Fantasy football RB tiers 2022: Jonathan Taylor, Austin Ekeler, and Najee Harris headline the first three tiers

Tier-based drafting is a great way to maximize value during fantasy football drafts. Here are our early 2022 fantasy football RB tiers.

One of the most popular ways to conduct a fantasy football draft is by utilizing tiers. While rankings are important in determining the order to draft players, tiers help fantasy managers figure out value across positions. On the past two episodes of PFN’s Premier Fantasy Football Podcast, PFN Senior Fantasy Analyst Tommy Garrett and I went over our top 24 running backs for the 2022 season. Here is a breakdown of our consensus 2022 fantasy football RB rankings in tiers.

Note: You can find our full rankings in a traditional list form here.

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Fantasy Football RB Tiers 2022

Tier 1: Jonathan Taylor, Christian McCaffrey

Jonathan Taylor may be the consensus RB1, but I wouldn’t bat an eye at someone who preferred to take Christian McCaffrey.

Last season, Taylor was the best running back in fantasy, averaging 21.9 PPR fantasy points per game. He’s locked into massive volume behind one of the best offensive lines in the league.

McCaffrey is the most prolific fantasy running back since LaDainian Tomlinson. No player in fantasy football has a higher ceiling if he can stay healthy.

Tier 2: Austin Ekeler, Derrick Henry, Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon

This 2022 fantasy RB tier is where things get a little tricky. Austin Ekeler is coming off the best season of his career with 21.5 ppg as the overall RB3. Derrick Henry remains a volume monster but is 28 years old, coming off a broken foot. He also saw a significant drop in efficiency last year, averaging just 4.3 yards per carry.

Dalvin Cook averaged just 15.9 ppg in 2021, but his workload is still there. He somehow scored just six touchdowns. That number should be much higher this season. Joe Mixon was the overall RB6 last season, averaging 18 ppg. The Bengals improved their offensive line, and their young studs of Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, and Tee Higgins are only getting better.

Tier 3: Najee Harris, Leonard Fournette, Alvin Kamara, D’Andre Swift

The elite upside remains in this tier, but the concerns grow. Najee Harris benefited from a 14.5% target share last season but averaged just 3.9 ypc. Leonard Fournette is my favorite of this tier. He’s locked into a three-down role in a Tom Brady offense coming off a campaign where he led all running backs with six targets per game.

Alvin Kamara’s 20.2% target share led all running backs, but the overall target pie was much smaller with Jameis Winston and Trevor Siemian under center. Will Mark Ingram and a potential suspension cause him to fall even lower?

D’Andre Swift has all the tools to be a top-five fantasy running back, but Jamaal Williams remains a thorn in his side. Will Swift’s 18.4% target share be sustainable with the additions of Jameson Williams and DJ Chark to go along with a healthy T.J. Hockenson and a more established Amon-Ra St. Brown?

Tier 4: James Conner, Ezekiel Elliott, Javonte Williams, Aaron Jones, Nick Chubb, Saquon Barkley

This fantasy RB tier for 2022 is a mix of running backs that are old, own uncertain workloads or are potentially broken.

James Conner averaged 23 ppg without Chase Edmonds last season. He’s locked into a three-down role, but there are legitimate durability concerns. Ezekiel Elliott broke down physically in 2021, but can we chalk it up to playing through a torn PCL? He did average 19.1 ppg from Weeks 1-6.

Javonte Williams’ ceiling is that of the overall RB1 if he gets a three-down role. With Melvin Gordon returning, that’s not going to happen unless Gordon gets hurt. Aaron Jones is being penciled in as the Packers’ de facto WR2, but I’m far more concerned about AJ Dillon taking all of the goal-line work.

Nick Chubb is who he is. You’ll get an elite rusher and about 16 ppg. He’s a high-floor/low-ceiling RB1/2. Saquon Barkley is set up for arguably the largest workload of any running back this season. However, the Giants offense remains weak, and I have questions regarding whether Barkley’s explosiveness will ever return.

Tier 5: David Montgomery, Cam Akers, Travis Etienne, Josh Jacobs, Antonio Gibson, AJ Dillon, J.K. Dobbins, Breece Hall, Elijah Mitchell

The lower we go in the rankings, the larger the 2022 fantasy RB tiers get. David Montgomery is a lock for 350 opportunities, but this Bears offense has a chance to be the worst in the league. Can he score enough? We know Sean McVay only uses one running back. It’s going to be Cam Akers to start, but will his explosiveness return?

Travis Etienne has yet to play an NFL snap, but he’s paired up with his college quarterback Trevor Lawrence and is poised for a heavy role with James Robinson likely to open the season on the PUP list. Josh Jacobs has averaged 14.7, 15.4, and 15.1 ppg in his three seasons in the NFL. With the Raiders not picking up his fifth-year option, will they run him into the ground in his final season with the team or phase him out in favor of rookie Zamir White?

AJ Dillon is one of my favorite early values. Over the final seven weeks of the 2021 season, Dillon out-touched Jones in the red zone 17-5. He should lead the Packers in carries and rushing touchdowns. J.K. Dobbins missed all of 2021 with a torn ACL. He’s going to be the Ravens’ lead back, but this should be a 50-40-10 split with Gus Edwards and the team’s RB3. Dobbins’ ceiling is capped due to the lack of receiving work.

Breece Hall is a true three-down back and an elite talent. However, I do think Michael Carter remains involved on passing downs. That, combined with the Jets likely having to throw more due to being down, has made me trepidatious about Hall in 2022. Elijah Mitchell is a two-down grinder on an elite rushing offense. He was a revelation last season as a sixth-round rookie, but we know Kyle Shanahan has no allegiance to anyone. Mitchell will start, but will he finish?

Jason Katz is a Fantasy Analyst at Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter: @jasonkatz13 and find more of his work here.

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