February 2022 Dynasty Tiers: RBs


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February 2022 Dynasty Tiers: RBs

Whether holding a key place in your heart or inconsequential to your experience in the game, the popularity of all of the various formats of fantasy football continues to exponentially expand on an annual basis. And a particular blessing to my way of life is the dynasty format — participation in a dynasty league is an experience in general franchise management.

Are you an expert on the top talent taking the field in 2022? While that understanding will absolutely serve you well to secure the investment placed on your roster will compete for immediate dividends, a full grasping of long-term player development is a must toward ensuring continual success over the lifespan of your league.

One can find countless sources of dyno inspiration littered across the web, some good and some very bad. An approach grounded in process over groupthink investment, marrying film with analytical study is a path to success. One of the trusted tools in the arsenal is a tiered approach toward pre-startup player differentiation. And it is a part of the process that should have its infancy set prior to free agency, the combine, and the NFL Draft. Developing a baseline evaluation of the talent will alleviate some of the overreaction that comes following each event. These tiers will require adjustments as the calendar advances, but this early assortment will set us up to track those adjustments.

Positional Tier Links: QB | WR | TE

TierPlayerPos. RankTeamAge
1Jonathan TaylorRB1IND23.1
1Javonte WilliamsRB2DEN21.9
1Najee HarrisRB3PIT24.0

Tier 1 Notes: After a sluggish start to the season, Jonathan Taylor closed out the 2021 season leaving absolutely no doubt who would headline a long list of the formats in existence. If you miss out on JT, do not hesitate grabbing either Javonte Williams or Najee Harris. All of the top-three backs have complete question marks as to who will join them in the backfield at QB. But we can say the same for 60% of the top-10 RBs. We are investing in the talent, not in the immediate situation.

TierPlayerPos. RankTeamAge
2Austin EkelerRB4LAC26.8
2Christian McCaffreyRB5CAR25.7
2Najee HarrisRB6MIN26.6
2Alvin KamaraRB7NO26.6

Tier 2 Notes: As opined in the dyno top-350 ranks, the gap separating Austin Ekeler and Christian McCaffrey extends to a level nearly bumping Ekeler to the top tier. Age ultimately bumped the current distribution into place. We have reached the day and age when the time beyond a RB signing his second contract initiates the clock for growing concern. That stated, a RBs ability to professionally catch the football is the ultimate way to extend a career.

Other contributing factors include agility, pass protection skill, speed and size, in that order. Ekeler and CMC check all of the important boxes. They will have zero problem working into their 30’s. As long as Dalvin Cook and Alvin Kamara avoid scenarios pulling pass pro into the formula, their careers will extend long enough for consideration at the end of the first round.

TierPlayerPos. RankTeamAge
3Joe MixonRB8CIN25.6
3D’Andre SwiftRB9DET23.1
3Derrick HenryRB10TEN27.6

Tier 3 Notes: Over the second half of the season, all of the chatter on Joe Mixon developing into Cincinnati’s bell-cow became a reality. Considering the Bengals' O-line is at least a year away from the top-15, we simply cannot underestimate the role the development of the passing game played.

It may boggle the mind, but the Lions’ offense is not all that far away from becoming a problem for the rest of the league. Jared Goff proved himself to be a step up from a stop-gap, the O-line is already impressive, and they will field two dangerous receivers (Amon-Ra St. Brown and T.J. Hockenson – maybe three if Quintez Cephus can return to 100%). D’Andre Swift will always surrender carries to a bigger back, but that’s for the best with the violence embedded into his running style. At some point very soon, he’s going to set aside a bit of that physicality in favor of longevity. The very last thing we want for a back his size is to see him touching the ball 30-plus plays like he did against the Steelers last season. Make no mistake, Swift is grouped among the very elite of receiving RBs.

The only exception among the top-10 RBs lacking impressive skill as a receiver is Derrick Henry. Considering that Henry is the best pure rushing back in the game, that reasoning fits. The singular concern is that something chronic pops up in King Henry’s surgically-repaired foot. All reports suggest that will not be the case.

TierPlayerPos. RankTeamAge
4Cam AkersRB11LAR22.7
4JK DobbinsRB12BAL23.2
4Devin SingletaryRB13BUF24.5
4Antonio GibsonRB14WAS23.7

Tier 4 Notes: This group is far from lacking in exciting talent. All four have the potential to populate the top-10 by the end of the season. The lack of efficiency for Cam Akers during the Rams’ playoff run is a complete non-factor. We already know Akers is a beast. We only wanted to see him prove he somehow managed to rehabilitate his Achilles rupture without cutting corners in his recovery. Goal accomplished.

