2022 Positional Tracker: Running Backs

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2022 Positional Tracker: Running Backs

The Fantasy Points staff is covering every major offensive transaction from the 2022 off-season in our Off-season Tracker articles. We broke down all the important free agency signings and trades from a fantasy perspective in articles sorted by position. The articles are ordered by players changing teams ("New Homes") and by players sticking with their 2021 teams ("Staying Put"). The players are also ordered by their potential fantasy impact for the 2022 season in each section. Be sure to also check out Graham Barfield’s “Fantasy Fallout” pieces on the biggest transactions of the off-season.

New Homes

Chase Edmonds (Mia, 25) — Edmonds’ agent Drew Rosenhaus announced the free-agent RB will sign a two-year deal in Miami worth up to $12.6 million, with $6.1 million guaranteed.

Fantasy Points: Miami making an early splash in the free-agent RB market was expected, and they get a player new coach Mike McDaniel is familiar with from his time in the NFC West. Edmonds was expected to be the more productive fantasy back in Arizona, even splitting with James Conner, because of his receiving prowess. But Conner both did more than expected in that department and absolutely dominated Edmonds in red-zone/goal-line work. Conner scored 18 TD to Edmonds’ 2, and also played more games — 15 to 12 (Edmonds dealt with a high ankle sprain and a rib injury). Still, Edmonds caught 43 passes in those 12 games, and now has 96 receptions over his last two seasons. He’s best suited as a complementary back, but he’s one who can come in and give a spark in long-yardage situations. He’ll continue to be a valuable PPR piece, though he likely isn’t cut out for being a “lead” back for a full season — he did average 19.9 FPG in two games without Conner last season, so he can score big in spurts. We’ll see how healthy Raheem Mostert, another off-season add for Miami, will be.

Ronald Jones (KC, 25) — The Chiefs and Jones agreed to terms on a one-year deal worth up to $5 million in incentives.

Fantasy Points: The idea of “RoJo” and his tantalizing straight-line speed has always been better than the reality. A mistake-prone back who had one of the worst rookie seasons in the history of the NFL, Jones has become a useful player in recent years, with 2130 rushing yards, 538 receiving yards, and 18 TD over the last three seasons. But his tendency for fumbles, dropped passes, and poor blocking make him more useful as a rotational player who can come in and provide a spark. RoJo will slot in as the top backup behind another underwhelming early-round back in Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and he’ll look to be a factor as an early-down runner and at the goal line. Jones and CEH could split carries pretty evenly this season but RoJo is unlikely to be a major factor in passing situations, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Jerick McKinnon and/or Darrel Williams remain in the mix to make this Chiefs’ backfield a full-blown committee.

Raheem Mostert (Mia, 30) — Mostert is signing a one-year deal with the Dolphins, per Ian Rapoport.

Fantasy Points: Mostert carried the ball exactly twice before suffering yet another knee injury that ended his season in Week 1 of the 2021 season, which opened the door for the emergence of Elijah Mitchell. Mostert has missed 33 games over the last four years, but remains a favorite of coach Kyle Shanahan, so it’s no surprise he lands with former 49er OC Mike McDaniel’s Dolphins. Mostert turns 30 in April and you have to imagine all the injuries might have sapped his explosiveness at this stage, but his surgery reportedly went very well, and it’s not like the Dolphins need him to tote the rock 200 times, given they also signed Chase Edmonds.

Duke Johnson (Buf, 29) — The Bills are getting Dukie on a one-year deal, per Adam Schefter.

