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Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings - Best Ball Leagues

We have progressed beyond the most dormant weeks of this offseason, and the impending player movement that will transpire during free agency will fuel encouraging rises and concerning falls in the stock of various players. The highly-anticipated NFL Draft is also approaching, which will create another notable shift in the fantasy landscape as each selection is announced.

The Best Ball draft process is also escalating, as fantasy managers embrace the opportunity to assemble rosters that will not require any additional management following the conclusion of each draft. That’s why the team at RotoBaller is providing the latest updates on our tiered rankings, that will help you prepare for every draft in this popular format. That includes this article, which will direct the spotlight on running backs.

This critical position has been the source of various strategies during your drafts, as some of you are prioritizing the selection of multiple backs during the initial rounds. Other managers have embraced the Hero-RB strategy by seizing your first backs in Round 1, then exercising patience through a collection of rounds before addressing the position again. Some of you are also focusing on other positions during the early rounds while adhering to the Zero-RB approach. The backs will be examined in a two-part series, and this article will focus on Tiers 1-3. You can also find all of the latest rankings here.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers won two writing awards and received 12 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. A big congrats to our very own Byron Lindeque (Golf) and Jordan McAbee (NASCAR) for both winning Writer Of The Year awards! Be sure to follow RotoBaller's analysis and advice all year long, and win more. Win More With RotoBaller!

 

2022 Running Back Rankings - Best Ball

RB
Rank
RB
Tier
Player Name Overall
Rank
Overall
Tier
1 1 Jonathan Taylor 1 1
2 1 Derrick Henry 2 1
3 1 Christian McCaffrey 3 1
4 1 Austin Ekeler 4 1
5 2 Dalvin Cook 7 1
6 2 Najee Harris 8 1
7 2 Joe Mixon 11 2
8 3 D'Andre Swift 14 2
9 3 Nick Chubb 16 2
10 3 Javonte Williams 17 2
11 3 Antonio Gibson 21 3
12 3 Cam Akers 22 3
13 4 Alvin Kamara 25 3
14 4 Aaron Jones 27 3
15 4 Saquon Barkley 28 3
16 4 David Montgomery 29 4
17 4 Elijah Mitchell 32 4
18 4 Ezekiel Elliott 33 4
19 5 Leonard Fournette 38 4
20 5 Josh Jacobs 43 4
21 5 J.K. Dobbins 50 5
22 5 Michael Carter 51 5
23 5 Breece Hall 54 5
24 5 Damien Harris 55 5
25 5 Travis Etienne Jr. 60 6
26 5 Devin Singletary 61 6
27 6 Kareem Hunt 68 6
28 6 AJ Dillon 72 6
29 6 James Conner 78 7
30 6 Miles Sanders 81 7
31 6 Melvin Gordon III 82 7
32 6 Clyde Edwards-Helaire 83 7
33 7 Chris Carson 87 8
34 7 Rashaad Penny 89 8
35 7 Tony Pollard 90 8
36 7 Chase Edmonds 91 8
37 7 Alexander Mattison 97 8
38 7 Kenneth Walker 100 9
39 7 Isaiah Spiller 105 9
40 8 Rhamondre Stevenson 110 9
41 8 Ronald Jones II 113 10
42 8 Darrel Williams 117 10
43 8 Darrell Henderson Jr. 121 10
44 8 Khalil Herbert 126 10
45 8 Jamaal Williams 132 10
46 8 Chuba Hubbard 135 11
47 9 Kenneth Gainwell 142 11
48 9 Sony Michel 144 11
49 9 Raheem Mostert 146 11
50 9 J.D. McKissic 156 12
51 9 Gus Edwards 159 13
52 9 D'Onta Foreman 161 13
53 9 James White 164 13
54 9 Jerick McKinnon 169 13
55 9 Nyheim Hines 171 13
56 9 Rachaad White 174 13
57 9 Kenyan Drake 178 14
58 9 Ke'Shawn Vaughn 180 14
59 10 James Robinson 181 14
60 10 James Cook 183 14
61 10 CJ Verdell 190 14
62 10 Jordan Howard 191 14
63 10 Kyren Williams 194 14
64 10 Zamir White 197 14
65 10 Jermar Jefferson 201 14
66 10 Samaje Perine 202 15
67 10 Boston Scott 204 15
68 10 Tyler Badie 206 15
69 10 Mark Ingram II 208 15
70 10 Matt Breida 209 15
71 10 Trey Sermon 211 15
72 10 D'Ernest Johnson 212 15
73 10 Duke Johnson Jr. 219 15
74 10 Mike Davis 220 15
75 11 Jerome Ford 226 16
76 11 David Johnson 232 16
77 11 Myles Gaskin 233 16
78 11 Rex Burkhead 237 16
79 11 Zack Moss 241 16
80 11 Justin Jackson 242 16
81 11 Devonta Freeman 244 16
82 11 Jeff Wilson Jr. 245 16
83 11 Brian Robinson Jr. 250 17
84 12 Tevin Coleman 251 17
85 12 Phillip Lindsay 252 17
86 12 Marlon Mack 254 17
87 12 DeeJay Dallas 259 17
88 12 Sincere McCormick 260 17
89 12 JaMycal Hasty 263 18
90 12 Jaret Patterson 264 18
91 12 Latavius Murray 265 18
92 12 Dameon Pierce 270 18
93 12 Giovani Bernard 271 18
94 12 Abram Smith 272 18
95 12 Jerrion Ealy 275 18
96 12 Tyler Allgeier 280 18
97 13 Mike Boone 282 18
98 13 Devontae Booker 286 18
99 13 Wayne Gallman Jr. 287 18
100 13 Carlos Hyde 294 18
101 13 Zonovan Knight 295 18
102 13 Joshua Kelley 300 18
103 13 Jalen Richard 305 19
104 13 Damien Williams 306 19
105 13 Ty Johnson 313 19
106 13 Tarik Cohen 314 19
107 13 Hassan Haskins 315 19
108 13 Darrynton Evans 316 19
109 13 Kalen Ballage 326 19
110 13 Chris Evans 328 19
111 13 Salvon Ahmed 329 19