The same goes for JK Dobbins. The only difference between the two is that Akers has already proved his health. Dobbins will still share the load with Gus Edwards, but no team runs the ball more than Baltimore. Besides, the focus should be on the talent. And we are likely to see at least a 10% reduction in work on the ground from Lamar Jackson after his ankle forced him to the sidelines for the last third of the ‘21 season. If the goal was to rank these RBs based purely on vision, Dobbins would be in the top-three.

If you predicted Devin Singletary would circumvent the field to land among the top-15 RBs for the ‘22 season, a pat on the back is much deserved. Singletary’s emergence played a big role in Buffalo hitting high gear to close out the season. He is embedded as the focal of the rushing game for the most explosive offense in the league.

When Antonio Gibson holds onto the football, the only thing standing in his way from reaching the top-10 are his toes. Gibson can likely thank the 16 NFL teams that continue to adorn their home fields with artificial turf for closing out the last two seasons with turf toe. However, turf toe can also result from playing on natural grass. Either way, should we receive word at any point during the ‘22 season that Gibson is still suffering from the injury, it will be time to drop him outside of the top-20 until he supplies us with a turf toe-free season. Purely based on talent, Gibson is one of the most promising RBs in the game.

TierPlayerPos. RankTeamAge
5Aaron JonesRB15GB27.3
5David MontogomeryRB16CHI24.7
5Elijah MitchellRB17SF24.1
5Nick ChubbRB18CLE26.2

Tier 5 Notes: Drop Aaron Rodgers back on the Packers’ roster and Aaron Jones holds the potential of a top-10 RB. That said, AJ Dillon isn’t going anywhere. Investing in Jones’ future will be a true lottery ticket until we receive clarity from Mr. Rodgers.

Matt Eberflus has already stated that the Bears will greatly devote their offense to a play action-heavy system, very likely pumping the gas on their usage rates of read-option and RPO. Chicago’s ‘21 offense resided in the dark ages in spite of obvious talent displayed by Justin Fields, Darnell Mooney, Cole Kmet and David Montgomery. Facelifting the offense will be a boon to all involved, including Khalil Herbert and Tarik Cohen – it takes a committee to survive a 17-plus game season.

Before anyone declares the placement of Elijah Mitchell as being too high, make sure the fact that the 49ers roster the meanest, most mauling run blocking in the world is clearly understood. With lanes created as wide as San Francisco’s, if Kyle Shanahan says Mitchell is his guy, we need to respond appropriately. The Deebo Samuel usage is here to stay, but opposing defenses will be forced to account for Mitchell, Samuel and Trey Lance on every play, moving forward.

The situation in Cleveland is a concern. And the finger is pointed directly at Baker Mayfield. Coming off a season when Nick Chubb’s receiving involvement appeared to be on the rise, Mayfield completely forgot about what the rest of us already know: maximizing touches for Chubb should be the focus of the offense. As utterly ridiculous as it may sound, the Browns appeared to run more efficiently with Case Keenum under center. That says quite a lot. Mayfield can attempt to excuse away everything on the previous damage to his non-throwing shoulder, but bells cannot be unrung until evidence is in place to the contrary.

TierPlayerPos. RankTeamAge
6Leonard FournetteRB19TB27.1
6AJ DillonRB20GB23.8
6Isaiah SpillerRB21NCAA20.5
6Kenneth Walker IIIRB22NCAA21.3
6Ezekial ElliottRB23DAL26.6
6Rhamondre StevensonRB24NE24.0

Tier 6 Notes: The Tampa Bay decision makers appear to be going all in on replacing Tom Brady with another elite QB – sans succeeding in their efforts to convince The GOAT to reconsider retirement, of course. Let’s face reality, if Kyle Trask is ultimately on the field to lead the offense, everyone on the Buccaneers’ offense will need to be discounted. But trusting that management will find a way to at least put a top-15 QB on the field, we saw the best version of Leonard Fournette emerge last season that is completely deserving of a top-20 ranking.

What we have next are the top-three RBs based on pure potential: AJ Dillon, Isaiah Spiller, and Kenneth Walker III. Quadzilla is obviously several steps ahead of the incoming rookies with his impressive work from the ‘21 season. AJD would instantly skyrocket into at least the top-10 if he somehow managed to wrestle away a bell-cow role in the GB offense. Put into multiple times in the past, Dillon holds a rich-man’s Najee Harris level of potential, waiting for the opportunity to be featured.

