As we are rolling along this offseason, we are laying the groundwork for early best ball drafts, new dynasty startups, and everything else under the fantasy sun as we gear up for the next NFL season.
So far, we have carried a dynasty mindset, posting tiers for quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, rookie rankings, and full-on player rankings with an eye on the future in the 2022 Fantasy Hub.
With the NFL Draft now over, we will see more and more emphasis placed on the 2022 season in a vacuum, with best ball season officially ramping up. Once the NFL schedule drops in a couple of weeks, there will be another push.
With that, it is time to lay out rankings for each position for this upcoming season. These will move and be updated throughout the offseason as the landscape changes.
Since I already have some lengthy writeups for almost every player in those dynasty writeups, I will keep things tidier here. If you want more player expansion, check out those posts for the players you are looking for more context on.
For some added context here, we are operating under a full-PPR lens, with added notes on receiving upside and downside for multiple backs to apply across the board no matter the format. With all of that out of the way let’s lay some groundwork for running backs in 2022…
2022 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings
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2022 Fantasy Football Running Backs
1. Jonathan Taylor: 2,171 yards and 20 TDs behind one of the most-injured offensive lines in 2021. Checks too many objective boxes of prime age apex, elite pedigree and athleticism, team built around him being the catalyst for the offense.
2. Christian McCaffrey: Has scorned a corner of the fantasy community for good after playing in just 10 games the past two seasons, but still the best fantasy asset per game when on the field. In the five full games he played this season, he closed the week as the RB1, RB3, RB15, RB4, and RB3 in scoring, averaging 23.6 points per game those weeks with fewer than 24 points in just one. Carolina O-Line beefed up this offseason.
3. Austin Ekeler: Produced 92.9% of the output Jonathan Taylor had with a missed game. Has now has ranked first, third, and second at his position in receiving points per game over the past three years. Potential touchdown regression is incoming after Ekeler led all position players with 163.1 fantasy points in the red zone after totaling 145.6 points in that area of the field over four seasons.
4. Derrick Henry: Now 28 years old and coming off his first major injury. Yards after contact have dipped in each of the past two seasons, but still led the NFL in touches per game (29.6) and expected fantasy points per game (21.0) while on the field. Over the past three seasons, only Davante Adams has more 30-point PPR games (12) than Henry has (nine) among skill players.
5. Najee Harris: Premier workhorse in the NFL. Played 170 more snaps than the next-closest back last season. As a byproduct, he led all backs with 381 touches and 74 receptions and was second in the league in expected points per game (20.2).
6. Joe Mixon: 1,519 yards and 16 touchdowns on 334 touches in route to an RB4 season in points per game. Elite offensive attachment. One blemish is still underutilized as a consistent pass catcher. Mixon had nine games with two or fewer catches, averaging 11.6 points per game those weeks with one week higher than RB24. In his other seven games, he averaged 26.3 points per game with one game lower than RB4.
7. Alvin Kamara: Averaged a career-high 22.1 touches per game (third in the league) but caught a career-low 47 passes. Dead last in the league in rushing yards below expectation (-133) while his broken plus missed tackle rate per attempt (16.7%) was his lowest since 2018. Has the milk started to turn, or a product of the league’s most-injured offensive line and lack of surrounding talent throughout the season? Both improved this offseason. Hearing pushed back to August provides a window to drag their feet on a 2022 suspension, but also a period where we are still flying blind for the rest of the summer on if he will miss games this season.
8. Dalvin Cook: Cook still was fifth in the league in touches per game (21.8), what hurt him was finding the end zone just six times after 17 and 13 scores the previous two seasons. Averaged a career-low 2.6 receptions per game for just 6.6 yards per catch. Cook also missed another four games, leaving him without a full season played through five years in the league. Expecting touchdowns to rebound while anticipating the new offense to be a rising tide. Minor suspension concern still looms.
