The running back position can be a difficult one to navigate in fantasy football. That’s especially the case when it comes to shared backfields. However, there’s one running back in a shared backfield who could be in for a larger role this season. Second-year running back Kenneth Gainwell showed potential last season and is someone to consider trading for or grabbing shares in dynasty startups.
Gainwell was the third running back on the depth chart last season behind Boston Scott and Miles Sanders. Still, he found opportunities for his talent to shine. Now, with Boston Scott likely to hit the market, Gainwell could be a sneaky late-round running back with low-end RB2 potential.
Last 2021, Gainwell saw 31 targets in the in the first seven weeks of the season. This out-paced Sanders’ 24 total targets. Throughout his career, Sanders hasn’t been that receiver out of the backfield. This has diminished his value in PPR fantasy football leagues. The Philadelphia Eagles could look to use Gainwell in this role moving forward.
One of Gainwell’s best games in 2021 came in Week 4 during the Kansas City Chiefs. During this game, he lined up in the slot, catching six of eight targets and found the end zone. That game alone showed optimism for what’s to come.
Gainwell’s usage in the red zone is also worth noting. Sanders finished the season with 24 touches in the redzone. Meanwhile, the running back out of Memphis has 20 red zone touches. These numbers are very close despite Gainwell being early down the depth chart.His ability to be utilized all over the field is what helps his case to be in line for a bigger role this upcoming season.
As mentioned, Boston Scott could be on the way out. This is crucial to Gainwell’s potential breakout. Sanders can be used as a pure runner which is his bread-and-butter. Meanwhile, Gainwell can take over as the receiving back. Based on Gainwell’s ADP in Dynasty startups, he’s a very low-risk high reward for fantasy football managers.
If we learned one thing last season, having running back depth is very important. The running back position is extremely physical and even the elite backs go down with injuries. It’s worth noting that Sanders has only played 24 games in two seasons. His injury history is well-commented. Grabbing the depth in those later rounds should be automatic.
Gainwell looks to be on the way up at the very minimum as a receiving running back. This is dependent on the Eagles not drafting or signing running backs this offseason and give Gainwell a chance. With needs elsewhere, especially at wide receiver, this shouldn’t be an issue.