Best NFL RBs In 2022

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As NFL offenses continue to evolve, so do the requirements and expectations of today’s NFL running back.

For decades NFL RBs were expected to carry the ball 20+ times a game, often straight ahead, right between the tackles.

But the league has now developed into a passing-dominated game.

Teams will use a short aerial attack, including wide receiver screens and swing passes out of the backfield when previously they would hand it off.

Expectations on running backs to catch the ball are far greater today than they ever have been.

Players like Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, Najee Harris, and many others are capable of 50, 60, or even more receptions in a single season.

We no longer look at just an RBs rushing yard to gauge their effectiveness.

Rushing yards, receiving yards, and total yards from scrimmage are all key stats for ranking the NFL’s best running backs.

Top 10 NFL Running Backs For 2022

Jonathan Taylor – Indianapolis Colts

When betting on who will lead the league in rushing yards, you will find Jonathan Taylor’s name at the top of the betting odds for most sportsbooks.

In 2021, JT won his first ever NFL rushing title, and it wasn’t even that close.

With over 1800 yards on the ground, Taylor was more than 500 yards ahead of his nearest competitor.

In his two seasons in the league, the Colts RB is averaging over five yards per carry and has almost 3000 yards on the ground.

Taylor chipped in with another 360 yards receiving last year and looks primed for another big year in 2022.

Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans

Derrick Henry was the NFL rushing leader in 2019 and 2020. In 2021, Henry led the league in rushing yards through eight games until he broke a bone in his foot.

His chance to three-peat as the league’s leading rusher ended with the injury, but he somehow still finished ninth overall, despite missing more than half of Tennessee’s games.

Henry played at least 15 games in his first five seasons. Last year, he was able to only play in eight.

A bettor must decide if Henry can bounce back this year and stay healthy. If he does, his odds might have considerable value.

Dalvin Cook – Minnesota Vikings

If Dalvin Cook can ever figure out a way to stay on the field for all 17 regular season games, he may very well find himself as the NFL’s rushing leader.

Last year, Cook finished fifth in total rushing yards, despite only playing in 13 games. In his career, the former Florida State star has never played more than 14 games in a season.

In 2021, Cook was one of only a few players across the league to average more than 100 total yards (passing + receiving) per game.

The Vikings RB also has the ability to catch the ball downfield. In 2019, Cook had over 500 yards receiving in 14 games.

Nick Chubb – Cleveland Browns

Nick Chubb averaged an impressive 5.5 yards per carry in 2021 and ended the season with the second most rushing yards behind only Jonathan Taylor.

Chubb is a huge back, similar in style to Derrick Henry. He can make people miss tackles and run right over would-be tacklers.

There is no doubt that Cleveland, more than most teams, is committed to running the ball.

However, Chubb will never lead the league in total rushing attempts because the Browns like to use a backfield that features multiple threats.

Kareem Hunt will also get a lot of touches for the Browns this year, as long as he remains healthy.

Will the dual RB threat help Chubb stay healthy for the entire season and contend for the rushing title?

Or does the presence of Hunt in the Cleveland backfield hurt Chubb’s overall stats? That is a decision bettors will have to make.

Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals

2021 was the second time in his five-year career that Joe Mixon played at least 16 games in a season.

The Bengals RB carried the ball almost 300 times last year. Despite having just a 4.1 yards/carry average, Mixon put up over 1200 yards rushing as the primary RB in Cincinnati.

The former Oklahoma State Sooner can also catch the ball coming out of the backfield. Last year, Mixon had over 300 yards receiving for the first time in his career.

Mixon finished 11th league-wide in total yards from scrimmage with over 1500 combined rushing and receiving yards.

The Bengals’ passing game gets a lot of attention, deservedly so.

That could open the door for Mixon to have a massive year in 2022, with much of the focus on Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, and others.

Najee Harris – Pittsburgh Steelers

2021 was Najee Harris’ rookie season, and like most NFL rookies, it took him a few games to adjust to NFL game speed.

In his first four games, the Pittsburgh Steelers limited Harris to only an average of 14 carries per game.

Over his next five games, the former Alabama RB carried the ball an average of 24 times per game, and his rushing numbers started to climb.

In his first season, Harris had three games with over 100 yards rushing, including a Week 17 game against the Browns where he went off for 188 rushing yards.

He ended the season with 1200 yards rushing.

Harris should also be considered a dual threat out of the backfield. He had 74 receptions for almost 500 yards and had one 100+ yard receiving game in his rookie season.

Javonte Williams – Denver Broncos

Of all the names on our list of top NFL running backs, Javonte Williams might be the least known of the group, especially for those living outside of Colorado.

Williams arrived in the NFL via a college career at the University of North Carolina.

The Broncos surprised many when they traded up to draft him with the 35th overall pick.

Currently, the Denver backfield includes both Williams and veteran Melvin Gordon. Last year, the two players each carried the ball 203 times, with each gaining just over 900 yards rushing.

