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2022 Fantasy Football: Consensus Running Back Rankings

Are running backs still king? Can we count on any running back in 2022 to give us quality production and stay healthy? The increase in the use of backfield committees and the continued evolution of the NFL even toward the pass is certainly giving fantasy football managers reason to ponder these questions. With this in mind, we gathered six of our top analysts to share their thoughts on the running back position and build out our 2022 Consensus Running Back Rankings.

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Draft Strategy for the Running Back Position

Before we get to the running back rankings, we thought it would be helpful to introduce you to our analysts and share their thoughts on how to approach the position in your upcoming drafts.

Colin McTamany – @Colin_McT

It’s better to have and not need than to need and not have when it comes to running backs in fantasy football. Last season’s injuries to the top-ranked players is proof of that. Some would rather wait to grab their first, and the bulk of, their backs in the middle rounds. I’m still spending one of my first two picks, if not both of them, on running backs that have a chance to finish at the top of the position. Later on, I’ll be securing strong handcuff options, even if not my own, and will walk away with no less than five total running backs. The key to success here is selecting running backs that have a heavy share of their backfield’s carries, catch passes, or ideally, do both.

Top RB Value

There is plenty of value to be had later on in drafts, but Saquon Barkley is the best bang for your buck ahead of this fantasy football season. He can currently be had, on average, in the Third Round. With an upgraded offensive line, his ability as a pass catcher, and playing under the best coach he’s had in the NFL, Brian Daboll, I want Saquon wherever I can get him. He’s also two years removed from a 2020 Week 2 ACL tear. I trust Saquon as my RB1 if I use my first two picks on wide receiver. I absolutely love Saquon as my RB2 if I get him in the Third with a running back already on my roster.

Bradlee Kilgore – @TripPlayFantasy

This is where I’ll be spending my most expensive draft capital. I tend to look towards the RB position for my first two draft picks. There’s scarcity value for later in the draft, and a large chunk of your fantasy points will come from this position. Also, it allows you to have a clearer picture of who you’ll need to draft in later rounds for depth, as you can easily choose their handcuff in case of injury, so you’re not left scrambling on the waiver wire trying to find 15+ points from a backup.

Top RB Value

If you reject this strategy and prefer a best player available type of strategy, then I’d advise looking at Travis Etienne Jr. He’s got an ADP of 46 at present, so you’ll be able to scoop him up around the 4th round. James Robinson is the starter, but he’ll be coming back from his Achilles injury, which means that Etienne is the lead dog, with very little competition. He’s got speed and great hands. He’s also no stranger to Trevor Lawrence as they played together in college. There’s a reason he was a 1st round draft pick in the NFL Draft two years ago. Don’t let his preseason injury last year scare you away.

Michael Quintero – @WeekendMike

Running backs are the most crucial position to have depth in. Yes, some people will run the zero running back strategy, but that is a high risk/high reward. Tons of value running backs fall down the draft board, but if you can snag Austin Ekeler, Joe Mixon or Najee Harris in the middle to the late first round, I would rather have them than a top wide receiver. It is smartest to go running back with back-to-back picks because the wide receiver position has way more depth than running backs. A workhorse running back is going to get way more touches than a number one receiver.

Top RB Value

This season, I love Breece Hall as a value pick who has a high upside. Hall looks to be the workhorse for the Jets and could be this year’s Harris in terms of breakout rookie running backs. Other safe picks that will go in the third or fourth rounds are Cam Akers, Damien Harris and Travis Etienne Jr.

Michael Govier – @mjgovier

The position that always seems to start off the season with a lack of depth, RB more often than not is filled with an endless supply of opportunists who become viable because of injuries. 2022 is no different. I believe RB is the position where you are best served selecting 2 starters in the first 3 rounds, but you could actually skip a RB in round 1 and still meet your points quota. James Conner of the Cardinals is an excellent example of a guy you can draft in round 3 and end up with one of the top 5 RBs for 2022.

Top RB Value

My thought process for taking a RB has to do with league format, scoring system, and the number of teams. The bigger the league, the more quickly I will snag a RB. The depth is strong at RB, but secure playing time is not. If you refuse to strike early or you’re one of those zero RB people (I still find that term misleading by the way), may I recommend the services of Damien Harris or Miles Sanders. There is competition in-house for both, but if it all breaks right these two are capable of monster stat outputs.

Meng Song – @FFA_Meng

Running backs are the most important position to have depth at in 1QB formats, and finding the breakout candidates who see workhorse usage is key. Talent matters and can lead to more opportunities, but volume is necessary for a running back to be a consistent fantasy producer. In PPR scoring, pass-catching backs should be prioritized over the early-down grinders, with a few exceptions made for rushers who also see heavy goal-line usage like Damien Harris last year. And while elite handcuffs like Tony Pollard and Alexander Mattison are popular picks in the later rounds, don’t forget about other no. 2 running backs who have weekly flex potential along with high upside in case of injury to the backs ahead of them.

Top RB Value

One such back who’s still way undervalued right now is Darrel Williams. Some are assuming that James Conner will maintain his workhorse role from the back half of last season, but the more likely outcome is that Arizona will use Williams (or maybe Eno Benjamin) in that Chase Edmonds role from 2021. By the way, Edmonds was outscoring Conner early last year prior to injury due to more receiving usage despite Conner’s touchdowns. Speaking of Edmonds, he’s also a steal at current ADP. Now in Miami, he’s the lead back for Mike McDaniel, who’s bringing Kyle Shanahan’s efficient zone run scheme to town, and the Dolphins have made upgrades to their offensive line from last season.

