Fantasy football RB tiers 2022: Jonathan Taylor, Najee Harris, Saquon Barkley headline the first three tiers

How do PFN's fantasy football RB tiers for 2022 shape up as fantasy managers head into their drafts over the coming weeks?

There are a number of ways to value players when deciding who to draft for fantasy football, but utilizing tiers has become a more common approach in the last 10 years. By using a tiered approach, fantasy managers can see where the next drop-off in talent is and make decisions about whether they need to invest in the current tier or if they’re able to wait. Let’s examine our updated consensus tiers as managers enter their 2022 fantasy drafts.

If tiers are not your thing, then we also have our 2022 RB rankings available in list form, Additionally, if you want more information on the players listed below, then be sure to check out PFN’s fantasy analysts Tommy Garrett and Jason Katz discussing all things fantasy football on the PFN Premier Fantasy Football Podcast. Alternatively, if you want to chat with our analysts, be sure to join our completely free Discord server.

Fantasy football RB tiers 2022

The tiers below are formed from a consensus ranking between PFN’s Fantasy Football Director Ben Rolfe, Senior Fantasy Analyst Tommy Garrett, and Fantasy Analyst Jason Katz. The scoring format for the tiers below is PPR and is correct as of Aug. 16, 2022.

Tier 1

Jonathan Taylor
Christian McCaffrey
Austin Ekeler

It’s hard to go wrong with this group. Taylor and McCaffrey are a slight step ahead in this tier compared to Ekeler, but all are extremely close, especially in PPR. You will rarely see Ekeler being taken above the other two, but if you have the third selection in drafts, he’s a strong player to start your draft with.

Last season, Taylor was the best running back in fantasy, averaging 22 PPR fantasy points per game (ppg). He’s locked into massive volume behind one of the best run-blocking offensive lines in the league.

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

Tier 2

Derrick Henry
Dalvin Cook
Joe Mixon
Najee Harris
Leonard Fournette
D’Andre Swift
Alvin Kamara

This tier is an extremely difficult one to judge. If Henry is healthy, his volume pushes him to the top of this tier, but he’s now 28 with a heavy volume history. The debate is largely over whether he can stay healthy and remain efficient at this stage in his career.

Cook had a tough season in 2021 and does not have the best history in terms of health. However, he is still expected to be the Vikings’ featured back and should see some positive regression on just six touchdowns from last season. Mixon averaged 18 ppg last year, but there is talk of a further reduction in his third-down role, which limits his ceiling.

The remaining names in this tier all rank inside the top 15 overall in our consensus 2022 PPR fantasy rankings. Harris was inefficient but was utilized heavily in the run and passing game, which should remain. Fournette is set to be a three-down back for the Buccaneers in 2022, but there are growing concerns around the strength of Tampa Bay’s offensive line. However, he should see enough targets to mitigate efficiency concerns.

Swift’s upside is hampered by the continued presence of Jamaal Williams. Additionally, we could see a drop off in his 18.4% target share following a number of pass-catching additions this offseason. Kamara led all backs with a 20.2% target share last year. Yet, we have limited knowledge of what this offense will look like or how Kamara will be utilized following Sean Payton’s retirement.

Tier 3

Saquon Barkley
Aaron Jones
Javonte Williams
Nick Chubb
Ezekiel Elliott
James Conner

This tier spans just over 10 spots in our overall PPR rankings. Barkley is sort of hovering between the two tiers, and given the glimpse of the old Barkley that we saw in the first week of the preseason, he could even sneak up into the tier above by Labor Day weekend.

Jones has a huge variation in his ranking among our analysts. There are expectations he will take a bigger role in the passing game, but could losing goal-line work to AJ Dillon offset that? Williams’ ceiling got lowered with the return of Melvin Gordon. Expectations are this will not be a direct split, but Gordon should still take enough of the pie to hurt Williams’ fantasy output.

Chubb’s fantasy value in PPR is severely limited by his lack of targets in the past two years. He’s averaged just 21.5 targets per season under Stefanski’s play-calling. Elliott had a tough year in 2021, but he’s still a talented back. While the ceiling’s not as high anymore, he should have the volume to be a borderline top-12 RB this year. Conner should get the first shot at major work, but Darrel Williams is looming to hamper his ceiling potentially.

