We give you our NFL Fantasy Rankings and Tiers for the top 25 running backs leading up to the 2022 NFL season.
It is time for some NFL Fantasy Rankings. To kick this thing off, we give you our top 25 fantasy football running back rankings for the 2022 NFL season. The general assumption here was for single QB, half PPR leagues. Each tier should be considered as such, a tier. The individual ranking within each tier do not speak as loudly as the tiers themselves.
Tier 4 Running Backs
These individuals are players we deemed to be somewhere between RB2 and RB3. In other words, these guys will be somewhere between a low-end starter and near the front of your bench in 2022. Typically, this tier has more uncertainty when it comes to how many touches each running back will get on a consistent basis.
Josh Jacobs ranked 14th and 8th in half PPR fantasy scoring in 2021 and 2020, respectively. So why is he pushed down to tier 4 by both of us? Because we are not sure he will continue to get the bell cow workload he has seen in the past. The Raiders drafted Zamir “Zues” White in the 4th round. Additionally, Josh McDaniels has historically rotated his running backs heavily. With the Broncos from 2009-2010, no single running back garnered more than 58% of running back touches.
JK Dobbins did not play a single snap in 2021 after tearing his ACL in the pre-season. That, paired with a crowded running back room for the Ravens, pushes the former #55 overall pick down in our rankings. Although the hype is there for him at the moment, he will spend the season competing for touches with Gus Edwards, Mike Davis, and Justice Hill in Baltimore’s multiple run scheme.
David Montgomery has been clockwork in fantasy football the last few years. The model of consistency, ranking as RB20 and RB17 in 2021 and 2020. But the Bears are bringing a new offense to the field in 2022. One that will lean heavily on a wide zone run game. Monty is more of an inside zone runner, and behind him are Khalil Herbert and Trestan Ebner, who both have significant wide zone experience. The question about his usage becomes more apparent when you realize that Montgomery is taking special teams practice snaps for the first time in his NFL career.
Tier 3 Running Backs
This group features running backs who should be solid RB2 picks. I generally think of this tier as players who I think have Tier 1 or Tier 2 potential but have some uncertainty surrounding them for one reason or another.
Saquon Barkley was THE running back to have on your roster in 2019. But after missing most of 2020 and parts of 2021, we question whether he will ever be the player he used to be. The upside still exists, which is the main reason he is included on this list. And the fantasy football bounce back for highly drafted running backs has historically been more profound. But the risk is still high, at least until he shows us something more.
Leonard Fournette added a pass catching element to his game in 2021 that helped him to an RB7 ranking on the season. If that usage stays high, he should move up these rankings. But with the addition of Rachaad White in the 3rd round, as well as Gio Bernard looming on the bench, I have doubts about Lenny’s usage going forward.
Tier 2 Running Backs
The second-Tier features players who are between a low end RB1 and a high end RB2. A few of these players are guys that I absolutely think will be in the RB1 discussion if they get enough touches. But most in this group are part of a committee that they will battle for touches with.
Najee Harris had a very impressive rookie season for the Steelers. Battling through a weak passing attack and a sub-standard offensive line, the rookie still put up 1,667 yards and 10 touchdowns. But the offensive line still has question marks, and the QB situation still has plenty of questions itself. Because of all the uncertainty on this offense, Harris has a Tier 2 ceiling for now. But he could surprise us if the offense clicks more than we expect.
Ezekiel Elliott has really had a fall from grace in the eyes of mock fantasy drafts. I got him in the 4th round of a mock draft the other day. In 2021, Zeke ranked as RB6 in half PPR scoring despite playing through a knee injury. Sure, he will lose some touches to Tony pollard and is not as explosive as he once was. But he is still going to get the lions share of the touches and consistently put up fantasy points.
Tier 1 Running Backs
These guys are your potential league winners. They all got some dog in them and should either have a clear path to being bell cow backs or offer outstanding value relative to their ADP.
Jonathan Taylor is the best running back in football. Nobody is questioning that. We both agreed that he might not provide the same boost early in the season as the Colts try to save him for a playoff run. But we also both think that from the mid-point of the season on, Taylor could win you a fantasy championship. Especially with Matt Ryan easing the defensive stress on the box. But you need to make sure that you stay alive for the first half of the season for it to matter.
Christian McCaffrey was on the Tier 1 fringe for both of us. While his recent injury history is not all that different than Saquon Barkley, he has shown a little bit more life in his limited snaps. His talent is undisputed, it is just a question of his ability to stay on the field. Additionally, he has nobody else in the way of his touches and should be part of a much improved offense with Baker Mayfield at the helm.
Let us know what you think of our NFL Fantasy Rankings for the running back position. Our full reasoning and discussion for every player listed here can be heard on the podcast. We will be back next week with our Top 30 Wide Receiver fantasy rankings, so make sure to tune in! And do NOT sleep on the Lions.