9. D’Andre Swift: Closed 2021 10th at the position in points per game (16.1) and 16th in touches per game (16.4). We have had flashes that he has RB1 overall potential but needs more overall work. Averaged just 9.6 carries per game playing with Jamaal Willians, totaling 41.6% of the carries in those games with a high game of 14 carries.
10. Leonard Fournette: Perhaps the biggest winner of the offseason returning to Tampa Bay on a significant extension with Tom Brady also coming back. In 22 career games with Bucs in which he played just half of the team snaps, Fournette has averaged 17.6 touches for 89.2 yards per game with 4.7 receptions per game and 19 total touchdowns.
11. Saquon Barkley: ACL and ankle injuries have stonewalled past two seasons, but I am still not ready to jump off the ship on a 25-year-old back with elite pedigree, athleticism, and draft capital in a backfield with next to zero competition.
12. Javonte Williams: 12th among all backs in yards from scrimmage (1,219), caught 43 passes, and ranked second in the league in missed tackles forced (63) in the run game behind Jonathan Taylor despite having 129 fewer carries. Can still produce as a 1A, especially in what we are projecting to be a much better overall offense after adding Russell Wilson. While Melvin Gordon does present an immediate ceiling roadblock, he also struck out on the veteran market and only returned on a one-year/$2.5 million deal.
13. James Conner: Another big offseason winner, Conner averaged a robust 26.0 points per game in six games with Chase Edmonds absent, registering five RB1 scoring weeks. Conner has now been a top-30 scorer per game in each of the past four seasons with two RB1 scoring seasons per game on his resume, but he also has yet to play a full season.
14. Aaron Jones: RB13 in mixed-bag campaign. Jones had his third straight season with double-digit touchdowns. He remained efficient, averaging 5.3 yards per touch, his fifth straight season over 5.0 yards per touch. Out-touched 17-5 in the red zone by A.J. Dillon with both on the field Week 12 and later. In the seven games that Adams has missed over the past three seasons, Jones has received 6.7 targets per game (19.7% of the team share), with 5.1 catches for 55.4 yards per game and four receiving scores.
15. Ezekiel Elliott: Not as dead as many assume and no longer carries front-end RB1 expectations. Elliott was still second in the NFL in snaps played and carries top-shelf touchdown equity. Averaged 12.4 points per game over the final 11 games while shedding 4.6 touches per game after a PCL injury after 19.6 points per game prior.
16. Nick Chubb: Accrued another 1,433 yards and nine scores in 2021 while averaging 5.5 yards per carry, becoming the first running back ever to average over 5.0 yards per carry with over 100 attempts in each of their first four seasons in the league. Caught just 20 passes, his third season in four years with 20 or fewer receptions. That lack of passing involvement keeps Chubb from pushing to pace the position in scoring and more touchdown-dependent than top backs, producing just five RB2 or better scoring weeks in 21 games without a trip to the end zone over the past three seasons.
17. David Montgomery: Second among all backs in snap share per game (74.6%) while handling 81.2% of the backfield touches in his games played. Three consecutive seasons with over 1,000 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns.
18. Travis Etienne: Another back that lost all of 2021 and wide range of outcomes. The Jaguars have had a full staff upheaval this offseason to pair with Etienne’s unknown offensive role off injury, but with James Robinson suffering an Achilles injury to end the 2021 season while entering a restricted free agent contract year, Etienne has a head start this offseason in leading this backfield.
19. J.K. Dobbins: Lost 2021 season due to an ACL injury. As a rookie, showed plenty of electricity with 6.0 yards per carry and 6.1 yards per touch. Baltimore did not add more competition to the backfield while the offensive line is improved on paper. The primary question is how involved Dobbins can get as a pass catcher?
20. Cam Akers: No back may have a wider range of outcomes at the top of the draft. Akers has the potential to be in the front seat of the backfield attached to a great offense, but also the potential to be a short-term timeshare back that does not catch a ton of passes. Improbable recovery from a July Achilles injury may have done more harm for Akers than good in the eyes of fantasy players. Akers rushed 72 times for 175 yards (2.4 YPC) while catching 11 passes for 86 yards over his five appearances. Rams were 31st in the league in EPA rushing in 2021 while losing two starting offensive linemen this offseason.
