FIVE Running Backs to Avoid in 2022

If you’re reading this I’m sure you’ve had a disappointing season from one of your fantasy players that you either drafted early or paid handsomely for in a trade. For me, after not being able to get my hands on Christian McCaffrey for three years, I finally received the 1.01 in one of my redraft leagues in 2020. Of course, once I finally got him he battled injuries all year and only played in three games. Another example is Mike Davis. Last season he was picked up by many with the expectation he would be the Falcons starting running back. Unfortunately for Davis, and his fantasy owners, Cordarrelle Patterson finally showcased his talents and took hold of the most productive carries. In no particular order, here are five running backs to avoid as they have some valid red flags that may lead to disappointment in 2022.

Javonte Williams

ADP: 9

2021 Season Rank (PPR): RB17

2022 Dynasty Ranking: RB5

Let me start this one off by saying Javonte Williams is a very good running back and should still be highly productive in 2022. But compared to Melvin Gordon, Williams is way more expensive to obtain. Gordon’s ADP is 137.36 while Williams’ ADP is nine. Last season, their production was nearly identical. Gordon averaged 12.2 points per game, and Williams averaged 12.1 points per game. They both ran the ball exactly 203 times. Williams finished with 903 rush yards, and Gordon finished with 919. Gordon’s snap share was 52-percent, and Williams’ was 49-percent.  Gordon also scored three more touchdowns even though he played one less game.

In redraft especially, Williams is valued too high. A fantasy manager can make a better case in dynasty as Gordon is 29 and Williams is 22. Gordon was also only re-signed on a one-year deal. In 2023 things may be different, but in 2022 we are probably looking at a repeat of 2021. The Bronco’s new head coach is the former Packers offensive coordinator who utilized both Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon. Williams has also said they will probably split exactly like they did last year. Some running backs with a lower ADP than Williams are Austin Ekeler, Joe Mixon, Dalvin Cook, Saquon Barkley, and Alvin Kamara. All of those present higher upside as they are true workhorse running backs for their respective teams.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire

ADP: 82.08

2021 Season Rank (PPR): RB46

2022 Dynasty Ranking: RB34

It’s been two years now and Clyde Edwards-Helaire still hasn’t been as impactful as you’d expect a first-round running back to be. He has had some solid games, but he also hasn’t remained healthy in either season. He’s missed 11 games over two seasons already. He’s sprained his ankle twice, strained his hip, sprained his MCL, and in 2021 had a clavicle/collarbone injury. He was recruited by Patrick Mahomes himself because Edwards-Helaire was a good pass-catcher at LSU.  This is something he hasn’t quite showcased yet. So far, he has a 71.4-percent catch rate over his career and is only averaging 2.4 receptions a game. Also in 2021, his snap share went down to 51-percent from 58.6-percent in 2020.

Another thing to consider is we really have no idea what this Kansas City Chiefs team will look like next year. With Tyreek Hill leaving, the scheme will have to change. They brought in Ronald Jones who’s only going to be 25 next season and drafted Isiah Pacheco who has a pretty impressive profile. The Chiefs also still have Derrick Gore who had three double-digit fantasy performances last season. They could also still re-sign Jerick McKinnon. Edwards-Helaire hasn’t confirmed his role on this team and that’s concerning for a guy who also carries injury risk.

J.K. Dobbins

ADP: 30.62

2021 Season Rank (PPR): N/A

2022 Dynasty Ranking: RB9

This one’s tough because J.K. Dobbins is an excellent athlete and has already shown he can be highly productive by averaging 6.0 yards per carry in 2020. However, his upside is always going to be hindered by Lamar Jackson who averaged 11.1 carries per game in 2021 and 10.6 in 2020. Not just that, but Dobbins missed the entirety of 2021 because he tore his ACL in the preseason. A study done for the Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine concluded that 25-percent of players who have already torn their ACL will subsequently tear it again at some point in their career. This was compared to only 9-percent of players who tore their ACL for the first time in their NFL career. Derrick Henry and Nick Chubb carry a similar ADP of around 30 while carrying some of the same concerns with a higher upside.

Another concern is Gus Edwards who will also be returning from an ACL injury suffered in the 2021 preseason. Dobbins carried a higher snap share than Edwards in 2020, which will likely happen again in 2022, but Edwards will still get volume. He has averaged 5.16 yards per carry and put up 2,152 yards and 10 touchdowns in three seasons as the Raven’s RB2. In 2020, Edwards averaged nine carries per game and Dobbins averaged 8.9 carries a game. Edwards had 27 red zone touches with eight on the goal line. Dobbins had 28 red zone touches with six on the goal line. With Jackson taking at least 10 carries a game and Edwards behind him, Dobbins may not get enough volume to remain consistent.

Chase Edmonds

ADP: 109.62

2021 Season Rank (PPR): RB34

2022 Dynasty Ranking: RB31

Here’s a list of the running backs on the Miami Dolphins and their respective ADPs- Raheem Mostert (195.7), Myles Gaskin (215.6), and Sony Michel (194). 49ers offensive coordinator, Mike McDaniel, is the Dolphin’s new head coach so the starting job is likely wide open. In terms of contract earnings, Chase Edmonds stands to make the most money. The argument is he will be the main back, but it’s not enough of an argument for his ADP to be nearly one hundred spots higher than the next guy. Mostert could very well be the featured back as McDaniel is familiar with him from San Francisco. Gaskin and Edmonds are both valuable as pass catchers, so they may get in each other’s way. This is a very crowded backfield and taking one of the cheaper options, or just staying away all together, is probably best.

On top of not even knowing if Edmonds will lead the backfield, he also has had seven injuries in his career. Nothing too serious as he’s only missed 11 games in his four seasons, but the concern is there. He’s also not even the youngest running back on the roster as he’s one year older than Gaskin. It’s hard to make a case for him to be valued so much higher than the rest of the backfield. He is an undeniably good athlete but has some tough competition and carries injury risk.

Ezekiel Elliot

ADP: 61.14

2021 Season Rank (PPR): RB7

2022 Dynasty Ranking: RB23

After six seasons of being a top running back, I think it’s finally time to start moving on from Ezekiel Elliot. Elliot finished last year as RB7 which was fantastic considering he was unproductive last season. He was No. 31 in fantasy points per opportunity, No. 32 in breakaway runs, No. 45 in breakaway run rate, and No. 39 in true yards per carry. His season was propped up by 12 touchdowns and tons of volume. He had the No. 7 most carries, No. 7 most targets, and the No. 6 most touchdowns among running backs last season. He did this while maintaining a 65.9-percent snap share. Things will be different in 2022 as Tony Pollard is knocking on the door.

Pollard had a measly 33.7-percent snap share in 2021 and still finished as RB28. He was highly productive, finishing the year with over 1,000 all-purpose yards and two TDs. Pollard was No. 41 in carries and No. 29 in targets among running backs last season. Using the same metrics as I did with Elliot earlier, here’s how Pollard did- No. 10 in breakaway runs, No. 3 in breakaway run rate, and No. 5 in true yards per carry. Pollard was clearly better last season and on a contract year. With an ADP of 93.79 and a dynasty ranking of RB26, he presents better value.