2022 Best Ball RB Tiers

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·12 min read
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You know what tiers are. Players within tiers are all similar in projection, whereas the break between tiers is much more important. The biggest change in Best Ball versus normal leagues is an emphasis on ceiling outcomes. This applies to season-long and individual weeks. Given that most of the money in the Best Ball streets lies in tournaments, I've also added some weight to the final three weeks of the fantasy season.

Tier One

Jonathan Taylor (1) -- Taylor led the league in attempts (332), yards (1,811), and touchdowns (18). He also had more red zone carries than any other back...in the 21st century.

Christian McCaffrey (2) -- McCaffrey has taken the field for 10 games in the past two seasons, casting doubt on his ability to stay healthy. If you can get past that, you'll remember that he posted the third-best fantasy season for a running back ever recorded. He also became the third back to join the 1,000/1,000 club.

Austin Ekeler (3) -- Ekeler could have been dropped to the second tier, but his 2021 season wasn't far off from Taylor's campaign. Ekeler averaged just 1.5 fewer half-PPR points than Taylor and put a larger gap between him and the RB3 on the season.

Tier Two

Dalvin Cook (4) -- Injuries and poor touchdown look knocked Cook down a peg last year, but there were still positive takeaways to be found. He averaged 21.8 touches and 106 yards from scrimmage. If he ups his receiving numbers under Kevin O'Connell, a Tier One finish is in play.

Derrick Henry (5) -- Only appearing in eight games last year, Henry averaged 23 points per game on the back of 10 touchdowns plus career-highs in per-game receiving stats. It's unclear if his receiving usage will sustain, but he remains one of the league's most dominant runners.

Najee Harris (6) -- In just his fourth NFL game, Harris became the second back since 1992 to see more than 18 targets in a game. He ended the year with a league-high, 381 touches.

Aaron Jones (7) -- The Packers spelled Jones with AJ Dillon more often than expected in 2021, but Jones still earned 45 red zone touches and 52 receptions. The loss of Davante Adams will undoubtedly force them to lean on Jones more in the upcoming season.

Joe Mixon (8) -- Coming off career marks in all rushing stats and nearly every receiving stat, Mixon has earned his spot in the second tier. His 16 touchdowns from 2021 will be hard to repeat, but playing on an elite offense keeps it in the range of outcomes.

Tier Three

Javonte Williams (9) -- Pro Football Focus charted Javonte as leading the NFL in missed tackles forced per attempt, and the No. 2 back wasn't particularly close. With Melvin Gordon re-signed, drafting Williams is a bet on his talent overcoming his committee status.

D’Andre Swift (10) -- Before going down in Week 11, Swift was on pace for an elite receiving season. If his weekly numbers had held up, he would have ended the year with a 90/714/3 line through the air.

Nick Chubb (11) -- Chubb has never finished lower than fourth in yards after contact during his four-year NFL tenure. Though his ceiling is limited by the presence of Kareem Hunt, Chubb is one of the few backs who can post RB1 numbers without catching passes.

Leonard Fournette (12) -- Fournette was one of just three backs to finish top-10 in red zone carries and total targets in 2021. Repeating that feat would lock him in for elite fantasy numbers.

James Conner (13) -- In five games without Chase Edmonds, Conner averaged five catches for 45 yards while also seeing an uptick in his rushing output. If Darrel Williams can't fill Edmonds' shoes, Conner would be in line for an elite fantasy season.

Cam Akers (14) -- Akers returned from a torn Achilles' tendon to average 17 carries and a 56 percent share of LA's rush attempts in the playoffs. He was dreadfully inefficient on those touches, but getting an offseason away from the injury could drastically boost his numbers.

Tier Four

Saquon Barkley (15) -- Coming back from an ACL tear, Barkley didn't look like himself in 2021. He averaged 3.7 yards per carry and 4.6 yards per target, both of which were his worst marks by wide margins. A new offensive scheme should help, but his inconsistent health is also a concern.

Travis Etienne (16) -- Etienne rushed for 4,952 yards while adding another 1,155 through the air at Clemson. He should be the perfect all-purpose weapon for Trevor Lawrence to lean on.