21. Breece Hall: Checks every box we are looking for in a prospect. Will surely concede some work to Michael Carter and may be a 1A back to open the season. Many will harp on the staff in New York coming from a coaching tree that has regularly shuffled in bodies at the position with success. But the larger signal here based on draft capital, equity forfeited, size, and production all favor Hall as the back to invest in here for fantasy.
22. Antonio Gibson: Did not meet 2021 ceiling expectations, but still posted 1,331 yards and 10 touchdowns on 300 touches battling through a plethora of injuries. Return to J.D. McKissic was a dagger. After McKissic’s injury in Wek 12, Gibson had his route participation jump up to 55.1% of the dropbacks from 35.4% prior, catching 23 passes over his final six games after 19 through 10 games. Steady drumbeat of committee does him no extra favors.
23. Josh Jacobs: Has gone over 1,200 yards and seven touchdowns in each of his first three seasons. Career-high 54 receptions likely fleeting after managing just 6.4 yards per catch and 5.4 yards per target paired with Josh McDaniels coming in.
24. Elijah Mitchell: Averaged 20.5 touches per game, which was seventh in the league. Biggest thorn is that he averaged just 1.9 receptions per game, which makes him rushing and touchdown-dependent. In his seven games played without a touchdown, averaged just 9.4 points per game. Both Trey Lance and Deebo Samuel lurk as touchdown stealers.
25. Clyde Edwards-Helaire: In no-man’s land after being the RB23 and RB30 in points per game. Does the addition of Ronald Jones open up more passing-game opportunity, his number one thorn? Edwards-Helaire has averaged just 2.8 and 1.9 receptions per game through two seasons while running just 55 total routes on third down those seasons.
26. Cordarrelle Patterson: At age 30, Patterson set career-highs with 205 touches, 1,166 yards, and 11 touchdowns. Magic left the bottle down the finish line after an ankle injury as Patterson scored 22.0 total fantasy points in the final four weeks of the season. After catching five or more passes in six of the opening eight games of the season, Patterson had three or fewer catches in each of the final eight games of the year while posting 59 or fewer yards in each of his final five games played.
27. Kenneth Walker: Potential to be Nick Chubb-esque after exploding for 1,725 yards and 19 scores with the Spartans in 2021. Splash-play runner that devoured heavy boxes in college. Like Chubb, will start off career sharing touches with an up-and-down veteran back on short-term deal. Seattle has always let their best players prove themselves in competition, so hope that he can still hit the ground running if as advertised.
28. Miles Sanders: Has now averaged 5.8, 5.5, and 5.6 yards per touch over his three seasons in the league. After six touchdowns in each of his first two seasons, his scoring upside still remains a question with his pass catching improvement attached to Jalen Hurts. After catching 50 passes as a rookie for 10.2 yards per grab, Sanders has 54 catches since with his yards per catch dropping each season, down to 6.1 yards per catch last season. Potential to be arbitrage on J.K. Dobbins.
29. Damien Harris: Continued to progress in Year 3, turning 220 touches into 1,061 yards and 15 touchdowns, which was fifth at this position. Touchdown or bust fantasy asset, securing just 18 receptions last season, giving him 23 catches through three years in the league. Harris has run a total of just seven pass routes on third down the past two seasons.
30. Chase Edmonds: Highly efficient, averaging 5.7 yards per touch in each of the past three seasons. Strong scheme fit with Mike McDaniel. Edmonds logged 68 zone runs for 394 yards (5.8 YPC) while also handling 59 RPO carries for 323 yards (5.5 YPC). Ony question remaining is goal line work to unlock his upside. Edmonds has just nine career rushing touchdowns through four seasons, registering just six career carries inside of the 5-yard line, converting one for a touchdown.
