2022 NFL Preseason Betting Picks & Analysis: Running Backs

2022 NFL Betting Picks & Analysis: Running Backs

Whether you’re gearing up for your 2022 NFL fantasy draft or just thinking about which teams to support with your NFL betting choices, one of the most important players, after the quarterback, is the featured running back. This is a tricky investment point for many teams; after all, many running backs will wear out, or perhaps lose their intensity, long before a lengthy, expensive contract has come to an end. An example of this is playing out in Dallas, where Ezekiel Elliott, the featured back, has often been outperformed by his backup, Tony Pollard, who makes significantly less money. Take a look at our tiers of the NFL’s running backs.

NFL News: Running Back Tiers


→ These Backs Can Carry a Team

Jonathan Taylor (Indianapolis Colts)

He’s just 23 years old, but he led the NFL last year in carries, running yards, and total yards. It helps that he has an elite O-line, and this year he has a quarterback (Matt Ryan) who should be more consistent.

Derrick Henry (Tennessee Titans)

Henry broke a metatarsal bone in his right foot last year, which kept him out for most of the regular season. He did win the rushing title in 2019 and 2020, with 718 combined touches those campaigns. All of that wear and tear (and questions about his foot after that iffy performance in the playoff loss to Cincinnati) make him less attractive than Taylor. But just barely.

Najee Harris (Pittsburgh Steelers)

The Steelers did much better than they should have in Ben Roethlisberger’s swan song, and one reason was Harris’ 499 yards after catch, third among NFL running backs.

Nick Chubb (Cleveland Browns)

Three Pro Bowl appearances. A 5.3 yards-per-carry average for his career. The problem this year is that the Browns won’t have a true QB1 until Week 12, and the rust that will have formed on Deshaun Watson after missing almost two full seasons will take the rest of 2022 to flake off.

→ These Backs Can Help Make Defenses Miserable

Dalvin Cook (Minnesota Vikings)

He’s extremely difficult to tackle in the open field. He averages about 5.0 yards per carry and about 9.0 yards per reception, and this year the Vikings return with an above-average O-line. However, he has never played more than 14 games in a season.

Austin Ekeler (L.A. Chargers)

He led the NFL with 20 touchdowns (12 on the ground and eight on catches). He started 16 games last year for the first time in his five-year career, and he had 276 touches, a career best.

Christian McCaffrey (Carolina Panthers)

He’s a transcendent talent, but he has played only 10 games over the last two seasons.

Tony Pollard (Dallas Cowboys)

Kareem Hunt (Cleveland Browns)

→ These Backs Complement a Solid Passing Game

Joe Mixon (Cincinnati Bengals)

He ran for 1,159 yards last year, a career high, but he only averaged 4.1 yards per carry. He was third in goal-line carries, which helped him get to 13 rushing touchdowns. However, without Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Joe Burrow, Mixon doesn’t get elite numbers.

Javonte Williams (Denver Broncos)

Williams shared carries equally with Melvin Gordon last year, and he put up 1,219 yards from scrimmage. He just turned 22, so he could be ready for a breakout season.

D’Andre Swift (Detroit Lions)

He scored 17 all-purpose touchdowns last year, but he only appeared in 13 games, so injuries are a factor. Wide receiver Jameson Williams is in Detroit now, so Swift should have some more room to operate.

Antonio Gibson (Washington Commanders)
Alvin Kamara (New Orleans Saints)
Leonard Fournette (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Elijah Mitchell (San Francisco 49ers)
Aaron Jones / A.J. Dillon (Green Bay Packers)
Josh Jacobs (Las Vegas Raiders)

→ These Backs Could Use a Comeback Season

J.K. Dobbins (Baltimore Ravens)

In 2020, Dobbins averaged 6.0 yards per carry and scored nine touchdowns on the ground even though he only carried the ball 134 times. He blew his left ACL to lose his second season, but he should be back for this season. His legs could help Lamar Jackson settle into a more traditional passing role.

Ezekiel Elliott (Dallas Cowboys)

He only carried the ball 13.9 times per game, running for 58.9 yards per game, in 2021. Tony Pollard, his backup, was second in the NFL in yards per carry (5.5). Elliott did have ten touchdowns on 35 carries in the red zone. But Elliott was supposed to try to bounce back last year. Will he really do it this year?

Saquon Barkley (N.Y. Giants)
Cam Akers (L.A. Rams)
James Conner (Arizona Cardinals)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (Kansas City Chiefs)

→ These Backs Could Be Sleepers, But…

Damien Harris (New England Patriots)
Travis Etienne Jr (Jacksonville Jaguars)
David Montgomery (Chicago Bears)
Breece Hall (N.Y. Jets)
Miles Sanders (Philadelphia Eagles)
Kenneth Walker III (Seattle Seahawks)


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Author: Ella Sims