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Fantasy football tiers 2022: Running backs

*** Rankings beneath based mostly on 0.5 PPR leagues

Running Backs

TIER 1  
  Name Team
1.Jonathan TaylorIND

Jonathan Taylor turned “THE RB1” in fantasy football in 2021, dashing for greater than 1,800 yards and scoring 20 complete TDs for the Colts and his fantasy house owners. Taylor is your undisputed RB1 and the sensible transfer for the primary general choose in fantasy drafts. He’s the one excessive finish RB getting into 2022 with out official questions.

TIER 2  
  Name Team
2.Austin EkelerLAC
3.Christian McCaffreyCAR
4.Derrick HenryTEN
5.Najee HarrisPIT
6.Dalvin CookMIN

The Tier 2 group boasts celebrity rushers, however every enters the 2022 season with some stage of concern … sufficient to maintain the RB out of Jonathan Taylor’s tier. Let’s run by the issues in fast fireplace succession:

Austin Ekeler: Potential TD regression, with rookie RB Isaiah Spiller a risk to vulture carries and a few TDs.

Christian McCaffrey: No. 1 general ceiling, however performed in solely 10 of 32 video games over final two years.

Derrick Henry: Returns from critical harm, now 28 years outdated (younger for all times functions, however older for RBs).

Najee Harris: Likely discount in touches, particularly within the passing sport.

Dalvin Cook: Injury issues, by no means having performed a full season.

Christian McCaffrey is the last word wild card right here, as his ceiling leapfrogs even that of Jonathan Taylor. But historical past doesn’t favor RBs coming again after two successive seasons of incurring vital accidents. If you wish to draft for highest ceiling, go for it — simply don’t let the pundits on Twitter sucker you into pondering that McCaffrey comes with out main danger. Ekeler finally snags the RB2 spot for me as a result of he’s the most secure out of the group, with a comparatively excessive ceiling. Henry has the very best ceiling after McCaffrey, however his success will finally come all the way down to well being … so keep watch over any such information. Harris comes with a excessive flooring as a result of quantity, so he’s one other participant on the protected aspect of the ledger. Cook’s well being will finally determine the place he lands amongst this group. Setting apart Cook’s rookie season (when he solely performed in 4 video games as a result of an ACL tear), he’s averaged lacking roughly three video games per 12 months.

The Tier 2 group may even go in first rounds of fantasy drafts, with the order within the eye of every beholder. You can simply make arguments for rating these gamers in another way, however I’d finally recommend making considered one of Ekeler, McCaffrey or Henry as your RB2.

TIER 3  
  Name Team
7.Joe MixonCIN
8.D’Andre SwiftDET
9.Leonard FournetteTB
10.Javonte WilliamsDEN
11.Nick ChubbCLE
12.Saquon BarkleyNYG
13.Aaron JonesGB
14.Alvin KamaraNO
15.James ConnorARI
16.Cam AkersLAR

The line between the underside of Tier 2 and the highest of Tier 3 stays blurred, as you may justify elevating Joe Mixon and D’Andre Swift up a tier. Mixon’s well-rounded ability set and function within the Bengals’ electrical offense extenuates his ceiling. Swift follows, as he’s a dynamic rusher operating behind an important offensive line, with a key function within the passing sport as effectively. Don’t waste an oz. of your power fretting about Leonard Fournette’s weight … he’s the clear go-to again for the Bucs, and he’ll be able to go when the video games depend in September.

Javonte Williams’ followers rightfully bemoaned Melvin Gordon’s return to the Broncos, as Williams would in any other case be a first-round choose in fantasy drafts. In any occasion, Williams would be the crew’s clear chief in RB touches. Chubb could also be the very best pure runner in football, however his limitations within the passing sport put a cap on his ceiling. Saquon Barkley has struggled with accidents by his NFL profession, however with new head coach Brian Daboll putting in a contemporary offense, don’t be stunned if Barkley has a renaissance in 2022.

Will Packers RB AJ Dillon siphon an elevated variety of carries from Aaron Jones? The fear persists, which is why Jones ranks as RB13 and never larger. Will Alvin Kamara get suspended? His rating at RB14 presumes that he’s out for at the least just a few video games, though it appears like he needs to be obtainable for at the least the beginning of the season. A suspension free Kamara bumps as much as Tier 2, so we’ll want to remain tuned for information there.

Cardinals RB James Conner has each optimistic and adverse elements impacting his worth. The dangerous information … he faces potential TD regression, as 7.5% of his touches leading to TDs in 2021 isn’t sustainable. But the Cardinals additionally gave Chase Edmonds the boot, which means Connor ought to enhance his complete touches considerably, defending towards among the TD regression. Lastly, Cam Akers struggled within the playoff final season after lacking nearly the entire common season with an achilles harm. Don’t maintain Akers’ 2021 playoff efficiency towards him, as clearly didn’t look wholesome. Akers needs to be totally healed now, and search for a bounce again to his 2020 kind.