31. A.J. Dillon: After just 48 touches as a rookie, took advantage of the exit of Jamaal Williams, ballooning up to 221 touches for 1,116 yards and seven touchdowns in his second season. In the 10 games that Dillon played with Aaron Jones available in which he did not score a touchdown, Dillon had just one week inside of the top-30 scorers.
32. Dameon Pierce: Path to viable touches in 2022 on the wide-open Houston roster. Pierce ranked second this draft class in rate of runs to gain a first down or touchdown (37.0%), he forced a missed tackle once every 2.56 carries (first), while averaging 3.65 yards after contact per carry (12th) with a run of 15 or more yards on 9.0% of his carries (11th). Pierce also averaged 1.80 yards per route run (third in this class) while he did not allow a single pressure in pass protection.
33. Kareem Hunt: Has been the RB22 and RB21 in points per game during his two years with Cleveland, so you are getting value at this stage. Ironically, Hunt has not been the super-hero handcuff as expected over that time. In five games without Nick Chubb active, Hunt has been an RB1 scorer just once while averaging 13.1 points per game.
34. Tony Pollard: Showed having usable weeks last season despite the limited usage, having 10 weeks as an RB3 or better and seven as an RB2 or better. Of course, Ezekiel Elliott was still a major roadblock. Elliott was second among running backs in snaps played and had a monopoly on money touches, having 22 opportunities inside of the 10-yard line to just three for Pollard. Will Pollard be extended in the offense as a pass catcher after offseason moves?
35. James Cook: Hyper-efficient per touch over his career (7.5 yards) due to the types of touches he gets paired with the Georgia environment. The hallmark of Cook’s game comes in the passing game, averaging 10.9 yards per reception over his career while averaging 1.63 yards per route in 2021, fourth in this class. Bills are not a team that stacks league-leading production for backs as a whole, we have seen when they turn the backfield over to just one player that those guys have crushed for fantasy.
36. Michael Carter: 5.3 yards per touch ranked 15th among backs with 100 or more touches, but investment in Breece Hall completely caps his ceiling across the board.
37. Melvin Gordon: Has scored nine or more touchdowns in six straight seasons. Gordon did fall below 50% of the backfield touches in each of his final four games of the season after just twice through 12 games. While Gordon is still a thorn for Javonte Williams’s ceiling, anticipating Gordon to be more of a deluxe handcuff in 2022.
38. J.D. McKissic: Alvin Kamara is the only running back with more targets (174) than McKissic’s 163 while only Kamara and Austin Ekeler have caught more passes than McKissic’s (123) at the position over the past two seasons. Fantasy floor is strictly tied to full-PPR formats as a true passing game back. 76.3% of his career fantasy points have come via receiving.
39. Rashaad Penny: Will forever be a league-winner after rushing 92 times for 671 yards (7.3 yards per carry) over the final five games of the season. But those efforts only netted a one-year “prove it again” deal while Seattle could not help themselves from significant investment in another rookie back this spring.
40. Kenneth Gainwell: 101 touches and six touchdowns as a rookie. Has inline to pass catching role than provide spike weeks on its own, while the lack of backfield additions can give him a short-term opportunity spike should Miles Sanders be lost at any point.
41. Rhamondre Stevenson: Was fifth in the league last year in touch rate per snap (57%) and offers the most three-down potential big picture of the New England backs, but still stuck in a messy situation on the surface.
42. Tyler Allgeier: Joining a limited Atlanta backfield, on a team clearly in a transition phase that could turn over to younger players all over the field. After racking up 1,304 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2020 with a silly 8.0 yards per touch, he followed things up with 1,800 yards and 23 touchdowns this past season (5.9 yards per touch). He scored in all but one game this past season while adding 28 receptions.
43. Darrell Henderson: Has improved all three years of his career and the Rams showed the most trust in him for the passing game out of the three backs that played in 2021. The rub is that we have not seen Henderson show a lot of standalone value outside of situations in which he has not just accrued all of the backfield touches.
