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2022 NFL fantasy football: Three RBs who could be draft steals

Sportsnaut logo Sportsnaut 8/16/2022 Jason Burgos, Sportsnaut
Seattle Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker III. © Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports Seattle Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker III.

If you’re looking for a fantasy football draft steal to make your RB2-spot boom instead of bust, you will have a couple of strong sleeper options on the Buffalo Bills, Seattle Seahawks and Houston Texans.

For fantasy sports owners in deep leagues, finding that "needle in a haystack" player is of utmost importance. The RB2 spot in fantasy football leagues has become the epitome of the search for a diamond in the rough. As NFL offenses continue to base their attack through the air, the running back position continues to lose its value, and the infrastructure to develop the next great back is not what it once was.

But never fear, fantasy sports owners. We have you covered with a few players you may want to keep on your draft boards when the time comes to reach for a player with high upside who could transform your squads from pretenders into contenders. Here are three RBs who could be fantasy football draft steals in 2022.

Kenneth Walker III, Seattle Seahawks

Kenneth Walker III was taken by the Seattle Seahawks with the 41st pick overall in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft. He played three seasons but transferred from Wake Forrest to Michigan State for his junior year. Once he moved to East Lansing, he went from a solid back to a budding star after rushing for 1,636 yards and a ridiculous 18 touchdowns.

On Tuesday, ESPN Seahawks beat writer Brady Henderson explained why Walker III is likely to earn a lot of opportunities with incumbent Seahawks starter Rashaad Penny not being the most reliable every down back for a team expected to run a lot.

“Walker is going to be a bigger part of Seattle’s backfield than people may realize. I could see the Seahawks giving him about as much of the load as Penny, even when both are healthy. Remember, Penny has carried the ball 20-plus times in a game only twice in his career. That’s, in part, because he’s missed so many games due to injury, but also because he’s just not built to handle a Derrick Henry/Marshawn Lynch-like workload. The Seahawks are going to run the ball a lot and they’re not just going to rely on Penny to do it.”

Zack Moss, Buffalo Bills

Zach Moss is entering his third season in Buffalo and needed to show he could be a fixture in the backfield long-term. His stats declined in 2021 from his rookie year in 2020. However, he's been stellar in training camp and has set himself up to possibly split carries in the backfield of the Bills’ high-powered offense. As per The Athletic’s Bills beat writer Joe Buscaglia:

“The Bills kept Moss’ appearance in [their preseason opener] short and sweet. He was in for the first six snaps, took a short rest, then returned for three snaps just before the end of the first quarter. His play confirmed everything he’s done through spring workouts and the early part of training camp.

“Moss ripped off a 27-yard run, cutting and changing directions to the other side of the field. Coach Sean McDermott said the running back was impressive in the running and passing game. Moss has only strengthened his case to be game-day active and possibly even have a share in the rushing attempts this season.”

Dameon Pierce, Houston Texans

Like Walker III, Dameon Pierce is a rookie who could make an impact on his team’s backfield in 2022. But unlike Walker III and Moss, Pierce could end up being the Houston Texans' RB1 at some point early this season. ESPN Texans beat writer DJ Bien-Aime claims the Florida Gators talent has too much explosiveness and upside to not eventually take the starting spot away from Marlon Mack.

“By the first month of the season, Pierce could take over the starting job. Former Colt Marlon Mack has the most production of the group, which also features Rex Burkhead, but Pierce has the most explosiveness, and it’s only a matter of time until Texans offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton makes Pierce the lead back.”

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