11) Nick Chubb
Chubb would have been a top-5 back if he was healthy last season. He has deceptive elusiveness and is probably the most powerful back in the league outside of Derrick Henry.
The Browns entire offense is based around running and that doesn’t look to change regardless of who suits up for them at QB.
Nick Chubb barely touched on TD run to put Browns up 10. pic.twitter.com/ykkOjD37Pj
— Rivers McCown (@riversmccown) September 19, 2021
Cleveland also has maybe the best offensive line in football, especially when it comes to run blocking, which awards Chubb plenty of open lanes each week.
Despite playing only 14 games and getting injured during many of them, Chubb still achieved the following RB ranks:
- 2nd in rushing yards and tied for 2nd in YPC (per StatMuse)
- 3rd in rushing YPG
- 9th in rushing touchdowns
NICK CHUBB GOES 52 YARDS TO THE HOUSE!
— NFL (@NFL) October 10, 2021
Because of the Browns’ run-heavy scheme, Chubb is rarely a frustrating player to watch which can’t be said for plenty of the other backs managers would consider outside of the top-10.
In fact, Chubb is a joy to watch as ball-carrier with his tenacious running style, tackle-breaking ability, and shockingly effective jukes.
NICK CHUBB IS UNREAL.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 3, 2021
Chubb seemingly rarely loses momentum or speed when changing direction or stiff-arming defenders. Arm tackles are ineffective and diving defenders are often left watching Chubb sprint down the sideline for a long score.
Throw in Chubb’s explosiveness, and you’ve got a top-15 NFL back without question:
NICK CHUBB 70 YARD 🏠 📞 pic.twitter.com/8P5V70jJp1
— PFF CLE Browns (@PFF_Browns) November 7, 2021
Nick Chubb has also never finished lower than 11th in rushing yards, rushing TDs, or YPC since he’s been in the NFL.
That has led to 3 straight top-12 finishes in fantasy PPG, so the proof of his consistency is there which should provide any fantasy player enough confidence to select him in 2022, especially if he falls in your lap.
12) Dalvin Cook
Both Chubb and Cook easily make cases for the top-10, and ultimately find themselves outside of it simply due to their recent injury history.
Even though Cook played the fewest games of anyone on this list (13) other than Elijah Mitchell who played 12, Cook still ran for over 1,000 yards the 5th-most among all NFL RBs in 2021.
What else is new?
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) November 8, 2020
Some other impressive RB ranks from Cook last season were:
- 9th in yards per carry (per StatMuse)
- 4th in rush yards per game
- Tied for 9th in rushing touchdowns
- 16th in fantasy points
.@DalvinCook. Straight to the end zone.
— NFL (@NFL) December 10, 2021
Cook is bruising runner who will make this ranking look terrible if he can stay healthy, but the fact remains he’s never played more than 14 regular season games in a year in his career.
If Cook can stay healthy, he’ll be a top-10 and probably top-5 back though because much like Chubb he has a rare combination of physicality and explosiveness.
More importantly, he’s incredibly difficult to bring down and has a nose for the end zone.
THAT'S A TOUCHDOWN!!!@dalvincook
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) October 17, 2021
Cook is a decent receiver out of the backfield as well and is the definition of an every down, work-horse back.
He was top-10 among RBs in touches for the third straight season and should see RB1 volume again in 2022 at 27 years old.
Zeke is one of the last traditionally well-known “stud” back based on name left in this area that’s slated to come into 2022 as still his team’s unquestioned lead every-down RB.
It’s obvious that Elliot has lost a step or two in terms of his speed, agility, and acceleration in addition to his tackle-breaking ability.
Dak to Zeke to start the scoring on SNF! #DallasCowboys
— NFL (@NFL) December 27, 2021
Although, Elliot is still a top-15 talent at the RB position.
Check out some of Elliot’s notable RB stats below from last season:
- 7th in rushing yards
- 14th in rushing yards per game
- Tied for 5th in rushing TDs
- 7th in fantasy points
This was Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott last season before a partial PCL tear to right knee. Who he was before and after injury should not be conflated. Elliott to take field this morning at OTAs. After season, Cowboys are expected to revisit his contract. https://t.co/aVxzjYHhMo pic.twitter.com/cRb89n7ARB
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) May 25, 2022
Its a step below what Chubb and Cook have, but Elliot still has a striking size/speed combination that makes him tough to pass up if he falls in the draft, especially with Amari Cooper departing and with Gallup coming back from a torn ACL.
