Michigan State RB Kenneth Walker III is widely regarded as one of the top-ranked dynasty fantasy football running backs in 2022. Following a successful collegiate career, what are Walker’s strengths, are there any concerns, and how does his landing spot with the Seattle Seahawks impact his dynasty value in 2022 and beyond?
Kenneth Walker III’s dynasty fantasy profile
Michigan State’s Walker III is the best pure rusher in the 2022 dynasty rookie class. Full stop. The difference between Walker at Wake Forest to Michigan State was incredible. Whether it was the way they coached their backs or the overall scheme, all I know is Walker ascended to the best running back in college football last season.
Even on his first play as a Spartan, Walker made his presence known with a 75-yard touchdown against Northwestern. Walker was No. 1 in the NCAA in yards after contact (1,169) and broken tackles (89). He would have been 19th in the nation in rushing only using his after contact yardage. Additionally, Walker was No. 1 in the FBS in carries of 10+ yards (46) and 15+ yards (30).
There are questions surrounding his receiving skills. I would counter with Walker having more receiving yards in college than Breece Hall. Just because someone wasn’t asked to do it doesn’t mean he can’t.
While I am not saying Walker will have a ton of receiving utilization in the NFL (which would add to his dynasty value), as a rusher, Walker has the skills to be a week-in and week-out fantasy starter.
Walker is the quintessential running back. His feet follow his eyes when reading leverage. From there, his contact balance both in the gap and in the second level allows him to find the extra yards after contact, which he became known for last season. Walker’s contact balance is his best trait and will serve him well in the NFL.
While he’s not a shifty athlete, Walker’s lateral agility is enough to make a defender miss in the hole. He has impressive foot quickness and maintains what I would almost classify as “light feet.” It allows him to make sudden jab cuts, then plant and explode either around or through the would-be defender.
Last season, we praised Javonte Williams for his violent rushing style where he seems mad at the world. There is a ton of that in Walker’s game. In my film analysis, his physicality was his highest-graded attribute, along with his contact balance. Walker is as secure with the ball as anyone, even when fighting for extra yards. He had the longest streak in the NCAA for carries without a fumble, spanning 2019, 2020, and nine games of the 2021 season.
Walker is more than capable of busting home-run plays. The run against Northwestern is a prime example of his propensity for explosive plays. The 20-plus yard runs show a back capable of not just getting to the second level but beyond it. Walker can rattle off double-digit fantasy scoring plays, offering a rare ceiling in dynasty. There is a reason some analysts have Walker as their No. 1 ranked back, after all.
Honestly, there is not too much for me to be overly critical of when it comes to Walker. While some wonder if he is a one-year-wonder, I feel this was more the product of his time at Wake Forest, where the staff wanted their backs to stay behind the OL for as long as possible.
The only question is passing utilization. Walker did receive some looks, recording 13 receptions for 89 yards and a TD. However, they were all on swings and screens out of the backfield. Honestly, I am okay with this. Not every running back is going to be a receiving weapon.
Even if Walker sees similar volume to Derrick Henry (something in the 30-35 target range), I would be perfectly fine. I’d take a couple of targets a game for what Walker brings on the ground in fantasy.
Perhaps we’ll see his untapped potential come out, allowing Walker to blow all of our expectations out of the water.
Kenneth Walker drafted by the Seattle Seahawks
I’ll be honest, I’m conflicted about this landing spot. Let’s start with the running back room. There is no doubt Walker is the future of the position. He’s the best pure rusher of the class, and in the modern NFL, second-round draft capital is virtually first round for other positions. He is on a team that wants to run the ball under Pete Carroll, and when they can, Walker will be the one getting the work. Just not all the time.
In 2022, Walker will still need to deal with Rashaad Penny and Chris Carson. However, both could be gone after this season, given their contracts. It’s worth pointing out the injury troubles which have plagued both Penny and Carson in recent years. Anytime one of these backs are out, Walker could see 16+ touches. That is when the game script allows it.
This is a concern of mine as the Seahawks, well, aren’t a good team. They’re rebuilding, and the success of their offense will be predicated on the success of Drew Lock the way things stand. If this was a Russell Wilson-led team, I would love this. But given the current state of the franchise, I’m cautiously optimistic.
Given the landing spots, neither Walker nor Hall separated themselves from each other. I feel both running backs are top-five picks in upcoming rookie drafts. If you like Walker better, go for it. Just know he might be better in 2023 than he is this year based on the current roster.
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