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Regular Season, Updated: 8/4/2022

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 Jonathan Taylor, IND (Bye: 14)
1
Height: 5’10”   Weight: 226   DOB: 1999-01-19   Age: 23
College: Wisconsin   Draft: 2020 Round 2 (9) 
SeasonTeamGameAtt Yard TDRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2020IND15232 1,169 11 36 299 1 218.8 14.6
2021IND17332 1,811 18 40 360 2 337.1 19.8
2022 (Projected)IND 302 1,568 14 39 321 2 284.9  

Outlook: Taylor has put himself squarely in the middle of the No.1 overall pick discussion in all leagues and all formats. His stellar 2021 campaign dwarfed his already impressive rookie numbers of a year earlier. Last year he led the NFL in rushing with 1811 yards, which came on a league-high 332 carries for a 5.5-yard average and 18 touchdowns. He posted ten 100-yard rushing games, averaging 106.5 ground yards per game, and if that wasn't enough, he added 40 catches for 360 yards and two more scores.

He's a legitimate dual threat back who can break tackles, but still possesses the speed to gain the edge on outside zone runs. While opposing defenses are sure to stack the box against this run-first attack, having Matt Ryan in the backfield with him will be much more of a benefit than Carson Wentz was. Teams will likely make Ryan prove he can still make all the throws early on. But with his accuracy and an improved receiving corps in an offense that fits his skill set, defenses will be forced to honor his passing ability, which will keep things honest for Taylor.

Nyheim Hines may return to a bigger receiving role this year, but Taylor will still be part of the aerial attack, will still be a prime red zone threat, and in my opinion, is poised to obliterate the 2,000-yard rushing mark. If you have the No.1 pick in your draft, run, don't walk, to get the card in.


 Derrick Henry, TEN (Bye: 6)
2
Height: 6’3”   Weight: 247   DOB: 1994-07-17   Age: 28
College: Alabama   Draft: 2016 Round 2 (14) 
SeasonTeamGameAtt Yard TDRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2019TEN15303 1,540 16 18 206 2 282.6 18.8
2020TEN16378 2,027 17 19 114 0 316.1 19.8
2021TEN8219 937 10 18 154 0 169.1 21.1
2022 (Projected)TEN 345 1,553 12 20 145 1 247.8  

Outlook: Before a foot injury requiring surgery caused him to miss the last nine regular season games of 2021, Henry was on pace to become the first player since Walter Payton to lead the NFL in rushing for three straight seasons. The only man who may be more "beast mode" than Marshawn Lynch himself, Henry incredibly returned for the playoffs with a steel plate and five screws in his foot and still took the ball 20 times in the Titans' divisional round loss!

Prior to last season's setback, Henry had only missed two games in his previous five NFL seasons. Still, at 28 years old, there will be whispers wondering if he's starting to hit that RB wall (see Christian McCaffrey's litany of injuries the past two seasons), especially given the workload he's taken on over the course of his career. But I'm here to tell you it's nonsense. The man's social media posts of his offseason workouts are the stuff of legend. Foot fractures can be tricky, but he will be ready to go.

Even when Henry was out the Titans stayed committed to the run, averaging over 135 rush yards per game. Expect more of the same in 2022 and expect Henry to be the guy driving the effort. He's in the conversation for No.1 overall selection in most drafts along with Jonathan Taylor.


 Christian McCaffrey, CAR (Bye: 13)
3
Height: 5’11”   Weight: 202   DOB: 1996-06-07   Age: 26
College: Stanford   Draft: 2017 Round 1 (8) 
SeasonTeamGameAtt Yard TDRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2019CAR16287 1,387 15 116 1,005 4 353.2 22.1
2020CAR359 225 5 17 149 1 73.4 24.5
2021CAR799 442 1 37 343 1 90.5 12.9
2022 (Projected)CAR 208 956 8 85 685 4 236.1  

Outlook: Whoever ends up playing quarterback for the Panthers is going to want a healthy Christian McCaffrey with him in the backfield. The do-it-all back has the talent to be considered the overall RB1 in fantasy drafts when at full strength, especially when you consider his skills as a receiver. However, he's played just 10 games over the last two seasons due to a litany of injuries - ankle, shoulder, thigh, hamstring, and ankle again. Carolina is expecting McCaffrey to be ready for the start of training camp, but their plan doesn't include much action. He'll have an altered (reduced) practice schedule, he won't play in any preseason games, and there has even been talk of moving him to slot receiver. He had 37 catches in just seven games in 2021, so that doesn't seem like such a bad plan, and would immediately make Sam Darnold or Baker Mayfield a better quarterback. Last year, Darnold was one of the top scoring QB's in the NFL with McCaffrey on the field. Not so much when he wasn't.

