Dynasty Rankings: Top 30 Running Backs

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During this crazy offseason, we are going to break down the top 30 players at each position for your dynasty teams. Keep in mind that we need to think about a few different things when we rank these players – age, situation, durability, potential, experience, and prior success. Today is all about the running back position. It’s important that you solidify your team with talented running backs that have the potential to produce and dominate for years to come. Remember, you could be potentially tied to your running backs for several years, but you also have the opportunity to trade one of your stars for assets of your choosing (draft picks, positions of greater needs, etc.). Go ahead and compare these rankings to our 2021 dynasty running back rankings. Check out how different these players look now in the updated 2022 version. Be sure to like, share, and comment on what you think. 

 

Tier 1 

Jonathan Taylor Shows He Can Carry Heavy Workload | 93.5 & 107.5 The Fan
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1) JONATHAN TAYLOR – INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Age: 23

Experience: 2

2021 Season Stats: 

17 GP, 332 Rush, 1,811 Yds, 5.5 Y/A, 18 TDs, 40 Rec, 360 Yds, 2 TDs

Future Outlook: Taylor is coming off an RB1 finish last season, and he has all the tools to replicate that in 2022. Not only is he a dominating back in the game right now, but he’s also only 23 years old. Taylor showed improvements as a pass-catcher last season. If he can continue to dominate on the ground while producing substantial receiving numbers, he’s going to be hard to overcome here at the top spot.

 

2) CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY – CAROLINA PANTHERS

Age: 25

Experience: 5

2021 Season Stats: 

5 GP, 99 Rush, 442 Yds, 4.5 Y/A, 1 TD, 37 Rec, 343 Yds, 1 TD

Future Outlook: Injuries are the only reason why McCaffrey isn’t sitting at the top spot ahead of Taylor. He’s quite possibly the best pass-catching running back the league has ever seen, and he’s no stranger to dominating on the ground as well. His 2021 17-game pace calculated out to 337 carries, 1,503 rushing yards, three rushing touchdowns, 126 receptions, 1,166 receiving yards, and three receiving touchdowns. If he can figure out a way to improve his durability, CMC could add more RB1 finishes to his résumé.

 

3) NAJEE HARRIS – PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Age: 24

Experience: 1

2021 Season Stats: 

17 GP, 307 Rush, 1,200 Yds, 3.9 Y/A, 7 TDs, 74 Rec, 467 Yds, 3 TDs

Future Outlook: Harris dominated in fantasy during his rookie season. He finished as the RB3 in PPR leagues, and he’s only 24 years old. He still has four (three guaranteed) years left on his rookie contract, and he’s a huge building block in Pittsburgh’s new approach without future HOFer Ben Roethlisberger. Expect Harris’ yard per attempt numbers to increase, as well as his targets out of the backfield.

 

4) JAVONTE WILLIAMS – DENVER BRONCOS

Age: 22

Experience: 1

2021 Season Stats: 

17 GP, 203 Rush, 903 Yds, 4.4 Y/A, 4 TDs, 43 Rec, 316 Yds, 3 TDs 

Future Outlook: Williams is going into his second season just like Harris is. He is two years younger, but his situation is a lot different. Melvin Gordon is still in town for now, and Denver may turn more into a pass-first type of offense now that Russell Wilson is their new signal-caller. Williams has shown that he can be a viable pass-catcher out of the backfield, but who knows how long Gordon will cut into his production.

 

5) D’ANDRE SWIFT – DETROIT LIONS

Age: 23

Experience: 2

2021 Season Stats: 

13 GP, 151 Rush, 617 Yds, 4.1 Y/A, 5 TDs, 62 Rec, 452 Yds, 2 TDs

Future Outlook: Many fantasy rankers are a little higher on Swift than we are here. He surely has all the tools to dominate in fantasy for years to come. The problem is that he’s already missed seven games in two seasons. On top of that, he’s played through injuries a few times as well. It’s already hard enough to rank him as the RB5 in dynasty when his best finish is as the RB15 during a two-year window. Nonetheless, he’s everything you want in a dynasty running back. He’s a great runner, a productive pass-catcher, 23 years old, and possibly the best skill player on his team.