Fantasy Points: The fantasy industry always has beef with coaches, and often, those beefs are merely because a player doesn’t have a big enough role to be a constantly useful fantasy star. More often than not, the coaches are justified in their decisions, but for Dukie, his usage had always been bizarre, and with multiple teams. Well, in 2021, we finally got to see what an unleashed Dukie looked like — he had two games with 20 or more carries and 100 or more rushing yards, the first time either of those things had happened in his entire NFL career. And he accomplished them over the last month of the season on a team where he’d be toiling away on the practice squad. Bizarre. But instantly, he was more effective for the Dolphins than either Myles Gaskin or Salvon Ahmed. He certainly showed last year that just maybe he had been underutilized in both his Cleveland and Houston days, but the Bills might not view him as someone they need to use. Instead, he looks to be the backup plan as a scatback option for them, as they thought they had a deal with JD McKissic before it fell through. His addition — and the interest in McKissic — doesn’t affect Devin Singletary a ton, but it’s probably a bad sign for Zack Moss.

D’Onta Foreman (Car, 26) — Foreman is signing a one-year, $2-million deal with the Panthers, according to Ian Rapoport.

Fantasy Points: Foreman, who tore his Achilles in 2018 with the Texans and missed virtually two full seasons because of it, resurrected his career with the Titans by handling himself exceptionally well in a tough situation. Filling in for the injured Derrick Henry, Foreman posted 133/566/3 rushing and 9/123 receiving, all career-best numbers for a guy who suffered a career-threatening injury a number of seasons ago. Given how well Foreman adapted to Tennessee’s downhill, run-heavy scheme and kept them on track, and the fact that the Titans released 2020 draft bust Darrynton Evans prior to free agency, it’s a little surprising the Titans didn’t bring him back. But he played better than Chuba Hubbard last year, so for now we’ll pencil him in as the top back behind Christian McCaffrey. His power will allow Carolina to spell CMC more.

Others Changing Teams

Brandon Bolden (LV, 32) — The Raiders are replacing Jalen Richard with a Josh McDaniels favorite. He was expendable in New England after the Patriots signed James White.

Ty Montgomery (NE, 29) — Montgomery signed a two-year deal with the Patriots. As it stands, he’s the fourth RB on the depth chart following the re-signing of James White, but his versatility is very “Patriots-like.”

Matt Breida (NYG, 27) — Breida joins Brian Daboll in moving from Buffalo to Jersey. He gives the Giants a veteran presence if they choose to trade Saquon Barkley.

Damien Williams (Atl, 30) — The Falcons signed Williams away from the Bears. He sunk to #3 on the Bears’ RB depth chart last year following the emergence of rookie Khalil Herbert.

Ameer Abdullah (LV, 29) — Abdullah is yet another addition to the Raiders’ RB depth. He signed a one-year deal.

Alec Ingold (Mia, 26) — Fullback. Ingold is getting a two-year deal with Mike McDaniel’s Dolphins. He will be the second-highest paid fullback in the NFL… after Kyle Juszczyk, from McDaniel’s old club, San Francisco.

Jakob Johnson (LV, 28) — Fullback. Josh McDaniels knows his fullback Johnson from their time together in New England. He replaces Alec Ingold.

Khari Blasingame (Chi, 26) — Fullback. A favorite of Derrick Henry is leaving Tennessee to go to the Bears.

Dare Ogunbowale (Hou, 28) — Ogunbowale will receive up to $3.3 million on his two-year deal with the Texans, per Mike Garofolo. He’ll play special teams and the occasional third down.

Trenton Cannon (Ten, 28) — Cannon leaves the 49ers for the Titans. He has carved out an important role as a core special teams player.

Darrynton Evans (Chi, 24) — The Bears claimed Evans on waivers from the Titans.

Staying Put

Leonard Fournette (TB, 27) — “Unrestricted Lenny” is now “Financially Secure Lenny.” He signed a three-year deal with the Bucs worth up to $24 million, per ESPN’s Jenna Laine.

Fantasy Points: Lenny got a new lease on life when the pathetic Jaguars released him in August of 2020, clearing him to sign with the Buccaneers, where he first went on a fantastic playoff run en route to a Super Bowl title, then re-established himself as a fantasy superstar in 2021, finishing 4th among all RBs at 18.3 FPG. A hamstring injury cut his regular-season short, but the flier the Bucs took on him worked spectacularly for both sides. Both Fournette and Ronald Jones were UFAs, and with Tom Brady back in the saddle, it made sense for Tampa to bring back their star RB. He’s a versatile, three-down RB who is a way better receiver than people think, with two seasons of 69 or more catches on his resume. He will be an early draft pick this summer.