In the end, you have to decide if 2022 is McCaffrey's bounce back year, or if the stereotypical wear and tear has begun for the RB. If he's healthy, he's an RB1 in all formats.


 Austin Ekeler, LAC (Bye: 8)
4
Height: 5’10”   Weight: 200   DOB: 1995-05-17   Age: 27
College: Western State, Colo.   Draft:
SeasonTeamGameAtt Yard TDRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2019LAC16132 557 3 92 993 8 221.0 13.8
2020LAC10116 530 1 54 403 2 111.3 11.1
2021LAC16206 911 12 70 647 8 275.8 17.2
2022 (Projected)LAC 190 855 9 76 622 5 231.7  

Outlook: In a lot of ways, Ekeler has supplanted Christian McCaffrey as the preeminent dual-threat tailback in the NFL. Not that he's necessarily as talented as Run CMC, but when you miss 23 of the last 37 games (as McCaffrey has) it's hard to put them on the mountain top. One thing to watch for 2022, however, is whether Ekeler setting a new career high in carries (206, which was 74 more than any previous year) adversely affects the 27-year-old back. It didn't last year when he missed just one game; that after missing a half-dozen in 2021.

For fantasy owners, the biggest development was the 5-foot-10, 200-pounder showing a heretofore unseen penchant for goal-line work as he rushed for a dozen touchdowns -- he entered last year with nine rushing scores in his career. He added eight more as a receiver as part of a 70-catch, 647-yard effort, giving him 20 combined TDs for the year, which tied with Indy's Jonathan Taylor for the NFL lead. He's as natural a receiver out of the backfield as there is in the NFL, and those extra touches in space help keep his workload up while not exposing him to more big hits.

If you're looking for a drawback with Ekeler, it might be the drafting of Isaiah Spiller, who on paper should be a much more capable reserve than last year's mix of Justin Jackson, who had a couple of nice games but was largely unimpressive, Larry Rountree III, and Joshua Kelley. Then again, nobody in the top five or six RBs looks airtight apart from maybe Taylor, so Ekeler is absolutely in the mix for the next back selected and is a definite top-five target.


 Dalvin Cook, MIN (Bye: 7)
5
Height: 5’10”   Weight: 210   DOB: 1995-08-10   Age: 27
College: Florida State   Draft: 2017 Round 2 (9) 
SeasonTeamGameAtt Yard TDRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2019MIN14250 1,135 13 53 519 0 243.4 17.4
2020MIN14312 1,557 16 44 361 1 293.8 21.0
2021MIN13249 1,159 6 34 224 0 174.3 13.4
2022 (Projected)MIN 257 1,210 9 42 299 1 210.9  

Outlook: It was always going to be a long shot for Cook to reproduce the numbers of his monster 2020 season, but to call 2021 as anything less than a disappointment would be folly. Missing four games certainly didn't help, but when he was healthy, he was all but forgotten in the passing game (his 34 receptions were the lowest since his rookie year) and he only found the endzone 6 times after finding paydirt 30 times over the 2019 and 2020 seasons combined.

While his talent is unquestioned, and he suffered from a lack of offensive innovation and consistency last year, the injuries become a bigger and bigger caveat for the 26-year-old back. He's missed multiple games in every season in the NFL, with a shoulder injury being the big culprit last season. While his peak seasons may have passed, there is still plenty of RB1 value baked into his game. The fresh scheme on offense should see him moved around the formation more, and keep him out of stacked box situations. If he can remain efficient on a floor of 250 carries and 50 receptions he should be in the top-5 consideration at his position.


 Najee Harris, PIT (Bye: 9)
6
Height: 6’2”   Weight: 230   DOB: 1998-03-09   Age: 24
College: Alabama   Draft: 2021 Round 1 (24) 
SeasonTeamGameAtt Yard TDRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2021PIT17307 1,200 7 74 467 3 226.7 13.3
2022 (Projected)PIT 278 1,140 7 59 395 2 207.5  

Outlook: The old fantasy running back adage that "volume is king" certainly applied to Harris in 2021. The former Alabama runner led the NFL in touches with 381, single-handedly keeping the Steeler offense above water enough to sneak into the playoffs. A true workhorse, Harris played in all 17 games and led the NFL by being on the field for 85% of all the Steelers offensive snaps! It's not hyperbole to say he almost never came off the field, but this does fit with the Pittsburgh philosophy for their backs going back a few decades. With little on the roster behind him, and an unsettled quarterback position, I don't expect much to change for Harris on the volume front. Let's hope it doesn't, because it was volume, and not necessarily efficiency that helped Harris to that top-5 finish. Among backs with 200+ carries, Harris's 3.9 yards-per-carry average was 21st in the NFL, and despite the 74 receptions, Harris had only one game with more than 50 yards receiving. With the highest touch floor among any back in the league, and a high pick regardless of league scoring, the only question for Harris is how long he can sustain this touch count without breaking down.


