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Overhyped Sleepers for 2022 Fantasy Football Drafts - Stop that Hype Train on Rashaad Penny

Rashaad Penny - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

Every season, there are players that are overhyped and underhyped based on public sentiment. In this article, I'll highlight one of those polarizing players that took the league by storm during the last few weeks of the 2021 season. That would be Rashaad Penny.

Believe it or not, Penny ranked as the overall RB2 for a five-game stretch between Weeks 14 and 18 a season ago. His 22 fantasy points per game (PPG) were second to only James Conner (23.3 PPG). While an incredible accomplishment after years of disappointment, can Penny keep this up in 2022 without Russell Wilson at the helm in Seattle?

With a current ADP of RB29, Penny seems like a really good value considering what he accomplished during a five-game stretch in 2021. However, I'm here to stop that hype train! Let's dive into all of the reasons Penny is an overhyped sleeper in 2022.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received five total writing awards and 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, tops in the industry! Congrats to all the award winners and nominees including Best NFL Series, MLB Series, NBA Writer, PGA Writer and Player Notes writer of the year. Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!

 

Rashaad Penny's Career To-Date

Penny was a former first-round draft pick in 2018 out of San Diego State. Surprisingly, he played 14 games as a rookie. However, he saw just a 22.6% snap share and 23% opportunity share playing second fiddle to starting running back Chris Carson.

For the next three seasons, Penny battled numerous injuries. He appeared in just 23 of a possible 49 games. However, whenever he was healthy enough to play, he flashed the skill set that made him a first-round pick four years ago.

And with Carson's neck injury in 2021, a fully-healthy Penny finally got his opportunity starting in Week 13.

Penny rushed for 135+ yards in four of his last five games in 2021. He also found paydirt six times on 15 red zone rush attempts. Despite catching just 6-of-8 total targets, he was still the overall RB2 in fantasy football between Weeks 14 and 18. But were these performances a fluke, and will they carry over into the 2022 season?

 

Was the Latter Part of the 2021 Season a Fluke?

Penny was really good at the back end of the 2021 season. There's not really any doubting that fact. He averaged a ridiculous 7.3 yards per carry in his last five games.

On the season, he led all running backs in yards per touch (6.4) and breakaway run rate (12.6%). He was also second in yards created per touch (3.83), per PlayerProfiler.

So yes, on paper Penny was great in 2021, especially late in the season as the starter. But let's take a closer look. Check out how the Seahawks fared between Weeks 14 and 18:

Take a look at the top-three scoring weeks. In Weeks 14, 17, and 18, Seattle scored a whopping 38 points, winning two of those games.

Subsequently, Penny put up 28.1 PPR fantasy points in those three games. And remember, that was with Russell Wilson as the starting quarterback. This season, it's going to be some combination of Geno Smith and Drew Lock.

In fact, most Sports Books have set the Seahawks' projected win total at just 5.5 games this season. Moreover, their projected point total sits at just 18.5 points at home in Week 1 vs. the Denver Broncos.

Penny's two worst games as a starter last season came in losses against the Rams and the Bears, in which Seattle averaged just 17 points per game. His snap share in those two games was just 48% compared to 65% in the two wins and the close loss against Arizona when they put up 30 points.

So while it likely wasn't a fluke that Penny was so good given his opportunities, it's quite easy to see how a negative game script or matchup against a tougher opponent could mean far fewer opportunities for the fifth-year back in 2022.

 

Will the Opportunity be there for Rashaad Penny in 2022?

Now that we know Penny is a good running back, let's take a look and see if the opportunity will be there for him to repeat in 2022.

Chris Carson recently announced his retirement due to a neck issue, so he's no longer there to compete for touches. However, Seattle spent a second-round draft pick on Kenneth Walker III out of Michigan State. Recently, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll even said he was comfortable with the rookie as a three-down back:

And there is another very important nugget of information from Seahawks beat writer Brady Henderson. Penny, who's missed over 50% of his team's games the last four seasons, is already dealing with groin tightness. Henderson also goes on to state that Walker "is going to play a ton this season."

Now, let's talk about Penny's opportunity as a pass-catcher...

That was a bit of a trick, as Penny's role as a pass-catcher has proven to be non-existent throughout his career. He's been targeted just 31 times (catching just 23 balls) in 37 games. Even in the games he played over 40% of the snaps, Penny has run just 11 routes per game (per PlayerProfiler).

The Seahawks seem more than comfortable with both Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas operating on passing downs, which could happen quite often in the second half of games this season. Remember, the Seahawks have a projected win total of just 5.5 games this season. They're likely going to be playing from behind regularly.

So to recap, we've got a "starting" running back with a current groin injury, that's competing with a healthy second-round rookie, that doesn't have a role in the passing game, and that's playing on a team projected to win just 5-6 games this season. There are entirely too many ways Penny doesn't see enough opportunity in 2022.

But who should we target instead?

 

Players to Target Instead of Rashaad Penny in 2022

Penny has a current ADP of RB30 in PPR leagues. Players being drafted around him include Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Miles Sanders, Devin Singletary, Damien Harris, Kareem Hunt, Tony Pollard, Chase Edmonds, Melvin Gordon, Rhamondre Stevenson, Cordarrelle Patterson, James Cook, Darrell Henderson, and Nyheim Hines.

Again, it's preferable, especially in PPR leagues, to target guys that catch passes. If you're not going to target pass-catching backs, make sure you're targeting guys in good offenses. Of the players mentioned above, almost every single one of them fits the mold.

Sure, the Seahawks could surprise everyone and win 10 games this season, but the chances of that happening are slim to none. As a result, we really shouldn't feel confident about drafting Rashaad Penny in 2022. Even at his RB30 ADP, there's just too much risk and not enough upside. Stop that hype train!



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