Spiller is the closest to a first-rounder at the position. Size, anticipated testing, physical style, and receiving technique that greatly improved over the last season. Walker is completely raw as a receiver, but he is also the top talent on the ground, exploding for eye-popping numbers prior to being banged up in the Ohio State game. We are being gifted with one of the deepest RB classes in at least the last decade, but both will have the best odds at securing a lead role from Day 1.

Ezekiel Elliott has obviously plummeted down the rankings after being drafted as a first-rounder last season. Finding his name among Tier 6 should stand out as an obvious opportunity to take advantage of depressed value and to pounce on a player at an obvious discount in trades. Zeke played the season with a partially torn MCL and with an offense that struggled mightily through the air over much of the second half of the season. Excuses are entirely unnecessary since his value is going to be universally depressed after the worst season of his career. You either believe his career is over or that Elliott will learn more from his failure than at any point in his lifetime.

Following in the footsteps of Dillon, Rhamondre Stevenson simply should move as well as he does for a kid his size. It’s only a matter of time until Dre Day headlines the Patriots’ attack. The fact that Stevenson proved capable of fulfilling all of New England’s needs as a rookie informs us that time may be very short. Always invest in upside over floor.

TierPlayerPos. RankTeamAge
7Saquon BarkleyRB25NYG25.1
7Rashaad PennyRB26SEA26.1
7Michael CarterRB27NYJ22.8
7James ConnerRB28ARI26.8

Tier 7 Notes: Like Elliott, it’s painful to report the depressed value for Saquon Barkley. Also like Zeke, Barkley is a kid that we know has the potential to post top-five RB numbers. Bringing Brian Daboll aboard is all about the positive for one of the least impressive offenses from the second half of the ‘21 season. But the results from the changes he will implement will take time. Especially since our last taste of Saquon was in a strict platoon with Devontae Booker.

On the other end of the spectrum to close out the season, Rashaad Penny looked nothing like the indecisive RB that cost everyone first round capital to acquire out of San Diego State. He was the catalyst toward bringing the Seattle offense back to respectability over that stretch. If Seattle manages to re-sign him, at the very least, Penny has earned the right to be the lightning component of a featured timeshare. We want all of the talent that we can afford, and Penny’s late-blooming emergence should have all in the know invested.

We already saw Devin Singletary buck the undersized opinion. Similarly-sized, Michael Carter may actually be slightly more talented than Singletary, but this is one of the only examples in the first 10 tiers where a talent advantage takes a backseat to the situation. Carter is not backed by anything remotely similar to the talent level in Buffalo. In fact, the Jets’ offense is bordering on pathetic. The O-line is pretty damn bad, the defense may be one of the worst from the last decade-or-more, and Zach Wilson will need to monumentally improve nearly every component of his game before NYJ manages a winning season. However, Carter is a gifted back with age on his side.

One of the least enjoyable RB types to follow, James Conner has made his bed as a plodding contributor with a nose for the end zone. On the plus side, when the Cardinals are locked in, the offense lives in the red zone. On the negative, morale has never been lower after the embarrassing playoff loss suffered against the Rams, and it was 100% clear the Cards had run Conner into the ground. In a perfect world, Chase Edmonds splits carries in order to keep the speed-deprived Conner from taking a pounding. But Conner proved to be a sure-handed receiver and capable in pass pro. Those traits will go a long way toward keeping Conner employed as he approaches the age of 30.

TierPlayerPos. RankTeamAge
8Breece HallRB29NCAA20.7
8Josh JacobsRB30LV24.1
8Tony PollardRB31DAL24.9
8Damien HarrisRB32NE25.1
8Kyren WilliamsRB33NCAA21.5
8Clyde Edwards-HelaireRB34KC22.9

Tier 8 Notes: Breece Hall and Josh Jacobs have all of the potential to transcend multiple tiers above their current placement. For Hall, the mileage on the tires is well above average. To the extent of around 1,600 carries over his last eight seasons of football. With a low, universal three-star rating, Hall became all too aware that he wouldn’t be recruited by the top schools, so he set out to rush for over 4,200 yards, and 61 TDs over his final two seasons at Northwest High. Getting straight to the point, Jacobs was the least efficient bell-cow in the league last season. He did manage to churn out some receiving production, but the considerable concern is an imminent timeshare.

