2022 Fantasy Football Free Agency Preview: Many will get left out of running back musical chairs

Running back has long been one of the most desired positions for young football players. You get the ball, you get to score touchdowns, and you even get to catch passes sometimes. So the best athletes, who don’t get chosen to play quarterback, have long gravitated towards the position. But with the way they’re being treated by the NFL, you have to wonder if that’s going to change in the future.

Just three short years ago, Todd Gurley was the best running back in Fantasy on a per-game basis and last year he could not find a job. Dozens of other former stars at the position have had to accept backup roles, or at least contracts that suggest they are backups, just to stay in the league. And judging by the 2022 free-agent class, their ranks are about to get bigger. Former superstars David Johnson, Devonta Freeman, and Le’Veon Bell are all unrestricted free agents, though none figure to factor in as anything remotely close to a starter in 2022 unless something goes horribly wrong for a team.

What’s the point of this to lead off a Fantasy Football article? It’s that there are likely going to be some pretty wild swings in value based simply off who gets a job in the next couple of months. Below I’ll rank my top 10 running backs available on the open market as well as some of the leftovers who could have an impact. Then I’ll go through who has a need and try to play matchmaker. Then in two weeks we can all sit back and see how similarly the NFL values ​​these backs.

Top Free Agent Running Backs

Projections powered by

Others to watch: Darrel Williams, Cordarrelle Patterson, Devonta Freeman, Jeff Wilson, Jerick McKinnon, Duke Johnson

Five best opportunities

arizona cardinals

Conner and Edmonds combined for 2,030 total yards and 20 touchdowns last year. If one back were to produce even 60% of those numbers, he’d be a Fantasy start. And this is not a one-year thing. In 2020 Edmonds and Kenyan Drake produced 1,942 yards and 15 touchdowns in 16 games. Kliff Kingsbury’s offenses have produced big running back numbers, and any back who earns even 60% of the work there could be a star.

Best fit: Conner coming back without Edmonds.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

This is a bit of an unknown because Tampa Bay currently has Kyle Trask as its starting quarterback, Ke’Shawn Vaughn as its No. 1 running back, Cameron Brate as its top tight end, and Tyler Johnson as its No. 2 receiver. In other words, the Bucs have a lot of holes to fill. But the right back could take a huge share of the workload due to the lack of competition, and I would expect Tampa Bay to be more run-heavy assuming it doesn’t have a Pro Bowl quarterback.

Best fit: Fournette coming back without Jones.

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons caught lightning in the bottle for the first half of the season with Cordarrelle Patterson, but I would really be surprised if they settled for a Patterson-Mike Davis duo again in 2022. For one thing, Patterson faded hard in the second half of the season, and he’s about to turn 31 years old. This is one of the most likely teams to draft a running back, but if they don’t there could be a ton of targets and carries available for a lead back.

Best fit: Melvin Gordon

Miami Dolphins

With Mike McDaniel taking over in Miami, there will be a lot of parallels drawn between the 49ers success in the running game and what McDaniel tries to do with the Dolphins. They have a lot of work to do on the offensive line before any of that makes sense and they do still have Myles Gaskin on the roster. For that reason, I’m not expecting a big splash at this position. It might even be a ripple like bringing in former 49ers Mostert and Wilson. I do think the fact that Gaskin is still there may mean they’re just looking for an early downs back.

Best fit: Ronald Jones.

Houston Texans

The Texans have already re-signed Rex Burkhead, but it’s highly unlikely they expect him to be their lead back. I would expect them to bring someone in to split the work in the running game and handle most of the passing downs work. They could just bring back David Johnson to do that, but I presume they’d like to get younger. I wonder if another former Cardinal could fit the bill.

Best fit: Chase Edmonds.

Sneaky potential landing spots: Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos, Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo Bills,

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.