Elliot’s stiff-arms, spins, and shoulders are still enough to crumple most non-elite defenders (and some elite ones), and he’s still a fun player to watch when he’s in his groove.
— NFL (@NFL) October 10, 2021
The Cowboys don’t have the offensive line they once did, but it remains one of the top units in the league especially when it comes to moving the opposing D-line off the ball on runs.
Elliot and his backfield counterparts often find gaping holes as a result, and if the Cowboys manage to keep their passing prowess without Cooper then holes should continue to open.
— NFL (@NFL) November 25, 2021
A positive sign for Elliot enthusiasts is that he finished top-10 in carries inside the 5 yard line, routes, targets and receptions in 2021 and Elliott has finished all his seasons as a top-12 fantasy back.
14) Javonte Williams
Aside from Chubb (and maybe Cook), Javonte Williams is probably the most powerful runner on this list.
Williams forces as many missed tackles as any RB you’ll watch, and its no surprise with his strong body and insane balance.
Javonte Williams = beast 😤
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) October 21, 2021
Williams undoubtedly passes the eye test and is nothing short of a fierce runner.
Check out this insane run where Williams manages to stay on his feet, avoid a potential safety, and then run through a few defenders like its nobody’s business:
Weekly Javonte Williams highlight.
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) December 19, 2021
Not sure about you, but that’s exactly the type of running back I want on my fantasy team.
With Russell Wilson now in the fold, Williams should see more scoring opportunities than he saw last year in addition to higher volume purely from more first downs and greater offensive success and efficiency.
Your weekly Javonte Williams highlight.
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) November 28, 2021
In just his rookie year, Williams managed the following numbers among running backs:
- 13th in rush yards
- Tied for 10th in receptions
- Tied for 4th in reception TDs
- 17th in fantasy points
Additionally, with Melvin Gordon aging another year plus the effects of another 203 carries, Williams is an intriguing breakout candidate due to his youth and lack of NFL hits received compared to Gordon (and many other RBs on this list).
Javonte Williams is a BOSS.
📺: CBS pic.twitter.com/Xly8rn6kOG
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) September 19, 2021
Both Gordon and Williams received 203 carries last year but that balance should tip in Williams’ favor considering his rookie performance and most teams’ tendency for eagerly replacing their aging back with a younger, cheaper version.
Williams is just 22, a phenomenal pass catcher and runner, and played 51% of snaps last season.
Javonte Williams gets the scoring started in Denver. #BroncosCountry
— NFL (@NFL) September 26, 2021
If his workload doesn’t increase, it will either be because of health or because the Broncos coaching staff suddenly swapped brains with climate change deniers.
15) Elijah Mitchell
If anyone else passed the eye test last year, Elijah Mitchell absolutely aced it in just his rookie season. He was unlucky with some weird plays that led to injuries, but most 2021 Mitchell investors are bullish on him in year 2.
Trey Lance to Elijah Mitchell for the touchdown! Niners take the lead pic.twitter.com/8TZWj6s0bs
— Coach Yac 🗣 (@Coach_Yac) January 2, 2022
Mitchell has every RB move possible in his bag, and the combination of his vision, decisiveness, and relentless running style is a joy to watch for any football fan.
The rook Elijah Mitchell had 100+ total yards for the 4th time this season on Sunday 👀
168 total yards
1 touchdown pic.twitter.com/dQQZawBaTV
— NFL (@NFL) November 30, 2021
He can also contribute as a receiver and is a terrific rusher between the tackles. The 49ers show a willingness to utilize Mitchell on every down and near the end zone which obviously raises his value.
Elijah Mitchell’s astounding acceleration allows him to coast through attempting tackles and beat slower inside defenders to the sideline or pylon.
The INT sets up an Elijah Mitchell TD!
Two @49ers TDs in the last 30 seconds.
— NFL (@NFL) November 28, 2021
In his first season in the league, Mitchell ranked among all RBs (while playing just 12 games, the fewest of any RB on this list):
- 8th in rushing yards
- 5th in rush YPG
- Tied for 10th in rushing touchdowns
- Tied for 4th in yards per carry (per StatMuse)
— NFL (@NFL) January 16, 2022
While Mitchell’s QB is a question mark right now due to the swirling Jimmy G rumors and Lance’s lack of game experience.
The 49ers’ quarterback situation could work in Mitchell’s favor on the other hand via more running attempts and dump-offs.
