Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (R) is my top fantasy football option at his position for the 2022 season. File Photo by David Tulis/UPI | License Photo
MIAMI, July 25 (UPI) — Tennessee Titans workhorse Derrick Henry leads my Top 75 running back rankings for the 2022 fantasy football season. Jonathan Taylor, Austin Ekeler, Dalvin Cook and Nick Chubb are among my other elite options at the position.
I split my top targets of the 75 ranked players into five tiers: Hall of Fame, All-Pro, Pro Bowl, Just Napping (early to mid-round targets) and Deep Sleepers (mid- to late-round sleepers). The full rankings are below.
Running back continues to be the favored position to draft in the first round for most leagues. Though I prefer taking an elite pass catcher in the first round, it is hard to stay away from the NFL’s elite running backs, especially within the first five selections of the round.
When considering which running back to take, you should examine their injury history, past production, offensive line, team offensive strategy, backfield competition and strength of schedule.
I also prefer to draft running backs who are dynamic pass catchers and not known just for taking dozens of handoffs or red zone work.
Hall of Fame
1. Derrick Henry, 2. Jonathan Taylor, 3. Austin Ekeler
Henry was off to an MVP start last season before he missed teh final nine games due to a broken foot. I expect the Titans star to rebound in a big way this season and again approach 2,000 yards from scrimmage and 20 scores.
He should prove to be a consistent point scorer for your fantasy team, regardless of league format. Look for Henry to lead the NFL in carries, rushing yards and touchdowns. He has the ability to almost single handedly lead your fantasy team to victory in any given week.
Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor also should be a no-brainer pick at the start of every fantasy draft. Taylor, who led the NFL with 2,171 yards from scrimmage and 20 scores last season, should again be a potent offensive weapon. Taylor led many fantasy teams to a title last season and will be the focal point of the Colts offense for years to come.
I also expect Matt Ryan to provide more consistency at the quarterback position for the Colts, which should create more balance within the offense.
Taylor eclipsed 100 yards from scrimmage in 13 of his 17 starts last season. He also scored in 12 games. I don’t expect him to lead the league in rushing or touchdowns again in 2022, but he still should approach 1,800 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Ekeler is one of my favorite running backs entering the 2022 fantasy campaign. The Los Angeles Chargers star is known as one of the most dynamic running backs in the league. Ekeler totaled 1,558 yards from scrimmage and scored 20 times in 16 games last season.
I think this will be his first season with at least 2,000 yards from scrimmage. I also expect him to score at least 15 touchdowns. Ekeker plays a vital role on one of the NFL’s ascending offenses. He should also be an asset for every fantasy team.
5. Nick Chubb, 7. Joe Mixon, 10. Najee Harris
Chubb is my No. 5 running back this season. The Cleveland Browns veteran still must compete with Kareem Hunt for carries, but I believe he is still productive enough to be an every week starter. I also expect the Browns to lean on their running backs even more to start the season, as a potential suspension looms for starting quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Chubb totaled 1,433 yards from scrimmage and nine scores in 14 games last season. He should provide similar statistics this season. I would select Chubb above more uncertain options like Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliott, Alvin Kamara and Saquon Barkley. He might be the last elite running back who enters the season without many concerns about injuries or a potential suspension.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris is a Top 10 option in my rankings. Harris totaled 1,667 yards and 10 scores on a league-high 381 touches last season. I think he will be even more utilized in 2022, as the team works in two new quarterbacks. Harris also hauled in 74 catches in his rookie campaign. He should improve on those statistics this season and be an every week RB1, regardless of his matchup.
12. J.K. Dobbins, 13. Javonte Williams
Williams and Dobbins are among my favorite draft day targets this season. Williams is an up-and-coming playmaker in the Denver Broncos backfield, but still must compete with veteran Melvin Gordon for carries.
Last season, Williams totaled 1,219 yards and seven scores. He excelled as a runner and pass catcher, despite sharing work. Look for the Broncos to lean on Williams a bit more this season. He also enters the year with a new offensive leader in quarterback Russell Wilson, who should provide a major boost.
The Broncos schedule also features six games against teams that ranked inside the Top 10 for allowing the most fantasy points to running backs last season. Three of those matchups are in the first four weeks. Five of those matchups come within the first seven weeks.
Williams should provide immediate impact for your team and could be key in getting your squad off to a fast start.
Dobbins enters the year with injury concerns, as he recovers from the knee injury he sustained last year, but he recently tweeted that he will be ready for Week 1.
If that proves to be the case, Dobbins should be considered as a low-end RB1 or RB2 for any fantasy team. The Ravens are known as one of the best running teams in the NFL. Their 2022 schedule features just two matchups against teams that ranked inside the Top 10 for allowing the fewest fantasy points to running backs.
Dobbins is my No. 12 option at the position, but you can probably snag him at the end of the second round or in the third round. He is a spectacular option if you started your draft with wide receivers.
19. Chase Edmonds, 21. Rashaad Penny
Edmonds and Penny are among my favorite sleepers this year. Edmonds joined the Miami Dolphins this off-season and appears to be in line to get the most work.
The veteran running back improved statistically each of his four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. Edmonds, who totaled 903 yards from scrimmage last season, should eclipse 1,000 yards from scrimmage in 2022. He also should score at last eight touchdowns.
The Dolphins also schedule this season includes five matchups against teams that ranked inside the Top 10 for allowing the most fantasy points to running backs last season.
Edmonds is my No. 19 option at the position, but should only be considered as a low-end RB2 or flex play in leagues with at least 14 teams.