44. Devin Singletary: As part of committee, Singletary has not found success, averaging 8.2 points per game in 27 career games with fewer than 15 touches, with just eight weeks as an RB2 in those games.
45. Alexander Mattison: Doesn’t have as flashy peripheral standalone metrics as someone like Tony Pollard but has done nothing but deliver when called up with Dalvin Cook sidelined. Cook has now missed multiple games in every season.
46. Ronald Jones: Joins Kansas City coming off 492 yards and four touchdowns on 111 touches, fully losing the job outright to Leonard Fournette. Jones will only turn 25 this August with two 1,000-yard seasons on his resume, but his odds of running into three-down production are slim, though the attachment to the Chiefs keeps him carrying a pulse.
47. Isaiah Spiller: Going to a great offense where he can contribute alongside a smaller-sized feature back in Austin Ekeler, Spiller will be a popular Zero-RB target in his first season.
48. Jamaal Williams: Fourth in the league in touch rate per snap (57.1%) while receiving a career-high 179 touches last season. Williams was used primarily as an early-down grinder, averaging just 2.0 receptions per game, needing D’Andre Swift being absent to open the full opportunity for him.
49. Nyheim Hines: Played just 32% of the offensive snaps (matching a career-low) with Jonathan Taylor ascending and expanding his role into the passing game. Hines matched a career-low with 96 touches, but his 6.1 yards per touch were a career-high. Staff has talked him up getting him more involved in 2022.
50. Gus Edwards: Suffered an ACL injury just two weeks after J.K. Dobbins last season. Has averaged over 5.0 yards per carry in every season but has just 18 career receptions.
51. James White: 30 years old coming off hip injury that sidelined him for final 14 games but re-signed for two years this offseason. We know the Patriots are going to compartmentalize their backfield and White is a lock to play on passing downs.
52. Khalil Herbert: Showed that he was capable of handling a heavy workload as a rookie, handling 76.9% of the backfield touches Weeks 5-8 with Montgomery banged up. Herbert turned in 97 yards from scrimmage per game over that four-game stretch.
53. Rachaad White: Early career David Johnson-lite handcuff potential should anything happen to Leonard Fournette. How much can his elite receiving profile earn him playing time out of the box? White accounted for 20.9% of his team receptions and 19.5% of the receiving yards in 2021, the highest rates in this class. Not just a product of volume in the passing game, White also led this class in yards per route run (2.25).
54. Raheem Mostert: Will turn 30 this April having played just nine games over the past two seasons, but heading to another wide zone offense in Miami, Mostert is still drawing life as a rushing-based option in a committee with Chase Edmonds.
55. Marlon Mack: Still only 26 years old and two full years removed from Achilles injury that limited him to just 37 touches over the past two seasons. Primary competition is a rookie fourth-rounder, albeit on one of the worst rosters in football.
56. Mark Ingram: Handcuff dart that would get a major early-season bump should we get any suspension for Alvin Kamara. Useful when Kamara missed time a year ago, producing 108 and 113 yards in the first two games that Kamara missed before producing just 26 yards in his other game without Kamara.
57. James Robinson: Achilles injury in late December will surely have him sidelined for the entirety of the offseason. We did see Cam Akers return from the same injury in six months to keep the door open for Robinson’s return, but has Travis Etienne returning and a new coaching staff as added elements to his injury, Robinson has a lot of question marks.
58. Eno Benjamin: James Conner has not played a full season yet over five seasons while Arizona went to the bottom of the well in additions so far to their backfield.
59. Hassan Haskins: Handcuff to front-end capital running back. Haskins will be backing up the oldest of the top fantasy backs. 28.2% of his 2021 carries came with eight or more defenders in the box, the second-highest rate in this class. Despite that, Haskins failed to gain yardage on just 8.5% of his carries, the best rate in this class.
60. D’Onta Foreman: Revitalized career and Foreman should immediately vault Chuba Hubbard as the back behind Christian McCaffrey, who was second-to-last in rushing yards below expectation (-122 yards) as a rookie per Next Gen Stats.