NFL Draft 2022: Top Five Running Backs (2023)

Top Five Running Backs in 2022 NFL Draft

NFL Draft 2022: Top Five Running Backs (1)

The running back position and fantasy football go hand in hand. For years, fantasy football managers have built successful rosters on the back of high-level talent at the running back position.

Identifying top talent is of the utmost importance to any championship-caliber fantasy football manager, but it’s important to look even deeper. Finding diamonds in the rough and landing players at tantalizing values is how savvy fantasy football managers create a sustainable winner in dynasty formats. With the shelf life at the position shorter than ever before, fantasy football managers constantly need to replenish their rosters with an influx of young talent. Luckily, the 2022 class of draft-eligible running backs looks like a fantastic year to find great value.

Today let’s dive into the NFL Draft Bible’s current top five draft-eligible running backs and how they can potentially impact your fantasy rosters for the 2022 season and beyond.

A powerful runner with a nose for the end zone, Spiller is poised to make whichever NFL team selects him very happy. He displays very good contact balance and regularly falls forward for extra yards. Patience behind the line of scrimmage is one of the highlights of his game, as he often shows off crafty footwork before hitting the hole to make the most of what’s available to him. Some people will question his long speed, but he has enough burst and short-area quickness to help offset some of those concerns. While he won’t ever be mistaken for a true burner, he shows off the agility necessary in the open field to make defenders miss at the second level. He has experience both as a receiver and in pass protection, which will only help keep him on the field.

Fantasy Football Take:

If he lands in the right situation, Spiller has the potential to be a fantasy darling early in his NFL career. He offers the potential of a true three-down workhorse, and the hope lies with him landing in a backfield that offers that type of opportunity. Even if he finds himself in a situation where he is sharing the backfield with another runner, his penchant for finding the end zone could still make him a top-24 option at the position in his rookie season. Fantasy football managers should feel confident spending a top-three rookie pick on Spiller in single quarterback fantasy football leagues. In superflex leagues, he can confidently be selected in the top half of the first round. Landing with a team like the Buffalo Bills or Arizona Cardinals could send Spiller’s value through the roof.

Breece Hall, Iowa State

The statistics make it easy to see why anyone would be excited over Hall. He exploded for 41 rushing touchdowns over the last two seasons, averaging over five yards per carry. He has a great deal of power in his lower body, leading to him often fighting for extra yards. It’s very rare to see Hall go down on initial contact. After being the focal point of the Iowa State offense for consecutive seasons, he appears ready to do the same for an NFL team. Patience, vision and contact balance are what is most impressive while watching Hall. There are times when he tries to do a bit too much behind the line of scrimmage and would be better suited to hit the hole and get upfield. He is a willing blocker in pass protection and has the size to continue to improve in that regard. Like Spiller, he’s been involved and shown improvement as a receiver each of his collegiate seasons.

Fantasy Football Take:

Most rookie drafts will find Hall or Spiller being the first running back selected and there is a real case for both players. The involvement in the receiving game where Hall has flashed will benefit his value, but he could stand to improve in pass protection to keep himself on the field as often as possible. That said, improving that is something that most young running backs face. He is capable of a three-down role in the NFL and will likely be selected early on Day 2 of the draft. Fantasy football managers will be curious about his landing spot, but he has all the tools to be a top-24 option before he sets foot on an NFL field.

Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State

There may not be a player in the nation who improved his draft stock more than Walker. After transferring from Wake Forest to Michigan State, he exploded for the best of his three college seasons. He dazzled college football fans and fantasy football managers weekly with his explosive athletic ability, with over 1,600 yards rushing and 18 scores on the ground. There are times when calling him explosive feels like an understatement when looking to describe him as a player. He often looks like he’s shot out of a cannon after taking the handoff. Combine his incredible burst with his excellent vision and ability to identify cutback lanes, and his mouth-watering upside is apparent.

Fantasy Football Take:

Usage in the receiving game is king for running backs in today’s NFL. Think of it the same way fantasy football managers realize the advantage when rostering a quarterback who gives them rushing yards. Running backs who can chip in work regularly in the passing game massively supplement their value and help provide them with that safe floor fantasy football managers covet. Unfortunately, to this point, Walker has had little to no involvement as a receiver. The 13 receptions he posted in 2021 were the high mark of his college campaign. First and foremost, he needs to improve his pass protection to be on the field on those critical passing downs. With his athletic upside, if he can develop as a receiver, he has the potential to be a truly special player and a downright dominant force for fantasy football.

Kyren Williams, Notre Dame

Many will point out that Williams is slightly undersized for the position. While that may be true on the surface, Williams is a player who regularly plays bigger than his listed size of 5-foot-9, 199 pounds. He’s an incredibly tough player who is a willing and able blocker in pass protection. This is huge for him because his ability to chip in work in the receiving game will be a big boon for his value. He’s posted over 300 yards receiving in consecutive seasons while combining for 27 touchdowns on the ground over that same time span. Size concerns aside, Williams could easily find himself selected on Day 2 of the draft. If a team makes that investment in him, look for him to be an early contributor in both the running and receiving game.

Fantasy Football Take:

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The fantasy football landscape has shifted over the years. Fantasy football leagues that award points-per-reception have become the new norm, which greatly increases the impact a player like Williams can have on a fantasy roster. In 2021, we saw the impact a slightly undersized runner could have when former North Carolina running back Michael Carter was selected by the New York Jets and then became the team’s leading rusher. In points per reception formats, Williams has the chance to be an absolute dynamo. He is a technically refined runner and receiver who should be considered a much more complete player than his size would indicate. If fantasy football managers can snag him early in the second round of rookie drafts, he has the chance to be a massive steal.

Zamir White, Georgia

If you’re looking for a physical power runner, Georgia’s Zamir White could be exactly who you want on your team. He consistently keeps his feet moving and is faster in the open field than the perception. He thrives as an inside runner where he can let his physicality shine and overpower defenders. Unfortunately, White does have an injury history that is concerning. He tore his left ACL as a senior in high school, followed by a torn ACL in his right knee the following year before the 2018 college season began. He has bounced back and contributed nicely for the Georgia backfield. He’s averaged over five yards per carry in the past two seasons and has also racked up double-digit touchdowns.

Fantasy Football Take:

The injury history will be scary for NFL teams and fantasy football managers alike, but that does lead to White potentially becoming a value. While he does profile as part of a committee at the next level due to limited involvement as a receiver, he has a nose for the end zone and teams will fall in love with the physical nature he possesses. Draft capital and landing spot will be of the utmost importance for White’s fantasy value. If he is selected late on Day 2 or early on Day 3 of the draft and finds himself in a position to take the lead in a backfield, fantasy football managers need to be ready for that. White could be a big-time value for those doing early rookie drafts if he slips past the end of round two.

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