James Conner (Ari, 27) — The Cardinals announced a three-year deal with Conner. It’s worth up to $25.5 million, with $13.5 million guaranteed, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Fantasy Points: Conner was one of the best value signings of the 2021 off-season, and one of the best value picks in all of fantasy football, as he generated 1127 yards from scrimmage and 18 touchdowns for the Cardinals in 15 games. Conner finished 5th among all RBs in total PPR fantasy points, and 9th among them with 17.2 FPG. Of course, as has been the case for much of his career, he was unable to put a full campaign together, with ankle, foot, and rib injuries slowing him down late in 2021. But he was a hard-charging back, excellent in the red zone, strong as a blocker, and surprisingly good as a receiver — he averaged 3.7 YPC but 10.1 YPR. Conner’s hard-nosed playstyle and injury history likely don’t lend himself to being a true “feature” back (he split time in Arizona with Chase Edmonds), but the Cardinals are paying him as if he’s their guy. With Edmonds moving on to Miami, it’s worth noting that Conner averaged 23.1 FPG in six games without Edmonds last year, which included two finishes as the overall #1 weekly RB. The Cardinals are prime to draft a back on Day 2 or 3 to complement Conner, but if they don’t make a significant splash, he’ll be drafted early for fantasy, with only his health standing in the way — as big a roadblock as that is.

Cordarrelle Patterson (Atl, 31) — Patterson is back with the Falcons on a two-year deal worth up to $10.5 million.

Fantasy Points: One of the breakout stars of the 2021 NFL season, the former first-round WR who had merely dabbled as a running back in the past switched to the position full-time in 2021 with the Falcons. Patterson garnered 1166 yards from scrimmage and 11 TD in 16 games, and finished 9th among all RBs in total fantasy points. However, he totally wore down with his heavily increased workload, generating just 100 yards from scrimmage on 37 touches over his final four games of the year and finishing the season with a 14.7 FPG average. Prior to that, Patterson averaged an exceptional 17.7 FPG — he was a legitimate RB1 who was a waiver-wire pickup. He faded for fantasy teams down the stretch, likely owing to playing an entirely new position, but his early-season exploits and his versatility enabled him to land a multi-year deal. He’ll be in the RB2 mix for fantasy drafts, though the Falcons have an extremely thin offense.

Rashaad Penny (Sea, 26) — Penny is back with the Seahawks on a one-year, $5.75 million deal.

Fantasy Points: Yes, any Penny evaluation needs to come with the biggest asterisk this side of Barry Bonds. But, damn, he was good last year when he was finally activated midseason after an early calf injury and then a later hamstring injury. Through Week 12, Penny had 17 carries for 43 yards and couldn’t stay off the trainer’s table. It was looking like his career might be over, let alone his ability to get a decent payday in the off-season. And then Weeks 13 through 18 happened. The number of running backs who scored more PPR fantasy points over that stretch than Penny? Zero. Nil. Nada. And he averaged 6.9 yards per carry on 102 totes during that span to boot. With the Seahawks leaning fully into a run-first approach following the Russell Wilson trade, it’s not surprising Penny returning was one of their first moves. Remember, Chris Carson might never play football again.

