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Will Rashaad Penny Be A Fantasy Football And NFL Starter in 2022?

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

Recently, fantasy football players have been discussing a topic where they might not get what they want next season. An article from The Athletic pointed out that the Seahawks may bring both Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny back for the 2022 campaign.

That is certainly not what fantasy players want to hear after Penny looked like a fantasy RB1 to finish the 2021 season. But the analysis on why Penny could be used in a time share cannot be dismissed.

Michael-Shawn Dugar is a standout reporter who is very well respected. Knowing how the Seahawks have historically viewed Carson and Penny, it won’t be surprising to see both of them on the roster next season, which would significantly cut into Penny’s fantasy appeal.

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Fantasy Players Not Happy With Rashaad Penny Reports

As the story from Dugar continues to build some momentum on social media even well after it was posted, fantasy players are reacting with frustration. We all know the story of Penny’s 2021 season by now, in which he looked like arguably the best running back in the league from Weeks 14 to 18. He rushed for 135-plus yards four times with six rushing TDs during that span.

Penny finally stayed healthy for a stretch where Carson was out and took full advantage of the opportunity to be the clear feature back. The Seahawks wanted to give him another chance to spark the running game, because their other options besides Carson were unlikely to boost the outlook. Plus, the team could once again evaluate Penny heading into an offseason where he is a free agent.

Penny obviously busted out and fantasy players are wondering if he will return to Seattle and get a chance to build on his tremendous success from late in the 2021 season. Penny has always displayed open-field explosiveness when healthy. He was an even more of a complete runner for much of the five games to finish last year. Penny was more physical, too, as Adrian Peterson reportedly coached him up to improve in that regard.

Penny helped many fantasy leaguers win championships in 2021, and they want to see him get an opportunity to build on what he displayed late last season. But published reports have indicated otherwise. The Seahawks still have Carson under contract, and they still like what he can provide when available.


Sticking With a Dual Backfield?

In December of 2018, I covered the Seahawks home game against the 49ers and witnessed just how Carson and Penny were intended to be utilized. Carson banged his way to 69 yards, and Penny rushed for 65 yards and scored on a 20-yard rushing TD. Afterwards in the locker room, both RBs confirmed to me that the aim was to batter the opposition with Carson’s physical style, while Penny operated effectively on the perimeter.

“I feed off of him,” Penny said. “He’ll get the defense tired and then all I have to do is run by them.”

Having two good RBs sharing carries, Carson said, further burdened the defense.

“You can’t prepare for just one back,” he said. “When one guy gets tired, the next guy goes in and you don’t lose a beat.”

The vision for the Seahawks running game was clear that day when both Carson and Penny performed well in an easy win. They wanted to utilize both RBs to overwork opponents with their distinctive styles, while keeping both players fresh. But Penny’s extensive injury battles over the past four years often prevented him from either threatening Carson’s workload when he was available or showing what he was more capable of when Carson was out. Consider this excerpt from Dugar on The Athletic.

Carson remained healthy the remainder of the 2018 season. He suffered a cracked hip in Week 16 of the 2019 season, but Penny was already on injured reserve with a torn ACL suffered a few weeks earlier. Carson missed Weeks 8 to 11 of the 2020 season, but Penny was still nursing that knee injury. Carson hurt his neck in Week 4 of this season, but Penny was once again on injured reserve, this time with a calf injury. How could Seattle evaluate Penny’s potential as a lead back if whenever the original lead back was injured, Penny was, too?”

Finally, late in the 2021 season, Pete Carroll gave Penny another chance to display his potential, and was rewarded. Now the Seahawks are reportedly considering keeping Carson while re-signing Penny. It is likely they are revisiting their earlier vision of having an outstanding pair of RBs to hammer defenses with. Also, if one gets injured, the other could clearly function as a very effective lead RB.

But Carson missed 13 games in 2021 and four the year before. Penny has missed 20 games over the past two seasons. We can obviously see that bringing back both Carson and Penny could again lead to situations we have seen in recent seasons, where Seattle had to bring Marshawn Lynch back and turn to DeeJay Dallas as a starter. The Seahawks need assurances that they can field a consistent running game if they want to at least get back into playoff contention in 2022.


The True Outlook For Rashaad Penny In 2022?

Penny has said that he is naturally more effective when he gets regular work, yet he has also stated he wants to remain in Seattle. There are no current indicators that the Seahawks will move on from Carson, although they did let him test free agency last offseason before bringing him back.

Penny could surely get the chance to start elsewhere if he decides to take an offer with another team. Fantasy players would much prefer that scenario, or one where Seattle decides to move forward with Penny over Carson. Given Penny’s injury history, the Seahawks could replace Carson with a younger or more durable RB to serve as insurance for any more Penny health issues.

Carson has played near a fantasy RB1 level very frequently when available and is an admirable and versatile starter when he is on the field. But the Seahawks could be courting danger by bringing back two RBs that have not been able to consistently stay healthy. What the team is indicating publicly and what they are considering in-house could be different narratives.

For now, the story of the 2022 Seahawks RB situation still seems to be a developing one. Even if both Carson and Penny return next year, one could go down at any time, pushing the other into a featured role again. But it’s not unrealistic to see Penny sign elsewhere. He would not be a pure “backup” in Seattle, yet he could certainly land a starting job on another team.

From fantasy perspectives it is risky to trade for Penny right now in dynasty or keeper leagues with his 2022 role so uncertain. In early Best Ball drafts, he should be taken as a upside RB3 type. For seasonal purposes, we can wait and see how the situation plays out without overreacting to it early. We have more to learn about the immediate future of the top two Seattle RBs in the weeks and months ahead.

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