Tony Pollard is up to speed on timeshare situations. If not for a foot injury, Pollard had an opportunity to submit some special numbers for a back on the secondary end of the carry share. What’s clear is that Pollard is on the fast-track toward a featured role. But it’s a role not likely to come as a member of the Cowboys. Dallas is fully aware that Zeke provides some of the top pass pro that the NFL has ever seen from a RB. We may need to wait for a change of scenery, but Pollard is talented enough to be worth the wait.

The next three backs do not group well together. Damien Harris will need to play flawless, injury-free football in order to maintain his job as the lead back. Kyren Williams enters the draft out of Notre Dame as the top multidimensional talent at the position, albeit with some size concerns. Clyde Edwards-Helaire has been unable to keep himself on the field, ultimately being outplayed during the playoffs by Darrel Williams and Jerick McKinnon, respectively, over the last two seasons. At this stage in the game, while the three may find themselves in very different spots, their upside angles each toward the same level of ROI.

TierPlayerPos. RankTeamAge
9Travis Etienne Jr.RB35JAX23.1
9Chris CarsonRB36SEA27.5
9Kareem HuntRB37CLE26.6
9James RobinsonRB38JAX23.6

Tier 9 Notes: The early news out of Jacksonville’s camp is sounding extremely good for Travis Etienne Jr. If we end up receiving definitive news of an earlier-than-expected recovery then he will move up the board. Prior to miraculous recovery from Akers from his Achilles rupture, it was the only injury drawing more fear than a Lisfranc. Etienne will enter the ‘22 season as a rookie, so it’s best to wait for a rock-solid update before taking an over-reactive approach to his progression.

The theme of Tier 9 is entrenched in injury recoveries. With plenty of mileage on his tires after minimal usage in college, Chris Carson will first hope for a swift recovery from neck surgery, and deal with the emergence of Penny. Pete Carroll has stated he is confident that Carson will be healed in time for the ‘22 season, so don’t count out Carson from reestablishing himself in the Seattle offense. That will be especially true if Russell Wilson were to leave town. A substantial downgrade at QB could leave all the carries Penny and Carson can handle on the plate.

An unrestricted free agent in 2023, this will be a prove-it season for Kareem Hunt. He played well when Chubb went down to injury in 2020, but his ‘21 was completely marred by injuries. He was essentially dead to the Browns after Week 6. The season was a disaster for Cleveland and the number of players exempt from feeling the heat will be very short. Moving on to another team would separate Hunt from the Browns’ elite O-line, but Hunt may be able to find another opportunity as the leading man.

We are going to learn so much from James Robinson’s Achilles recovery. If he’s able to return to the field in a similar timeframe to Akers, perhaps we won’t need to fear the injury as much. We really don’t know what to expect right now. Do not forget that Robinson has youth on his side. If Akers can return to the hearts and minds of the fantasy realm so quickly with his short resume, Robinson will have zero trouble doing the same with two seasons of extremely impressive play.

TierPlayerPos. RankTeamAge
10Rachaad WhiteRB39NCAA23.1
10Miles SandersRB40PHI24.8
10Trey SermonRB41SF23.1
10Kennedy BrooksRB42NCAA23.4
10Tyler BadieRB43NCAA22.0

Tier 10 Notes: This may actually be a bit low for Rachaad White. All the kid did after joining Arizona State out of the JUCO ranks is ball out of his mind. We have stronger evidence from a more difficult schedule faced by Kyren Williams, but White is not far behind at all with his impressive skill-set as a runner and receiver. All rankings and tiers will need an overhaul following the combine, draft and free agency. For now, White headlines a strong Tier 10 grouping.

Getting behind Miles Sanders is very difficult for the simple fact that he cannot stay off the trainer’s table. Assuming the Eagles will not devote early draft capital to another RB, Sanders will very likely retain his RB1 status on the roster. Like it or not, Boston Scott was the superior back. Sanders will have quite a bit of pressure on his shoulders to submit a full, healthy season for Philadelphia or face doubt as to his ability to be a lead RB in the NFL.

Setting all personal opinions aside, the ‘21 season did not go as planned for Trey Sermon. He put together some impressive testing at his Pro Day to pair with making a ton of noise to close out his collegiate career. He was appropriately drafted as a third-rounder, but ended up being buried down the depth chart, with Elijah Mitchell seizing the opportunity. Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. have likely played their last games for San Francisco, so Sermon will enter the ‘22 season as the direct backup to Mitchell. If that scenario unfolds as expected, Sermon will be an injury away from an excellent opportunity to run behind the top run blocking O-line in the game.

