Spencer’s 2022 fantasy football NFL running back tier rankings

Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor runs a drill during practice at the team's training camp in Westfield, Ind., July 28. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor runs a drill during practice at the team's training camp in Westfield, Ind., July 28. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Fantasy football draft right around the corner?

My “Guru” hat will be put to test here breaking down the most crucial position in fantasy football, the running back position.

This is the second positional breakdown as we continue our tier rankings series, which we began yesterday with the quarterback position.

Rankings are based on PPR scoring settings

Tier 1: Jonathan Taylor, Najee Harris, Austin Ekeler, Christian McCaffrey

Recommended target range: Round 1

Taylor is arguably in a tier of his own, as he was the top fantasy back last season and is at an age to where injuries shouldn’t be a concern, but he could be pushed by any of these other three for the top spot. Harris has yet to reach his ceiling, Ekeler is in an elite offense and the only thing stopping McCaffrey is his own body.

Tier 2: Dalvin Cook, Derrick Henry, Joe Mixon, D’Andre Swift, Javonte Williams

Recommended target range: Rounds 1-2

All of these guys are capable of producing as top five running backs and worth consideration in the first round, but they have more red flags than the top-tier options. Cook and Henry are becoming major injury risks at this point in their careers along with Mixon to a lesser degree, with Swift and Williams still having to share carries.

Tier 3: Nick Chubb, Saquon Barkley, Aaron Jones, Alvin Kamara, Breece Hall, Travis Etienne, Cam Akers

Recommended target range: Rounds 2-3

This group is extremely interesting as far as having guys that you can draft in the second round or later who are capable of producing RB1 numbers. Chubb, Barkley and Jones are all worth targeting in round two, and Kamara’s stock is up since his suspension is on hold. Hall, Etienne and Akers offer elite upside in the third round and sometimes fall to the fourth.

TIER 4

Leonard Fournette, James Conner, David Montgomery, Josh Jacobs, Antonio Gibson, Elijah Mitchell, AJ Dillon, Ezekiel Elliott

These are the options that will be left if you decide to pass on running backs in the early rounds. Some of these guys finished as RB1’s last year such as Fournette and Conner, but I’m personally fading guys that have seen heavy workloads throughout their careers like them and Ezekiel Elliott and am instead targeting younger backs such as Elijah Mitchell and AJ Dillon.

Recommended target range: Rounds 4-6

TIER 5

J.K. Dobbins, Damien Harris, Miles Sanders, Kenneth Walker, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Devin Singletary, Tony Pollard, Chase Edmonds, Cordarrelle Patterson, Rhamondre Stevenson, James Cook, Kareem Hunt

Recommended target range: Rounds 7-9

This group is interesting in that all of these guys can be had at extreme values, but there are major red flags with all of them due to injury risks being stuck in committee backfields. The rookies Walker and Cook offer nice upside in the middle rounds along with a steady veteran like Harris or Hunt to serve as quality backfield depth.

TIER 6

Dameon Pierce, Rashaad Penny, Tyler Allgeier, Melvin Gordon, Isaiah Spiller, Ronald Jones, Rachaad White, James Robinson, Marlon Mack, Michael Carter, Alexander Mattison, Kenneth Gainwell

Recommended target range: Rounds 10 or later

This range of running backs consists of dart throws and handcuffs, but there can be potential league winners found in these later rounds. Rookies such as Dameon Pierce and Tyler Allgeier could find themselves starting sooner rather than later, and veterans like Ronald Jones and Alexander Mattison make for strong depth pieces with their fellow backfield mates being injury prone.

Best of the rest: Jamaal Williams, Raheem Mostert, Gus Edwards, J.D. McKissic, Darrell Henderson, Khalil Herbert, Zamir White, Nyheim Hines, Darrel Williams, Ty Davis-Price, Sony Michel, Kenyan Drake, Pierre Strong, Mark Ingram

Spencer ‘the Guru’ Urquhart (@spencertheguru) has been a fantasy football analyst since 2014, founding a community of over 6,000 followers on Instagram

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