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6 Early-Round Running Backs to Reconsider (2022 Fantasy Football)

Jul 6, 2022
Nick Chubb

While it’s difficult to truly win your fantasy football league during your draft, fantasy managers can certainly set themselves back based on their early-round selections. We offer six early-round running backs that you may want to reconsider.

Rankings noted using FantasyPros half-PPR Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) and Consensus ADP.

Fantasy Football Redraft Draft Kit

6 Early-Round Running Backs to Reconsider

Austin Ekeler (LAC)
ECR RB3 | ADP RB2

Derrick Henry (TEN)
ECR RB4 | ADP RB3

Dalvin Cook (MIN)
ECR RB5 | ADP RB5

Najee Harris (PIT)
ECR RB6 | ADP RB6

If there is any running back that could potentially de-throne Derrick Henry as the poster child for the “volume is king” mantra, it’s Najee Harris. The Steelers rookie running back managed a league-leading 381 touches in 2021 and finished as the RB4 in half-point scoring as a result.

The volume he is going to see in 2022 will ensure he is one of the safest running backs available in fantasy football.

Still, the issue with Harris pertains to his true upside potential in a potentially capped offense led by a rookie quarterback. An immobile Ben Roethlisberger was a check-down target machine to Harris in 2021 which may not be the case in 2022.

And despite all of his total raw touches, Harris only saw 37 touches (22nd) in the red zone and scored six red-zone touchdowns.

Nick Chubb (CLE)
ECR RB9 | ADP RB8

The days of Nick Chubb‘s absurd rushing efficiency going to waste have come to an end. During his four-year career, the Browns running back has never averaged fewer than five yards per carry. But at the same time, he has also never played in a top-12 scoring offense.

The best offense he played was in 2020 – 13th in points per game – which by no coincidence was also Chubb’s best season from a point per game measure. The former Georgia back averaged 17.3 PPR points per game, which would have ranked sixth in 2021.

The 12 rushing touchdowns definitely boosted Chubb’s numbers, and scoring double-digit TDs is well within his reach with Deshaun Watson taking charge under center for the long term.

Just be wary that Chubb won’t be used as an every-down back. Even when Kareem Hunt missed time in 2021, Chubb’s role/usage didn’t change drastically with the Browns sprinkling in other running backs on the depth chart. His 17-18 touches per game average the last two seasons shouldn’t change even if the team trades Hunt this offseason.

Chubb’s role as a receiver also leaves a lot to be desired after he posted a meager 4.8% target share in 2021, averaging fewer than two targets per game (1.8).

His path to upside is touchdowns and that’s represented by his five top-6 weekly finishes last season – fourth among running backs.

Javonte Williams (DEN)
ECR RB13 | ADP RB9

Running back Melvin Gordon signed a one-year deal with the Denver Broncos, ultimately halting the Javonte Williams 2022 breakout season. The idea of Williams playing a three-down role was salivating, but Gordon’s return should not be overlooked after a seriously underrated 2021 campaign.

MG3’s return definitely hurts Williams’ top-tier fantasy ceiling. He’s going to split work with another capable back in Gordon which is exactly what new head coach Nathaniel Hackett desires and spoke on at the NFL owners meeting in March.

However, keep in mind that Williams finished 13th in touches last season (246, 14.6 per game) and would be the favorite to take another step forward in the passing game – Aaron Jones-esque – after finishing as one of two rookie RBs inside the top-15 in route participation in 2021: Najee Harris (first) and Javonte Williams (13th).

FantasyPros Staff Consensus 2022 Redraft Fantasy Football Rankings

2022 Fantasy Football Rankings powered by FantasyPros

 

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