 Joe Mixon, CIN (Bye: 10)
7
Height: 6’1”   Weight: 226   DOB: 1996-07-24   Age: 26
College: Oklahoma   Draft: 2017 Round 2 (16) 
SeasonTeamGameAtt Yard TDRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2019CIN16278 1,137 5 35 287 3 190.4 11.9
2020CIN6119 428 3 21 138 1 80.6 13.4
2021CIN16292 1,205 13 42 314 3 247.9 15.5
2022 (Projected)CIN 292 1,166 9 40 283 2 210.9  

Outlook: Like many guys on this offense, Mixon enjoyed a career year in 2021. His 292 attempts, 1.205 rushing yards, 314 receiving yards, and 16 total touchdowns were all career bests, even as Mixon ran behind one of the worst lines in the NFL. Efficiency has been a major problem for Mixon in his career, but that should change big time this season, as Cincinnati added three major pieces in free agency. Mixon should again dominate carries, so the floor there is safe. The biggest concern comes in the passing game, as the coaching staff seemed to lack trust in Mixon on 3rd downs and obvious passing situations, famously culminating in the sloppy final two plays in the Super Bowl. Samaje Perine and Chis Evans have both proved to be capable receivers, so a drop in Mixon's 42 receptions wouldn't be a surprise. An improved line, and the complete absence of stacked boxes should pave the way for Mixon to pile up numbers on the ground, but a diminished role in the passing game, and potential touchdown regression push him out of the top 5, but still in the top-10 in all formats.


 Leonard Fournette, TB (Bye: 11)
8
Height: 6’0”   Weight: 240   DOB: 1995-01-18   Age: 27
College: Louisiana State   Draft: 2017 Round 1 (4) 
SeasonTeamGameAtt Yard TDRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2019JAC15265 1,152 3 76 522 0 185.4 12.4
2020TB1397 367 6 36 233 0 96.0 7.4
2021TB14180 812 8 69 454 2 186.6 13.3
2022 (Projected)TB 211 930 8 62 417 2 194.7  

Outlook: Fournette has a nose for the end zone, finding pay dirt 10 times last season, and his chemistry with Tom Brady has made him a critical part of the passing attack. He hauled in 69 passes for 454 yards (both the 2nd highest totals of his career) in 2021. But he is not a volume runner, ranking just 21st in attempts (180) and 19th in rushing yards (812) a season ago. Still, he did take on a larger role in the offense last season after his strong playoff run in 2020, and that doesn't figure to change this year, especially with the departure of Ronald Jones in the offseason.

However, fantasy owners should take note of the arrival of 3rd-round pick Rachaad White, who comes to the table with a similar skill set to Fournette, impressive size and athleticism, and a publicly stated itch to start. Fournette will begin the season as the bonafide starter. With OC Byron Leftwich and Brady both back, the system will remain largely the same, and Brady likes him. But if he struggles with conditioning, drops, or injuries, which have all ailed him in the past, he could yield significant touches by the end of the season. He's still a low-end RB1 option, but keep an eye on how things progress early in the season.


 Nick Chubb, CLE (Bye: 9)
9
Height: 5’11”   Weight: 228   DOB: 1995-12-27   Age: 26
College: Georgia   Draft: 2018 Round 2 (3) 
SeasonTeamGameAtt Yard TDRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2019CLE16298 1,494 8 36 278 0 225.2 14.1
2020CLE12190 1,067 12 16 150 0 193.7 16.1
2021CLE14228 1,259 8 20 174 1 197.3 14.1
2022 (Projected)CLE 220 1,165 9 24 185 1 195.0  

Outlook: With an ideal mix of balance, speed, and power, Chubb is the best natural runner in the NFL and reminds me a lot of former Ravens running back Jamal Lewis. He's averaged more than 5 yards-per-carry in his career, and has scored 39 total touchdowns in four seasons. In only 14 games last year he surpassed 1,200 yards rushing and scored 9 touchdowns. Only the lack of quality work in the passing game keeps him out the top-5. Catching passes has never been a part of Chubbs' game, even going back to college where he only caught 31 passes in 47 games with the Dawgs, so he won't magically become a dual threat. Even the loss of Kareem Hunt for nine games last season didn't add to his role as a receiver. This Cleveland offense looks monumentally different depending who the quarterback is, but Chubbs' role as the ground and pound element is cemented. It's a good bet he'll see more carries in games with Brissett under center, and have better lanes to run in when and if Watson returns, so he'll produce in either scenario, and still should be treated as a top tier option in standard leagues, and a low-end RB1 in PPR leagues.