Alvin Kamara (17) -- Kamara was given a bigger workload in 2021, but his elusiveness was sapped. He averaged 3.7 yards per carry and forced a missed tackle on one in every five attempts. Kamara is also rumored to be facing a six-game suspension.

Ezekiel Elliott (18) -- Zeke finished inside the top 10 in rushing and receiving expected fantasy points among running backs last year. A knee injury turned him into a fullback, though an offseason of recovery may restore some of his speed.

Breece Hall (19) -- Hall was an elite prospect, rushing for over 3,000 in his final two seasons before crushing the combine. Michael Carter is a threat to take away receiving work, but Hall should step on the scene as an immediate rushing force.

David Montgomery (20) -- Montgomery has never gone for less than 1,100 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns in a season. He has also seen at least 267 touches in all three of his pro seasons.

J.K. Dobbins (21) -- Dobbins missed all of 2021 and may be eased back into his role this year. Still, he was an elite runner as a rookie, averaging six yards per attempt while scoring nine times.

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Tier Five

Clyde Edwards-Helaire (22) -- CEH has been a supreme disappointment since being drafted in 2020, failing to establish himself as even a receiving threat for Kansas City. With only Jerick McKinnon and Ronald Jones behind him, he should get a final shot at being a high-usage back on the league's best offense.

Kareem Hunt (23) -- Through five weeks, Hunt averaged 12.3 carries and 3.5 catches for 96 yards from scrimmage per game. That was while splitting time with Nick Chubb. Hunt is the rare player with both a reasonable floor and high conditional value.

AJ Dillon (24) -- Just like Hunt, Dillon has a role when his backfield mate is healthy and a sky-high ceiling when that player is out. Dillon also took a massive step as a receiver in 2021, more than doubling his career receptions total dating back to college.

Miles Sanders -- (25) Three seasons into Sanders' career and we're still waiting for his second game with more than 20 carries. Sanders is a high-end home run threat, but the Eagles have been hot and cold with his usage over the years.

Damien Harris (26) -- Harris doesn't catch passes, but he handles goal line work for a top-end offense. He turned 44 red zone carries into 13 scores and found the end zone two more times from beyond the 20-yard line.

Elijah Mitchell (27) -- Mitchell exploded in his debut campaign, averaging 4.7 yards per carry on 207 totes. Rookie Tyrion Davis-Price could push him for touches, but Mitchell is still the overwhelming favorite to lead San Francisco in carries.

Devin Singletary (28) -- Singletary will likely lose receiving work to rookie James Cook this year. At his price, that's more than forgivable. Singletary averaged 15 carries and a 74 percent snap share over the final seven weeks of the season.

Antonio Gibson (29) -- Gibson earned 300 touches last year and finished with more than 1,300 total yards. Repeating those numbers would see him crush his ADP, but he is now competing with a healthy J.D. McKissic and rookie Brian Robinson.

Tier Six

Rhamondre Stevenson (30) -- Though Stevenson was primarily used as a runner last year, his college profile was that of a three-down back. If he can take on more receiving work, Stevenson could post a breakout season.

Chase Edmonds (31) -- Mike McDaniel's offenses have finished top-15 in rushing yards and attempts in each of the past five years. After earning a $12 million contract, Edmonds projects to lead Miami's iteration of that offense.

Tony Pollard (32) -- Pollard and Jonathan Taylor were the only running backs to run for more than five yards per attempt while averaging over seven yards per target. Someone, please give this man a three-down role.

Melvin Gordon (33) -- Gordon, as the RB17, outscored Javonte Williams, who goes roughly 100 picks ahead of him, in 2021. Just sit with that for a minute.

Cordarrelle Patterson (34) -- Patterson began the 2021 season as an uber-efficient WR/RB hybrid. He closed the year as an ineffective grinder. If his usage reverts to the hybrid role, he will be a steal at his current cost, though Arthur Smith's Falcons didn't seem to grasp that last year.

Josh Jacobs (35) -- Jacobs saw an uptick in his workload in 2021, but the team poured cold water on that dream by declining his fifth-year option before drafting and signing multiple backs.

