New York Jets’ Breece Hall will seek to become a fantasy football RB1 in 2023
When the New York Jets selected Breece Hall with the 36th overall pick in last year’s draft, fans couldn’t have been more excited. Hall was the highest-graded running back in the draft according to many analysts. Pairing him with Michael Carter would give the team an excellent 1-2 punch.
The selection also brought excitement to fantasy football players, who saw the young RB land in an opportune spot to solidify him as the RB1 of the class. And that was true at the start of the season.
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Hall started the year on a tear. Through six-and-a-half games, Hall accumulated 681 total yards, five touchdowns, and an incredible 5.8 rushing yards per attempt. The Jets were rolling behind Hall, starting the year 5-2.
Hall was on fire from a fantasy football perspective, too. Hall was the RB7 through the first seven weeks of the season. He put up a whopping 16.4 fantasy points per game, which was good for RB8 during that span (among players who played at least four games to that point).
Unfortunately, life had different plans. In the second quarter of the Jets’ Week 7 game against the Denver Broncos, Hall would go down with a season-ending ACL tear (accompanied by a minor meniscus injury), just one quarter after he ran for a 62-yard touchdown.
What does this mean for fantasy football managers going forward? And what should you do if you have Breece Hall on your fantasy team?
RBs, ACLs, and Fantasy Football
Everyone wants to see RBs come back from ACL injuries as strongly as Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles did. Both of them surpassed 1,700 scrimmage yards in the year following their ACL tear. Peterson even won MVP (and a trophy for his fantasy football managers).
Unfortunately, most running backs don’t return to their pre-injury form. This is especially true when the ACL tear isn’t “clean” and includes other structural or ligament damage. This is where Hall finds himself, and where deciphering a timetable can get tricky. Most data doesn’t involve ‘non-clean’ tears because of the low sample size and negative results. So, for now, we’ll just do a quick recap on how RBs perform after ACL tears in general and the impact on their fantasy football results.
Unfortunately, the data projects Hall won’t be back to his old self in his first year removed from injury. On top of that, we can look at Ravens RB J.K. Dobbins as a recent player who was coming off a similar injury (although Dobbins also suffered an LCL and hamstring tear).
After a strong showing as a rookie (925 scrimmage yards, nine touchdowns, and an absurd 6.0 yards per carry), Dobbins suffered his injury in the summer of 2021 and missed the season. Dobbins started the 2022 season poorly, missing the first two games before averaging 3.52 yards per carry through the next four games. He then got another procedure on his same knee and missed the next six weeks.
When Dobbins finally returned for Weeks 14-17, he looked like his old self, averaging 7.0 yards per carry and performing as a comfortable RB2 in fantasy football (RB19).
While the initial analysis seems grim, Hall has youth on his side, something that is a large factor in deciding recovery and future production. And, if Hall is able to be an outlier, Nathaniel Hackett’s offense could create an otherworldly ceiling for the second-year RB. That could pay huge dividends in fantasy football, too.
What to do with Breece Hall in fantasy football?
To me, the fantasy football ramifications regarding Hall are fairly simple. In redraft leagues, I am shying away from drafting him. It’s likely Hall is eased into action with a downtick in production. If this is the case, I would wait 3-4 weeks and then attempt to trade for him. There is a chance that Hall doesn’t return to form at all in 2023, but I’d rather take a chance at him producing later in the year – sending a trade when his value is at his lowest.
For fantasy football dynasty leagues, it’s a little bit of a different story. I personally wouldn’t draft Hall at his current ADP – currently at RB3 – but I understand why it could be done.
If you have Hall on your fantasy team, you’re not getting rid of him for anything other than another elite player or high-end draft picks. He is a safe hold whose value will only increase as he gets healthier. And if he does come back without limitations, his fantasy ceiling could be huge. Jets offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett is a run-first coordinator who loves to get his RBs involved in the passing game. That could set Hall up for overall RB1 as his potential range of outcomes – if healthy.
If you don’t have Hall on your fantasy team, the next couple of months are likely your only potential buy-low window. Some fantasy managers are quick to panic on injured talent. Trading for him straight-up won’t be cheap, but packaging players or picks could allow Hall to be had at a more cost-efficient value. If Hall does indeed miss time or start the season slow, it’s a perfect window to attempt trading for a running back that should be elite for years.
Overall, I expect Hall to follow a similar path as another New York RB: Saquon Barkley. I think his NFL and fantasy football production will drop in his first year back, with a huge comeback in his second year removed from injury. I am avoiding him in startup drafts and looking to acquire him at “buy-low” price points from any manager that panics about the injury or recovery time.
Things could be rough in Year 1 post-ACL for Breece Hall, but if they are, expect him to bounce back in a big way in 2024 and beyond.
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