Take it to the bank, Kennedy Brooks is the premium RB in the class when working in a gap scheme. Think Sermon, Rodney Anderson, Samaje Perine, Rhamondre Stevenson, or Joe Mixon. Obviously all Oklahoma RBs. The Sooners have utilized the highest rate of gap scheme blocking for at least the last five seasons. It’s important since the patience it requires for the blocking to develop before setting the pivot foot into the ground is not easily learned and rarely perfected.

Brooks is going to be drafted by a gap-centric team that will immediately want him to absorb a solid number of carries. That’s the outstanding news. The bad news is that Brooks has devoted all of his time mastering the nuances of running behind gap blocking and he has completely neglected the essentials of catching a football. Brooks will present the pass-catching prowess of Ronald Jones II to his future team. That’s a very poor outlook for those who missed the comparison.

Tyler Badie was typecast as a scatback due to his size during his time running behind Larry Rountree III on the Missouri depth chart. Badie turned that limitation on its head with one of the most impressive performances from any back in the country last season. The gap separating Badie, Kyren Williams and Rashaad White as the top rushing-receiving combo RBs will be difficult to determine until we see the evidence facing NFL defenses. They are each extremely talented and bolster this RB class as one of the deepest in NFL history.

TierPlayerPos. RankTeamAge
11Alexander MattisonRB44MIN23.7
11Chuba HubbardRB45CAR22.7
11Abram SmithRB46NCAA23.4
11Khalil HerbertRB47CHI23.9
11Brian Robinson Jr.RB48NCAA22.9
11James CookRB49NCAA22.4
11Hassan HaskinsRB50NCAA22.3
11Zamir WhiteRB50NCAA22.4

Tier 11 Notes: Anyone with doubts as to the extent of the talent in this class should look no further than Tier 11. Talk about retooling the position. Abram Smith, Brian Robinson Jr., James Cook, Hassan Haskins and Zamir White. This class is nothing short of sick. Oozing with talented RBs that we will be watching on Sunday for years to come. Guess what? The list of impact RBs in this class doesn’t end there.

We must account for Smith and White lacking the receiving ability of others in the class. However, the pair have established roles/names for themselves as dangerous early-down RBs. Robinson is constructed from the ground up with experience as his building material. He also took a massive step forward as a receiver last year. Previously offering next-to-nothing as a receiver, we should wait until we see him catch the ball consistently in the NFL prior to anointing him with the full package label. That is a distinction that can already be applied to Cook, Dalvin’s younger brother. He set the record straight during Georgia’s FBS title run that he deserves an opportunity to play multiple roles before limitations as a scatback are implemented due to his size. Haskins is built to be a problem in the NFL and his receiving skill is already developed enough to be a factor.

Alexander Mattison and Chuba Hubbard are two of the top backups from a fantasy perspective. With his track record of blowing up in games where Dalvin Cook is out, Mattison is the top handcuff – value dependent upon the starter’s absence – on the market. Should Cook’s civil suit end with an extended absence, Mattison would at least catapult into the top-15 RBs. The potential floor may be much higher for Mattison, but the down-the-road potential is in place for Hubbard. It’s true that Hubbard fought through an ankle injury during his final season with Oklahoma State, and the efficiency on the ground wasn’t there as a rookie.

First of all, the Panthers’ O-line is one of the bottom-five run blocking units in the league. Second, McCaffrey’s average yardage before contact has declined by a whopping 32% during the last two seasons compared to his monster numbers from 2018-19. Finally, we have all of the evidence we need from Hubbard’s 2019 season in Stillwater to see he offers potential. As a redshirt sophomore, Hubbard earned First-Team All-American honors after rushing for 2,094 yards and 21 TDs.

Khalil Herbert’s situation is similar to Hubbard’s in that the Bears’ O-line leaves plenty to be desired in the run blocking department. But Herbert’s rookie season was dissimilar from Hubbard’s since he provided us with 97 total YPG and 4.4 YPC during his four-game stint as the starter from Weeks 5 through 8. More impressively, the last three of those games were against the Packers, Buccaneers, and 49ers’ excellent run defenses.

