Forecasting 2022 NFL Rookie RB Success: 3-Year Model

May 16, 2022
Forecasting 2022 NFL Rookie RB Success: 3-Year Model

The 2022 NFL Draft is now in the books, giving us dozens of new offensive players to consider for our fantasy teams. In this article, I will discuss some of the value picks available at running backs in rookie drafts.

Our friends over at Dynasty League Football (DLF) have already compiled some post-draft rookie ADP, and, as expected, Breece Hall is not only the top running back off the board but also the top pick overall. While I would personally take a wide receiver before him, Harris scores incredibly well in all of my models and has a good chance to become a workhorse back, so I would not argue with anyone who views him as the top prospect in this draft.

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Below, we will look at some of the running backs you can get later in the draft but still have a reasonable chance to turn into productive assets for your dynasty team.

Forecasting Running Back Success

As in the past three seasons, I estimate the odds of each player putting up a top-24 season within the first three years of their career by using a combination of three analytical models. The first is a standard statistical model (built using logistic regression), the second is a more sophisticated machine learning model and the third is a newer statistical model that projects using different criteria depending on each player's categorization as a passing, big, or lighter running back. The odds reported below take an average of the individual predictions of the three models.

Last season, the model did a great job of identifying Javonte Williams and Michael Carter as undervalued players. That said, these rankings should not be used as the sole basis for ranking players. In particular, I combine them with other information such as John Paulsen's estimation of the player's opportunity at their landing spot in order to rank them into tiers and then look for the options that seem most undervalued where they are being drafted.

This season, rookie ADP seems unusually accurate. It puts the top six running backs into the same order (and tiers) as do these models. This season, we will need to look later in rookie drafts to identify potential values. Below are the ones that stand out to me (the full table of rankings appears at the bottom of the page).

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