3 Running Backs to Remember in 2022 (Fantasy Football)
If you are already starting your predraft regimen, you are not alone. This season has been historic with so many big names on the move so it’s a good idea to get reacquainted with the NFL. In this article series, I will highlight three players at each position that we shouldn’t forget about as we prepare for the upcoming season.
We all know the elites like Jonathan Taylor or Derrick Henry. The purpose of this piece is to highlight players further down the draft board, usually sixth-round and later, that have the potential to be of great value for your team. First up is three running backs to remember in 2022.
The Packers went through some rough drama this offseason centering around QB Aaron Rodgers. After resolving those issues, they lose their elite wide receiver, Davante Adams. They attempted to make up for the deficit by drafting young talent, but there is no replacing Adams. With Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, and Robert Tonyan as the only familiar faces for Rodgers this season, there will likely need to be some changes to the offense if they want to be successful.
That is what makes A.J. Dillon so intriguing this year. Of course, Aaron Jones is the RB1 in Green Bay, there is no arguing that. However, I do wonder how much of Adams’ 169 vacated targets will be distributed. Last season, Jones saw 65 targets from Rodgers which was the sixth-highest among running backs targeted in the passing game last season. If Jones sees even more targets this season, Dillon has the opportunity to be the more traditional, bruising back from the line of scrimmage.
Dillon logged 803 yards on 187 carries with five touchdowns in 2021. He finished as an RB1 twice including one week where he crushed fantasy with 25.8 points and was the RB1.
Another interesting tidbit is that Dillon had a 43% snap share while Jones was only slightly higher with 58%. This means that the amount of time each back is on the field is only marginally in favor of Jones and Dillon has an almost equal opportunity for touches. If Rodgers needs help in the passing game due to the loss of Adams, Jones may be utilized more for pass-catching ability, leaving Dillon to feast in the run game.
He is currently being drafted at the end of the sixth round and has solid RB2 potential for his stand-alone talent as well as a premium insurance policy should anything happen to Jones.
Damien Harris finished just shy of the RB1 tier last year with 201.1 points in half-PPR and was only two points away from landing in the top 12. His name is not as flashy as others but he did finish as an RB2 seven times and an RB1 three times during last season.
As the RB1 for the Patriots, Harris is currently being drafted in the middle of the sixth round. There is a strong argument that Rhamondre Stevenson and James White will eat into his workload in 2022. It’s highly possible, but as their young quarterback continues to grow in his sophomore year, the Patriots may continue to rely on the run again. They finished last season ranked 25th in passing attempts with 364 and finished fifth in rushing attempts with 489.
Harris can slip into that dreaded “touchdown dependent” category, but they relied heavily on him to score in the red zone. He had 45 rushing attempts within the 20-yard line, was second only to Jonathan Taylor in attempts inside the ten-yard line, and eight of his 13 touchdowns came inside the five.
The Dolphins had a legendary makeover in the offseason hiring a new head coach, acquiring Tyreek Hill from the Chiefs, and going shopping in bulk for running backs. In addition to Raheem Mostert and Sony Michel, Miami also brought over Chase Edmonds.
Edmonds battled injuries last year and only played in 12 games, but he did manage to garner 8.9% of the team’s targets. During a full season in 2020, that number was just over 11%.
We love a good pass-catching running back, but what makes this move so intriguing is his new head coach Mike McDaniel. As the former offensive coordinator for the 49ers, McDaniel was the brains behind the creative run game and was instrumental in turning Deebo Samuel into a fantasy powerhouse. Early in the season, McDaniel encouraged Samuel to start running some of the running back routes. That blossomed into the overall WR2 finish courtesy of his excellent skills as a wide receiver and 59 rushing attempts for 365 yards and eight rushing touchdowns.
With Mostert, Michel, Salvon Ahmed, and Myles Gaskin still on the roster, McDaniel has plenty of running back firepower. There is a good chance he could use Edmonds as a Samuel-esque type of player thanks to his pass-catching skills.
If he can breakout under McDaniel and have an explosive year, you’re looking at a steal of a pick in the ninth round.