Skip to content

Fantasy: Backup running back rankings for 2022 (Updated)


Find positional rankings, additional analysis, and subscribe to push notifications in the NFL Fantasy News section.

Given the rate at which injuries strike the running back position, knowing who's next in line for carries is critical for fantasy owners.

Not all backup rushers are created equal, and though the league-winning potential of players like Kareem Hunt and Tony Pollard may appear obvious, many second-string ball carriers don't get the respect they deserve in fantasy drafts.

Here's how we're ranking the top reserve tailbacks, broken down into tiers:

Elite backup options

Rk Backup Team
1 AJ Dillon GB
2 Kareem Hunt CLE
3 Tony Pollard DAL
  • RB1 upside if the starter is sidelined
  • Stuck behind a more talented back
  • Will offer RB2/flex value some weeks, even as a backup

Proven short-term starters

Rk Backup Team
4 Alexander Mattison MIN
5 Darrell Henderson LAR
  • RB1 upside if the starter is sidelined
  • Stuck behind a more talented back
  • Won't offer enough production unless the lead back gets injured

Chance to carve out bigger role

Rk Backup Team
6 Rhamondre Stevenson NE
7 James Cook BUF
  • Could rise to the top of the depth chart during the season
  • Top-20 upside if the starter is sidelined
  • Can provide flex value some weeks, even as a backup

High upside if healthy

Rk Backup Team
8 Melvin Gordon DEN
9 James Robinson JAX
10 Ken Walker III SEA
11 Gus Edwards BAL
  • Currently recovering from an injury
  • Behind a RB with high draft capital
  • Can provide flex value some weeks, even as a backup

Tons of potential

Rk Backup Team
12 Kenneth Gainwell PHI
13 Michael Carter NYJ
14 Khalil Herbert CHI
  • Top-24 upside if the starter is sidelined
  • Should have a notable role behind lead back
  • Can provide flex value some weeks, even as a backup

Unproven but enticing

Rk Backup Team
15 Rachaad White TB
16 Isiah Pacheco KC
17 Tyler Allgeier ATL
18 Tyrion Davis-Price SF
19 Zamir White LV
20 Eno Benjamin ARI
  • 2022 role yet to be determined
  • Top-30 upside if starting at any point
  • Workload questions due to crowded backfields

PPR specialists

Rk Backup Team
21 Nyheim Hines IND
22 J.D. McKissic WAS
  • Limited upside as a fantasy insurance policy
  • Unlikely to serve as a workhorse if the starter is injured
  • Can offer flex value in PPR formats, even as a backup

Volume-dependent veterans

Rk Backup Team
23 Jamaal Williams DET
24 Mark Ingram NO
25 D'Onta Foreman CAR
26 Dontrell Hilliard TEN
27 Joshua Kelley LAC
  • Veteran backup
  • Some doubt surrounding the ability to produce if called upon
  • Would need the majority of touches to be fantasy relevant

Unclear situations

Rk Backup Team
28 Sony Michel/Raheem Mostert MIA
29 Samaje Perine/Chris Evans CIN
30 Marlon Mack/Rex Burkhead HOU
31 Benny Snell/Jaylen Warren PIT
32 Matt Breida/Gary Brightwell/Jashaun Corbin/Antonio Williams NYG
  • Upside if a clear backup emerges and the starter is injured
  • Value limited by the possibility of a committee replacement scenario
  • Players to draft as bench stashes in final rounds

Deep targets

Backup Team
D'Ernest Johnson CLE
Isaiah Spiller LAC
Ameer Abdullah LV
Jerick McKinnon KC
Damien Williams ATL
Tyler Badie BAL
Mike Davis BAL
Jeff Wilson Jr. SF
Phillip Lindsay IND
Ty Montgomery NE
Travis Homer SEA
Zack Moss BUF
Kyren Williams LAR
  • Long shots with intriguing upside if injuries hit their backfield
  • Have the skills to produce over short stretches
  • Watchlist candidates who could turn into key waiver wire pickups

Free agents who could still be a factor

Jordan Howard
Devonta Freeman
David Johnson
Latavius Murray
Alex Collins
Devontae Booker
Kenyan Drake

Daily Newsletter

Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox