During the first half of the 2022 NFL season, New York Jets fans (like myself) were riding high. Despite low expectations, Robert Saleh’s Jets stormed out to a surprising 7-3 start, and New York appeared to be on its way to the playoffs. But then superstar rookie RB Breece Hall got hurt, and everything changed. Just how impactful is this young man? How high should we be taking him in fantasy drafts, and how many shares? Let’s dive in and take a closer look.
Positives: The Case for Breece Hall
In the past two seasons, the running back position has brought us two of its best prospects in the past decade and perhaps of all time: Rookie Bijan Robinson and sophomore Breece Hall. In both cases, there were simply no collegiate answers for them. Bijan was too quick, too electric and too versatile. Hall was too strong, too relentless and too focused. Defenses basically just danced out of the way.
In the NFL early on, surprisingly, things were no different for Hall. He torched the division-rival Miami Dolphins for 197 total yards and a touchdown. He smoked the Green Bay Packers to the tune of 121 total yards and a touchdown. Most importantly for the Jets, Hall was directly impacting wins. He was controlling the pace and tempo of the game, a la dominant Derrick Henry.
Then the devastating ACL tear occurred, and all the Jets’ momentum stopped. They went as Hall went. He was the engine of the team. On the bright side for fantasy, ESPN has reported a ‘fantastic’ recovery for Hall, and coaches and teammates have said he looks explosive in team workouts.
The fantasy case for Hall is simple: He’s recovered, he’s one of the best individual players at his position, and the Jets have improved the supporting cast around him. With Aaron Rodgers, Allen Lazard and Mecole Hardman taking on prominent roles in New York, that certainly takes some of the pressure off Hall. You have to realize what Hall was accomplishing last season was simply incredible. The Jets were mixing QB snaps between Zach Wilson, Joe Flacco and Mike White. The defensive box was stacked against Hall. Yet he was still able to dominate while healthy. On pure skill, he’s a top-six or seven running back in the world right now.
Negative #1: The Case Against Breece Hall
Negative No. 1 is obvious: Do you trust that ESPN report? Do you believe Hall is 100 percent now? Keep in mind that he was placed on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list for the Jets’ mini-camp, though that was expected by many. The Jets are looking to limit his reps and keep him fresh.
Well, let me narrow it down for you: To me, only Stevenson has as much fantasy upside as Hall. As for the others, we can find similar ‘safe’ picks down the line. I don’t love Hall in the RB6 or 7 range, but 11 is still a pretty good bet.
Negative #2: Don’t Count Dalvin Cook Out, Just Yet
As a Jets fan, I have a gut feeling they are going to acquire veteran RB Dalvin Cook. They’ve been linked to him from the very beginning, and it’s really only a two-horse race with the Dolphins. The Jets have some money left to spend, and it makes an awful lot of sense to keep Hall healthy and fresh.
With Cook in the mix, that would drop Hall to around the RB15 for me. That changes everything, doesn’t it? Especially when we are hinging our expected fantasy success on these high-end running backs at the very top of the position.
In the end, it’s about reading the flow of your particular draft. Are your competitors weak when the draft gets thin later on? If so, maybe take a shot on Hall’s upside early.
Or is it the opposite? Are you in a murderer’s row of fantastic fantasy managers? If so, maybe play it safer and take Stevenson or Etienne. Sometimes, Derrick Henry will fall to you in this position as well. So be on your toes, and be ready to react. And don’t forget: Breece Hall is an absolute monster when he’s healthy and getting a full helping of the rock.
I’ll see ya right back here next week!
John Frascella is a published sports author who has been covering the NFL for 19 years. For more of his Razzball content, plus more, Follow him on Twitter @LegendSports7 for all things fantasy football, basketball and baseball throughout the year.