 

Tier 2

Los Angeles Chargers' Austin Ekeler Joins Yahoo Fantasy Sports For 2021 NFL Season
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6) AUSTIN EKELER – LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

Age: 27

Experience: 5

2021 Season Stats: 

16 GP, 206 Rush, 911 Yds, 4.4 Y/A, 12 TDs, 70 Rec, 647 Yds, 8 TDs

Future Outlook: Ekeler falls just short of the “Tier 1” group for a couple of reasons. First off, he’s already 27 years old. Running backs in the NFL have short-shelf lives. Secondly, he has gone through some injury problems, especially in 2020. But let’s look at the positives. He’s hauling in passes from one of the best young quarterbacks in today’s game. And he’s one of the best pass-catching running backs in the league. During the last three seasons combined, Ekeler has hauled in 216 receptions for 2,043 yards and 18 touchdowns in 42 games. He’s also coming off an RB2 finish in 2021.

 

7) BREECE HALL – NEW YORK JETS

Age: 21

Experience: Rookie

Future Outlook: It’s hard to know what a rookie running back is going to do in Year 1. Here’s the deal. Hall is the consensus first overall pick in dynasty rookie drafts. He may split touches with second-year-pro Michael Carter, but the Jets drafted him to be their “bell cow” eventually. He’s excellent both on the ground and as a pass-catcher. He has NFL speed, and he landed in a very good situation. The Jets are young and willing to see what they can get out of their young players. Hall just may end up seeing 300-plus touches here in Year 1.

 

8) JOE MIXON – CINCINNATI BENGALS 

Age: 25

Experience: 5

2021 Season Stats: 

16 GP, 292 Rush, 1,205 Yds, 4.1 Y/A, 13 TDs, 42 Rec, 314 Yds, 3 TDs

Future Outlook: Mixon came into the league young. Those of you that are worried about his dynasty outlook may want to take a second look at his age. Sure, he’s seen a ton of touches during his five-year career, but his bounce-back season last year was very encouraging. Not only did he finish as the RB4, but he finished third in the league in total rushing yards. We would possibly look at him differently if he was still the focal point of the offense, but now he finds himself as the third or fourth-best offensive player for the team. That may help him stay fresh for durability purposes.

 

9) DALVIN COOK – MINNESOTA VIKINGS 

Age: 26

Experience: 5

2021 Season Stats: 

13 GP, 249 Rush, 1,159 Yds, 4.7 Y/A, 6 TDs, 34 Rec, 224 Yds

Future Outlook: Mixon, Dalvin Cook, and Alvin Kamara were very hard to decipher which should rank higher than the other. They’re in the same tier here because they belong in the same conversation. Cook falls just behind Mixon because of the offense he’s in and because he’s one year older. He’s also coming off a season where he missed four games. In fact, he’s never played in a full season during his five years in the league. During that span, he’s missed a total of 25 games. Here’s the good news. During the last three seasons, he’s finished as the RB6, the RB2, and the RB16 in that order. He may be slipping a little, but when he’s on the field, he’s still a dominating runner and pass-catcher.

 

10) ALVIN KAMARA – NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Age: 26

Experience: 5

2021 Season Stats: 

13 GP, 240 Rush, 898 Yds, 4.7 Y/A, 4 TDs, 47 Rec, 439 Yds, 5 TDs

Future Outlook: As mentioned above, Kamara belongs in the same conversation as those here in the same tier. Although he’s never topped 1,000 yards rushing in a season, he’s finished as an RB1 (top 12) in every year of his career. Kamara is only two years removed from an RB1 finish. So why is he lower on the rankings than both Mixon and Cook? He’s now surrounded by a lot of great pass-catchers. Michael Thomas is back and healthy, and the team went out and signed Jarvis Landry and drafted Chris Olave. Adam Trautman, Marquez Callaway, and Tre’Quan Smith are still on the team as well. Kamara’s receiving numbers may see a decline, and he’s also on the wrong side of 25 now.

 

11) NICK CHUBB – CLEVELAND BROWNS

Age: 26

Experience: 4

2021 Season Stats: 

14 GP, 228 RUSH, 1,259 YDS, 5.5 Y/A, 8 TDs, 20 Rec, 174 Yds, 1 TD

Future Outlook: Chubb may be the second-best pure rusher in the league behind Derrick Henry. He’s topped 1,000 rushing yards three seasons in a row now, and he finished second in the league last season. The problem is that he’s hardly used as a pass-catcher, and he plays through nagging injuries too often. Time will catch up with him, as he’s already 26 years old. Expect a ton of touches for him this season, but eventually, he’s going to slow down. That tends to happen quicker for those that don’t replace some of their carries with targets.

 

12) DERRICK HENRY – TENNESSEE TITANS

Age: 28

Experience: 6

2021 Season Stats: 

8 GP, 219 Rush, 937 Yds, 4.3 Y/A, 10 TDs, 18 Rec, 154 Yds

Future Outlook: King Henry is one of the best pure rushers the game has ever seen. He almost rushed for 1,000 yards in only eight games played last season. His 17-game pace calculated out to 1,991 yards. This comes one season after producing 2,027 rushing yards the year before. The issue is that he’s being overworked. After receiving 303 carries in 2019 and 378 in 2020, Henry was on pace for 465 in 2021. He’s already 28, and he’s been hit a lot at this point. We may not see many more dominating years from Henry, but for now, he’s still a King.

