• Marc Shannep

RB Rankings

Here is an in-depth look at my top-10 running backs for the 2022 season.

# 1 Jonathan Taylor (IND)

No surprise here; JT is at the top of the board. Taylor is a safer bet than CMC, if just because of his age, and he has bulked up like the Hulk this off-season. He was dominant in 2021 with eleven RB1 performances in a row, and he was only one of five RBs in NFL history to go for 1800 yards and 18 TDs. He does have a QB upgrade with Matt Ryan, so there could possibly be some TD regression. But do not overthink it.

# 2 Christian McCaffrey (CAR)

It has been a bumpy road for CMC due to injury the last two years, but stories out of camp seem positive – when he plays, he is an elite RB. In the ten total games he played in the last two years, he has seven top-five finishes, which is as many as Dalvin Cook in that time span. The man is game script proof, and it just comes down to whether you have the courage to hit the draft button.

# 3 Derrick Henry (TEN)

Even without playing for half the season due to injury, Henry was still a top-12 RB points-wise until Week 16 last season, but he is another RB that is scary to draft in 2022. Concerns include his age and his Jones fracture injury, even though he returned from it in the playoffs last year. The fracture will now be fully healed, but even Yeti’s start to break down with this much level of work. Henry might be used more in the passing game with AJ Brown departed, but the Titans also have a 1st place schedule this year, which will be much more challenging than last year. Good luck making the decision.

# 4 Dalvin Cook (MIN)

Despite playing only 13 games, he had the 5th most carries and the 2nd most 15+ yard runs, but Dalvin Cook left a sour taste in his owner’s mouths with a subpar last couple of weeks. The thing with Cook is he will miss a game or two, so you must have a plan B if you draft him, which might be drafting Alexander Mattison with the last pick of your draft. Cook is poised for more TDs this year after only making it in the end zone six times last year. New Head Coach Kevin O’Connell also brings an up-tempo style to the Vikings, potentially leading to more TD opportunities for Cook.

# 5 Austin Ekeler (LAC)

Last season we wondered if Ekeler would get enough red zone opportunities to make him valuable, and spoiler alert, he did. The big question is can he handle the full workload this season, and will he even get it? He is a pass-catching RB – which we know is so valuable – on a high-powered offense, but he should have some TD regression. The Chargers drafted Isaiah Spiller to spell Ekeler potentially, but he should still finish 2022 as Awesome Excellent.

# 6 Alvin Kamara (NO)

Kamara finished as RB8 last year, but is he still super? He averaged the most touches of his career in 2021 but was the least efficient with those touches. He will never be the same without Drew Brees, but it will be intriguing to see how he functions in an offense led by Jameis Winston. More pass catchers have been added to New Orleans, so there is a question about whether Kamara’s pass-catching prowess will still be strong. TDs will be essential to Kamara’s success. Finally, his suspension is looming, but it does not look to be happening this year. Stay informed on that.

# 7 Joe Mixon (CIN)

Polarizing Joe Mixon is next. He was RB3 in 2021 and had the 3rd most RB carries, the 5th most red zone touches, and the 4th most TDs. Mixon is the guy in Cincinnati, but even with improvements, the offensive line still needs work to protect him and allow him to succeed. One concerned is that he is not a game script proof back, as we all remember seeing Samajae Perine in the Super Bowl when they were resting Mixon. The Bengals strength of schedule has changed drastically from last year – they go from the 3rd easiest to the 7th hardest.

# 8 Aaron Jones (GB)

Aaron Jones is going as a great value in drafts – the Packers need pass-catchers, and Jones is good at that. He is an efficient runner, he has been the 6th in yards per touch over the last three years, and in 2021, he had the 6th most RB receptions and the 9th most red zone touches. He will undoubtedly lose some touches to AJ Dillon, but do not let that dissuade you from drafting Jones, especially at his current value.

# 9 D'Andre Swift (DET)

D’Andre Swift has the highest ADP on this list, which will inevitably rise even higher thanks to the “Hard Knocks” bump. Sure, he’s never finished a season as an overall RB1, but it’s not for lack of trying. His efficiency last year was off the charts, boasting the 2nd most yards created per touch among all RBs. He was fantasy’s RB7 until he busted his shoulder in Week 12. And sure, as lovable as the Lions are, it’s undeniable that they were and probably will continue to be a bad team. But like the Rock says, “it doesn’t matter,” because Swift is essentially matchup-proof thanks to his receiving prowess. He ended 2021 with the 4th MOST receptions (62) despite missing four games and being injured in another. Prior to his injury, he was on a 17-game pace for 114 targets and 90 receptions. He’ll also be behind one of the best offensive lines in football. If you’re in any form of a PPR league, do yourself a favor and reach for Swift before the hype gets out of control.

# 10 Nick Chubb (CLE)

We already know the story with Nick Chubb: one of the best pure runners in the NFL, but doesn’t get enough targets to warrant a top pick. Chubb finished the 2021 season with the 2nd most rushing yards (1,259) via the 4th most evaded tackles (23) per PFRdespite missing three games. But he needed to be efficient because he was barely used in the passing game, being out-targeted by his counterpart Kareem Hunt (25 vs 27 targets) who only played in 8 games. Chubb was also surprisingly boom-bust last year. He had as many weeks in the top-10 (7) as he had as an RB27 or worse (7). There’s also the ongoing Deshaun Watson debacle which could affect his number of scoring opportunities as a Jacoby Brissett-led offense may not make many trips to the red zone.