The Tier 3 group ought to come off the board beginning on the finish of spherical 1/prime of spherical 2, with the group passed by mid to finish of spherical 3.

TIER 4  
  Name Team
17.David MontgomeryCHI
18.Ezekiel ElliottDAL
19.Breece HallNYJ
20.Antonio GibsonWAS
21.Travis EtienneJAC
22.J.Okay. DobbinsBAL
23.Josh JacobsLV
24.Elijah MitchellSF

Moving to Tier 4, we’ve acquired a mixture of protected veterans with restricted ceilings, younger up and comers, and gamers who face potential timeshares. David Montgomery doesn’t wow a lot on tape or within the stat sheet, averaging below 4 yards per carry for his profession. But well being allowing, he’s a protected wager for 1,000 yards and 7-8 TDs … translating to a strong RB2. Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott has been drafted as an RB1 for a number of years, however he’s on the draw back of his profession …. even when crew proprietor Jerry Jones doesn’t see it. Elliott has averaged 4.5, 4.0 and 4.2 yards per carry over the previous three seasons, whereas teammate Tony Pollard has averaged 5.3, 4.3 and 5.5 YPC over the identical time, operating behind the identical offensive line. Pollard will proceed to get a strong quantity of carries within the Cowboys’ offense (BUT NOT NEARLY ENOUGH!), which limits Zeke’s worth.

Let’s check out the upside troika of the tier 4 group, beginning with Jets’ rookie RB Breece Hall. The Iowa State alum figures to wrestle away beginning duties from incumbent Michael Carter, and whereas carries could also be shared, Hall needs to be the first again concerned within the passing sport. That’s an RB2 with upside for extra. Moving subsequent to the Jaguars, second-year RB Travis Etienne missed his complete rookie season as a result of a Lisfranc harm. Etienne performed with Jags QB Trevor Lawrence at Clemson, and whereas he’ll probably share carries with incumbent RB James Robinson, Etienne will play a key function within the passing sport as effectively. Sound acquainted? Both Hall and Etienne needs to be dealing with related sport scripts, with upside to go together with it.

J.Okay. Dobbins additionally missed all the 2021 season with an harm, however he shined throughout his rookie 2020 season — 805 yards and 9 TDs whereas averaging 6 yards a carry! If the Ravens made Dobbins their featured again, he’d be an RB1. It’s not but clear if Dobbins will probably be prepared by Week 1, so keep watch over his well being. But there’s little doubt that Dobbins has game-breaking means … if he will get the carries.

Washington’s NFL crew has not solely a brand new title, however a brand new RB that might create extra chaos within the Commanders’ carry distributions. Antonio Gibson leads the crew, with JD McKissic as the first pass-catching choice and Jaret Patterson additionally taking some carries right here and there. The crew felt that it didn’t have sufficient RBs, in order that they went forward and drafted Brian Robinson Jr with their third-round choose. It’s not precisely clear whose carries Robinson will syphon off, however don’t count on Gibson to get a bump in utilization. So he’s a restricted upside RB2 …. as is Raiders’ RB Josh Jacobs. The Raiders primarily use Jacobs on dashing downs, and with a Belichick disciple (Josh McDaniels) taking up as head coach, the probability of Jacobs’ workload rising is negligible.

We shut the guide on Tier 4 with 49ers RB Elijah Mitchell. The second-year again regarded incredible in his rookie 12 months, unexpectedly seizing the lead function for the 49ers. Two points that might impression Mitchell’s utilization for 2022 — the rumored need by Kyle Shanahan to unfold out carries amongst RBs (be careful for rookie Tyrion Davis-Price), and relatedly, a rushing-capable QB in Trey Lance (taking up for Jimmy Garoppolo), who may even impression the carry distribution percentages.

The Tier 4 group needs to be chosen beginning in direction of the top of spherical 3/starting of spherical 4, and persevering with by spherical 5.

TIER 5  
  Name Team
25.AJ DillonGB
26.Miles SandersPHI
27.Clyde Edwards-HelaireKC
28.Chase EdmondsMIA
29.Damien HarrisNE
30.Cordarrelle PattersonATL
31.Melvin GordonDEN
32.Tony PollardDAL
33.Rashaad PennySEA
34.Rhamondre StevensonNE
35.Kareem HuntCLE

Among the Tier 5 group are a handful of gamers who might grow to be RB1s if issues break their method in the course of the season. AJ Dillon, Tony Pollard and Rhamondre Stevenson every grow to be straightforward RB1s if their respective groups’ starters get injured. Seahawks starter Rashaad Penny confirmed his RB1 expertise down the stretch of the 2021 season, however good well being has evaded him all through his NFL profession. We even have beginning rushers whom are comparatively protected however considerably restricted in upside, as a result of variety of touches.

