Fantasy football drafts are all about maximizing value at each spot, whether that means reaching for your guy or picking that stud who looks to be falling for no obvious reason. In this series, I’ve taken a look at groups of three players with similar current ADPs and have selected the one I’d be picking if it was me on the clock.
Which running back are you picking at the backend of the first round: Joe Mixon (1.10), Nick Chubb (1.11) or D’Andre Swift (1.12)?
My pick: Joe Mixon
On the surface this feels like a pretty close choice but when I considered both the previous output of these three players, plus their situations heading into 2022, I found Joe Mixon to be the easy selection. Using our in-house metrics, the three players had very similar years in terms of our NECC efficiency rating, with Mixon finishing as the RB10, Chubb the RB12 and Swift the RB14 which considering Mixon saw 35% more total touches than Chubb and 48% more than Swift is a great sign for 2022.
The Bengals offense finished with the 12th rated offense last season (per NEFF), with the rushing attacking coming in at No. 7. With the improvements made to the offensive line this offseason, I am projecting them to be the No. 4 offense in 2022, which only adds to Mixon’s potential. Mixon also continues to have little competition for touches heading into 2022, with Samaje Perine and Chris Evans in very much backup roles. I expect for Mixon to again see over 70% of the running back share (71% last season), including at least 50 targets. Mixon is my RB7 for 2022 and I have him going at 1.10 in 0.5PPR drafts.
Nick Chubb continues to be a beast of a runner and arguably the best overall runner in the NFL. Last season Chubb finished 3rd in rushing yards behind Jonathan Taylor and Joe Mixon with 1,201 yards, but also finished 2nd in yards after contact and yards per attempt after contact. You just can’t get Chubb down when he gets the ball in his hands.
The issues with Chubb remain twofold. His physical style does mean he’s susceptible to injury, missing 3 in 2021 and 4 in 2020. Then there’s what he offers (or doesn’t) in the passing game. Even with Kareem Hunt missing more than half the 2021 season, Chubb saw just 24 targets as the passing workload was shared evenly between the Cleveland running backs. Looking ahead to 2022, Chubb will continue to lead the Browns in rushing attempts and with the potential suspension coming for Deshaun Watson, the Browns will lean heavily on the run to start the season which gives Chubb an early season bump. If Watson does play in 2022, then we might see the offense go less run-heavy later in the season so Chubb’s workload may reduce slightly. He’s my RB9 for 2022 so not miles off Mixon but enough not to draft him at the end of the first round.
D’Andre Swift still feels like more of a potential than a reality after his first two seasons in the NFL. With games missed in both seasons, Swift has only accumulated just over 1,100 rushing yards, though he has added over 800 receiving yards, showing he is a dual threat and a player the Lions need on the field as a difference maker. The Lions’ offense ranked 23rd in my NEFF ratings in 2021, and based on what the team has done compared to teams around them, I have predicted them to drop a couple of spots this year.
Despite these limitations on what I think the Lions can do with Jared Goff at quarterback, I’ve bought into the potential with Swift as the focal point of their offense for 2022, ranking him as my RB10 with an overall draft position of 2.02. If I’m drafting late in round one, I’m more than happy to pair Mixon with Swift to headline my running back room in fantasy. At just 23, Swift has the potential for a breakout campaign in 2022, but keeping him healthy and on the field is the first step in realizing that potential.
Who would you pick if you were on the clock with Mixon, Chubb and Swift available?