TierPlayerPos. RankTeamAge
12Zack MossRB52BUF24.2
12Jaret PattersonRB53WAS22.4
12Chase EdmondsRB54ARI25.9
12Kenneth GainwellRB55PHI23.0

Tier 12 Notes: The opportunity for Zack Moss to land the featured role for the Bills is long gone. Moss is now entirely dependent on Devin Singletary missing time for his minimal role to expand. Otherwise, Moss will either need a trade out of town or to simply wait on his UFA status following the 2023 season. None of those options are outrageously appealing, but being an injury away from a featured role in the top offense in the NFL holds plenty of weight.

It’s disappointing to learn that Washington came away unmotivated from Jaret Patterson’s rookie season. A potential role expansion sounds unlikely should Antonio Gibson succumb to injury. News dropping that the Commanders are looking for an experienced back to fill the role as Gibson’s backup does not seem promising. And that news comes at the worst time with this loaded crop of incoming RBs. At the very least, wanted by the Commanders or not, Patterson should have a career role as a change-of-pace back locked up. The excellence he displayed in college offers the potential for more.

It’s entirely possible that the Cardinals enter the ‘22 season without both James Conner and Chase Edmonds. Showcasing his dominance in the red zone, Conner seems far more likely to be re-signed than Edmonds. Should Edmonds be rewarded with a second contract from Arizona, he could safely be bumped up a tier. The chance that he simply signs elsewhere as a strictly situational option packs far too much doubt into his free agency profile at this stage.

With 50 touches over the first eight games, Kenneth Gainwell appeared to have captured a consistent role during his rookie season. But his involvement over the second half of the year was mostly concentrated to Weeks 12 and 18 (31 touches). In the other seven games, he touched the ball 18 times. But the 1.53 YPRR he generated nearly guarantees a role on his share of the obvious passing downs.

TierPlayerPos. RankTeamAge
13Cordarrelle PattersonRB56ATL30.9
13Melvin Gordon IIIRB57DEN28.9
13Ronald Jones IIRB58TB24.6
13Gus EdwardsRB59BAL26.9
13Tarik CohenRB60CHI26.6
13Jerick McKinnonRB61KC29.8

Tier 13 Notes: This tier consists mainly of immediate returns with the potential to offer starting lineup material at the expense of production down the road. Cordarrelle Patterson, Melvin Gordon III, Ronald Jones II and Jerick McKinnon each enter free agency with unrestricted status. But all four should have no issue finding another contract. Gus Edwards and Tarik Cohen are both rehabilitating from ACL tears. Plenty of questions, albeit with varying levels of previous success that have proven to be useful to fantasy rosters.

TierPlayerPos. RankTeamAge
14Tyrion Davis-PriceRB62NCAA21.3
14CJ VerdellRB63NCAA22.5
14Boston ScottRB64PHI26.8
14Kevin HarrisRB65NCAA21.3
14Darrel WilliamsRB66KC26.9
14Jerome FordRB67NCAA22.4

Tier 14 Notes: Tyrion Davis-Price, CJ Verdell, Kevin Harris, and Jerome Ford officially seal the door on the talent-laden options from this loaded RB class. We typically have a relatively strong idea on which rookie RBs should be the focus of our attention. What’s so unique about this class is that where we are typically focused on five-or-so RBs, no less than 16 deserve our consideration. Tripling the usual number is an unbelievable reality. We will all settle on our preferences, but keeping an open mind to the changing landscape and with our ears open to the news wire is the recommendation.

Davis-Price spent much of his LSU career in timeshares with multiple backs. He received his chance to be featured last season when John Emery Jr. was ruled academically ineligible. He seized the opportunity late in the season, showcasing the talents that previously earned him four-star status. If you collect the games where Verdell played at 100% health, you’d have a RB that would be drawing interest among the very best in this class. In those games, opponents were at serious risk of watching him rush for 150-to-200 or more yards and multiple TDs. Look no further than Oregon’s 35-28 victory over Ohio State in Week 2 when Verdell ran for 168 yards and three TDs or in the ‘20 Pac-12 Championship victory over Utah when he pocketed the MVP award by rushing for 208 yards and three TDs.

Harris led the SEC in rushing yards during the ‘20 regular season. At 5-foot-10 and 220-pounds, don’t immediately toss a plodder label on him as he was clocked by a GPS timer at 21.84 mph – speed a kid his size should not possess. Most of his ‘21 season was lost due to back surgery, but he worked his way back to post 182 rushing yards and a TD against UNC in Duke’s Mayo Bowl. Following the ‘19 season, Jerome Ford chose to transfer his talents from Alabama to Cincinnati. He worked as the second option behind Gerrid Doaks during his first season on campus. His opportunity to shine came last season, gaining 1,527 total yards and scoring 20 total TDs.

Two free agents that we can count on drawing plenty of interest on the market are Boston Scott and Darrel Williams. Scott may have only rushed for 407 yards, but he scored a TD on 9.1% of his carries. He was also an efficient receiver and the most targeted RB on the Eagles’ roster. Williams also excelled as a receiver out of the backfield, generating the 14th-most YPRR (1.29), and eighth-most YPT (8.2). Nearly identical in age, they will both find a list of interested parties in free agency.

TierPlayerPos. RankTeamAge
15D’Onta ForemanRB68TEN25.9
15D’Ernest JohnsonRB69CLE25.9
15Chris EvansRB70CIN24.4
15Pierre Strong Jr.RB71NCAA23.2
15Jerrion EalyRB72NCAA21.5

Tier 15 Notes: This is the point where the projections are mostly built upon pure speculation. D’Onta Foreman deserves more than a Maytag repairman-like role behind King Henry. D’Ernest Johnson should be a hot commodity coming off impressive work with the Browns after Kareem Hunt was lost to injury. He’ll combine that solid tape with a reputation as a boss on special teams.

From a seldom-used asset with the Michigan Wolverines, to seeing targets in the Super Bowl. Chris Evans isn’t going to be a threat to Joe Mixon, but he certainly concluded a successful season as a change-of-pace receiver. It seems we’ve been waiting for Pierre Strong Jr. to declare for multiple seasons. Until time allows viewing of his collegiate tape, the FCS back will sit in Tier 15 until the proper evaluation is completed. Jerrion Ealy entered the season as a very promising Devy RB. But he lost large chunks of the year due to injury. Ealy has a versatile skill-set, boasting some of the finest receiving chops in the class. But he is simply not built to handle more than 10-or-so touches/game.

TierPlayerPos. RankTeamAge
16Sony MichelRB73LAR27.0
16Ty ChandlerRB74NCAA23.8
16Dameon PierceRB75NCAA22.0
16Nyheim HinesRB76IND25.3

Tier 16 Notes: This may end up being slightly low for Sony Michel if he ends up with an optimal landing locale. The knock on Michel is underwhelming efficiency on the ground and negligible receiving skills. However, he has more than proven himself capable of handling all of the backfield touches, when called upon. Ty Chandler broke out for North Carolina last season after transferring over from Tennessee. Solid efficiency on the ground and through the air, Chandler projects as a depth RB.

Dameon Pierce, on the other hand, had the finest season of his Florida career, posting 3.7 yards after contact/carry and 1.80 YPRR. The issue with Pierce is that he never emerged as more than a rotational back. Nyheim Hines could thrive with the reportedly incoming change at QB. Without knowing who that new QB might end up being, it’s nearly impossible to project Hines since nearly all of his production comes as a receiver.

TierPlayerPos. RankTeamAge
17Jordan HowardRB77PHI27.3
17Darrell Henderson Jr.RB78LAR24.5
17J.D. McKissicRB79WAS28.6
17Kenyan DrakeRB80LV28.1

Tier 17 Notes: It came from the abyss, scraping and scratching its head above the refuse heap. It being the current interpretation of Jordan Howard, of course. And Howard established his worth as Philadelphia’s most trusted RB in pass pro. But he also provided decent efficiency on early downs and at the goal line, a wild realization after previously being left for dead. It may disappoint those that invested anything of value following Akers’ Achilles tear, but the reality is that Darrell Henderson Jr. is on a path toward change-of-pace duties.

Washington wants to re-sign J.D. McKissic. While McKissic may appreciate being wanted, he has made it known he wants to maximize opportunities for early-down work. McKissic could be on the move. There is no question that Kenyan Drake was far more efficient with his touches than Josh Jacobs. Rarely scoring multiple TDs in a game, we were left hoping Jacobs would salvage his games with five-or-more receptions. It’s important to remember that those reception opportunities only surfaced after Drake’s injury. The new coaching staff could end up pulling the plug on Jacobs as a wildly inefficient bell-cow RB drafted by a previous regime. Working Jacobs and Drake into a timeshare is the inevitable result.

TierPlayerPos. RankTeamAge
18Raheem MostertRB81SF29.9
18Myles GaskinRB82MIA25.1
18Jamaal WilliamsRB83DET26.9

Tier 18 Notes: This is obviously a concentrated tier. All three offer different specialties, but they also have similarly capped ceilings. Raheem Mostert really appeared to have come into his own before a string of injuries ate up the tail end of his 20’s. He might have a touch of value remaining if he lands in the perfect situation, but his dyno upside has run its course.

Myles Gaskin should never have been a featured back for Miami. He is a situational receiving threat down to the bone. The “Jamaal Williams as the lead RB” in Detroit statement did not age well. Running facemask-first into the pile on short third downs and allowing D’Andre Swift to take breathers are essentially the extent of Williams’ usefulness.

TierPlayerPos. RankTeamAge
19Duke Johnson Jr.RB84MIA28.3
19Dontrell HilliardRB85TEN26.9
19Ty JohnsonRB86NYJ24.3
19Craig ReynoldsRB87DET25.7

Tier 19 Notes: If Howard crawled his way up from the refuse bin, Duke Johnson Jr. escaped from the Kola Superdeep Borehole. He put up a career day facing the Jets. Make sure that performance discount is entirely understood. Johnson is only even mentioned in these tiers due to the complete absence of starting material in Miami. His value can entirely evaporate without a moment's notice.

Dontrell Hilliard is a receiving specialist on a contender. Ty Johnson is the former, not the latter. After Swift, Craig Reynolds put the most impressive tape together among Lions’ RBs. It doesn’t guarantee a future role in the Motor City, but it does speak to potential in return for rewarded opportunities.

TierPlayerPos. RankTeamAge
20Sincere McCormickRB88NCAA21.4
20Zonovan KnightRB89NCAA20.9
20Max BorghiRB90NCAA22.8
20Tyler GoodsonRB91NCAA21.3
20Jashaun CorbinRB92NCAA21.5
20Sincere McCormickRB93NCAA21.8

Tier 20 Notes: The deepest of dynasty RB nuggets. Sincere McCormick is actually quite the impressive back. His career is littered with production every step of the way. But his path to NFL opportunities may be difficult to capture as a relative unknown out of UTSA. While Devy aficionados will already know the name, the NFL-only practitioners should jot the name down for future reference.

Zonovan Knight jumped out to a hot start as a true freshman before ultimately splitting the workload down the middle with Ricky Person Jr., another ‘22 RB. Like McCormick, Knight has potential and will need very impressive testing to stand out. Once thought of as a CMAC-lite prospect, the star has faded quite a bit for Max Borghi after a devastating knee injury that required complete reconstructive surgery. Tyler Goodson has some concerning bad habits that will need to be addressed long before an NFL team would dare put him on the field – jumping backwards to evade contact will not fly in the NFL.

Jashaun Corbin has had an up-and-down career between his time with Texas A&M and, most recently, Florida State. Tyler Allgeier is the type of back that gets better with volume. But, like all of the rookies in this tier, his athletic testing will determine how much attention he receives. Allgeier will need slow-moving stars to perfectly align to find that scenario for success.

TierPlayerPos. RankTeamAge
21Kylin HillRB94GB23.6
21Malik DavisRB95NCAA23.2
21James WhiteRB96NE30.1
21Kene NwangwuRB97MIN23.5
21Leddie BrownRB98NCAA23.0

Tier 21 Notes: Lots of promising traits, diminishing ROI with likely RB3 scenarios in their immediate-and-intermediate futures. While it’s a role that James White used to draw a good amount of success in his prime, it’s very rare for an RB3 to make a mark in fantasy without injuries to those ahead on the depth chart.

TierPlayerPos. RankTeamAge
22Mateo DurantRB99NCAA22.2
22D’Vonte PriceRB100NCAA22.6
22Ronnie RiversRB101NCAA23.0
22Trestan EbnerRB102NCAA23.1

Tier 22 Notes: A group of rookies with college success on the books that will be required to excel on special teams for multiple seasons in order to gain role expansion opportunities on an NFL roster.

TierPlayerPos. RankTeamAge
23David JohnsonRB103HOU30.2
23Master TeagueRB104NCAA21.8
23Snoop ConnerRB105NCAA21.6
23Jaylen WarrenRB106NCAA23.3

Tier 23 Notes: We are digging into the depths of the Bjaeldskovdal Bog attempting to extract talent from outside of the top-100 RBs. The best of the rest without much chance of success.

With a dedicated focus on studying game film and a faithful commitment to metrics & analytics, Huber’s specialties include DFS (college and NFL), Devy & Dynasty formats, and second-to-none fantasy analysis of high school prospects.