Fantasy: Backup running back rankings for 2022

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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 Kareem Hunt CLE
2 Tony Pollard DAL
3 AJ Dillon GB
  • 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 much production unless the lead back gets injured

Chance to carve out bigger role

Rk Backup Team
6 James Cook BUF
7 Ronald Jones KC
8 Rhamondre Stevenson NE
  • 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

Hanging around

Rk Backup Team
9 Melvin Gordon DEN
10 Rashaad Penny SEA
  • Top-20 upside if the starter is sidelined
  • Currently in a committee with a more qualified teammate
  • Can provide flex value some weeks, even as a backup

High upside if healthy

Rk Backup Team
11 James Robinson JAX
12 Gus Edwards BAL
  • Currently recovering from a serious injury
  • Former lead back, now behind a younger RB with high draft capital
  • Top-20 upside if the starter is sidelined

Tons of potential

Rk Backup Team
13 Dameon Pierce HOU
14 Isaiah Spiller LAC
15 Kenneth Gainwell PHI
16 Rachaad White TB
17 D'Onta Foreman CAR
18 Khalil Herbert CHI
19 Michael Carter NYJ
  • Top-24 upside if the starter is sidelined
  • Should have a notable role behind a veteran lead back
  • Can provide flex value some weeks, even as a backup

Unproven but enticing

Rk Backup Team
20 Ty Davis-Price SF
21 Tyler Allgeier ATL
22 Brian Robinson Jr. WAS
  • 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
23 Nyheim Hines IND
24 J.D. McKissic WAS
25 James White NE
  • 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
26 Sony Michel MIA
27 Darrel Williams ARI
28 Jamaal Williams DET
29 Raheem Mostert MIA
30 Mark Ingram NO
31 Kenyan Drake LV
32 Samaje Perine CIN
33 Phillip Lindsay IND
  • Established 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
34 Dontrell Hilliard/Hassan Haskins TEN
35 Anthony McFarland Jr./Benny Snell PIT
36 Matt Breida/Jashaun Corbin NYG
  • Upside in quality offenses 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
Rex Burkhead HOU
D'Ernest Johnson CLE
Zack Moss BUF
Damien Williams ATL
Jeff Wilson Jr. SF
Tyler Badie BAL
Chris Evans CIN
Keaontay Ingram ARI
Abram Smith NO
Snoop Conner JAX
Kennedy Brooks PHI
  • Long shots with intriguing upside if injuries hit their backfield
  • Have the skills to produce as the lead back over short stretches
  • Watchlist candidates who could turn into key waiver wire pickups

Free agents who could still be a factor

Backup
Jerick McKinnon
Justin Jackson
Jordan Howard
Devonta Freeman
David Johnson
Latavius Murray
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Fantasy: Backup running back rankings for 2022
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