As you plot out your fantasy football draft strategies and embark on your mock drafts it’s no surprise that running backs will be called early and often. They are an easy bet to get a bulk of carries and the points gained per rushing yard and touchdown are invaluable for fantasy managers. The icing on the cake is drafting a stud running back that poses a threat in the receiving game as well. All these factors add to a running back’s ADP as they continuously sit atop the fantasy draft boards.
ADP, or “average draft position,” is a number that represents where a specific NFL player is likely to be selected in fantasy football drafts. The value is based on drafts that have already taken place and is a helpful indicator of when to target specific positional players based on your draft positioning. Below we preview the running backs with the top ADP values for the 2022 fantasy season.
Top 5 overall ADP values
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts
Taylor was the best running back in the NFL a season ago and he’s rewarded with the best ADP value for running backs heading into the 2022 fantasy season. Taylor rushed for 1,811 yards and 18 touchdowns with an absurd average of 106.5 rushing yards per game. He is literally the Colts' offense in every sense of the word and don’t expect a dip in production following his 2021 Offensive Player of the Year season. At just 23 years old Taylor is right in his prime and should benefit from an improved passing game as well with new quarterback Matt Ryan under center.
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers
Recent history suggests that the Panther’s running back ranking this high in ADP value must be some type of error, but don’t gloss over what McCaffrey has already achieved. Prior to his past two injury-filled seasons, he rushed for a combined 2,485 yards and 22 touchdowns across the 2018 and 2019 seasons. He’s still only 26 years old and the only true obstacle to his production has been his health. It’s a significant factor, but if he remains healthy for the long haul then McCaffrey can very well bounce back to being the engine of the offense. Expect Carolina to rely on McCaffrey on the ground especially if Baker Mayfield enters a new system as many believe he will win the starting job under center.
Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
By midway of last season, Henry looked certain to run away with the rushing title and even potentially total a 2,000-yard rushing season, before a foot injury knocked him out for the remainder of the regular season. Even with his extended absence, Henry finished top-10 in rushing yards with 937 to go along with 10 touchdowns in 2021. There may be questions about in the passing game with the departure of A.J. Brown, but there should be no uncertainty when it comes to the backfield. If you’re taking Henry as your RB1 in fantasy drafts then you’re more than getting bang for your buck with the engine of the Titans’ offense at your disposal.
Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
It’s an arms race out in the AFC West and the Chargers are among the favorites to finish the division on top. Their success will be predicated on the abundance of weapons they have on offense, including dual-threat running back Austin Ekeler. Ekeler totaled career-high 911 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns last season. Most notably, he pitched in with 647 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on the ground, which put him second in PPR scoring among running backs (behind only Jonathan Taylor). In drafting Ekeler you’re getting the one-two punch of a halfback and a receiver, making him an enticing draft choice overall and especially in PPR leagues.
Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
In just his first season in the NFL Harris cemented himself as one of the league’s future stars in the backfield, while also becoming one of the highest-scoring options among fantasy running backs. Harris finished with 1,200 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. He also added 467 receiving yards and three touchdowns through the air. Those numbers put him top-five in both PPR and standard scoring last season. With the departure of Ben Roethlisberger expect the Steelers to rely even more heavily on Harris as the quarterback situation unfolds between Mitchell Trubisky, Mason Rudolph, and rookie Kenny Pickett. Pittsburgh may grapple to add to the win column, but Harris should easily contribute to wins for your fantasy rosters this season.