 

Tier 3

Antonio Gibson COVID-19 news: Washington RB placed on list for Week 17 and is OUT - DraftKings Nation
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13) ANTONIO GIBSON – WASHINGTON COMMANDERS

Age: 23

Experience: 2

2021 Season Stats: 

16 GP, 258 Rush, 1,037 Yds, 4.0 Y/A, 7 TDs, 42 Rec, 294 Yds, 3 TDs

Future Outlook: Just last offseason, Gibson was pegged as a player that could mold into a McCaffrey type of player for Washington. With J.D. McKissic still hauling in a ton of receptions out of the backfield, it’s been hard for the former college wide receiver to get a lot going as a pass-catcher. That doesn’t mean he couldn’t eventually take the next step. He’s only 23 years old, and he’s coming off the first 1,000-yard rushing campaign of his young career. On top of that, he finished as the RB10 in PPR leagues in 2021.

 

14) J.K. DOBBINS – BALTIMORE RAVENS 

Age: 23

Experience: 1

2021 Season Stats: 

15 GP, 134 Rush, 805 Yds, 6.0 Y/A, 9 TDs, 18 Rec, 120 Yds

Future Outlook: Dobbins missed the entire 2021 season after suffering a torn ACL before the regular season. Now cleared and participating in offseason workouts, the two-year pro looks to mold back into his 2020 self. During that rookie season run, Dobbins served as the RB11 during Weeks 8-17. He started to break out and show the fantasy world that he’s capable of producing RB1-like numbers. Time will tell if he can sustain that again, but given his opportunity and youth, he’s still a solid “Tier 3” dynasty running back.

 

15) KENNETH WALKER III – SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Age: 21

Experience: Rookie

Future Outlook: Walker III joins Hall in a decent rookie running back class. The reason why he falls this far down the list is because of his situation. Both Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny are established veteran backs that could see more playing time than Walker III at the beginning of his career. It may take a season for him to get his feet wet, but he should eventually become a solid back at the NFL level.

 

16) SAQUON BARKLEY – NEW YORK GIANTS

Age: 25

Experience: 4

2021 Season Stats: 

13 GP, 162 Rush, 593 Yds, 3.7 Y/A, 2 TDs, 41 Rec, 263 Yds, 2 TDs

Future Outlook: Barkley has fallen down the ranks in a big way. Going into last season, there was hope and optimism that he could play as he did during his first two seasons. He started his career with consecutive top-10 finishes. Since then, he’s missed 18 games, averaged 3.5 yards per attempt, and found the endzone four total times. He’s coming off a season where he finished as the RB32, and we are starting to lose hope at this point.

 

17) DAVID MONTGOMERY – CHICAGO BEARS

Age: 24

Experience: 3

2021 Season Stats: 

13 GP, 225 Rush, 849 Yds, 3.8 Y/A, 7 TDs, 42 Rec, 301 Yds

Future Outlook: Montgomery falls just shy of Barkley simply because we’ve seen Barkley finish as the RB1 before. Montgomery is no stranger to success though. Just two seasons ago, he finished as the RB4. What’s crazy is that he was only the RB21 through the first 11 weeks. He countered that by serving as the RB1 during Weeks 12-17. Last season, he did something similar. Although he only finished as the RB20 on the year, during Weeks 12-17, he served as the RB1 once again. He’s a late-season bloomer who’s only 24 years old. The issue is that he’s inconsistent and overworked at times.

 

18) AARON JONES – GREEN BAY PACKERS

Age: 27

Experience: 5

2021 Season Stats: 

15 GP, 171 Rush, 799 Yds, 4.7 Y/A, 4 TDs, 52 Rec, 391 Yds, 6 TDs

Future Outlook: Jones is in a similar situation as Ekeler. He’s 27 years old, and he is an outstanding pass-catcher out of the backfield. The reason why he’s so low on the rankings is that A.J. Dillon has been slowly taking away his opportunities on the ground. Just three seasons ago, Jones tied for the league lead in rushing touchdowns with 16. Since then, his numbers have dropped to nine (2020) and four (2021). He should still see production as a receiver, but his days at producing top-tier rushing statistics are all but over.