— NFL (@NFL) January 16, 2022
The Niners’ running scheme also affords Mitchell plenty of gaping holes like this:
— Coach Yac 🗣 (@Coach_Yac) May 2, 2022
Mitchell’s splits are especially eye-opening when one considers he had over 50 total yards in all his games including the ones he got injured, running for over 100 yards in five of those games.
In 14 games including playoffs, its interesting Mitchell carried the ball at least 17 times in 11 of them. He was also a top-20 fantasy back in seven of his limited regular season games, and should place in the top-20 next season.
16) Saquon Barkley
Yes he’s disappointed owners a few years in a row now. But speaking as someone who has at least personally torn their ACL, I’m sure anyone who has done so would agree that 1-2 years removed from the injury is a different galaxy from 6-11 months.
On top of that, this a make-or-break year for both Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones, and I expect the Giants entire offense to improve with finally an entire offseason of full health and work.
— Matt Lombardo (@MattLombardoNFL) September 26, 2021
When we last saw Saquon at full strength, he is one of the best backs in the league much like Dalvin Cook. In fact, if both Barkley and Cook play a full season at full strength they’ll be in the top 5 in terms of fantasy points among backs – not just the top 15.
If Barkley is healthy, he will remind owners of almost a younger Adrian Peterson like he once did with his incredible size/speed combination.
Check out this stunning touchdown catch and Barkley’s quick scoring cut from just last October:
— NFL (@NFL) October 3, 2021
I’m not sure if I’ve seen a back as big as Saquon who was also as explosive as he is since maybe rookie year Peterson.
Barkley’s fast-twitch, quickness, strength, and vision are some of the best the league has to offer when he’s healthy and when he plays in the right scheme with a better O-line (aka not calling runs right into your center’s back 9/10 offensive plays).
Saquon Barkley walkoff touchdown!!!!! Giants win!!!! pic.twitter.com/huVlGt67LP
— Bobby Skinner (@BobbySkinner_) October 3, 2021
Despite all his positive qualities, the past few years have been catastrophic for Barkley since he led all RBs in points as a rookie in 2018.
After a pair of early-season top-10 games last year had Barkley seemingly back on the right path from a fantasy points perspective, a Week 5 ankle injury cost him four games and he never bounced back as he didn’t look right the rest of the year.
— NFL (@NFL) December 22, 2019
Barkley is only 25 years old and has a new offensive scheme, but 21 missed games over the last three seasons will understandably have many fantasy managers uneasy about selecting him on draft day.
17) Aaron Jones
With Davante Adams departing, Aaron Jones will pick up some volume inevitably, but A.J. Dillon is yipping at his heels as much as any RB2 in the NFL.
Jones is a great receiver out of the back field plus Rodgers shows frequent undeniable trust in Jones which helps his playing time and his accrual of Adams’ volume, but A.J. limits Jones’ ceiling and arguably his floor.
— r/GreenBayPackers on Reddit (@redditPackers) June 26, 2022
Jones missed two games last year and didn’t notch many impressive stats, but he did rank (among backs):
- Tied for 4th in YPC (per StatMuse)
- 10th in receiving yards and receiving YPG
- 6th in receptions
- 7th in targets
- 2nd in receiving TDs
- 11th in fantasy points
Aaron Jones that was SILLY. #GoPackGo
— NFL (@NFL) October 17, 2021
Personally, I’m steering clear of Jones since I owned A.J. Dillon last year and am terrified of the worst-case scenario when drafting Jones, but the math and logic for him being ranked in the top-15 is certainly there.
Aaron Jones dominated this TD drive 😤
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) January 16, 2021
While still three years away from 30, Jones’ season logs don’t reflect any spryness as he already has significant durability concerns.
He has missed at least two regular-season games four of his five NFL campaigns, but his heavy involvement in an Aaron Rodgers-led passing game bolsters him into top-20 territory, albeit limited upside.
18) David Montgomery
Montgomery was a top-10 back when he was healthy last year. He might be the most underrated RB on this list, and maybe in the NFL in general.
His running style doesn’t often wow viewers with chunk plays due to his horrid offensive line and scheme, but his relentlessness when fighting off tacklers is indisputable.
David Montgomery puts the Bears on the board 🐻
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 13, 2021
Montgomery has more strength than one might assume based on his size. More importantly, Montgomery is a valuable asset as a receiver, downfield runner, and goal-line back which means he’s on the field almost all the time when the Bears are on offense.
David Montgomery gains 41 yards on the inside zone! #DaBears
— NFL (@NFL) September 13, 2021
Montgomery’s 36 totes inside the five yard line ranks 5th since the hard-nosed 25 year-old entered the NFL, meaning he’ll have plenty of scoring opportunities if he plays a full season – and opportunities will be abound if the Bears offense sees an upgrade in production in a new scheme.