Tier 4

David Montgomery
Breece Hall
Travis Etienne
Cam Akers
AJ Dillon
Josh Jacobs

This is an intriguing mixed group of volume-based floor and huge talent upside. Montgomery could easily see one of the biggest workloads in the entire league, but the Bears offense is among the worst in the NFL, limiting his ceiling. We also expect Jacobs to have a significant number of touches, but Kenyan Drake and Zamir White could just eat in enough to dampen his ceiling.

The others on this list are all talented, but workload questions are prevalent. Akers is already dealing with preseason injuries, and he struggled for explosiveness after returning from an Achilles injury. Will we see him back to his old self in 2022? Etienne is also returning from major injury, and James Robinson is still expected to play a significant role in the Jaguars’ backfield.

Dillon saw an increase in usage down the stretch last season, especially in the red zone. However, with Jones still expected to be a major part of the backfield in Green Bay, Dillon’s opportunity to be a top-15 running back is severely hampered. Hall is also a very talented three-down back, but as a rookie in a team expected to struggle to win games, his touches could be controlled. Michael Carter is a solid pass-catching RB, and the Jets could be throwing a lot in the second half this season.

Tier 5

J.K. Dobbins
Cordarrelle Patterson
Elijah Mitchell
Chase Edmonds
Miles Sanders
Tony Pollard
Devin Singletary
Kareem Hunt
Antonio Gibson

Dobbins is back healthy, but the Ravens love to use a committee approach, and we could see him sharing touches all season, especially when Gus Edwards returns. Meanwhile, you should not underestimate the value of Patterson in PPR formats. Even if his workload carrying the ball is not as high as others, he could see a significant enough target share to push for a top 24 finish at the position.

Mitchell is also expected to lead the backfield in San Francisco. However, health concerns combined with talented players around him limits his ceiling. Edmonds is a similar story. He should lead the backfield in touches, but there are too many talented backs in that room, all of whom could steal touches, especially around the goal line.

We’ve already seen Sanders saying he doesn’t get enough usage this offseason. That appears set to be the same situation this year, plus Jalen Hurts should take touches out of that backfield. Pollard carries increased value in a PPR format, especially with injuries to the Cowboys’ RB group. However, Elliott is still expected to take the majority of carries, limiting Pollard’s upside.

Singletary and Gibson are both in intriguing situations. Gibson’s value appears to be on the decline after a preseason fumble. Brian Robinson was already expected to play a significant role, potentially around the goal line, and if Gibson cannot hold onto the ball, he’ll potentially see his touches limited early. Singletary’s ceiling is capped by the fact the Bills simply love to use Josh Allen in goal-line rushing situations. Plus the presence of James Cook as a pass-catching back has a major effect.

Hunt is a good back, but as long as he is in Cleveland and playing a complementary role to Chubb, his ceiling will always be capped. If he does get the trade he wants, then his value could skyrocket this offseason.

RB fantasy football tiers 6-10

Tier 6: Melvin Gordon, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kenneth Walker III, Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, James Robinson, Rashaad Penny

Tier 7: Michael Carter, J.D. McKissic, James Cook, Darrell Henderson, Alexander Mattison, Nyheim Hines

Tier 8: Jamaal Williams, Kenneth Gainwell, Isaiah Spiller, Mark Ingram, Darrel Williams, Rachaad White, Khalil Herbert, Brian Robinson, Gus Edwards, Tyler Allgeier, Marlon Mack

Tier 9: D’Onta Foreman, Zamir White, Raheem Mostert, Isiah Pacheco, Dontrell Hilliard, Boston Scott, Samaje Perine, Kenyan Drake, Sony Michel, Hassan Haskins, Rex Burkhead, Matt Breida, Ronald Jones, Tyrion Davis-Price, Jerick McKinnon, Chuba Hubbard, Jeff Wilson

Tier 10: Chris Evans, Pierre Strong Jr., Giovani Bernard, Damien Williams, Ke’Shawn Vaughn, D’Ernest Johnson, Myles Gaskin, Mike Davis, Tevin Coleman, Trey Sermon, Duke Johnson, Demetric Felton Jr., Eno Benjamin


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