2022 League Winning Running Backs

In my previous article, I discussed the qualities the past five RB1’s possessed in order to make them the league-winning, best running backs in fantasy football during their respective breakout seasons. The link to the previous article is here, but let’s go over the traits of an RB1 before I lay out the running backs who best meet those qualifications.  The qualifications for a league winning running back (RB1) are:

  • They must post a 75-percent or better college dominator rating or have at least one season where they post a top-10 dominator rating while playing running back in the NFL.
  • The running back must have multiple paths to score fantasy points as four out of five past RB1s ranked in the top five in target share.
  • They must have a top five snap share amongst running backs, or enough target share to offset the lack of snap share (Alvin Kamara).
  • The running back must rank top five in red zone touches during their RB1 season.

And the candidates are:

Najee Harris

Snap Share: No. 1 (84.5-percent)
Target Share: No. 5 (14.5-percent)
Targets: 94 (No. 1)
Yards per touch: No. 41 (4.4)
Breakaway Runs: No.8 (12)
Red Zone touches: No. 21 (38)
Touchdowns: No. 8 (10)
Dominator Rating: No. 5 (30.1-percent)

Najee Harris Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Why does he qualify?

Najee checks all of the boxes in order to qualify as a contender for the RB1 crown. First, his 91st-percentile speed score (110.2) qualifies him as having an elite trait. Secondly, Najee has proven to be dominant in both the NFL and in college. Last season, Najee posted a dominator rating of 30.1-percent, which ranked him No. 5 in the NFL amongst running backs. Thirdly, Najee has multiple paths to fantasy points- both in the rushing and receiving game. What is most remarkable is his 84.5-percent snap share, which ranked No. 1 in the NFL. Also, Najee ranked No. 1 in targets (94), and No. 5 in target share (14.5-percent) amongst running backs. These stats also check the opportunity box as well.

Why would I be worried?

Why was Najee so darn inefficient last year? Najee ranked No. 41 in the NFL in yards per touch (4.4). If Najee checks all the other boxes, then why doesn’t he appear to check the efficiency box? Well, good news is on the way in the form of James Daniels, but the bad news is they didn’t really upgrade the offensive line significantly at any other position.  Still, it’s hard to argue the offensive line will be as bad as it was a season ago. Also, Ben Roethlisberger retired, so the Steelers brought in competition at the quarterback position in Mitchell Trubisky and Kenny Pickett who they drafted the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. I don’t see this changing the way Harris is used in the offense as the Steelers would most likely prefer to hand the ball to Harris as opposed to trusting either Trubisky or Pickett, a rookie, to air the ball out. Also, why does Harris now weigh 244-pounds? For now, I’m going to chalk this up as media scuttlebutt, but if the season gets closer and Harris looks bloated, then I might start to worry.

Why am I still drafting him?

The opportunity is going to be off the chain yet again. Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland shouldn’t stand in the way of Harris seeing that 80-percent plus snap share again, and if he gets that much opportunity, I would make a serious bet on him to be the RB1 in fantasy football this year. Literally every box was checked in his rookie season minus the efficiency, and there are factors that would suggest this should be improved in Year 2.

Breece Hall

College Dominator- 43.9-percent (95th-percentile)
Target Share: 9.9-percent

Breece Hall Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Why does he qualify?

This might be shocking to some people, but those folks within the dynasty community know how excited some fantasy gamers are for Breece Hall. First off, Hall possesses not one, not two, but three elite traits according to playerprofiler.com. Hall posted a 97th-percentile 40-yard dash time (4.39), a 98th-percentile Speed Score (116.9), and a 94th-percentile Burst Score (131.0) amongst qualified running backs. Secondly, Hall was dominant in college, posting a 43.9-percent College Dominator Rating which ranks him in the 95th-percentile. Third, Hall caught the ball in college (36 receptions in his junior season), thus we can project he should be able to catch the ball in the NFL. Pair that with his insane rushing ability, and we can check the multiple paths to fantasy points box.

The Jets Discount

Let’s talk about the Jets. The Jets gave fantasy gamers a gift by drafting Hall early in the second round. Imagine if Hall would have been drafted by the Bills? He would probably have been a first or second round pick on Underdog. Because the Jets drafted him, some people get that sick feeling in their stomach. Maybe not the seasoned veteran of fantasy football, but the fantasy gamer in the league who only does research a week before draft day will not be taking Hall because of the boring Jets who never score any points. Let’s analyze those boring Jets for a moment. They drafted another wide receiver in Garrett Wilson, drafted a good-looking prospect last season in Elijah Moore, signed Corey Davis, and they have continually added pieces to their offensive line to help out their young quarterback Zach Wilson. This appears to be an offense on the rise, and I want to be around when Hall takes it to the moon!

Why would I be worried?

Simply put, I’m not. I’m not worried about the situation even with Michael Carter firmly in place as a nice backup. When the Jets get into the red zone, they are going to lean heavily on the running game, and that means Hall who dominated in college. The division will be tough, but as we know Hall can catch those garbage time dump offs from Wilson as well. No matter what, Hall is going to have multiple paths to fantasy glory no matter the game script.

Why would I still be drafting him?

I’ll be drafting him because I’m not scared. I’m not scared of the uncertainty that comes with drafting a rookie running back. Like the Podfather, Matt Kelley, says: “Lean into the volatility.” Drafting Hall is exactly the kind of league winning move you need to make in 2022.

Leonard Fournette

Snap Share: No. 12 (64.7-percent)
Target Share: No. 6 (14-percent)
Targets: No. 3 (84)
Yards per touch: No. 14 (5.1)
Breakaway Runs: No. 17 (8)
Red Zone touches: No. 3 (54)
Touchdowns: No. 8 (10)
Dominator Rating: No. 23 (20.9-percent)

Leonard Fournette Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Why does he qualify?

This is a very intriguing option in your draft. Fournette does possess an elite Speed Score of 110.2, which puts him in the 91st-percentile. Being tied to Tom Brady and the host of weapons he will likely have at his disposal helps too. Another year of trust in the offense can’t hurt either. Ronald Jones is also out of the picture. Yes, the Buccaneers added Rachaad White in the third round of the NFL draft, but unless Fournette gets hurt this appears to be his show. Fournette will have the snap share and the target share we are looking for tied to an offense that is going to score a lot of points. I like everything about this player, and with Gronkowski gone, for now, and Godwin likely to miss a some time with injury, the Bucs will likely lean more on Fournette at the beginning of the season.

Why would I be worried?

Honestly, the only thing I would be worried about is if Brady hits a wall. Famous sports prognosticators have been predicting Brady’s demise for years, so until it happens I won’t believe it. Honestly, I have to say it’s difficult to see a world where Fournette isn’t at the very least a top-10 running back in fantasy football. Injury is also a concern as Fournette has struggled with injuries in the past.

Why am I still drafting him?

Barring injury, and Fournette has yet to play a full season in the NFL, Fournette looks like a primed RB1 candidate. He is going to have the snap share, the target share, and he has the talent to take advantage of all that opportunity. Fournette is primed to be a force in the Tampa Bay offense this season.