastest running back on the roster and Kyle Shanahan loves to utilize players who have speed. He had nine games with 17+ carries last year. In those nine games, he scored at least one touchdown in six of them. Mitchell is the guy you want in the 49ers backfield and he is an excellent RB2 or RB3 who can produce consistent results.
Justin Howe: Many are downplaying Mitchell's fantasy pedigree as he enters Year 2, and it makes some degree of sense. Coach Kyle Shanahan has long been a proponent of full, diverse backfields, and he added another mildly intriguing mid-round runner in this year's draft. But there's no denying that, down the 2021 stretch, Shanahan put all his eggs into Mitchell's basket, and that the rookie responded quite well. Over the team's final 8 games (playoffs included), Mitchell averaged 24 touches and 98 yards from scrimmage. Armed with game-breaking speed and more instinct/fundamentals than advertised, Mitchell has the look of an all-around RB1 for Shanahan - something he didn't have often when building his reputation for mix-and-match committees. Mitchell should be gifted the clear RB1 role in 2022, and in a talented Shanahan offense, that always carries fantasy RB1 upside. And that sturdy late-2021 volume should make us all feel better about his week-to-week floor. Simply put, there's no reason for Mitchell to slip into the fifth round of any fantasy draft.
Christian Williams: Elijah Mitchell quietly had the most productive fantasy season on a per-game basis since Kyle Shanahan's first year as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. His 18 carries per game put him on par with Najee Harris (2nd in the league in carries). And Mitchell's rushing productivity outpaced the aforementioned Harris. Concerns over goal-line work are legitimate, as the 49ers invested another high pick in a between-the-tackles running back in the NFL Draft and will have a more mobile quarterback at the helm in 2022, but Kyle Shanahan has already shown his hand on which running back will carry the load. Elijah Mitchell should be a viable, high-end RB2 on a weekly basis.
Players Receiving 4 Votes
Breece Hall, NY Jets
Jeff Bell: Hall is the last back with true potential to ascend into the top five overall at the position this year. With excellent athleticism combined with a polished game, he is one preseason play and subsequent hype train away from rocketing up the board. Michael Carter will still see work, a factor depressing his price, but the reality is most every back outside of Najee Harris could project to some level of a timeshare. Grab the discount now because it will not hold.
James Brimacombe: The Jets went all-in on the offense and Zach Wilson this offseason with the moves they made in the draft. Breece Hall was the biggest move in round 2, as he has a college resume that is impressive and should translate to the NFL level. He might be in for a committee approach to start out with Michael Carter but I don't see that lasting too long as Hall has the potential to be a game-changer for the Jets.
Jeff Haseley: People will shy away from Hall due to Michael Carter's presence on the team, but don't let that deter you from being bullish on the young back who can do it all. His talent scores are off the charts and his production should follow suit. A 50-60 catch season with an additional 1,000 yards rushing is a distinct possibility. His place in the top 10 will be determined based on his ability to score touchdowns. He scored 23 touchdowns in 12 games in each of the last two years at Iowa State. He has the tools to be elite and a nose for the end zone to top it off.
Sam Wagman: Hall was drafted to be the team's workhorse running back and I expect him to assume that position directly from the start. He is the most athletically polished running back to come out of college in some time with a near-perfect Relative Athletic Score and while he'll cede some passing-down work to Michael Carter early in the season, he should be able to assume that role down the stretch as he is a sufficient pass catcher and can do his part in the pass protection scheme as well. The Jets have the rushing scheme to make him a successful back.
Kareem Hunt, Cleveland
Drew Davenport: Hunt is always going to take a backseat to Nick Chubb in Cleveland. Yet despite Hunt's role with the Browns he always manages to have fantasy value beyond what is usually expected from a running back playing less than 50% of the snaps most weeks. At this point in his Browns tenure, Hunt is actually a fairly predictable fantasy running back. He's going to have some frustrating weeks where he doesn't play enough, but in most weeks he will get a shot at a touchdown, catch some passes, or get some late carries in a win. The combination of ways he can score points makes him a valuable fantasy producer that isn't flashy making him available in drafts well past where he should be.
Zareh Kantzabedian: Kareem Hunt's future with the Browns remains limbo as contract negotiations continue. Regardless of where he ends up, he should not be overlooked. Hunt has primarily served as the pass-catching back on the Browns for the past two years but has also proved to be one of the better pure rushers in the league during his time on the Kansas City Chiefs. Yes, he is older, but he is versatile. That versatility has helped running backs slow the aging process and allow for PPR fantasy production up to age 30.
Jonathan Morris: Hunt was only able to fully play in six games last year due to injuries. In those six games, he was RB11 despite only seeing about 35% of carries due to Nick Chubb commanding the majority of the workload. If you can look past the number of snaps Hunt receives, you will see a running back with elite efficiency. Along with that, he has enough activity in the passing game to warrant grabbing him in your draft as a reliable RB2. If he is healthy, he is as consistent as they come. If something does happen with Nick Chubb, Hunt's value immediately skyrockets to RB1 territory. He's a safe floor, high reward bargain for me at his current ADP.
Matt Waldman: I could see the Browns trading Hunt to a team that needs a starter and that team wants the first shot to re-sign him after the season. This would increase Hunt's value immediately. Presently, Hunt has solid RB2 value with elite RB1 upside based on his current split with Nick Chubb behind a top OL and the potential for Hunt to be the lead back due to a Chubb injury. Many underrate Hunt's high ceiling, role, and supporting talent because they are overvaluing upside in the early rounds from lesser talents without the supporting talent and/or role.
Cordarrelle Patterson, Atlanta
Anthony Amico: The arrival of Tyler Allgeier may cost Patterson some short-yardage work, but it also probably puts him in an ideal hybrid role for this team. The Falcons lack depth at pass-catcher behind Kyle Pitts and Drake London, meaning Patterson could finish third on this team in targets in addition to being heavily in the rushing mix. He has real RB1 upside if this happens.
Jeff Haseley: People will tend to overlook Patterson due to his age (31), but he has only 320 career carries, averaging 5.1 yards per tote. That's fewer than almost any other fantasy back in the league. To make things more appealing, he was drafted as a first-round wide receiver talent. He has the tools to be the ultimate weapon and Atlanta has figured out how to best utilize him. Don't be afraid of Tyler Allgeier or Damien Williams. Patterson is the guy they want and the one they will utilize. He was a fantasy weapon last year and this year will be no different.
Matt Waldman: I'm not expecting Tyler Allgeier to be a factor and Damien Williams essentially fits the Mike Davis role. It leaves Patterson the opportunity to repeat what he did for Atlanta this year and if I were the opposing defensive coordinator, I'd let Marcus Mariota check the ball to Patterson all day. Considering the receiving corps, look for opponents to focus on Kyle Pitts, and get pressure on Mariota behind a weak OL unit. This will lead to game scripts where Patterson is leading the dink-and-dunk parade as a receiver.
Jason Wood: Patterson was an improbable fantasy star in his first season with the Falcons. The gadget player had finished 70th or worse in seven of eight seasons before last year's star turn in Arthur Smith's offense. Patterson morphed into a two-way lynchpin and finished as the 12th-ranked fantasy running back. While many wondered if he would be a one-year wonder, the Falcons jettisoned Mike Davis this offseason and only added rookie Tyler Allgeier in the fifth round out of BYU. While Allgeier has good size (5-foot-11, 220 pounds), he's a plodder without the pedigree or draft capital to credibly threaten an established veteran who was one of only two bright spots on the field last year.
Players Receiving 3 Votes
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