David Montgomery is IN for #DaBears
— NFL (@NFL) October 3, 2021
Since he only played 14 games last season and since Chicago’s offense was one of the worst in the league, he didn’t achieve many outstanding marks, but he did finish among 2021 RBs:
- 7th in snaps
- 9th in carries
- 17th in rushing yards
- 13th in rush YPG
- Tied for 8th in rushing TDs
- 16th in receptions
- 17th in targets
- 21st in fantasy points
- 23rd in receiving yards
— NFL (@NFL) October 3, 2021
Much like Aaron Jones, Montgomery has a talented 2nd-year back yipping at his heels in Khalil Herbert and some injury concerns which is why he ranks towards the bottom of the top 20.
Although, as long as the Bears offense just isn’t quite as horrendously awful as it was last season (a risk I know), Montgomery is likely to return to the phenomenal production he was once renown for considering the all-around involvement of his role in the offense.
David Montgomery ate his Wheaties pic.twitter.com/YeT9Us42uW
— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) September 17, 2021
19) Josh Jacobs
When Jacobs came into the league he looked like he might be one of the best backs the NFL has to offer for years to come.
So far, he’s proved his draft scouting report correctly with just a few minor hiccups which have caused him to drop out of the top-15 on these rankings.
— NFL (@NFL) October 24, 2021
Some impressive marks Jacobs achieved last season as far as RBs are concerned were:
- 4th in receptions
- 6th in rushing TDs
- 7th in targets and receiving YPG
- 12th in fantasy points
- 15th in rush yards and rush YPG
- 11th in carries
- 14th in receiving yards
— Mitchel Summers (@MitchSummersTV) October 11, 2020
Similar to Montgomery, Jacobs is a stereotypical downhill runner and is a dependable receiver, so he finds himself on the field on early downs, passing downs, and in the red zone.
This means plenty of volume in addition to potential scoring chances. Jacobs is also a little larger and faster which can lead to more chunk yardage.
Josh Jacobs is hungry for touchdowns pic.twitter.com/atr2kr1Ko7
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) November 25, 2021
Carr is a talented and underrated thrower, leading to tons of Jacobs fantasy points through sensational grabs and runs after the catch.
The Las Vegas offense is more dynamic than many might realize as well, as Carr was always among the top-10 and most of the time the top-5 in passing yards last season.
Up and over 🙌
— NFL (@NFL) September 10, 2019
Jacobs might find some heavier competition with the stable of backs the Raiders now have, but in all likelihood he’ll be the everything back for one of the league’s top offenses based on yardage. He’s a top-20 talent at the position without a doubt.
20) J.K. Dobbins
The math and logic for Dobbins being a top-20 fantasy back in 2022 is simple. He’s slated to come into the season as the undisputed top RB for maybe the NFL’s best rushing offense.
If the Ravens want to cut down on Lamar Jackson’s carries and injuries, it will at least partially have to be fueled by getting Dobbins more work.
J.K. Dobbins scores his first NFL touchdown. pic.twitter.com/tghUvS3EPX
— Eleven Warriors (@11W) September 13, 2020
Like David Montgomery and Josh Jacobs, Dobbins is also slated to handle 3rd downs, passing situations, goal-line circumstances, and between-the-tackles dirty work.
The last time we saw Dobbins at full health, he had insane burst and change of direction ability combined with promising vision.
One year ago today, the Ravens selected J.K. Dobbins with the 55th overall selection in the 2020 draft
During his rookie season, he would go on to break Baltimore’s rookie touchdown record as well as lead all running backs in yards per carry pic.twitter.com/MSwMDV0qeq
— Kevin Oestreicher (@koestreicher34) April 24, 2021
It has been a long time since we’ve seen an ACL injury completely derail the career of a player as young and inexperienced as Dobbins due to the marvels of modern sports medicine, recovery, and physical rehabilitation.
For real this time.
Tune in on CBS! pic.twitter.com/P8A0XpMq73
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) November 22, 2020
Given the fact that he also tore his ligament in preseason, Dobbins should make a full recovery and be ready to handle the workload of the Ravens’ RB1.
The last time NFL fans saw Dobbins on the field in 2020, he led the league in both YPC (6.0) and yards after contact (2.5) while breaking the Ravens’ rookie touchdown record.
Hopefully Dobbins returns to form in 2022.
Top 10 RBs & other rankings: