NFL Power Rankings: Best Rookie Running Backs in Week 16
We’re approaching the final weeks of the 2022 NFL regular season, and several rookie running backs have made their presence felt.
Here are the best of the bunch entering Week 16, considering recent performance and future opportunities.
1) Tyler Allgeier – Atlanta Falcons
Allgeier was outstanding in a losing effort in Week 15, carrying the ball 17 times for a career-high 139 yards against the New Orleans Saints. It was the first 100+ yard performance of the 22-year-old’s NFL career. Allgeier outplayed backfield mate Cordarrelle Patterson (52 yards on 14 carries), and with rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder struggling in his debut, he should be relied upon heavily in the final three weeks of the regular season.
2) Dameon Pierce – Houston Texans
The Texans’ workhorse was placed on injured reserve due to an ankle injury, effectively ending his season. Despite the disappointing end, Pierce surpassed expectations, recording 939 rushing yards (leads all rookies) and four touchdowns on 220 carries in 13 games. He also added 30 catches for 165 receiving yards and an additional score. Pierce will heal up before returning as the unquestioned centerpiece of Houston’s offense in 2023.
3) Isiah Pacheco – Kansas City Chiefs
Continuing to serve as the Chiefs’ early-down back, Pacheco recorded 97 total yards (86 rushing, 11 receiving) on 16 carries as Kansas City needed overtime to get past the one-win Houston Texans 30-24. Since ascending to lead-back duties in Week 10, the 22-year-old has carried the ball 95 times for 490 yards (4.9 AVG), proving far more effective than former first-rounder Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
4) Brian Robinson – Washington Commanders
Robinson rushed for 89 yards on just 12 carries and caught one pass for 18 yards in the Commanders’ devastating 20-12 loss to the New York Giants. The 23-year-old found the end zone late in the fourth quarter, only for the play to be reversed after a controversial illegal formation penalty on wide receiver Terry McLaurin. After a slow start, Robinson has come on strong, carrying the ball 51 times for 290 yards (5.9) over the past three weeks.
5) Kenneth Walker III – Seattle Seahawks
Returning from a one-game absence due to an ankle injury, Walker recorded 79 total yards (47 rushing, 32 receiving) in the Seahawks’ Week 15 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. While the 22-year-old struggled against an elite 49er defense, he looked fully healthy, showcasing his elite speed on a 33-yard reception. Walker will try and find more room on the ground when Seattle battles the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 16 at Arrowhead Stadium.
6) Rachaad White – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
White struggled in Week 15 against the Bengals, rushing 11 times for 38 yards and catching one of two targets for five yards in Sunday’s 34-23 loss. In light of the poor showing, the 23-year-old has handled double-digit touches in five straight games while splitting time with Leonard Fournette. Expect White to remain an integral part of the Bucs’ offense as Tampa Bay looks to capture the NFC South division, despite currently boasting a 6-8 record.
7) Zonovan Knight – New York Jets
Knight rushed six times for minus two yards, catching one pass for 15 yards in the Jets’ forgettable 19-3 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday Night Football. The undrafted free agent has now been held to 21 yards on 19 carries over the past two weeks, although the entire New York offense has sputtered, given the struggles of quarterback Zach Wilson. Since debuting in Week 10, Knight’s recorded 334 total yards (251 rushing, 83 receiving) and a touchdown.
8) James Cook – Buffalo Bills
The former Georgia Bulldog rushed for 34 yards on five carries, adding two catches for five yards and a touchdown as the Bills earned a key victory over the Miami Dolphins, 32-29. Cook’s touchdown reception was the first of his NFL career as he continues to forge a meaningful role behind starter Devin Singletary.
9) Jaylen Warren – Pittsburgh Steelers
After being limited to 55 scrimmage yards over his past three games, Warren bounced back in Week 15’s win over the Panthers, rushing for 38 yards on 11 carries while scoring his first career NFL touchdown. He also caught his lone target for 11 receiving yards. The 24-year-old has seen an inconsistent workload behind starter Najee Harris but has impressed when called upon, racking up 422 total yards on 74 touches (5.7 AVG) in 13 games this season.
10) Jordan Mason – San Francisco 49ers
Mason made the most of his four carries, rushing for a career-high 64 yards in the 49ers’ Week 15 victory over the Seahawks on Thursday Night Football. Most of the 23-year-old’s work came in garbage time as San Francisco rode starter Christian McCaffrey for 32 touches. With the Niners clinching the NFC West Division title, perhaps Mason will be more involved as San Francisco gears up for the postseason.
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