Sleeper RBs for 2022

Sunday, Aug 21, 2022 at 10:41 am ET

Unlike the Quarterback sleeper article I do not have projections for all of these guys since a lot of them are in backfields that we are unsure on. We don't quite know what their full-time role will be and some of these guys need an injury to hit. This is simply a list of running backs I believe in and should have at least some chance to become a contributor on your team - whether that is a season long/league winner or just a 2 week stint to get a couple of wins.

Javonte WilliamsFor the running back sleepers, I could bring up everyone's favorite, Javonte Williams - RB13. In this article I am going to look at running backs that are outside the FantasyNerds Top 36 Running Backs to be a deep dive into true legit league winners.

I want to briefly talk about guys between RB13 - RB36 just so we don't miss guys that could end up in the top 12. For some teams that go Heavy RB these guys could be league winners for their teams. Even the Hero RB builds benefit from some of these guys because they are drafting top-end WR to build their base with a guy that goes behind the consensus top running backs.

So let's talk some of these RB2/3 that could be top 12 running backs. Start with two guys that are back to back in the rankings. Travis Etienne - RB19 and Breece Hall- RB20 are two young backs that are collegiate stars. They both dominated and were drafted high by their teams in the NFL Draft. They have the college dominator factor with high draft capital. Those two things typically lead to a high share of the team's touches. I believe both of these young running backs will break out and have a chance at being top 12.

AJ DillonThe next two are a little more interesting in their own ways and are back to back as well like the first two. AJ Dillon - RB25 and Clyde Edwards-Helaire - RB26, are also two young guys that are going into their third season.

  • AJ Dillon has a clear path to a solid workload in the Packers offense and showed he can handle it last year. I think he has a chance to break out if he can get to the 35 reception mark.
  • CEH is a bit controversial compared to what I have seen around the fantasy community all offseason. I think he has a clear path to 50% of his team's running back touches. Ronald Jones looks like a cut candidate for the Chiefs. McKinnon is a 3rd and long specialist and the RB2 is a 7th round darling by most, Isaiah Pacheco. I like him as well, but this is CEH backfield first.

Just a quick note on 4 other guys inside the top 36. The list is Devin Singletary - RB31, Chase Edmonds - RB32, Tony Pollard - RB33, and Rhamondre Stevenson - RB35. These are the last guys I will draft in the top 36.

A quick analysis of each, here we go.

  • Singletary has rated highly the last 2 years in explosive plays from scrimmage and will carry a bulk of the load even with Cook there now.
  • Edmonds' style is a perfect fit for the wide zone approach the Dolphins use, Mostert is cooked with his knee issues, and Sony will take some carries, but Edmonds will get most of the passing work.
  • Pollard is my favorite. He has a chance to be an RB2 without Zeke regressing. There are less experienced receivers on the Cowboys and I believe they give him a better share of the carries this year as they transition from Zeke.
  • Last, but not least is Stevenson. He is already working in the James White role and the last half of the season split carries with Harris (who is on the trade block). Stevenson might be the RB1 in a few weeks. Remember last year a week before the season the Patriots shipped Sony to the Rams? I think Harris gets traded before the season.

The Second Year Takeover

Kenneth Gainwell - RB45
Gainwell was hand-picked by this coaching staff in the 2021 NFL Draft and they used him quite a bit throughout the season. It is a little telling when Miles Sanders has 0 touchdowns, but the Eagles total for running back touchdowns in 2021 was 15. Gainwell had 5 of those. He also earned 50 targets as a rookie. Gainwell in my eyes fits this offense better than Miles Sanders does. Gainwell has the apple of the eye of his coach and yours truly as a great target on all of my teams.

Khalil Herbert - RB 49
Khalil took all starters snaps in reseason week 1 with Montgomery out. It seems like the new coaching staff isn’t 100% in as Montgomery is the lead back and it may be a split role between him and Herbert. Last season Herbert started 2 games and totaled 37 carries for 197 yards and 1 touchdown with 7 receptions for 48 yards. That is 5.32 yards per carrying for him. He was my 5th best running back coming out in the 2021 NFL Draft so he is held high in regards to me because of that. I think he is in line for at least 35% of the carries and maybe closer to 50% of the RB passing downs work.

The Rookies

  • Dameon Pierce - RB41
    What a debut by the rookie!! I wasn’t crazy about him coming into the league, but I think that he can be the Michael Carter of this year. Basically carry the load on a bad offense and be a find RB3 that could give some top 24 weeks, but will probably be replaced next year by a better RB.
  • Kyren Williams - RB82
    Passing downs specialist that is injured right now. He was my number 5 RB coming into the Draft this year. His combine and pro-day times blew him up and dropped him to the 5th round. I think he is uber talented and has 2 injury-prone running backs in front of him on a high-octane offense.
  • Zamir White - RB60
    Josh Jacobs 5th year option was not picked up by Josh McDaniels and Zamir looks like a possible more explosive version of Jacobs. I think he is a dart throw because it looks like it will be a complete committee there, but he could prove himself and be a bell cow for McDaniels also. Two extreme outcomes for him.
  • Hassan Haskins - RB74
    This is as simple as Derrick Henry is 29 coming off an injury. Haskins looked good in the first preseason game. He is a 3 down back that has a similar style to Henry. If something happens to Henry he could be a league winner.
  • Brian Robinson - RB55
    Rumor is he has the goal line work job already. Antonio Gibson has had a rough offseason so far. I think Robinson could eventually be the starter since he has 3 down capabilities that would really benefit the offense than using 3 specialty backs to tip defenses off.

There are others that you can easily fall in love with and some that I will take in drafts because of pure opportunity chances. We will have injuries that push guys up or once the final depth chart is made for week 1 it will be a shock that some guys are their team RB2. This list of guys outside of FantasyNerds top 100 is merely deep league dart throws keep an eye on the waiver wire once we get a couple of weeks into the season and you can see the team running back usage more.

Beyond RB100 (close your eyes and throw the dart in deep leagues)

Running back is deep this year with guys that may have opportunities in the future. Whether that is a month into the season or next season we won’t know right now. I do see their plenty of good plays for drafting a lot of running backs late regardless of your draft approach and team structure. Hopefully, this list helps you.

Good luck with your drafts!!!

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