Miles Sanders performs in an offense with a rushing-focused QB and carries unfold amongst RBs, whereas Clyde Edwards-Helaire and the Chiefs’ dashing sport rightfully performs second fiddle to QB Patrick Mahomes’ prolific passing offense. Chase Edmonds joins the Dolphins, prone to lead the crew’s operating backs in touches in new coach Mike McDaniels’ offense, however Raheem Mostert and others will probably be within the equation as effectively. Patriots’ RB Damien Harris has Rhamondre Stevenson because the 1B to his 1A, however in a prolific dashing assault, each gamers land in RB3/flex territory.

The Falcons’ Cordarrelle Patterson was one of many breakout tales of the 2021 season. Will the magic repeat for 2022? You ought to mood any such expectations, given his age, the crew’s downgrade at QB and potential competitors from Damien Williams and rookie Tyler Allgeier.

Melvin Gordon seems to be the 1B to Javonte Williams’ 1A, however count on a bigger break up of touches in favor of Williams than in 2021. We wrap up Tier 5 with Kareem Hunt of the Browns, who will primarily function the crew’s passing down again, with a handful of carries intermixed every sport.

Rounds 6 – 7 make sense for the Tier 5 group.

TIER 6  
  Name Team
36.Devin SingletaryBUF
37.Darrell HendersonLAR
38.Ken WalkerSEA
39.James CookBUF
40.Dameon PierceHOU
41.Michael CarterNYJ
42.Gus EdwardsBAL
43.Ronald JonesKC

We’ll take a fast have a look at every of the ultimate tiers. My favorites from the Tier 6 group are the three rookies — Ken Walker, James Cook and Dameon Pierce. Once you drop into the decrease tiers, upside performs needs to be your focus. Cook needs to be worthwhile immediately as a move catching choice out of the backfield, whereas Walker and Pierce might very effectively take over lead RB duties in some unspecified time in the future in the course of the season. Devin Singletary ought to lead the Bills in dashing carries this season, however as talked about, Cook will issue into the combo, as will Zack Moss. Darrell Henderson, Michael Carter, Gus Edwards and Ronald Jones ought to every have a job as energetic components of their crew’s offensive plans, albeit none at the moment sits because the crew’s main rusher.

These RBs needs to be focused within the mid a part of your fantasy drafts (rounds 8 and onward).

TIER 7  
  Name Team
44.Alexander MattisonMIN
45.Nyheim HinesIND
46.James RobinsonJAC
47.JD McKissicWAS
48.Raheem MostertMIA
49.Isaiah SpillerLAC
50.Jamaal WilliamsDET
51.Marlon MackHOU
52.Kenneth GainwellPHI
53.Sony MichelMIA
54.Khalil HerbertCHI
55.Mark IngramNO

Looking at Tier 7, you discover that we’re now strictly taking a look at decrease ends of timeshares and backups. Dalvin Cook house owners ought to make it a precedence to snag Alexander Mattison in addition to a handcuff. A couple of different favorites of mine from this group:

Nyheim Hines — Will spell Jonathan Taylor whereas additionally enjoying function in passing sport.

Isaiah Spiller — Looks to be on his technique to securing the RB2 function with the Chargers.

Khalil Herbert — Saw what he can do because the lead again, in case he will get one other alternative.

Mark Ingram — If Alvin Kamara misses any time as a result of suspension, Ingram will probably be a strong RB2 for these video games.

Draft Strategy:

I’ve famous above the overall rounds through which the RBs in every tier needs to be drafted, so I gained’t regurgitate that info right here. But taking a macro stage view of the scenario, you need to goal at the least 1 RB from inside the prime 3 tiers, together with your second RB coming from no decrease than Tier 5. Yes, this steering differs from earlier seasons, the place RBs have been must-drafts a lot earlier. This season we have now much less certain issues at RB and extra depth (given extra timeshares), so it’s not as crucial to lock in your RBs immediately. I might additionally recommend concentrating on RBs who’re one incident away from potential RB1 standing (i.e. Tony Pollard, Rhamondre Stevenson Alexander Mattison, Ken Walker, and so forth.) as you get into the mid components of your drafts, together with some prime rookies equivalent to James Cook, Dameon Pierce,  and Isaiah Spiller (to go together with the aforementioned Walker). The theme right here — draft for upside at RB together with your mid to later spherical picks.

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