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Jets' RB2 Could Be Highly-Rewarding Fantasy Pick

Gang Green's running back developments are worth monitoring

Whoever wins the job should be in line for a higher-than-usual volume of reps.

The New York Jets feature Breece Hall at the RB1 spot, but the team is easing the promising second-year pro back from an ACL tear. 

Hall will certainly get his share of carries in 2023, and he may even be ready to go in the Monday Night Football season opener, but an important portion of the workload is likely to fall upon Gang Green's second-string running back.

As a result, the Jets' primary backup should be of great interest to fantasy football managers in the middle rounds of their drafts.

Although Hall was on pace for nearly 200 rush attempts prior to his season ending in Week 7, no Gang Green ball carrier totaled more than 114 rushes (Michael Carter) in 2022 while the team ran 405 times.

With Hall on the Active/PUP list to start training camp, Carter appeared to handle the "first team" reps when practice opened on Thursday. He was the first option behind Hall last season, but managed only 3.5 yards per rush and the third-year Jet faces serious competition to hold those second-string duties throughout the 2023 NFL Preseason as a result.

The Green & White invested a fifth-round draft pick in Pitt's Israel Abanikanda while former undrafted free agent Zonovan "Bam" Knight returns for his second season with the club. The latter totaled 85 rush attempts in his first seven games as a pro.

The two youngsters boast different running styles. The ultra-fast Abanikanda is a home run threat while Knight has the reputation for being more of a bruising, between-the-tackles runner.

Abanikanda, who registered a 4.41-second 40-yard dash during pre-draft testing, averaged 5.6 yards per carry during his collegiate career. He won the 2022 Atlantic Coast Conference rushing title, totaling 1,431 yards despite missing 1.5 games due to injury.

After a hot start to his rookie campaign, Knight's efficiency dropped dramatically down the stretch. He averaged 1.8 yards per carry over his last four appearances.

Three Jets appear in the Top 80 when it comes to SI Fantasy's running back rankings for standard PPR scoring leagues. 

Hall is No. 10 overall with Carter landing at No. 49 and Knight holding the No. 68 ranking. Abanikanda owned RB71 status in SI Fantasy expert Michael Fabiano's springtime rankings. Fabiano labeled the rookie as a "deep sleeper" to consider in the late rounds.

READ SI Fantasy's Fabiano Labels Jets' WR2 as Sleeper Pick

As for Hall's outlook, the Jets need to see the Iowa State product clear a few more hurdles before lifting the PUP designation.

"There's a few things that we've got to see [before Hall can start practicing]. There's still the running and cutting and change of direction, all that stuff," said Saleh following the first preseason practice.

Hall has been working out on the side and he reached a speed of 23 mph on Thursday according to Saleh.

Even when back to full health and full speed, Hall won't be taking every offensive snap. Gone are the days of Curtis Martin carrying 25 times in a single game as most NFL teams have taken a "running back by committee" approach in recent years.

Carries are hard to come by in today's NFL, but the Jets' No. 2 option will almost certainly get his fair share. Be mindful of the potential hidden gem when you're kicking back at your fantasy draft party later this summer.

Jets in SI Fantasy's RB Rankings

RB10 Breece Hall

RB49 Michael Carter

RB68 Zonovan Knight


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