JD McKissic (Buf, 29) — After initially choosing the Bills over the Commanders, McKissic changed his mind and will return to Washington on a two-year deal worth up to $8 million, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Fantasy Points: Welp. Washington wanted to re-sign McKissic, and after a 24-hour period when it looked like Antonio Gibson was freed, McKissic had a change of heart. McKissic has 123 receptions over the last two years with The Team/Commanders, and he’s been a huge foil to the fantasy exploits of Antonio Gibson. McKissic missed six games in 2021 with concussion and neck issues. Gibson played in five of those six games, averaging 16.9 FPG in games without McKissic, compared to 14.0 FPG in games with him. McKissic is a very good hurry-up back, and the fact that Buffalo was in on him is likely bad news for Zack Moss, who fell completely out of favor late last season, with Devin Singletary becoming a bell cow. Singletary is, at least temporarily, still in line for a big role, though the Bills seem almost certain to add another back. Meanwhile, McKissic goes back to a Commanders team that has a much less “checkdown mentality” QB in Carson WentzTaylor Heinicke attempted 19.4% of his throws to players who lined up in the backfield last year, compared to just 17.1% for Wentz.

James White (NE, 30) — White signed a two-year, $5-million deal with the Pats, according to Tom Pelissero.

Fantasy Points: White missed all but three games in the 2021 NFL season with a hip injury, the first time he’s played fewer than 14 games since his rookie year in 2014. But the Patriots wanted one of their locker-room leaders back, and he’ll clearly usurp a ton of third-down work after the Pats had Brandon Bolden doing most of that last year. His presence will cap the upside of Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson. As always, he’ll be a value as a late-round dart throw in PPR and best-ball formats.

Boston Scott (Phi, 27) — Scott is back in Philly on a one-year deal.

Fantasy Points: Scott has been a very productive reserve back for the Eagles the last three seasons, and he filled in admirably yet again in 2021 when Miles Sanders went down with his yearly injury. Scott managed 87 carries for 373 yards and a career-best 7 rushing TD, and he did his best work for fantasy players in the playoffs, totaling 10.1 FP in Week 16 (semifinals) and 24.6 FP in Week 17 (finals). A good receiver who is also very strong at the goal line, Scott is valuable to the Eagles given his special-teams acumen and versatility.

Royce Freeman (Hou, 26) — Freeman is back in Houston on a one-year deal.

Fantasy Points: Freeman’s just 26 and can catch the ball reasonably well and play in short yardage, but he’s been the definition of “Just a Guy” in his NFL career, averaging 3.8 YPC on 353 carries, and 6.2 YPR on 79 receptions. Quite frankly, he’s best suited as a #3 RB, given he has special teams experience. Currently with Rex Burkhead and Dare Ogunbowale, the Texans might have the worst backfield in the NFL.

Others Staying Put

Tevin Coleman (NYJ, 29) — Coleman is back with the Jets. He averaged 4.2 YPC on 84 carries last year and is no lock to make the final roster.

Dontrell Hilliard (Ten, 27) — Hilliard is back with the Titans on a one-year deal. He averaged 6.3 YPC in a rotation to replace injured superstar Derrick Henry. He’ll have a shot to be Henry’s top backup with D’Onta Foreman moving on.

Patrick Ricard (Bal, 28) — Fullback. Ricard, a versatile option who can play TE at times, is back in Baltimore on a three-year deal. He’s a fan favorite.

Derrick Gore (KC, 28) — The Chiefs tendered Gore as an exclusive-rights free agent.

Salvon Ahmed (Mia, 24) — Tendered as a restricted free agent.

JaMycal Hasty (SF, 26) — Tendered as an exclusive-rights free agent.

Jordan Wilkins (Ten, 28) — Wilkins will compete for a roster spot in Tennessee.

Jonathan Williams (Was, 28)

Jonathan Ward (Ari, 25) — Tendered as a restricted free agent.

John Kelly (Cle, 26) — Tendered as an exclusive-rights free agent.

Jason Cabinda (Det, 26) — Fullback. Tendered as an exclusive-rights free agent.

Ty Williams (Bal, 26) — Tendered as an exclusive-rights free agent.

Mekhi Sargent (Jax, 25) — Tendered as an exclusive-rights free agent.

Nate McCrary (Bal, 23) — Tendered as an exclusive-rights free agent.

Joe Dolan, a professional in the fantasy football industry for over a decade, is the managing editor of Fantasy Points. He specializes in balancing analytics and unique observation with his personality and conversational tone in his writing, podcasting, and radio work.

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