Fantasy Football: 25 RB Statistics from the 2022 Season
For the SEVENTH(!) year in a row, our 25 Statistics series recaps each position with some of the most meaningful and eye-popping statistics of the year. For context, I started writing this series way back in 2016 when Obama was still president, Andy, Mike, & Jason still were working out of a spare bedroom, and JayGriz didn’t have a job yet.
My goal is to start by giving the broad scope of RB scoring from a league-wide view, work through the elite tier of RBs before finding the odd and quirky stats of 2022 that might help reframe and give context to an overall down year at the position.
Stayed tuned as the TRUTH podcast episodes roll on to RBs this week and next!
Note: All scoring is 4-point standard QB scoring per the Ballers Consistency Charts found at JointheFoot.com.
1. Did you feel it? RB scoring was down as a whole in 2022 thanks in part to the fewest RB receiving yards league-wide since 2012 and the fewest RB receiving TDs since 2016.
2. Despite the emphasis on teams passing the ball, Running Backs were actually quite efficient on the ground averaging 4.4 yards per carry, the highest over the last decade. These last two years have seen a major resurgence in overall rush attempts for the RB position.
3. The high-end RB scoring this year felt few and far between when you compare it to the elite of the elite RB1s. Here are the top RB scorers over the last seven years in comparison:
|Year||RB Rank||Player||Games||Rush Att||Rush Yards||Rush TDs||Targets||Receptions||Rec Yards||Rec TDs||Half Fpts||PPG|
Ekeler (the RB1 in 2022) finished with a lower points per game (19.1) than 23 other RBs over the last seven years. Elite? Yes. But comparatively, it wasn’t quite the advantage of RBs in previous years despite the fact he played in 17 games.
4. One of the biggest storylines for 2022: RBs stayed relatively healthy. Apart from a few major RB injuries (Jonathan Taylor, Javonte Williams, & Breece Hall), we saw players log full seasons which normally is a rarity at the position. Among the top-10 fantasy finishers, those RBs missed ONE* game combined due to injury. For context, last year only 3 of the top-10 RBs played all 17 games.
5. Last year, I detailed Austin Ekeler‘s magical fantasy season discussing just how special it was in the red zone. Welp, he did it again as the league’s premiere red zone monster. Ekeler led all RBs in red zone touches and tied Jamaal Williams with 16 red zone TDs. In fact, Ekeler has more TDs inside the 20 over the last two years (36) than Derrick Henry (19) + Nick Chubb (15)… combined!
6. But as a pass-catcher, Ekeler changes the way we play fantasy football. He was targeted on 27.3 percent of his routes, the 5th highest among all NFL pass-catchers. He once again led all pass-catchers in yards after the catch gaining 857 of his 722 receiving yards that way. Yup, that is not a typo.
7. All summer long the debate was Jonathan Taylor or Christian McCaffrey… Injuries aside, CMC was solid even before being shipped to San Francisco. He averaged 16.9 fantasy points per game with the Panthers as the RB4 in that span. After his trade to the 49ers in Week 7, he averaged 19.3 fantasy points per game with five top-5 finishes.
Christian McCaffrey still would've finished as a top-12 RB if you only counted his "49er fantasy points" from this year.
— Kyle Borgognoni (@kyle_borg) January 24, 2023
McCaffrey led all RBs in 3rd down fantasy points, 3rd down yardage, and tied Joe Mixon for most 3rd down TDs with five. For context, CMC’s 75.8 fantasy points on 3rd down are the most by an RB since 2015, as far back as I have the data for that specific down.
8. The bigger storyline for CMC is just how dominant he is… when he plays. Over the last four years, in games where he’s played 40+ percent of the snaps, he’s averaging 22.6 fantasy points per game. In that span, he was a top-12 RB EIGHTY percent of the time!
9. How great was Josh Jacobs? He won our Footie Award for RB of the year and was the RB1 from Week 9 on. What’s incredible is that sample size doesn’t even include two #1 overall performances (Weeks 4 & 7) or an RB3 week against the Chiefs in Week 5. He finished with the 5th most rushing yards (1,653) over the last decade, led the NFL in forced missed tackles & rush attempts gaining a 1st down, 25 more than the next closest RB.
10. Feels like the same old story with Nick Chubb after he led the NFL in 10+ and 15+ yard runs yet again. Since 2018, he leads the NFL in both categories and was absolutely dominant to start the year as the RB1 from Weeks 1-8. However, the Cleveland offense struggled once Deshaun Watson took over.
|Jacoby Brissett||Deshaun Watson|
|Browns PPG||23.9 (11th)||16.3 (26th)|
|Browns Plays per Game||67.5 (2nd)||62.2 (21st)|
|Nick Chubb Splits||—||—|
|Rush Att Per Game||18.2||17|
|Rush TDs per Game||1.1||0|
11. Saquon Barkley was rock solid to start the year as a late 2nd round draft pick. You knew you had an absolute fantasy stud after going for 30+ fantasy points in Week 1 against Tennessee. That’s even more wild considering the Titans ending up being the league’s best run defense. Saquon finished 4th in carries, 6th in targets, and 3rd in expected fantasy points. He had the same number of touches (352) as his best fantasy season in 2018 when he finished as the RB2.