 

19) TRAVIS ETIENNE – JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Age: 23

Experience: 0

Future Outlook: Bouncing back from a season-ending injury that prevented him to see any NFL action during his rookie season, Etienne is now healthy and practicing. He’s a hard one to judge since we haven’t even seen him take an NFL snap, but reuniting with his college teammate in Trevor Lawrence should serve him nicely. On top of that, James Robinson may miss the beginning of the regular season, as he rehabs from a torn Achilles. The 23-year-old Etienne has a chance at becoming one of the backs that succeeds both on the ground and in the receiving game. After all, he did haul in 85 receptions in the last 27 games of his collegiate career.

 

20) EZEKIEL ELLIOTT – DALLAS COWBOYS

Age: 26

Experience: 6

2021 Season Stats: 

17 GP, 237 Rush, 1,002 Yds, 4.2 Y/A, 10 TDs, 47 Rec, 287 Yds, 2 TDs

Future Outlook: Times have changed when you see Ezekiel Elliott this far down a list. Once pegged as the best young running back in the league, Zeke now has father time holding him back. Although he played in all 17 games last season, he was a step slower than his normal self. His 58.9 rushing yards per game were the worst of his six-year career. Tony Pollard oftentimes looked like the clear top back over him in Dallas’ offense. And he’s already going into his seventh season with 1,650 career rushing attempts. He’s beaten up, but you know you can squeeze some fantasy production out of him, as he shows great grit and determination.

 

Tier 4

Josh Jacobs injury news: Raiders RB returns to full practice for Week 9 - DraftKings Nation
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21) JOSH JACOBS – LAS VEGAS RAIDERS 

Age: 24

Experience: 3

2021 Season Stats: 

15 GP, 217 Rush, 872 Yds, 4.0 Y/A, 9 TDs, 54 Rec, 348 Yds

Future Outlook: Jacobs lands as the top back in the “tier 4” group because of his youth and past production. But let’s face it, his future outlook is murky at best. Las Vegas declined his fifth-year option, so he’s entering his final season under contract with the club. On top of that, they drafted Zamir White in the fourth round of this year’s draft. Kenyan Drake is still on the team, and Vegas’ offense is going to be more pass-happy now that Davante Adams has reunited with Derek Carr. Jacobs has finished as the RB12 or better in consecutive seasons, but that streak may come to an end as early as this year.

 

22) CLYDE EDWARDS-HELAIRE – KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

Age: 23

Experience: 2

2021 Season Stats: 

10 GP, 119 Rush, 517 Yds, 4.3 Y/A, 4 TDs, 19 Rec, 129 Yds, 2 TDs

Future Outlook: It took a lot to not rank Edwards-Helaire higher on this list. Although he’s been a major disappointment, as some fantasy managers drafted first overall in their rookie drafts back in 2020, his opportunity outlook this season is off the charts. Tyreek Hill is now a Dolphins. More often than not, when a player of Hill’s pedigree leaves a team, the pass-catching running back sees most of the lost production. But with Andy Reid as his head coach, you would’ve thought by now that CEH had turned into a pass-catching machine. He’s only 23 years old, but he hasn’t done enough to rank him higher on this list yet.

 

23) JAMES COOK – BUFFALO BILLS 

Age: 22

Experience: Rookie

Future Outlook: Like Edwards-Helaire above, Cook comes into the league with a lot of noise because of his situation. Buffalo has been trying to improve their backfield for years now. Although Devin Singletary has been efficient, the Bills have been in search of someone that can dominate as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. That’s why they tried so hard to sign McKissic this offseason. Cook can now be their McKissic, as he predominately served as Georgia’s pass-catcher/third-down back during their title run. This may turn into a dream-come-true situation for those who’ve already invested in Cook on their dynasty teams. Just don’t expect a ton of value from him as a rusher early on.

 

24) ELIJAH MITCHELL – SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS 

Age: 24

Experience: 1

2021 Season Stats: 

11 GP, 207 Rush, 963 Yds, 4.7 Y/A, 5 TDs, 19 Rec, 137 Yds, 1 TD

Future Outlook: Mitchell turned heads during his rookie season in San Francisco. He leapfrogged Trey Sermon on the depth chart immediately, and he’s clearly the RB1 for this team right now. Although he was riddled with injuries, he still managed to finish as the RB26 on the season. Kyle Shanahan loves to use multiple running backs during his weekly game-planning. That will hold Mitchell back slightly. Expect production, but you can also expect injuries and other players to take away his opportunities at times during the next few years.