 

Tier 1

Jonathan Taylor, Derrick Henry, Christian McCaffrey, Austin Ekeler

Taylor’s name is located at the top of most draft boards in the aftermath of the exceptional numbers that he assembled during his unmatched 2021 season. Taylor confiscated the league rushing title while stockpiling a league-high 1,811 yards (106.5 per game). He also exceeded 100 yards in 10 different matchups – which was five more than any other back – while also producing 150+ yards three times. Taylor also paced all backs in both yards before contact (870), and yards after contact (941), and accrued a league-high 18 touchdowns.

Taylor’s 85 red zone carries were a whopping 39 more than any other rushers, while his outstanding season also propelled him atop the Football Outsiders’ rankings in DYAR (Defense Adjusted Yards Above Replacement). He will enter Week 1 as the unquestioned cornerstone of the Colts’ offense and should be the first overall selection during your drafts.

Henry had accumulated 82 more carries and 288 more yards than any other runner from Weeks 1-8 while stockpiling a league-best 219 attempts (27.4 per game), and 937 yards (117.1 per game). He had also generated a league-high five games with 100+ yards, eclipsed 150 yards twice, and was also pacing the league with 10 touchdowns. Henry had also assembled 42 more fantasy points than any other back before a broken foot suddenly derailed his steady accumulation of yardage, touchdowns, and fantasy points.