12. Perhaps it didn’t feel the same as in years past but Derrick Henry was still the same vintage monster on the football field. He led the NFL in yards after contact (to no surprise) but the real story is how the 2022 Tennessee Titans morphed truly into the Tennessee Derrick Henrys. He had a whopping 39.6% of the team’s Yards & Touchdowns, #1 in the NFL & the highest of his career. The team also utilized him more as a pass-catcher leading all RBs in Yards per Reception (12.1) & Yards per Route Run (3.02). You could certainly argue that this was Henry’s most valuable season in the NFL.
13. Tony Pollard was a revelation for those who were able to navigate early in the season. He destroyed bottom-16 defenses averaging 17.8 fantasy points per contest as opposed to just 8.6 against top-16 rush defenses. He averaged 0.99 fantasy points per touch giving you a simple math equation every week: how many touches is he going to get? He ended up with the 6th most RB TDs, 2nd in Yards per Reception, and the 3rd most 15+ yard runs.
14. As Dwight Schrute once said, “identity theft is not a joke, Jim.” Apologies to Jamaal Williams but he essentially had the LeGarrette Blount Season©. Leading the league in rushing TDs (17) is just the start of this bizarre top-10 fantasy finish from JWilly.
"hey kids, let me tell you about the time jamaal williams decided to have the most carries (30) inside the 5… of all time."
(ok at least since the NFL started tracking the stat in 1994.)
"grandpa, you mean the hip thrust meme guy? jwilly?" pic.twitter.com/ozoEXNQwUI
— Kyle Borgognoni (@kyle_borg) January 24, 2023
15. If you were an Aaron Jones manager, you probably were left wanting at the end of the year. The Packers scored 13 fewer offensive TDs than the year before and you felt it in the rushing column for Jones. He had the fewest rushing TDs (2) by a top-10 fantasy RB since Darren Sproles in 2011. He was more involved as a pass-catcher as we predicted with the Green Bay vacated targets leading to being targeted on a career-high 22.8 percent of his routes.
16. We finally got to see Dalvin Cook play in every single game of an NFL season. He saw the 6th most carries, 5th most red zone touches, and the 2nd in Routes Run among RBs. From a counting statistics perspective, everything was there for a monster season on a Minnesota offense that ranked 8th in points and 7th in yards. However, he dubiously led the league in rush attempts gaining zero or negative yards. 23 percent of the time he was stuffed which left you wanting more despite finishing inside the top-10 at the position.
|Year||Games Played||Fantasy Finish||Total TDs||Yards per Touch|
17. If you had the patience to wait, Rhamondre Stevenson was an absolute league winner… until he wasn’t. The Patriots 2nd year RB benefitted Damien Harris‘ nagging injuries as he was the RB8 from Week 3 on. But it was his work morphing into a pass-catching weapon that made him so dang valuable posting the 3rd most targets, 4th most receptions, and 3rd most evaded tackles among all RBs.
18. Did it feel like Joe Mixon was an RB1 this year? He finished as the RB12 despite only playing in 14 games but the crux of his season came in Week 9 versus the Panthers. He erupted for five TDs which was over 25 percent of his production for the year. Facing off against the AFC North is always a tall task as he scored just once in six games versus the Steelers, Browns, and Ravens.
19. Speaking of AFC North, Najee Harris was one of our busts in the Ultimate Draft Kit before the season. It was not a knock on the player but the situation in Pittsburgh looked fairly bleak. He saw the 6th most red zone touches, 5th most total carries, and 4th most evaded tackles but the offensive line did him no favors. He was the RB24 through the 1st half of the year but some of that inefficiency finally regressed to the mean as he was the RB5 after their Week 9 bye.
20. Rookie Kenneth Walker III was a stalwart for those willing to wait until Rashaad Penny‘s injury came to the surface. He was the RB5 from Weeks 5-12 before succumbing to some injury issues himself. Nevertheless, Walker had the 3rd most 15+ yard runs (17) which is the most for a rookie RB since Saquon Barkley (20) in 2018.
21. The real rookie wonder was Breece Hall whom we only were able to see for seven games before. He showcased big play ability with a ridiculous 6.9 yards per touch (highest among all RBs), 5.79 yards per carry (4th best), and led all RBs in Air Yardage Share (8%). He’s going to be a stud for years to come.
22. James Conner held it together down the stretch for fantasy managers despite this being an absolutely lost season for the Cardinals. From Week 9 on, he was the RB5 with five top-12 finishes and all eight games played inside the top-20. Conner did all this considering the Cardinals played with the lead on just 16 percent of his snaps this year.
23. Thanks in large part to Jerick McKinnon‘s insane run at the end of the year, the Chiefs RBs totaled 12 receiving TDs on the year. That’s the most since 2018 when (wait for it) the Patrick Mahomes-led Chiefs also had 12 receiving TDs by their RBs. For context, Kansas City had more receiving TDs by their RBs this year than the Giants, Eagles, Rams, Colts, Cardinals, Seahawks, Panthers, Falcons, Ravens, Saints, and Browns RBs… combined.
24. McKinnon became the 2nd RB since 1995 with 9+ receiving TDs joining Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk. Faulk accomplished his thanks to a massive workload (343 touches) while McKinnon actually touched the ball fewer times (128) than guys like Samaje Perine, Michael Carter, and Khalil Herbert.
25. Broncos rookie RB Tyler Badie had one reception on the year and it happened in Week 18. He accounted for more receiving TDs than Saquon Barkley, Derrick Henry, Josh Jacobs, and Travis Etienne Jr. did on 178 combined receptions.