It is believed that this year the distribution of carries won’t be an exact 50/50 split, and the younger Williams will get more attempts.

The second-year pro also proved to be effective at catching balls out of the backfield, with over 300 yards receiving in his rookie season.

Austin Ekeler – Los Angeles Chargers

In 2021, Austin Ekeler took another step toward establishing himself as one of the game’s best running backs.

Ekeler had more than 600 yards rushing for the first time in his career, finishing the year with 911 yards on the ground.

Focusing on his rushing yards would be short-sighted when gauging the overall value of the Chargers RB. Ekeler once again caught a lot of footballs.

In fact, he had 70 receptions for almost 650 yards. Ekeler is only a few years removed from hauling in 993 receiving yards, making him one of the game’s best dual threats.

Ezekiel Elliott – Dallas Cowboys

When breaking down America’s team, maybe no player on the Cowboys roster is more polarizing than Ezekiel Elliott.

In 2021, Elliott went over 1000 yards rushing for the year but needed all 17 starts to finish with 1002 yards on the ground.

The former Ohio State RB had only two games of 100 yards or more rushing and had zero games with more than 100 yards on the ground after Week 5.

It will be interesting to see how he is used this year. Over the last eight weeks, ‘Zeke averaged only 12 carries per game. If that is the case in 2022, it might be the last time we see the six-year veteran on this list.

Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints

If Alvin Kamara is allowed to play for the New Orleans Saints in 2022, there is no doubt he will produce big numbers.

Unfortunately, when evaluating his status among the game’s best RBs currently, you need to address the fact that Kamara has had some offseason issues that extend well beyond the football field.

In 2021, the five-year veteran played in 13 games and started 10.

However, he once again produced outstanding numbers when he was on the field. Kamara finished with 898 yards rushing and 400 receiving.

Projected over an entire season, those numbers are impressive once again.

Honorable Mentions

Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers

In 2018, Christian McCaffrey put fantasy football managers and NFL prop betting enthusiasts on notice by compiling 1098 rushing yards and 867 receiving yards.

The following year, McCaffrey was even better, combining for over 2300 yards.

However, the Panthers RB has played in only ten games combined in the last two years.

In 2021, the five-year veteran posted an average of 63 rushing yards and 49 receiving yards per game. If you project those over a 17-game season, that is over 1900 total yards.

David Montgomery – Chicago Bears

The biggest offseason story this year for the Chicago Bears is obviously around the quarterback position and whether or not Justin Fields can be the player Bears fans hoped for when Chicago drafted him 11th overall in the 2021 NFL draft.

If Fields does turn into the field general that many believe he can become, the biggest benefactor might just be David Montgomery.

The three-year veteran has shown during his 35 NFL starts that he can be effective as a runner and a receiver. Montgomery should have more room to run the ball if Fields becomes an elite passer.

In 2021, the former Iowa State RB averaged almost 90 total yards per game. That number could be bumped up in 2022, especially if Chicago gets solid play from the QB position.

Betting On NFL Running Backs

Sportsbooks today provide many options for betting on NFL running backs.

There are season-long futures bets predicting which player will have the most rushing yards, and most rushing TDs, or you can find bets determining which RB will have the most yards from scrimmage. (Rushing + Receiving)

Player prop bets will allow bettors to wager on an RBs season total for rushing yards or individual game rushing yards.

One of the most popular prop bets of the NFL season is a player to score an anytime touchdown.

Running backs will combine to score many touchdowns this year and make an intriguing betting option each week.

The most popular futures bet for NFL running backs is always trying to determine who will lead the league in rushing yards at the end of the season.

RBs are asked to do a lot of different things. But ultimately, we still want to judge them on their ability to run the rock.

Always Shop Around

When it comes to beating the sportsbooks, a sports bettor’s most significant advantage is the ability to shop around for the odds.

This is true for every type of bet available in the market, including NFL futures betting.

Let’s look at Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey for an obvious example of why a bettor should always be shopping for the best available odds.

Odds To Lead NFL In Rushing Yards

C. McCaffreyFanDuel +1600DraftKings +3500BetMGM +4100

After two seasons battling severe injury, there is no doubt that McCaffrey is an underdog to lead the NFL in total rushing yards this year.

However, the talented RB has proven in years past that he is one of the best when healthy.

Many bettors will be interested in his odds for this season, as the Panthers RB could be an intriguing longshot bet.

Looking at the odds above, we see a large discrepancy between our three sportsbooks.

Ultimately FanDuel believes that McCaffrey is capable of bouncing back with a big year in 2022, or they have already taken a lot of money on him and have reduced his odds.

Either way, a $100 bettor could have a difference of $2500 in profit if they wager on McCaffrey at the current FanDuel odds, as opposed to the odds currently posted at BetMGM.

$2500 from a single bet should prove to be enough incentive for a bettor to want to shop around.