New York Jets running back Michael Carter had, by all accounts, a very strong rookie season. He was productive as both a rusher and a receiver and established himself as the Jets’ clear lead back by midseason. What can fantasy football managers expect from Carter in the 2022 season, and is he a good value at his current ADP in fantasy football drafts?
Michael Carter’s fantasy outlook for 2022
If there were no other external factors, fantasy managers would have reason to be pretty bullish on Carter this season. Carter opened the 2021 season as Tevin Coleman’s backup but quickly ascended to the lead role.
The Jets fully made the switch to Carter after their bye. From Weeks 7-10, Carter averaged 19.1 PPR fantasy points per game. I know that’s a small stretch, but there’s a reason I picked it. Prior to Week 7, Carter was playing below 50% of the snaps and was not the lead back. In Week 11, he got hurt. He didn’t return until Week 15 and was clearly less than 100%.
During Carter’s rookie season, he also excelled as a pass catcher. He commanded an 11.5% target share and even had a 14-target game.
Based on Carter’s rookie season performance, he was poised to become the Jets’ lead RB and potentially a three-down back in 2022, playing around 70% of the snaps.
How the Jets’ depth chart impacts Michael Carter’s fantasy projection for the season
Unfortunately, there will be no Carter sophomore year ascent. Much like Tre Mason before him and Chester Taylor before that, Carter’s team decided that while he was good, they could do better. The Jets drafted do-it-all running back Breece Hall at the top of the second round in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Carter apologists will say it’s not exactly the same. Hall wasn’t taken nearly as high and isn’t as good a prospect as 2007 Adrian Peterson or 2015 Todd Gurley. While that’s all true, it doesn’t change the reality of the situation. We’ve seen this play out too many times in the past. Day 3 running backs just can’t earn job security in a single season.
The Jets’ offense improved significantly
Overall, the Jets got a lot better on offense. They have Elijah Moore entering his second season, added Garrett Wilson, signed C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin at tight end, and upgraded their offensive line. New York’s front office set up Zach Wilson for success. This is great news for their lead running back’s prospects of scoring more touchdowns in 2022. Sadly, for Carter, that won’t be him.
Carter will still have a role
Hall is a true three-down back, but reports indicate he is not going to be the lead back immediately. Carter appears to be getting veteran deference despite being in just his second season. Who starts isn’t really important, though. What matters is which back handles more touches. That will be determined by on-field performance.
The Jets are not going to have two highly productive RBs. With that said, Carter isn’t completely useless from a fantasy perspective. He’s still a talented running back, and I expect him to handle 6-8 carries a game, at least at the start, and primarily play on passing downs. There will be weeks where he racks up four or five receptions and posts RB2 numbers.
There’s also the inherent injury risk associated with the running back position. Carter’s rookie season provided he’s capable of producing as a high RB2 when given volume. If Hall were to get hurt, fantasy managers should feel confident in Carter being the guy for as long as Hall is out.
I still consider Carter mostly a handcuff RB4 for now. He may open the season with RB3 value, but it’s only a matter of time before he’s on the wrong side of a split with Hall. Carter will have a couple of weeks with standalone value, but he will not be someone fantasy managers will be starting with any confidence as long as Hall is healthy.
Carter’s ADP for 2022
Carter’s ADP is around 91st overall as the 39th running back off the board. His value in PFN’s consensus 2022 PPR fantasy rankings is reasonably close to his current ADP. He’s ranked as the 40th back and 95th overall. I’ve seen some criticisms levied against taking Carter as one of the more expensive handcuff running backs. My retort is: Are we really calling a guy being drafted as an RB4 “expensive?”
Carter is the exact type of running back fantasy managers should look for as their RB4. We can think what we want about Hall and how much of the work he will take, but there’s always the chance Carter is more involved than perhaps he should be, given where the Jets drafted Hall.
If Carter opens the season as the primary passing-down back, he’s essentially J.D. McKissic. That role has standalone value. And even if he doesn’t, we can confidently project Carter to be the RB2. If Hall were to miss time, Carter’s role should look like it did last season.
So, we have a running back with possible standalone value and RB2 upside in the event of an injury to the starter. That sounds like the ideal RB4 for my fantasy team.