Weeks 1-8 Yards YPG 100+ TDs
Derrick Henry 937 117.1 5 10
Jonathan Taylor 649 81.1 3 6
Nick Chubb 584 97.3 2 4
Joe Mixon 572 71.5 1 5
Ezekiel Elliott 571 81.6 2 5
Damien Harris 517 64.6 3 6
Darrell Henderson 507 72.4 0 5
James Robinson 482 68.9 1 5
Alvin Kamara 480 68.6 1 2
Najee Harris 479 68.4 1 3
Aaron Jones 463 57.9 1 3
Dalvin Cook 444 88.8 2 2

Henry still finished ninth in rushing yardage during 2021, even though he was affixed to the sideline from Weeks 9-18. He also tied for second in games of 100+ and was sixth in touchdowns. He will regain responsibilities as the primary component in Tennessee’s offense and could approach 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns.

McCaffrey was a mainstay atop the best ball rankings in both 2020 and 2021 as a byproduct of two consecutive finishes at RB1 (2018/2019). The fervor for targeting the 25-year old back has dissipated slightly after injuries have sidelined him during 23 of Carolina’s last 33 matchups. Concerns surrounding the Panthers’ shortcomings at quarterback are justified, as are any doubts that Matt Rhule and new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo have the acumen to operate effectively as the architects of Carolina’s deteriorating offense.

However, McCaffrey remains an elite talent whose production has remained exceptional whenever he is on the field. He averaged 30.1 points per game in three contests during 2020 and averaged 14 carries, 5.9 targets, and 112 total yards per game in 2021. He remains one of just three players to accrue 1,000 rushing and 1,000 receiving yards in the same season and is worthy of selection among the top three at his position.

Ekeler thrived with his indispensable role during Joe Lombardi’s first season as the Chargers’ offensive coordinator, as the elusive sixth-year back operated with a career-high 65% snap share. He also finished at RB2, while his 94 targets (15.1% share/5.9 per game) tied for the lead among all backs. He also led his position in receiving yardage (647/40.4 per game) yards after catch (627), and receiving touchdowns (8), while finishing second in receptions (70/4.4 per game). Ekeler was also 12th in rushing yardage (911/56.9 per game), second in red zone attempts (46), and fifth in rushing touchdowns (12), while establishing career highs in attempts, rushing yardage, rushing touchdowns, and receiving touchdowns.

It will be difficult for Ekeler to replicate his 2021 touchdown total. However, he is positioned to accrue outstanding numbers while functioning within a Charger attack that ranked fourth (390.2 yards per game). That elevates him among the top five backs that should be targeted during your drafts.

 

Tier 2

Dalvin Cook, Najee Harris. Joe Mixon 

Cook’s current ADP (14) places him below seven other backs. This represents a notable decline from one year ago when fantasy managers seized him as the second overall selection during their drafts. This was largely in response to his average of 24 points per game during 2020 when he assembled 1,557 yards (111.2 per game) and 16 touchdowns. Cook did not replicate those numbers last season, as he missed three matchups while contending with health issues (ankle/shoulder/reserve-COVID).

He still finished fifth in both rushing yardage (1,159), and attempts (249/19.2 per game), although his 89.2 yards per game average decreased by 22 yards when contrasted with 2020 (111.2 per game). Cook also scored six times after averaging 14.5 touchdowns during 2019-2020 and established new career lows in receptions (2.6) and receiving yards per game (17.2). The decline in Cook's ADP has also been fueled by his inability to play in over 14 games during any of his first five seasons. However, that also presents an opportunity to secure him near the onset of Round 2.

Harris ascended to RB3 during his rookie season, while accumulating the second-highest number of carries (307/18.1 per game) and finishing fourth with 1,200 yards on the ground (70.6 per game). He was also third in yards after contact (675), second in broken tackles (30), and third with 62 rushes for first downs. His extensive involvement in Pittsburgh’s passing attack also vaulted him to the league lead among running backs with 74 receptions (4.4 per game). He also tied with Ekeler for the lead in targets (94/5.5 per game) and was third with 467 receiving yards (27.5 per game).

