Elijah Mitchell fantasy outlook, ADP, and projection for 2022

What is Elijah Mitchell's fantasy football outlook and projection for 2022, and should you look to draft him at his current ADP?

One of the better running backs in the NFL and fantasy football, San Francisco 49ers RB Elijah Mitchell projects to be an early pick as his 2022 fantasy outlook suggests he should be a key player again. With the NFL season and fantasy drafts closing in, what is Mitchell’s fantasy outlook in 2022, and could he prove to be a value at his current ADP in fantasy football drafts?

Elijah Mitchell’s fantasy outlook for 2022

For years, we’ve wondered what would happen if Kyle Shanahan committed to a singular running back for a season. How good could they be for fantasy in a system with a history of producing solid fantasy upside? Mitchell showed last year how fruitful this could be if it were to happen.

Playing in 11 games, Mitchell rushed 207 times for 963 yards (4.7 ypc) with five touchdowns. Of those 963 yards, 765 came after contact, as Mitchell’s blend of power, speed, and elusiveness allowed him to succeed. He checks every box the 49ers –especially Shanahan — look for in an RB for this scheme.

Mitchell ended the season as the No. 26 ranked RB in PPR scoring while averaging 13.8 PPR points per game. He was 19th in points per game among players who played at least eight games. However, his season felt better than this result.

Mitchell was a high-volume player last year. In 11 of his 14 games in 2021 (including the playoffs), Mitchell recorded 17 or more rushes per contest. He crossed the 20-carry barrier six times. Yet, for as great as this was, two things need to change for Mitchell to either repeat or beat his previous season.

There are a few hangups for Elijah Mitchell heading into 2022

For one, Mitchell needs to stay healthy. Playing in 11 games is not going to cut it for fantasy managers, nor does it improve his chances of keeping a firm grasp on the starting role. Was volume at play, or was it simply a case of a rookie getting used to NFL football? It’s a question we will not have an answer to until the games are underway in 2022.

To reach a higher tier in RB fantasy rankings each week, Mitchell could use more work in the receiving game. In 2021, he hauled in 19 of 20 targets for 137 yards and a single touchdown in his 11 games played. While this is by no means terrible, averaging less than two targets per game is on the lower end of the scale.

Keeping Mitchell’s baseline at 1.8 targets, 1.7 receptions, and 12.5 yards per game paces out to 31 targets, 29 receptions, and 212 yards with two TDs over a full season. That’s an additional 3.89 PPR points on a per-game basis. That’s nothing to scoff at, of course. But once again, Mitchell needs to remain on the field for this to become a reality.

There are certainly questions. However, Mitchell could come as a value in 2022, as some continue to point to his draft capital while seemingly forgetting what he did on the field. The 49ers could boast one of the most dynamic offenses in the league and one that runs at a breakneck pace.

As a lower-end RB2, there is room for Mitchell to outpace current expectations. While I would not feel overly comfortable with him as my RB1, Mitchell brings both upside and value as a second running back in my weekly starting lineup for fantasy.

How the 49ers’ depth chart impacts Mitchell’s fantasy projection for the season

San Francisco has a plethora of playmakers on their roster coming into 2022. Yet, all eyes are on two players: Deebo Samuel and Trey Lance. Samuel has stated he wishes to be used as a receiver more than the “wide back” he was last season.

If the 49ers acquiesce to Samuel’s requests for a role change, there will be more opportunities for Mitchell and even Tyrion Davis-Price, a 2022 third-round pick out of LSU.

Davis-Price doesn’t have the same juice as Mitchell, but he runs over guys and brings the power. He’s competing with Jeff Wilson Jr. and Trey Sermon for the RB2 role. Sermon did put together a decent camp, and if he stays out of Shanahan’s dog house, he could end up the handcuff to Mitchell. But don’t expect anyone to fully buy into his turnaround after his disastrous rookie campaign.

What happens at quarterback will have a significant impact on the 49ers’ offense

The most important question on San Francisco’s roster is what happens at QB as the shift from Jimmy Garoppolo to Trey Lance is seismic.

In his two starts last season, Lance had 24 rushes compared to 32 by the running backs. That’s something you’ll never see with Garoppolo. Add in the additional threat of zone reads freezing linebackers, and lanes get wider. But will those lanes be used by an RB or by Lance when he keeps the ball?

This is the most fascinating positional change of the year, given what it took for the 49ers to acquire Lance. Lance can open up a whole new dynamic to this offense. Not only can he tuck and run, but his arm strength is borderline vulgar. With a flick of the wrist, the ball is 60 yards downfield.

Mitchell’s ADP for 2022

With an ADP of 49, Mitchell is coming off the boards as the RB22 in PPR formats at the moment, placing him right around the 4/5 turn in 12-team fantasy leagues.

In PFN’s 2022 fantasy football rankings, Mitchell is a touch lower as the RB26 and the 55th overall ranked player. While PFN’s rankings are a consensus, I’m more closely aligned to how the ADP is shaking out, as Mitchell is my RB22 and 48th-ranked player overall.

If you can guarantee me that Mitchell stays healthy and Shanahan sticks with him rather than a committee, he’d be nearly a top-12 RB given the expected volume. Yet, the odds of either aren’t great, plus the potential loss of some carries to Lance’s mobility needs to be accounted for as well.

With projections all but buttoned-up aside from some last-minute tweaks, Mitchell is in the 210-220 carry range which is a solid value based on the RBs left on the board around him. He should be a safe option with decent upside, but I’d recommend an early RB3 follow him due to injury questions that still linger.

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