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8 Running Backs Experts Are Reaching For (2022 Fantasy Football)

Aug 17, 2022
Dalvin Cook

When healthy, Dalvin Cook is a true workhorse running back that could be the overall RB1.

While it’s key to have a great set of fantasy football draft rankings, it’s also important to know player’s average draft position. This allows you to see where a player is likely to be drafted versus where the experts have the player ranked. You can then ‘reach’ for a player that experts are higher on before they are usually selected by your leaguemates. Let’s take a look at players the experts think you should consider reaching for this fantasy football draft season.

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

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8 Running Backs Experts Are Reaching For

Christian McCaffrey (CAR)
ECR RB2 | ADP RB4

The injury concerns for Christian McCaffrey are justified. Since 2020 he’s dealt with an ankle sprain, thigh injury, AC joint sprain, and high ankle sprain, missing 18 games. When he’s on the field, though, he’s still a top-three running back. Last season in the five games he played at least 48% of the snaps, he averaged 20.1 (0.5 PPR) fantasy points per game. This would have placed him as the RB3 in weekly fantasy scoring behind only Jonathan Taylor and Derrick Henry.

Dalvin Cook (MIN)
ECR RB5 | ADP RB6

Same old song and dance for Dalvin Cook in 2021. The Minnesota Vikings running back was a workhorse when healthy, averaging 22 touches per game (5th) and 15.2 fantasy points per game (RB11). But the market seems to have soured on the consensus No. 2 pick from a season ago, because he missed four games and his production didn’t align with his usage.

His ADP has fallen to the back of Round 1, and it’s unwarranted based on the impending touchdown regression Cook will experience in 2022. His 15 goal-line carries ranked fourth in the NFL last season, but he converted just three into scores. Considering Cook averaged 16 TDs from 2019-2020, his meager 6 TDs from last season look like a blip on the radar.

Saquon Barkley (NYG)
ECR RB10 | ADP RB14

Last season was nightmare fuel for Saquon Barkley. In his return from the ACL injury, he posted his career’s lowest breakaway run rate (3.1%, per Playerprofiler.com) and yards after contact per attempt (2.69, per PFF). With Joe Judge and Jason Garrett’s special brand of season-destroying special sauce gone, Barkley has all the motivation to crush this year as a pending free agent. With the additions of Jon Feliciano, Mark Glowinski, and first-round pick Evan Neal to pair with holdover Andrew Thomas, the blocking upfront should be much improved. A massive bounce-back campaign could be brewing.

Breece Hall (NYJ)
ECR RB17 | ADP RB22

My highest-ranked rookie running back is Breece Hall. The Jets selected the Iowa State product at the top of Round 2, signifying his status as the team’s locked-in RB1 for the foreseeable future. Hall’s three-down skill set suggests he never has to come off the field, and the sheer volume he garners will vault him into redraft top-20 running back territory.

The Iowa State product totaled over 4,500 yards from scrimmage, 50 touchdowns and 80 catches over three seasons in the college ranks.

A workload of approximately 240 touches – based on ESPN fantasy analyst Mike Clay’s projections and how many touches the cumulative Jets RB1 earned last season – would place Hall inside the top-15 considering every running back last season that hit that threshold finished inside that ranking.

2021 fourth-rounder Michael Carter had his moments as a rookie, but the Jets know he’s just a No. 2 running back. Anticipate Hall to shoulder 15-20 touches per game based on the workload that Carter received last season when Tevin Coleman missed time.

From Weeks 7-9 with Coleman sidelined, Carter averaged 19 touches per game and a 66% snap share. Upon Coleman’s return from injury in Week 10, Carter averaged 14 touches per game and a 55% snap share in the games they played together.

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Travis Etienne Jr. (JAC)
ECR RB20 | ADP RB23

Travis Etienne Jr. was a standout college football running back for the Clemson Tigers from 2017 to 2020 and was selected by the Jaguars in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft -25th overall. However, his rookie season was cut short by a preseason Lisfranc injury. Some NFL personnel reported that Etienne could have come back towards the end of the year had the Jaguars been in playoff contention instead of being the league’s laughing stock.

Etienne is expected to be fully cleared by training camp, giving him a leg up on the RB1 role as the Jacksonville Jaguars install a new offense under new head coach Doug Pederson. With James Robinson attempting to come back from a torn Achilles injury suffered on December 26th, Etienne figures to be the featured back during this spring/summer.

Do not forget what this guy did at Clemson with Trevor Lawrence (QB – JAC) as his quarterback. During his final season as a Clemson Tiger, he led the country in receiving yards and ranked second in receptions among running backs. Etienne also racked up the most rushing attempts of 20-plus yards (40) from 2018 to 2019 while only carrying the ball 20-plus times once since 2018.

Chase Edmonds (MIA)
ECR RB29 | ADP RB33

This past year Chase Edmonds was viewed as the Arizona starting running back alongside James Conner. He stood as the RB21 through the first six weeks prior to suffering an ankle injury. Edmonds ranked fourth in the NFL in receptions among running backs (four catches and five targets per game).

Edmonds won’t ever be a true three-down back due to durability concerns, as he missed seven games this past season. But used properly and kept healthy, there’s no denying Edmonds can be a viable fantasy option because of his receiving and explosiveness.

His spot-start usage/production in Weeks 16-17 without James Conner in the lineup – 23.9 expected fantasy points per game – showcases a running back who can deliver massive fantasy upside any given week.

In 14 career games when Edmonds has commanded at least 11 touches – his average fantasy finish is RB18 (PPR).

Edmonds should see plenty of work in a Dolphins backfield splitting snaps with Sony Michel and Raheem Mostert. Considering Gaskins’ fantasy spike weeks in 2021 all came from his receiving usage, Edmonds should find similar success in that role with Miami.

The late signing of running back Mostert and Michel might have some fantasy gamers soured on Edmonds. However, Edmonds was never going to see a full bell-cow workload. Losing out on some early-down carries to Mostert or Michel was to be expected. I’d still prefer Edmonds in fantasy due to the pass-catching and hope the other signings keeps his ADP at a value.

Other running backs the experts are reaching for:

FantasyPros Staff Consensus 2022 Redraft Fantasy Football Rankings

2022 Fantasy Football Rankings powered by FantasyPros

 

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