Rashaad Penny (36) -- Penny turned 11 percent of his carries into 15-yard (or more) gains. That rate is bound to regress, and he has a rookie waiting in the wings, though both are being factored into his price.

James Cook (37) -- Cook posted a 67/730/6 receiving line at Georgia while competing with multiple NFL-caliber backs. He will have a shot at handling the bulk of the passing-down work in Buffalo.

Tier Seven

James Robinson (38) -- Robinson's receiving usage will continue to dwindle with Travis Etienne healthy, but he should serve as Jacksonville's primary between-the-tackles option.

Alexander Mattison (39) -- In six games without Dalvin Cook, Mattison has averaged 18.5 fantasy points on the back of 24 touches per game.

Mark Ingram (40) -- While on the Saints, Ingram averaged 13 carries and six targets in three games without Alvin Kamara last year.

Kenneth Walker (41) -- Walker broke out in 2021, rushing for over 1,600 yards and 18 scores at Michigan State. He may not open Week 1 as the starter, but he could usurp Rashaad Penny in the long run.

Tyler Allgeier (42) -- Allgeier capped off his college career with 1,601 yards and 23 rushing touchdowns. He should immediately slot in as the early-down option for Atlanta.

Kenneth Gainwell (43) -- Gainwell averaged 15 fantasy points per game when he saw more than 20 snaps last year. That only happened five times because he didn't have the trust of his coaches. It's anyone's guess if that will change.

Darrell Henderson (44) -- Henderson returned an RB22 season by points per game while playing without Cam Akers. He will project for solid numbers if Akers misses time and could see work on third downs even with Akers active.

Ronald Jones (45) -- Jones was left for dead in Tampa Bay, but the depth chart in Kansas City will be extremely thin if Clyde Edwards-Helaire doesn't turn things around. An early-down role for Jones is certainly in the cards.

Jamaal Williams (46) -- Williams split the Detroit backfield with D'Andre Swift before both backs got injured, but 72 percent of his touches were neither red zone carries nor targets.

Tier Eight

Isaiah Spiller (47) -- Spiller posted consecutive 1,000-yard seasons at Texas A&M and earned fourth-round capital from LA. He should slot in as Austin Ekeler's backup as a rookie.

Dameon Pierce (48) -- Pierce was a committee-back at Florida, peaking at 574 yards in his fourth season. The good news is that his competition for touches in Houston is Rex Burkhead and Marlon Mack.

Gus Edwards (49) -- Edwards is one of just a dozen backs to top five yards per carry (min. 100 attempts) in three seasons. He may be a two-down committee-back, but he's one of the best.

J.D. McKissic (50) -- McKissic was on pace for a 66/614/3 receiving line before going down in Week 12. He was heading down the runway for an RB3 season and should play a similar role in 2021.

Tyrion Davis-Price (51) -- Davis-Price leveraged a 1,000-yard season at LSU into Day 2 capital at the hands of the 49ers. Though he isn't a factor as a pass-catcher, he could be in line for a sizable share of the San Francisco backfield behind Elijah Mitchell.

Michael Carter (52) -- Carter was an impressive receiver as a rookie, totaling 325 yards on 36 catches. He should be able to hold off Breece Hall for that gig while ultimately playing a reduced role as a runner in his second season.

Rachaad White (53) -- White caught 43 balls for 456 yards in his final season at Arizona State. Fournette will prevent him from seeing the field much on early downs, but White could be a factor as a receiving back.

Kenyan Drake (54) -- Drake had a solid role early in the 2021 season, averaging just under 10 opportunities per game through nine weeks. That role cratered leading up to a season-ending broken ankle. It's unclear which version of him we will get this year.

Khalil Herbert (55) -- Herbert averaged 20 carries and 2.5 catches in four games without David Montgomery last year.

Brian Robinson (56) -- Robinson was a bell-cow at Alabama, topping 300 touches in his final season. He has a shot at stealing early-down and goal line work from Antonio Gibson as a rookie.

Nyheim Hines (57) -- Hines is coming off a career-low, 11 percent target share, though his 1.5 yards per route run was still impressive enough to secure him the third-down role in Indy for another year.