Weeks 1-18 Rec Rec/Gm Targets  Targ/Gm Yards
Najee Harris 74 4.4 94 5.5 467
Austin Ekeler 70 4.4 94 5.9 647
Leonard Fournette 69 4.9 84 6 454
D'Andre Swift 62 4.8 78 6 452
Josh Jacobs 54 3.6 64 4.3 348
Cordarrelle Patterson 52 3.3 69 4.3 548
Aaron Jones 52 3.5 65 4.3 391
Myles Gaskin 49 2.9 63 3.7 234
Alvin Kamara 47 3.6 67 5.2 439
Ezekiel Elliott 47 2.8 65 3.8 287
Darrel Williams 47 2.8 57 3.4 452
Mike Davis 44 2.6 58 3.4 259

Pittsburgh will enter Week 1 with a reconstructed offense that will include a new signal-caller to replace Ben Roethlisberger, However, Harris easily led his position in snap share  (83.6%), and will retain an integral role in the Steelers’ reshaped attack.

Mixon was RB9 from Weeks 1-6 during 2020, after averaging a career-high 19.8 carries and 71.3 yards per game during that span. He suffered a foot injury that prematurely ended his promising season, which also intensified further debate regarding his viability as an RB1. However, Mixon delivered the best numbers of his career in 2021, including 1,205 yards on the ground (75.3 per game). That was the third time in four seasons that he has accrued 1,130+, and his career-best total vaulted him to third overall from Weeks 1-18.

He also finished third in both attempts (292/18.3 per game), and yards before contact (692), was fourth in yards after contact (543), fifth in rushes for first downs (60), and generated a career-high 13 touchdowns, Mixon will operate as the undisputed feature back in Cincinnati's potent attack. That elevates him among your most viable options near the end of Round 1 in your drafts.

 

Tier 3

D'Andre Swift, Nick Chubb, Javonte Williams  Antonio GibsonCam Akers

Swift was RB5 from Weeks 1-11 while leading all running backs in targets (67/6.7 per game), and receptions (53/5.3 per game), and vaulting to second in receiving yardage (420/42 per game).

Weeks 1-11 Targets Targ % Rec Yards
D'Andre Swift 67 19.9 53 420
Najee Harris 62 16 49 337
Austin Ekeler 58 15.1 45 405
Leonard Fournette 54 12.8 44 323
Myles Gaskin 52 12.5 41 209
Cordarrelle Patterson 49 15.1 39 473
J.D. McKissic 48 14.8 38 371
Aaron Jones 47 14.8 37 298
Michael Carter 46 11.8 32 308
Alvin Kamara 44 20 32 310
Christian McCaffrey 40 21.1 37 343
Darrel Williams 40 9.1 32 282

He was also 14th in rushing yardage (555/55.5 per game), and 12th in carries (137/13.7 per game) during that sequence, before a lingering shoulder injury impacted his usage and production during Detroit’s remaining matchups.

However, he still finished fourth at his position in targets (78/6.0 per game), and receptions 62/4.8 per game), and fifth in receiving yards (452/34.8 per game) despite the troublesome shoulder. Swift was also fifth overall in snap share (72.6%) before his injury, and his workload could expand further within a Lions offense that will be directed by second-year head coach Dan Campbell and new offensive coordinator Ben Johnson. His involvement as a pass-catcher will also keep his ADP contained in Round 2 during the majority of drafts.

Chubb was averaging 104.6 yards per game from Weeks 1-5 before his statistical momentum was temporarily curtailed by a calf issue in Weeks 6-7. He was also sidelined in Week 10 (reserve/COVID), and his 228 attempts were exceeded by seven other backs. However, Chubb still finished second overall in rushing yardage (1,259). His 88.9 yards per game average was only surpassed by Taylor and Henry. while he also averaged 5.5 yards per attempt for a second consecutive season.

Chubb also finished second in yards after contact (692) was also second with 12 runs of 20+, and tied for second with five games of 100+. He remains fully capable of stockpiling yardage and functioning as a proven point producer for fantasy managers. His output would also expand even further if Kareem Hunt (9.8 carries/3.4 targets per game), was not lurking as a weekly threat to pilfer touches. However, that should not deter you from targeting Chubb as a low-end RB1.

Even though Williams was expected to begin his 2021 season in a quintessential committee with Melvin Gordon, his appealing blend of physicality and speed led to anticipation that he would eventually capture the majority of touches that were distributed within the Broncos' backfield. That did not transpire, as both backs carried 203 times while attaining similar snap shares (Williams 51%/Gordon 47.5%). However, his unquestioned talent and the potential for Gordon’s departure have incentivized fantasy managers to seize Williams as an RB1 (ADP 13/RB7).

He still finished 13th in rushing yardage (903/53.1 per game) and first downs (52), while also rising to ninth in yards after contact (460), and eighth in yards after contact per attempt (2.3). Williams will justify all lofty expectations if he seizes RB1 responsibilities in a Denver offense that should be reenergized with Russell Wilson under center. That will sustain him among your most viable options at the onset of Round 2. However, if Gordon does not relocate to another environment, a continuation of the Broncos' 2021 backfield rotation would impede Williams from delivering on the optimistic projections.

Some fantasy managers who selected Gibson as an RB1 during 2021 (ADP19/RB12) may believe that he failed to fulfill their expectations at various points of the season. However, that should not deter anyone from targeting him late in Round 2 during your upcoming drafts. He contended with a plethora of health issues during 2021 (toe/shin/calf/shoulder/hip/reserve-COVID), yet still played in 16 different matchups.

Gibson also finished at RB10, while completing the year at fourth overall in attempts (258/16.1 per game), sixth in rushing yardage (1,037/64.8 per game), sixth in yards after contact, and second only to Taylor in first downs (65). He will also be functioning in a Washington offense that is undergoing an offseason overhaul, which will include the infusion of a new quarterback and additional receiving weaponry. Gibson will restain a sizable workload, although J.D. McKissic’s effectiveness as a pass-catcher will restrict Gibson’s target totals – if McKissic re-signs with the Commanders.

It appeared inevitable that Akers would remain sidelined throughout the 2021 regular season after he experienced a torn Achilles in late July. However, he obliterated expectations by resurfacing in Week 18 and attaining a 58% snap share during the postseason. Akers did not display his usual efficiency following his return (175 yards/72 attempts/2.2 per attempt), but those performances were unfolding just six months following his injury.

The offseason will be highly beneficial to Akers, who should resemble the back that was operating with greater proficiency during his 2020 rookie season. He finished third in attempts (74/18.5 per game), and fifth in rushing yardage (390/97.5 per game) from Weeks 12-15. That fueled his selection as an RB1 during the 2021 draft process (ADP12 RB9), before he suffered the devastating injury. He should receive a significant workload - even if Darrell Henderson siphons a percentage of touches – and you can select him with confidence in Round 2 of your next draft.



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Chigoziem Okonkwo - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups

Fantasy Football Dynasty Sleepers Heading Into 2024- Tight End

When you play in a dynasty fantasy football league, you do not just plan for the upcoming season, you plan for the next five seasons, too. There is more to take into consideration when formulating which players you want to target in a dynasty league compared to a standard league. You have to put a... Read More


Marvin Harrison Jr. - Fantasy Football Rankings, College FB, WR, NFL Draft Sleepers

Early 2024 Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings: Pre-NFL Draft

Hey, RotoBallers! With Super Bowl LVIII in the books, the 2024 NFL offseason has officially begun. It's never too early to start preparing for fantasy football, and here at RotoBaller, it's always fantasy football season here at HQ. We are already looking ahead to the 2024 season, and that starts with the NFL Draft and... Read More


Javon Baker - Fantasy Football Rankings, College FB, WR, NFL Draft Sleepers

3 Rookie Wide Receiver Sleepers Projected as Mid-Round NFL Draft Picks - Yards Per Route Run Analysis

It's tricky to find sleepers these days since the dynasty and devy community have proven to be sharp minds for NFL Draft prospects. Two metrics to look at for receivers as a starting point involve yards per route run and targets. There's somewhat of a strong correlation between yards per route run and targets per... Read More


Russell Wilson - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

Russell Wilson Officially Released By Denver: Top Potential Landing Spots

The rumors had been floating around since his benching, and it finally became official on Tuesday that the Denver Broncos would be moving on from quarterback Russell Wilson just two years after pulling off a monumental trade for the former Seattle Seahawk. The Broncos went 13-21 with Wilson on the roster, failing to make the... Read More


Jacob Cowing - CFB DFS Lineup Picks, Daily Fantasy College Football, NFL Draft Rookie - icon rotoballer

Mid-To-Late Round Receivers Fantasy Football Managers Should Know - Part I

We know about Marvin Harrison Jr., Rome Odunze, and Malik Nabers. There isn’t any question about who those top three receivers are. Even guys like BrIan Thomas Jr., Troy Franklin, Keon Coleman, and Adonai Mitchell fantasy football managers know all about. Their accomplishments and statistics are all well-documented. The ever-increasing popularity of the NFL Draft... Read More


Top Running Back Performers - 2024 NFL Combine

The 2024 NFL Combine has come to a close, as many draft-hopeful prospects cemented their draft stock over the weekend headlined by a record-breaking 40-yard dash from Xavier Worthy. Heading into the event, the running back position had very little separation between top prospects. In a year where there is no “transcendent talent” or projected... Read More


Biggest Winners Of The 2024 NFL Combine: NFL Draft Prospect Analysis

As the 2024 NFL Draft edges closer, talents are stepping into the limelight at the Scouting Combine and attempting to seize their moment in front of the draft's key decision-makers. This annual event isn't just a showcase; it's a golden ticket for hopefuls to climb the draft order, provided they excel in their specific skill... Read More


DeVon Achane - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL DFS Picks, Injury News

Next Gen Stats Review: 2023 Running Backs

Many know Next Gen Stats for the fastest ball carriers in the NFL, which tracks a player's top speed in miles per hour (mph) on a given play. DK Metcalf had a 73-yard touchdown score that registered 22.23 mph, with Chase Brown (22.05) and Tyreek Hill (22.01) making a reception as the only three players... Read More


Breakdown Of Dynasty Fantasy Football Leagues

Dynasty fantasy football leagues have been around for years, but with each new NFL season comes more people joining these types of leagues. If you are a redraft fan who doesn’t want the fantasy season to end, dynasty might be right up your alley.  The Senior Bowl has happened, NFL Draft excitement is ramping up,... Read More


Ja'Marr Chase - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, DFS and Betting Picks

Top Fantasy Football Rebound Candidates For 2024 Including Patrick Mahomes, Josh Jacobs, and Drake London

We may be in the heat of basketball season, but we're discussing a different kind of rebound today. Some of the most talented athletes in the world have suboptimal seasons but there's often a bounceback year in the near future. The talent isn't waning, the circumstances surrounding them have been altered. Below we dive into... Read More


Jayden Reed - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups

Early 2024 Wide Receiver Sleepers And Draft Targets For Fantasy Football

There should be a lot of changes atop the wide receiver group in fantasy football next year. Players like Stefon Diggs, Davante Adams, and Cooper Kupp will all fall in drafts, while Puka Nacua will fly up drafts boards in 2024. Nacua will go from undrafted in 2023 to a likely top-20 pick this upcoming... Read More


Dan Campbell - NFL Head Coach, NFC, Detroit Lions

FFPC Dynasty Fantasy Football Orphan Teams: An Authentic Challenge

At its very core, the game of fantasy football is intended to deliver a unique experience in which you are an NFL owner, general manager, and head coach, all in one role. Seasonal fantasy football replicates the responsibilities in fun, user-friendly packaging, but fantasy football dynasty leagues appeal even more to a savvy fantasy player... Read More