Elijah Mitchell Fantasy Outlook: Should you draft Mitchell in 2022?

Elijah Mitchell was not expected to feature in the 49ers’ crowded backfield with Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson and Trey Sermon last season. However, the late-round rookie emerged from that group as a San Francisco returnee and became one of the biggest sleepers in fantasy football. The young running back had 903 rushing yards and six touchdowns in 11 games. Mitchell would have produced more were it not for the multiple injuries (shoulder, knee, finger and concussion) that have caused him to miss six games, but his fantasy prospects for 2022 are a bit clouded thanks to a preseason hamstring injury.

As a result, Fantasy owners might be reluctant to draft Mitchell in the early rounds. Below we take a look at Mitchell’s fantasy perspective and where he stands on ADP.

DOMINATE YOUR DRAFT: Ultimate 2022 Fantasy Cheat Sheet

Elijah Mitchell Injury Update: How long will 49ers RB be out?

Last week, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Mitchell suffers from a hamstring injury which will prevent him from playing in preseason. However, Schefter added that Mitchell is expected to be ready for the start of the regular season. The former Ragin’ Cajun standout also underwent a knee cleansing procedure earlier in the offseason.

When Mitchell is ready to start the regular season, you can confidently use him as your RB2. However, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep an eye on the other RBs for the 49ers (Trey Sermon, Jeff Wilson, and Tyrion Davis-Price) who might snap a few shots of Mitchell, as Kyle Shanahan likes a running back-by Committee system.

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Elijah Mitchell Fantasy Ranking and ADP

Heading into the 2022 season, SN Fantasy ranked Mitchell 18th in standard formats and 23rd in PPR formats. The young running back showed last season when he was healthy that he could take on 18-plus carries. Mitchell had five games with 20 or more carries. In two of those games, Mitchell had 133 and 109 yards on the ground, respectively.

Overall, he had five games for 100 or more rushing yards and averaged 4.7 yards per carry as a rookie, which put him alongside Dalvin Cook, Aaron Jones, James Robinson, and Damien Harris. FantasyPros has Mitchell’s ADP at #50 overall and RB23. Mitchell’s injury history matters as he’s at the bottom of the FantasyPros rankings and isn’t a factor in the passing game either. However, if he stays healthy, Mitchell will move up the rankings as the season progresses.

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Elijah Mitchell’s 2022 fantasy outlook

Unless Mitchell missed six games through injury, he was on his way to a 1,000-yard rushing season, which is nothing to scoff at for a rookie on the 49ers offense. The 49ers did not have a 1,000-yard rusher during the Shanahan era.

Last season, we saw star wide receiver Deebo Samuel get some touches in the running game that took away from Mitchell and the other RBs. However, after signing a lucrative multi-year contract extension, Samuel may be running less despite some incentives given his skyrocketing numbers. Mitchell had six games with 14 or more fantasy points last season, which could be a sign that something will happen this season if he’s healthy.

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Mitchell might have scored more fantasy points last season if he’d been deployed more within the 20-yard line. Four of Mitchell’s eight touchdowns came within the 20, which is low compared to James Conner, Damien Harris, etc. The 21-year-old running back also took 35.6 percent of San Francisco’s red-zone rushing attempts, which was good for 27th in the NFL. That number could drop this season because San Francisco will have double-threat quarterback Trey Lance at center, who will play a key role in the 49ers’ ongoing game.

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However, if Mitchell is 100 percent healthy going into the regular season, he should be in line for 1,000 rushing yards and a good amount of TDs. If he can pull off that feat, Mitchell will live up to his ADP — at least in standard leagues — and be someone we’re talking about as fantasy football’s top 15 running back next season. However, we should also moderate our expectations for Mitchell as he finds himself in an interesting handcuff situation with Wilson and Davis-Price. If Mitchell is available on Turn 5 or later, he’s worth drawing as he gets carries and produces in an elite rushing offense. Obviously there are risks though, so make sure you get a good RB3 if you’re going to rely on Mitchell as your RB2.

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