Penny finally broke out late last season for the Seattle Seahawks after he struggled with injuries and production over his first three seasons. He ended the season with 797 yards from scrimmage and six scores. Most of that production came over the final five weeks of the season, including a 190-yard effort in Week 17.
The Seahawks selected running back Kenneth Walker III in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft, but Penny still should get the first crack at first-team work. The Seahawks’ schedule is brutal, in terms of how their opponents limited fantasy running backs last season, but I expect the team to lean on the running game a ton due to Wilson’s departure.
That dependence on the backfield also should lead to more pass catching work for Penny. He should be considered as a low-end RB2 or flex play this year, but should only be started in favorable matchups.
31. James Cook
James Cook, the younger brother of Minnesota Vikings star Dalvin Cook, is one of my favorite players to target heading into fantasy drafts.
Cook likely shouldn’t be drafted until the later rounds, due to uncertainty about how the Buffalo Bills plan to use their running backs, but he could prove to be a great weapon for your fantasy team.
The Bills start the season with a rough stretch against the Rams, Titans, Dolphins and Ravens defenses. I think that start, paired with potential poor production from the other Bills’ running backs, could lead to more work for Cook through the middle portion of the fantasy season.
If you don’t snag Cook in your draft, look to trade for him in Week 3 or 4. The Bills likely won’t leave the second-round pick on the bench due to his skills as a runner and pass catcher.
Top 75 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings for 2022
1. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans, Bye Week 6
2. Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts, Bye Week 14
3. Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers, Bye Week 8
4. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings, Bye Week 7
5. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns, Bye Week 9
6. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals, Bye Week 10
7. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers, Bye Week 13
8. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints, Bye Week 14
9. Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers, Bye Week 9
10. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants, Bye Week 9
11. Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers, Bye Week 14
12. J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens, Bye Week 10
13. Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos, Bye Week 9
14. James Conner, Arizona Cardinals, Bye Week 13
15. David Montgomery, Chicago Bears, Bye Week 14
16. D’Andre Swift, Detroit Lions, Bye Week 6
17. Elijah Mitchell, San Francisco 49ers, Bye Week 9
18. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys, Bye Week 9
19. Chase Edmonds, Miami Dolphins, Bye Week 11
20. Kareem Hunt, Cleveland Browns, Bye Week 9
21. Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks, Bye Week 11
22. Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders, Bye Week 6
23. Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles, Bye Week 7
24. Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams, Bye Week 7
25. A.J. Dillon, Green Bay Packers, Bye Week 14
26. Damien Harris, New England Patriots, Bye Week 10
27. Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Bye Week 11
28. Dameon Pierce, Houston Texans, Bye Week 6
29. Brian Robinson Jr., Washington Commanders, Bye Week 14
30. Breece Hall, New York Jets, Bye Week 10
31. James Cook, Buffalo Bills, Bye Week 7
32. Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys, Bye Week 9
33. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City Chiefs, Bye Week 8
34. Travis Etienne, Jacksonville Jaguars, Bye Week 11
35. Antonio Gibson, Washington Commanders, Bye Week 14
36. Melvin Gordon, Denver Broncos, Bye Week 9
37. Kenneth Walker III, Seattle Seahawks, Bye Week 11
38. Cordarrelle Patterson, Atlanta Falcons, Bye Week 14
39. James Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars, Bye Week 11
40. Tyler Allgeier, Atlanta Falcons, Bye Week 14
41. Rhamondre Stevenson, New England Patriots, Bye Week 10
42. Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings, Bye Week 7
43. Devin Singletary, Buffalo Bills, Bye Week 7
44. Rachaad White, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Bye Week 11
45. Kenneth Gainwell, Philadelphia Eagles, Bye Week 7
46. Michael Carter, New York Jets, Bye Week 10
47. Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts, Bye Week 14
48. Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints, Bye Week 14
49. Darrell Henderson, Los Angeles Rams, Bye Week 7
50. Raheem Mostert, Miami Dolphins, Bye Week 11
51. Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens, Bye Week 10
52. Darrel Williams, Arizona Cardinals, Bye Week 13
53. Mike Davis, Baltimore Ravens, Bye Week 10
54. Khalil Herbert, Chicago Bears, Bye Week 14
55. Isaiah Spiller, Los Angeles Chargers, Bye Week 8
56. Marlon Mack, Houston Texans, Bye Week 6
57. D’Onta Foreman, Carolina Panthers, Bye Week 13
58. Hassan Haskins, Tennessee Titans, Bye Week 6
59. Eno Benjamin, Arizona Cardinals, Bye Week 13
60. Jerick McKinnon, Kansas City Chiefs, Bye Week 8
61. Jamaal Williams, Detroit Lions, Bye Week 6
62. Damien Williams, Atlanta Falcons, Bye Week 14
63. J.D. McKissic, Washington Commanders, Bye Week 14
64. Rex Burkhead, Houston Texans, Bye Week 6
65. Ty Montgomery, New England Patriots, Bye Week 10
66. Zack Moss, Buffalo Bills, Bye Week 7
67. Sony Michel, Miami Dolphins, Bye Week 11
68. Trey Sermon, San Francisco 49ers, Bye Week 9
69. Ronald Jones, Kansas City Chiefs, Bye Week 8
70. Boston Scott, Philadelphia Eagles, Bye Week 7
71. Jeff Wilson Jr., San Francisco 49ers, Bye Week 9
72. Samaje Perine, Cincinnati Bengals, Bye Week 10
73. Zamir White, Las Vegas Raiders, Bye Week 6
74. D’Ernest Johnson, Cleveland Browns, Bye Week 9
75. Chris Evans, Cincinnati Bengals, Bye Week 10