 

25) CAM AKERS – LOS ANGELES RAMS 

Age: 22

Experience: 2

2021 Season Stats: 

1 GP, 5 Rush, 3 Yds, 0.6 Y/A, 3 Rec, 10 Yds

Future Outlook: After Akers’ impressive rookie season, many ranked him as a top-10 dynasty running back. Here at East West, we had him ranked 13th. But for obvious reasons, he’s slipped going into Year 3. He missed almost the entire season after suffering an offseason Achilles tear. He rehabbed way ahead of schedule and came back just in time to play in the final game of the 2021 regular season and the entire postseason. Rusty is a nice way of describing his play when he came back. There is optimism though. He’s only 22, and he has all the trust in the world from Sean McVay and the Rams as their RB1 for now.

 

TIER 5

Bucs RB Leonard Fournette contributing $100K to help New Orleans recover from Hurricane Ida | WFLA
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26) LEONARD FOURNETTE – TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS 

Age: 27

Experience: 5

2021 Season Stats: 

14 GP, 180 Rush, 812 Yds, 4.5 Y/A, 8 TDs, 69 Rec, 454 Yds, 2 TDs

Future Outlook: What a bounce-back season Fournette put together last year. Before missing Tampa Bay’s final three games of the season, he served as the RB3. He looked like he did during his Jacksonville days, but maybe even a little better. Improving as a pass-catcher has helped his fantasy value tremendously. The problem is that he’s already 27, and both Giovani Bernard and rookie Rachaad White play for the same team as him. Those two alone should diminish his receiving value.

 

27) A.J. DILLON – GREEN BAY PACKERS 

Age: 24

Experience: 2

2021 Season Stats:  

17 GP, 187 Rush, 803 Yds, 4.3 Y/A, 5 TDs, 34 Rec, 313 Yds, 2 TDs

Future Outlook: We mentioned him above when we dissected Jones’ dynasty value. Dillon has slowly taken away carries from Jones, and he’s been brilliant in doing so. He topped 60 rushing yards six times last season. In each of those six games, he received 20 attempts or more just twice. He’s efficient when he sees heavy volume, and he has a chance at increasing his fantasy value if he overtakes Jones as the primary short-yardage runner. He’s only 24, and he still has two years left on his rookie contract.

 

28) KAREEM HUNT – CLEVELAND BROWNS 

Age: 26

Experience: 5

2021 Season Stats: 

8 GP, 78 Rush, 386 Yds, 4.9 Y/A, 5 TDs, 22 Rec, 174 Yds

Future Outlook: Hunt suffered the first injury-riddled season of his five-year career in 2021. What’s crazy is that through the first six weeks of the season, he was on pace to finish as the RB9 playing behind Chubb. His 17-game pace numbers are pretty astonishing as well. They calculated out to 820 rushing yards, 47 receptions, 370 receiving yards, and 11 total touchdowns. That’s as a backup to Chubb! Hunt is a bit older now, and he’s now in search of a third contract after this season.

 

29) JAMES CONNER – ARIZONA CARDINALS 

Age: 27

Experience: 5

2021 Season Stats: 

15 GP, 202 Rush, 752 Yds, 3.7 Y/A, 15 TDs, 37 Rec, 375 Yds, 3 TDs

Future Outlook: Conner put together a similar season to Fournette. Similar as in he was an afterthought in fantasy terms going into last season and exceeded expectations drastically. The 27-year-old finished as the RB5 on the season after rushing for a career-high 15 touchdowns. Chase Edmonds is now out of town, but Arizona brought in Darrel Williams and drafted Keaontay Ingram. As far as this season is concerned, he’s going to produce solid fantasy numbers again. The problem is after this season. He’ll be entering his final season under contract at the age of 28. That’s not usually a recipe for success for running backs these days.

 

30) DAMIEN HARRIS – NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 

Age: 25

Experience: 3

2021 Season Stats: 

15 GP, 202 Rush, 929 Yds, 4.6 Y/A, 15 TDs, 18 Rec, 132 Yds

Future Outlook: Harris rounds out the last spot on this list ahead of the names below because of how much he’s improved during his short career thus far. He put together an RB14 finish in his first season as the team’s clear RB1. Sure, he’s entering his final season on his rookie contract, but the fact that he’s 25 and only received 343 carries means he has a lot left in him. He may be the freshest 25-year-old skill player in the entire league. Until we see a slow step in his game, he’ll be on this top 30 list.

 

Other Notables: Miles Sanders (Eagles), Tony Pollard (Cowboys, Michael Carter (Jets), Rhamondre Stevenson (Patriots), Devin Singletary (Bills)

Did you enjoy this article and want more fantasy content? Make sure to check out my recent posts, and stay tuned for other positional rankings in the future. You can also follow me on Twitter @dirrim23, where I love talking about all things fantasy football!

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