Ryan Cobbett – @ryancobbsj22

Running back is my favorite position to draft for. Depth in your running back room is a must because if you wait too long you’ll end up with a rotation piece instead of the main ball carrier. Another reason to stock up early is you are almost guaranteed to suffer some injuries with your running backs and you’ll want your replacement to have a small gap in production. One particular strategy I use to cover my team if I draft a somewhat injury-prone back is drafting his backup. For instance last year I drafted Dalvin Cook early and in the later rounds I made it a point to draft his backup Alexander Mattison to ensure I would get at least a ballpark of production that I’d expect from Cook.

Top RB Value

The running back I think brings the most value this year is the Chubb/Hunt combo. With a shaky QB situation, I expect them to depend on the ground game a lot this season. Another value tandem is the Green Bay running back room. Aaron Jones and A.J Dillon are sure to see an uptick in production with Rodgers having limited options outside.

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Top 75 Consensus Running Back Rankings for 2022 Fantasy Football

If you enjoy our running back rankings, please also check out our Consensus QB Rankings and the full 2022 FantraxHQ Fantasy Football Draft Kit

1Jonathan TaylorIND14221111
2Dalvin CookMIN7643234
3Austin EkelerLAC8532463
4Christian McCaffreyCAR13176325
5Derrick HenryTEN6415772
6Najee HarrisPIT9364999
7Joe MixonCIN10115861210
8Alvin KamaraNO14911111556
9Nick ChubbCLE917875157
10Aaron JonesGB1471610101011
10Saquon BarkleyNYG9891412417
12D'Andre SwiftDET6101998118
13Javonte WilliamsDEN9151213111312
14Leonard FournetteTB1113101818814
15James ConnerARI13161312131815
16Ezekiel ElliottDAL9141815141413
17Cam AkersLAR7222916211618
18David MontgomeryCHI14231721172619
19Elijah MitchellSF9212119271923
19Travis Etienne Jr.JAC11122325291724
21Antonio GibsonWAS14191527203021
22Breece HallNYJ10182517312022
23Josh JacobsLV6202020282720
24Damien HarrisNE10272424192825
25AJ DillonGB14243123222328
26Miles SandersPHI7262231162934
27J.K. DobbinsBAL10313622332116
28Clyde Edwards-HelaireKC8333229232427
28Chase EdmondsMIA11251435362236
30Kareem HuntCLE9322626303630
31Tony PollardDAL9342828323826
32Rashaad PennySEA11283332244133
33Melvin Gordon IIIDEN9302736353532
34Devin SingletaryBUF7353534343131
35Cordarrelle PattersonATL14373733253435
36Ken Walker IIISEA11363430443329
37Rhamondre StevensonNE10294446372538
38Michael CarterNYJ10433841265737
39Alexander MattisonMIN7454240413941
40Darrell Henderson Jr.LAR7474137434443
41James CookBUF7384347573240
42J.D. McKissicWAS14464642504552
43James RobinsonJAC11554938426442
44Kenneth GainwellPHI7446343395151
45Khalil HerbertCHI14485549454253
45Nyheim HinesIND14394858515046
47Dameon PierceHOU6404554605550
48Ronald Jones IIKC8NR3039385939
49Isaiah SpillerLAC8506456613748
50Rachaad WhiteTB11416162594659
51Tyler AllgeierATL14495859584956
52Jamaal WilliamsDET6516553476847
53Gus EdwardsBAL1054394848NR45
54Raheem MostertMIA11NR4045466744
55Darrel WilliamsARI13536857644358
55D'Onta ForemanCAR13526750635655
57Mark Ingram IINO14665463495261
58D'Ernest JohnsonCLE9576971524770
58Brian Robinson Jr.WAS14625666665363
60Zamir WhiteLV6605170714868
61Sony MichelMIA1159664454NR49
61Trey SermonSF9615065686365
63Marlon MackHOU642625569NR54
64Chuba HubbardCAR13715952677566
65Kenyan DrakeLV6725260707267
66Boston ScottPHI7746064627362
67Myles GaskinMIA1158716174NR57
68James WhiteNE10NR475165NR60
69Samaje PerineCIN1065NR67726069
70Mike DavisBAL1068707256NR74
71Zack MossBUF7NR536853NR72
72Ke'Shawn VaughnTB11NR757555NR73
73Damien WilliamsATL146474NR73NR71
74Jerick McKinnonKC863NR69NR58NR
75Chris CarsonSEA11NRNRNR40NR64
76Isaih PachecoKC867NRNRNR40NR
77Tyrion Davis-PriceSF969NRNR75NR75
78Rex BurkheadHOU6NR7274NR74NR
79Dontrell HilliardTEN656NRNRNR71NR
80Jeff Wilson Jr.SF9NR5773NRNRNR
81Snoop ConnerJAC11NR73NRNR65NR
82Eno BenjaminARI1373NRNRNR66NR
83Hassan HaskinsTEN670NRNRNR70NR
84Pierre Strong Jr.NE10NRNRNRNR54NR
85Chris EvansCIN10NRNRNRNR61NR
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