NFL Fantasy – Top 5 Running Backs 2022
In the coming days, you can read articles on our website in which we will analyze all positions for NFL fantasy.
In our second NFL fantasy article, we’ll break down which running backs you should pick for your Fantasy team, which running backs you should avoid, and which running backs are the best sleepers.
Top 5 Fantasy Running Backs 2022
It’s impossible not to think that Jonathan Taylor is the best fantasy running back right now. He had 18 touchdowns and 1,811 rushing yards last season. How dominant he was is best shown by the fact that second-best Nick Chubb had „only“ 1,259.
The Indianapolis Colts offensive line is still one of the best in the NFL, and Taylor will once again have plenty of room to run. Having Taylor on your fantasy team this year could make the difference between your team being a title contender or not.
Arguably, Dalvin Cook has been one of the three best running backs in the NFL for the last five years. However, his fantasy numbers were subpar last year as he had just six touchdowns despite 1,159 rushing yards.
Still, it should be noted that the chemistry inside the Minnesota Vikings locker room was very poor last year, and most of the players performed below expectations. Now when the offensive line is better than last season and the new coaching staff is here, it’s realistic to expect that Cook will be again statistically top 5 running back, maybe even top 3.
Melvin Gordon’s departure to the Denver Broncos in 2020 opened up space for Austin Ekeler, who became one of the best running backs in the NFL. He had 20 touchdowns last year (12 rushing and 8 receiving) despite Keenan Allen, and Mike Williams being healthy.
With the Los Angeles Chargers offense system remaining the same, there is no reason for Ekeler not to have a similar season. If he plays more than 14 games, he will be top 5 fantasy running back for the second year in a row.
Derrick Henry led the league in rushing yards in 2019 and 2020. If he hadn’t been injured last season, he would be the only one capable to play on Jonathan Taylor’s level, if not better. In most fantasy drafts, Henry will be one of the first two picks, although some cautious players may skip him with the second pick due to possible fear of another injury.
Looking at individual quality, Henry is still one of the best offensive players in the entire league, and if he stays healthy, there is a good chance he will be statistically the best running back again. 15 touchdowns and 1,500 rushing yards is a minimum that Henry should not go below.
Joe Mixon is a safe bet. In 2018 and 2019, he had over 1,000 rushing yards, while last year, he set his own record with 1,205 rushing and 314 receiving yards, with a total of 16 touchdowns. After going to the Super Bowl last season, the confidence of all Cincinnati Bengals players will be even higher.
The Cincinnati Bengals offensive line is still top 10 in the NFL. Mixon may not finish the 2022 season as the top 3 running back in fantasy numbers like he did last year, but he should be able to stay in the top 5 if he stays healthy.
Five „Good“ Running Backs You Should Avoid This Season
If you’re new to fantasy or don’t follow the NFL closely enough, Christian McCaffrey is a player you should avoid. After playing great in 2018 and 2019, injuries completely slowed down his career.
In total, he played only ten games in the last two seasons. No one can know in what kind of shape he will be in week 1. Of course, if by some miracle he stays healthy and plays more than 13 games, McCaffrey can be a top-five running back once again. However, next to his name is a big if.
Drafting Alvin Kamara is a huge risk. Due to his incident at the Pro Bowl, a hearing in a battery case will be scheduled in September or October. It could very easily happen that Kamara gets suspended for a certain number of games, and that would be disastrous for your fantasy team.
Looking only at football qualities, Kamara is, without a doubt, one of the best running backs in the league. He is able to gain yards equally well, rushing and receiving. This is a classic “high risk high reward” situation for all fantasy owners.
Aaron Jones is a trap that many fantasy owners could fall into. The Green Bay Packers finally have a great offensive line. Davante Adams left for the Las Vegas Raiders, and Aaron Rodgers is surrounded by young wide receivers.
Because of this, most will decide to draft Jones expecting more balls to end up in his hands. However, it is much more realistic that Jones will be benched during this season. Last year, his backup A.J. Dillon had more rushing yards and made the most of all his minutes on the field.
After being a first-team all-pro in his rookie year in 2016, everyone expected Ezekiel Elliott to dominate the NFL. However, his rookie year remained the best of his career. Last season, he played all 17 games, and he still wasn’t a top 5 running back in any important fantasy category.
In addition, his backup Tony Pollard is getting better and better every year, and he is emerging as an important part of the Dallas Cowboys offense. Elliott should have a solid season, but it is much more likely for him to be outside the top 15 than to be a top 5 running back this year.
Josh Jacobs career is in a significant decline. The Las Vegas Raiders opted not to pick up the fifth year of his contract, meaning he will be a free agent next summer. That says it all about what the future holds for Jacobs in this franchise.
The Raiders traded for Davante Adams, and he will be a key figure in Josh McDaniels offense. Also, Kenyan Drake and Brandon Bolden will get a lot of carries. Jacobs had 872 rushing yards and nine touchdowns last season. Those numbers will be even lower now, and he probably won’t even rank among top 20 running backs statistically at the end of the season.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire averaged 4.4 yards per carry in both previous seasons but missed a large number of games due to injuries. If he stays healthy and plays 15 or more games, he could very easily be a top 10 fantasy running back this year.
Tyreek Hill is no longer here, and that’s opened up space for all other players in the Kansas City Chiefs offense. Edwards-Helaire could benefit. Although many will pass him on the draft, as an RB 2, he is a great option this season for all fantasy owners.
Travis Etienne Jr.
Due to a foot injury, Travis Etienne Jr. missed his entire rookie season. In Doug Pederson’s system, he is expected to have a big role, and the only question is at what level he will be in the NFL. He broke many NCAA records, and his transition could easily be a success.
However, many fantasy owners are afraid of last year’s injury since no one has a clear idea of how much it affected him. Etienne is a mystery. He could end up as one of top five running backs, but he could be a complete bust. If you can get him in later in the draft, it’s worth the gamble.
One of the biggest weaknesses in the Buffalo Bills offense is lack of a good running back. Devin Singletary didn’t have 1,000 rushing yards in any of previous three seasons. That’s exactly why the Bills drafted James Cook in the second round this year.
He impressed many during training camps and it could very easily happen that after a couple of weeks he completely takes over running back starting position. Risking with Cook as a RB 2 option might be bust, but if you can draft him as a third running back in late rounds, that would be a good choice.
As mentioned earlier in this article, Aaron Jones had a statistically weaker season than AJ Dillon last year. Dillon was better than Jones in red zone situations as well and it could easily happen that the Green Bay Packers use him more than their starter when they are close to opponents end zone.
Also, Jones very often used to have problems with injuries and all of that could work in Dillon’s favor. Either way, it’s much better to have Dillon on your fantasy team than a starter who could easily lose his job during this season.
The Houston Texans had two disappointing seasons and that likely won’t change this year. Dameon Pierce was drafted in the fourth round and looking at reports from training camp, he is expected to be starting running back.
Given that his competition are Marlon Mack and Rex Burkhead, it’s not surprising that Pierce will probably get the job. If that’s the case, you never know with rookies. It wouldn’t be the first time that someone unexpectedly takes a chance and has a season that exceeds all expectations.