Who Will Be The Ten Best Running Backs In The NFL In 2022?

By Ian John
May 30, 2022

After a short break, our series of the Ten Best continues this week with a look at the forthcoming NFL season and we take a look at who we think will be the ten best running backs in the league next season.

In a league that is now being dominated by the passing game, the value of a good running back has diminished over time and while the position is not as obsolete as the full back role in many offenses, there’s no doubt the value of running backs has diminished in value.

Gone are the times when it was a necessity for a team to have a back that would gain close to or more than 100 yards a game on the ground. Now some teams can win games without hardly ever handing the rock off to their halfback.

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Indeed, teams that like to run the ball regularly are looked upon as being something of a throwback to previous eras where the running back position was highly coveted and one of the most important on the team.

Despite that, a quality running back can have a huge impact on how an NFL team performs over the course of the season, plus having a genuine threat from the running back position means teams cannot play pass defense constantly and opens up time and opportunity for the passing game.

So while the running back role may have changed in the modern NFL, it is still a key one in the game and here’s our list of the ten running backs we expect to be the best next season in the NFL.

Top Running Backs Of NFL Season 2022

  1. Derrick Henry (Tennessee Titans)

Derrick Henry’s injury hit 2021 campaign was a pity as he was on course for a second 2,000-yard season before his injury against the Colts. Pundits may feel that Henry will now decline in production for the Titans, but I am not quite so sure that is the case.

For a start, at 6’3” and over 230lbs, Henry is much bigger, more powerful and physically stronger than most running backs and until last season, his durability had been hugely impressive.

With the Titans losing AJ Brown to the Eagles, they will also have a new look set up at wide receiver which means that I can see Henry shouldering much of the Titans offense once again and if he can stay fit, he will prove he is still the best in the NFL. 2,000 yards is a possibility. You heard it here first!

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  • Jonathan Taylor (Indianapolis Colts)

After a solid rookie season as a Colt, Taylor exploded onto the scene last season, emerging as one of the blue-chip running backs in the NFL. He topped the charts with 1,811 yards rushing, 18 touchdowns, as well as adding 360 yards through the aur with two more touchdowns.

With the Colts adding Matt Ryan and Nick Foles at quarterback and making some nice moves in free agency, Taylor will have plenty of weapons that the Colts opponents will have to respect, which could mean the running back sees plenty of action.

I do worry that having Ryan will see Taylor’s role diminished slightly, but given his quality last season, the Colts won’t want one of their star men not involved too often on offense.

  • Dalvin Cook (Minnesota Vikings)

There are few more explosive players in the NFL than Dalvin Cook when he is in full flow.  He saw his production take a dive last season recording just 1159 yards and 6 touchdowns from 13 games but I think he is more than capable of bouncing back next season.

Cook has switched to the number 4 jersey for this season, his sixth in Minnesota and he will be hoping to have more games where he is heavily involved in the offense, such as when he racked up 205 rushing yards and a touchdown against the Steelers last season.

He hasn’t yet completed a full 17-game NFL season but he has played 41 of 49 games over the last three years, going over 1000 yards each time.

  • Nick Chubb (Cleveland Browns)

I would have rated Chubb third on this list, but I think that the arrival of Deshaun Watson in Cleveland is an example of where a team is going to evolve away from the run and that could harm his stats next season.

Ideally, we’d see Chubb and Watson form a fantastic rushing threat for the Browns, but I can also see there being times where the QB will keep the ball, rather than hand it off and where the offense will go for the pass, rather than handing the ball off to Chubb.

Don’t get me wrong, Chubb is an elite talent in the NFL and I have no doubt the Browns will be seeking to incorporate him in the offense in many different ways, but I do feel his production may decline a little based on the changes made in Cleveland this off season.

  • Christian McCaffrey (Carolina Panthers)

Christian McCaffrey has the talent to be number 1 or number 2 in this list and if he can have a season like he had in 2019, then he will be back up in those lofty positions by the end of this season.

Despite outstanding skill levels, durability has been a problem. McCaffrey has started just 10 games in the last two years out of 33. In 7 games last season, he scored just one rushing touchdown and had the same number of fumbles.

Carolina were awful last season after their 3-0 start and McCaffrey’s absence in a lot of games was a key part of that. If he can stay healthy, expect a bounce-back year from this underrated star.

  • Alvin Kamara (New Orleans Saints)

On his day, Alvin Kamara is as good a running back in the NFL as anybody, but the problem is that he has does have his off days and with just four rushing touchdowns last year, he needs a much better showing this season.

With a new look offense shaping up in New Orleans, Kamara may get that chance to shine. He had more rushing attempts last year than in any previous season with 240, but an average of 3.7 yards per carry was almost a full yard below his next worst average over the season.

The Saints didn’t have a great campaign last year, but I think with the changes that they have made, better times await for Kamara this year.

  • Joe Mixon (Cincinnati Bengals)

Jow Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase may be the reasons why many people felt the Bengals reached the Super Bowl last season but the reason Burrow and Chase can hit so many great passing connections is down to Joe Mixon’s threat out of the backfield.

Mixon has become a key part of the Bengals offense, not only offering a running threat that the defense must counter, but also offering additional blocking for Burrow when he does drop to pass.

A much improved O-line in Cincinnati next season should mean a few more holes for Mixon to punch through and add some extra yards and touchdowns to his resume next year.

  • Austin Ekeler (Los Angeles Chargers)

Justin Herbert’s impressive start in the NFL has been down to his own talent, a solid core of receivers at the Chargers and a genuine threat from the running back position in Austin Ekeler.

Ekeler is a small, fast but deceptively powerful running back who has made the absolute most of his talent since earning a spot in the Chargers roster as an undrafted free agent in 2017.

A genuine threat in the passing game too, Ekeler has more passing than rushing touchdowns (24-21) in his career so far and that flexibility means he is a threat in all facets of the offense.

He is also one of just six NFL players to have achieved the double of 100 yards rushing and 100 yards receiving in a single NFL game (doing so against the Jaguars in 2019). He and Colts Running back Jonathan Taylor led the NFL in touchdowns last season with 20.

  • Najee Harris (Pittsburgh Steelers)

Durability and reliability are keys for running back sin the NFL and nobody played more downs last year during the regular season that the Steelers rookie and he was certainly the standout running back of his rookie class.

With two new quarterback options in Pittsburgh, not to mention two new Wide Receiver from the draft in George Pickens and Calvin Austin, Harris should still carry the burden of the Steelers offense this season

  1. Javonte Williams (Denver Broncos)

One of the most elusive and difficult-to-tackle running backs in the NFL, Williams achieved that status on a Broncos team without a tangible threat at quarterback and often against defenses that were stacked against the run.

With Russell Wilson now under center in Colorado, you should expect to see an increase in production from Williams, even if he lands fewer carries now that the Broncos have a top rated passing quarterback.

Far from seeing a decline in production, Wilson’s arrival could see Williams hit even better form and make a significant impact for the Broncos this season.

Remember, you can bet on plenty of early NFL betting markets at bet365 Sport right now, including many that include boosted odds.

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