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Isiah Pacheco

KC running back might start camp on PUP list

I’m an Isiah Pacheco fan. He’s a guy I think I’ll be drafting on most of my teams. But it looks like he might begin training camp on the PUP list.

It seems more like a precaution than much of a concern. He underwent surgery on his shoulder in the offseason, and he’s also supposedly dealing with a hand injury.

“We’ll make a decision on Pacheco going forward,” Andy Reid told the media today.

But it is a thing. Whatever you thought of Pacheco at the start of the day, it’s reasonable to downgrade him at least a little now.

If Pacheco were to miss any time, Clyde Edwards-Helaire probably would put up viable numbers while filling in. In the first six weeks of last season, he averaged 43 rushing and 23 receiving yards, with 5 TDs. Those are top-20 per-game numbers (in PPR leagues).

CEH the previous season was in a starting-type role 10 times. He averaged 52 rushing and 13 receiving yards in those games, with 6 TDs. I think he’s one of the better insurance policy backs. I like that he would be elevated by a Pacheco injury, and that he also might become a viable back if 31-year-old Jerick McKinnon misses some games. (I’m thinking of McKinnon as a third-down back, whose role shouldn’t change a ton if Pacheco is out.)

In typical leagues, it’s reasonable for those who select Pacheco to make obtaining Edwards-Helaire in the late rounds more of a priority. (He’s entering the final year of his rookie contract, possibly motivating him to go after one of those $1.7 million deals they’re handing out to running backs nowadays.)

Ultimately, though, I expect all of this PUP-shoulder stuff will be forgotten long before the start of the first game. Pacheco played really well as a rookie, averaging 4.9 yards per carry. I expect he’ll be their main back, punching in a healthy number of short touchdowns.

It’s improved production in the passing game, I think, that is causing Pacheco to be undervalued currently. Right now (before this news has sunk in) he’s the 23rd running back coming off the board. They didn’t use him much at all in the passing game last year, but I think that was fueled by them not wanting to overwhelm him mentally. His hands are fine. Including the preseason, he caught 22 of the 24 passes thrown his way last year.

If we go back to the AFC Championship game, he caught 5 passes in that one. Not that they’re going to turn him into a pass-catching monster, but I think he might double his receiving production.

As a rookie, Pacheco started 11 games and caught only 11 passes in those games. Below see the 31 running backs who averaged 50 rushing yards in games they started. Of those backs, only three averaged fewer catches than Pacheco. At the end of the 2023 season, I expect Pacheco more likely will rank about average on the similar list.

This PUP list development might oddly make him even more likely to wind up on my rosters. I don’t think it’s a big deal, and I’m expecting it will cause him to fall a few spots in the grand scheme of things.

CATCHES PER GAME (50-YD RUNNERS)
PlayerStAttRunNoRecTotalTD
Austin Ekeler, LAC1712.053.86.342.596.31.06
Christian McCaffrey, Car.-S.F.1614.868.85.244.8113.6.81
Joe Mixon, Cin.1415.058.14.331.589.6.64
Rhamondre Stevenson, N.E.1712.461.24.124.885.9.35
Alvin Kamara, N.O.1514.959.83.832.792.5.27
Saquon Barkley, NYG1618.482.03.621.1103.1.65
James Conner, Ariz.1314.160.23.523.183.2.62
Aaron Jones, G.B.1712.565.93.523.289.2.43
Josh Jacobs, L.V.1720.097.23.123.5120.8.71
Jonathan Taylor, Ind.1117.578.32.513.091.3.36
Tony Pollard, Dall.1612.162.92.423.286.1.75
Najee Harris, Pitt.1716.060.82.413.574.3.59
Devin Singletary, Buff.1611.151.22.417.568.7.38
Dameon Pierce, Hou.1316.972.22.312.784.9.38
Dalvin Cook, Min.1715.569.02.317.486.4.59
David Montgomery, Chi.1612.650.12.119.869.8.38
Derrick Henry, Ten.1621.896.12.124.9121.0.81
Travis Etienne, Jac.1214.775.82.016.091.8.44
Raheem Mostert, Mia.1611.355.71.912.668.3.31
Kenneth Walker, Sea.1118.682.21.913.795.9.73
Nick Chubb, Cle.1717.889.71.614.1103.8.78
Cordarrelle Patterson, Atl.1211.656.41.610.166.5.67
Jeff Wilson, S.F.-Mia.1312.059.21.412.071.2.46
Cam Akers, LAR914.866.11.211.077.1.67
Miles Sanders, Phil.1715.274.61.24.679.2.65
Ezekiel Elliott, Dall.1515.458.41.16.164.5.80
Tyler Allgeier, Atl.1613.164.71.08.773.4.27
Isiah Pacheco, K.C.1112.661.91.011.072.9.36
Brian Robinson, Was.1117.870.5.85.575.9.27
Jamaal Williams, Det.1715.462.7.74.367.01.02
D'Onta Foreman, Car.1117.479.7.52.482.1.48

—Ian Allan

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