Once a novel concept, using the halfback as a receiving threat has become normalized with the de-emphasis of running the ball and the increase in passing plays. Today’s game sees plenty of passes to and receptions by halfbacks out of the backfield or lined up as a receiver.
Madden 22 has no shortage of playbooks with the halfback as a receiver. Not all halfbacks are the same, though, and not every halfback is adept at receiving.
The list is in alphabetical order, and the criteria that determined the teams that made the list were the halfback, quarterback, and receivers on the team. Each play listed has the halfback running out of the backfield.
1. Carolina Panthers (NFC South)
- PA HB Wheel (I Form, Close)
- HB Slip Screen (Pistol, Trips Left Open)
- Verts HB Under (Shotgun, Bunch Offset)
While QB is still a question with Sam Darnold, Christian McCaffrey is one of the most versatile HBs in the game, well-suited to receiving. The playbook does a fine job of putting McCaffrey in positions to make an impact.
PA HB Wheel sends the HB on a wheel route away from the rest of the receivers after the play action fake. Since the QB is throwing a boot, ensure that you stop before throwing to avoid losing power by throwing against the body and on the run.
Verts HB Under makes use of the defense being down the field on the vertical routes by the receivers while your HB slips under with a drag route, a good option for short gains.
The HB Slip Screen may become your favorite as it places most of the defense on the opposite side of the field with bunched receivers, giving you ample room to run. With McCaffrey, this could mean an easy touchdown run.
2. Green Bay Packers (NFC North)
- PA Spring HB Flat (I form, Z Close)
- PA Read (Shotgun, Doubles HB Wk)
- Angle Smash (Y-Flex Offset)
With two Aarons leading the way in Rodgers and Jones, the Green Bay attack is a fine option. Jones excels at catching passes out of the backfield, and Rodgers excels at finding the open receiver, spreading the ball around regardless of the name on the back of the jersey.
Angle Smash – though it may sound like a discarded catchphrase for Kurt Angle – highlights Jones’ quickness and change of direction. This could become your go-to on 3rd and medium with the middle cleared out for the HB.
Both play action plays make use of the dual threats from both Rodgers and Jones – Rodgers his arm and legs and Jones his legs and receiving – with PA Spring HB Flat making Jones the primary receiver for what should be a modest-to-big gain.
PA Read makes use of every other receiver going left while the HB heads right off of the play action. This should give your HB ample room to work with and with a linebacker most likely covering him, you could pull off a huge gain with a speed advantage.
3. Kansas City (AFC West)
- HB Slip Screen (Shotgun, Bunch HB Str)
- Mesh Spot (Singleback, Wing Flex)
- Triple Out (Shotgun, Bunch TE)
Patrick Mahomes is the quarterback, and that really is all that needs to be said. However, this team is loaded with talent, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire at HB is one example. The playbook highlights the latter’s versatility.
Mesh Spot sends the HB on a wheel route all the way up the sideline from the backfield as the primary receiver. The mesh routes over the middle should draw the defense closer to the line, which should open the deep right side for your HB.
HB Slip Screen, while in the direction of the other receivers and defenders, has a bevy of blockers because of the mass of humanity. The pulling offensive line with the receivers running routes should draw enough speed away from your HB while ensuring there are enough blockers to lead the way.
Triple Out sends the HB on a delayed route to the flat as the other receivers head the opposite way. A good pump fake to the left and then dropping the ball to your HB on the right should net you at least a first down.
4. Las Vegas Raiders (AFC West)
- HB Slip Screen (Shotgun, Bunch)
- Y-Option (Shotgun, Spread Y-Flex)
- Digs Y Corner (Shotgun, Doubles HB Wk)
Derek Carr has great weapons around him in Darren Waller and HB Josh Jacobs. Jacobs should prove to be a fantastic receiver out of the backfield.
Digs Y Corner is another that makes use of the wideouts running routes in one direction while the HB heads the opposite way. The change of direction by the HB should create enough space from the linebacker covering him to allow you to net a modest gain.
HB Slip Screen in this instance sends the HB and pulling offensive line away from the bunched receivers. Most of the defenders will be on the opposite side, so if executed correctly, those defenders will not catch up to your HB until after a big gain.
Y-Option is much like Angle Smash for Green Bay in that the HB runs an angle route from the backfield. With your HB’s speed, this could be a good option for a lob pass over the middle with the safeties covering the deep routes.
5. New Orleans Saints (NFC South)
- PA Spring HB Flat (I Form, Tight)
- Mesh Spot (Shotgun, Bunch)
- HB Slip Screen (Shotgun, Trey Offset)
Jameis Winston should be able to admirably replace future Hall of Famer Drew Brees, and having Alvin Kamara out of the backfield – and Michael Thomas leading the wideouts – will help in this endeavor. The playbook has many sets making use of Kamara as both a HB and a receiver.
PA Spring HB Flat puts the QB on a boot after the play action with the HB hitting the flat. It should be an easy pass-and-catch for a quick gain to the sideline.
Mesh Spot sends the HB on a wheel route away as the only deep route on the left side of the field. A HB with speed like Kamara in the open field is dangerous, and this play could be your ideal choice for a deep route to the HB.
HB Slip Screen is another that places the screen away from most of the receivers. This gives the HB, presumably Kamara, more field to work with. Screens can go horribly wrong, but if called at the right moment this could be a big play.
With so many great receiving halfbacks in the league, it only makes sense for you to utilize them as such in Madden 22.