 Alvin Kamara, NO (Bye: 14)
10
Height: 5’10”   Weight: 214   DOB: 1995-07-25   Age: 27
College: Tennessee   Draft: 2017 Round 3 (3) 
SeasonTeamGameAtt Yard TDRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2019NO14171 797 5 81 533 1 169.0 12.1
2020NO15187 932 16 83 756 5 294.8 19.7
2021NO13240 898 4 47 439 5 187.7 14.4
2022 (Projected)NO 143 715 7 60 514 5 194.9  

Outlook: Kamara is electric when he's on the field. The question for fantasy owners this season is, will he be on the field? And if so, when? Kamara is facing felony battery charges stemming from an incident at the Pro Bowl in Las Vegas this winter. His hearing has been pushed to August 1st, which means the trial will be later. He's likely facing an NFL suspension of up to six games, but not until the legal process has run its' course. That's a risky scenario, not unlike the one the Browns are facing in Cleveland with Deshaun Watson.

The five-time Pro Bowler has never had a 1,000-yard rushing season, but he did turn in three 100-yard rushing days in 2021. His value is in his receiving skills, run after the catch, and overall versatility. He's had five straight seasons of at least 1,300 total yards and has scored 30 times in the last two years. The Saints scheme to get him in space and let him be a playmaker, which works to his strengths.

Without the legal issue, he's a viable top five RB in all formats. But until his off the field situation is sorted out, he's a very risky play early in your draft.


 Javonte Williams, DEN (Bye: 9)
11
Height: 5’10”   Weight: 220   DOB: 2000-04-25   Age: 22
College: North Carolina   Draft: 2021 Round 2 (3) 
SeasonTeamGameAtt Yard TDRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2021DEN17203 903 4 43 316 3 163.9 9.6
2022 (Projected)DEN 221 1,015 7 44 325 2 188.0  

Outlook: A year ago, the backfield tandem of Williams and Gordon logged a perfect 50/50 split on the ground with each player running the ball 203 times. The veteran was nominally more effective, outgaining the then-rookie 918 to 903, though Williams posted a superior receiving line (43-316-3) to finish ahead of Gordon in total yards. Expect things to start skewing in favor of Williams in 2022 as the second-year pro has far less mileage and proved very difficult to bring down last year.

Once again, we return to Hackett's experience in Green Bay where head coach Matt LaFleur used a two-pronged attack with Aaron Jones in the lead role and Jamaal Williams/AJ Dillon as the complementary back. To that end, over the last three seasons Jones tallied 756 touches versus 517 for the combo of Williams (2019-20) and Dillon (2021) -- that gives Jones a roughly 60/40 split, though bear in mind that Jones missed four games during that stretch, so 65/35 is probably more accurate.

Look for Williams to get the Jones share of the touches in 2022 with Gordon, who was re-signed to just a one-year, $2.5 million deal in the offseason, filling that secondary slot. It's probably a little aggressive to project Williams as an RB1, but that could be his ceiling. For now, he's a solid RB2.


 James Conner, ARI (Bye: 13)
12
Height: 6’1”   Weight: 233   DOB: 1995-05-05   Age: 27
College: Pittsburgh   Draft: 2017 Round 3 (41) 
SeasonTeamGameAtt Yard TDRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2019PIT10116 464 4 34 251 3 113.5 11.4
2020PIT13169 721 6 35 215 0 129.6 10.0
2021ARI15202 752 15 37 375 3 220.7 14.7
2022 (Projected)ARI 214 877 10 47 345 2 194.2  

Outlook: Plucked off the scrap heap before last season on a one-year, prove-it deal, Conner went from designated short-yardage/goal-line back to primary ballcarrier when Chase Edmonds got hurt. He handled the role admirably, finishing second to Jonathan Taylor (18) in rushing TDs (15), and was rewarded with a new three-year deal that cements his status as the lead back in Arizona.

For all that, there are still significant questions about Conner's ability to hold up as a bell cow over an entire season -- after five NFL campaigns he's still never appeared in every game in a season and has missed a combined 16 games during that stretch -- as well as a lack of explosiveness. Conner managed just 3.7 yards per carry last year, and he finished below 4.0 in five of his final six games, so his style is more about wearing you down than delivering big plays.

One thing working in Conner's favor is the depth chart, which is light on proven commodities or threats to usurp his touches from week to week. He's a capable receiver as well, which allows him to stay on the field regardless of down and distance. Conner has the whiff of a midrange or low-end RB2, though he carries significant injury risk.