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Gold Diggers: Ranking the top ten fantasy running backs of 2022

On today’s Gold Diggers podcast, Michelle continued this year’s fantasy football preview by giving us her top ten fantasy running backs for 2022.

As stated on the pod, this list is for half-point PPR leagues. If the scoring system were different, the rankings would vary slightly, which we get into on the show.

I’ll include the list here, along with some of what Michelle provided for each player.

10. Nick Chubb

Chubb might not have a high ceiling, but he is consistent. He’s been RB10 or better in each of the last three seasons, and he should finish right around there again this year. However, he can be a little dependent on touchdowns for production, which keeps his value down. Not to mention sharing time with Kareem Hunt. A Deshaun Watson suspension likely leads to slightly more carries for him, but either way, this is right around where he’ll fall in 2022.

9. Travis Etienne

This is bold, we know. Etienne missed the entire year last year after a Lisfranc injury, but he’s had plenty of time to recover, and he’ll have plenty of opportunities to shine in Doug Pederson’s offense. Throw in the fact that Etienne already has chemistry with former Clemson teammate Trevor Lawrence and he could be a sneaky good option for you this year. Remember, running backs can still produce on bad teams. James Robinson had almost 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns from scrimmage last year, and he didn’t even play the entire season.

8. Aaron Jones

Jones is perhaps the only Packers player that benefits from the loss of Davante Adams. Michelle thinks he has a chance to be Green Bay’s leading receiver this year. In seven games without Adams over the last three years, Jones averages 26 points per game. Furthermore, his receiving yards increase by more than 30 yards per game in those contests, and Jones’ touchdowns increase in those situations as well. Besides, who else will Rodgers trust on that offense?

7. Dalvin Cook

Cook scored just six touchdowns last year after 30 combined touchdowns in two years before that. A new head coach in Kevin O’Connell, should bring a more wide-open offense to the team, which can only help Cook’s production. Like so many guys at his position, though, it all comes down to health. If he stays healthy for most of the season, he could easily finish as a top-five back.

6. Joe Mixon

With 1,500+ yards from scrimmage and 16 total touchdowns last year, Mixon finally had the year most people thought he was capable of in 2021. This year he’ll run behind the best offensive line he’s ever had, which should improve his efficiency.

5. Najee Harris

Even in an offense crippled by the ghost of Ben Roethlisberger last year, Harris still finished as RB4 - though mostly due to volume rather than efficiency. If you want to look at the bright side of things, Harris had basically the exact same rookie year as former Steelers legend Le’Veon Bell, and Big Ben isn’t under center anymore.

4. Christian McCaffrey

You might have to take a deep breath before making this pick, but McCaffrey is just too talented to ignore completely. When he is on the field, he’s a fantasy monster. He was RB3 in 2018 when he played all 16 games, he was RB1 in 2019 when he played all 16 games, he was RB1 in 2020 when he played three games, and he scored 20+ points in every game in 2021 when he was on the field for at least 50% of the snaps. The injuries are brutal. How many running backs didn’t get hurt last year?

3. Austin Ekeler

Only Jonathan Taylor was better than Ekeler in 2021, and he’s been a stud in two of the last three years. He has a ton of scoring opportunities in his offense, a fantastic quarterback, and very little competition in the backfield. Ekeler scored at least 20 points in ten games last year, and his contributions in the passing game keep his production consistent week after week. Want to know who averages the most fantasy points per touch out of all qualified running backs in the NFL over the last four years? The guy doing the air guitar in the end zone.

2. Derrick Henry

He’s getting up there in age (for a running back), but don’t give up on him just yet. Before he broke his foot last year, Henry scored 43 more fantasy points than any other running back in the league. Even after missing nine games with a Jones fracture in his foot, he was still the 16th best running back in all of fantasy football.

1. Jonathan Taylor

It might be boring, but Michelle thinks he could be even better than last year. Early in the year, the Colts weren’t giving him the ball enough. Taylor didn’t have more than 18 carries in the season's first eight games. Matt Ryan will give the offense more scoring opportunities, but everything will still run through Jonathan Taylor.

Listen to the entire episode for even more info and a deep dive into one question we got from a listener about the 49ers’ troubles on fourth down.

Our fantasy football preview will continue next week when we’ll rank the top ten wide receivers.