2022 Fantasy Football Running Back Busts

by Dennis Sosic
2023 Fantasy Football Zero RB Draft Targets

Welcome Fantasy friends and foes to the 2022 Fantasy Football Running Back Busts.

Locating busts is just as important as finding sleepers in your drafts, especially at the running back position.

Whether you employ the zero RB or hero RB draft philosophy, fantasy managers must avoid the busts that will sink your team.

Prepare for your draft by avoiding these five running backs; while you are at it, look at the RB sleepers to draft.

2022 Fantasy Football Running Back Busts

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Antonio Gibson, RB, Washington Commanders

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With a glance at Antonio Gibson's numbers, fantasy managers are typically drooling at the thought of selecting Gibson. He has scored 21 total touchdowns in the first two seasons of his career. However, his versatility is also a major plus, with 42 receptions for 294 yards and three scores last season. The former Memphis wide receiver is a threat out of the backfield. However, Washington refuses to utilize Gibson exclusively in the pass-catching role. Instead, the Commanders brought back J.D. McKissic, who missed five games last season but still managed to produce 43 receptions for 397 yards and two scores.

The Commanders' backfield got even more crowded when they used a third-round pick on Alabama running back Brian Robinson. Robinson is a power back who should take over the team's short yardage and goal line back.

Both running backs will be utilized to lighten Gibson's workload and also limit his ceiling. Commanders head coach Ron Rivera recently expressed his desire to use a committee approach to Washington's backfield this season. It seems that Gibson is permanently injured, but he has only missed three games in his NFL career, limiting his ability to be an efficient RB. Gibson only had five games in 2021 in which he had more than ten carries and averaged more than 4.0 yards per carry.

Gibson will never have the featured role in Washington, and the running back additions will further that the competition for touches will hamper his ability to reach the production of RB19, where he is currently being drafted.

Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders

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Fantasy managers had to be alarmed when the news broke that the Las Vegas Raiders have declined the fifth-year option for running back Josh Jacobs. Jacobs came off a 2021 season in which he produced a career-high 54 receptions, which ranked fifth among all running backs. He also scored 872 rushing yards and nine total touchdowns, allowing former Alabama running back to finish 13th among running backs in fantasy points per game. Jacobs has missed seven games in his three-season career but has yet to play an entire season due to various injuries.

However, the 2022 season will be drastically different than last season. The Raiders welcome new head coach Josh McDaniels and the best wide receiver in the league in Davante Adams, the former college teammate of  Raiders quarterback Derek Carr.

McDaniels is well-known to love the backfield by committee approach, and the team already designed for a split backfield. The Raiders welcome back Kenyan Drake, who missed the final six games last season due to a fractured right ankle. The team also signed former Patriot Brandon Bolden and drafted rookie Zamir White, who will be groomed as Jacobs' heir apparent.

The Raiders will have a new look offense with Davante Adams reunited with his former college quarterback. Adams will be a focal point of the Raiders' offense, leading to Jacobs' steep decline in any impact in the passing game. He finished as the RB14 based chiefly on his role in the passing game and nine touchdowns. Both roles will be limited to the degree that will not warrant Jacobs being drafted as a top 20 running back this season.

Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints

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Alvin Kamara culminated his worst offensive output in a season by getting arrested for felony battery charges during Pro Bowl weekend. The NFL league office is still investigating the incident, but it suffices to say, Kamara is looking at a multiple-game suspension.

Kamara missed four games due to injury and produced his lowest total yard total (1,337) in his five-year career. Additionally, he also hit his lowest production in yards per carry (3.7),  lowest reception total (47), and receiving yards (439). Of course, some of the downturns can be attributed to losing starting quarterback Jameis Winston seven games into the season. However, he did not look the same type of dominant top-three fantasy back last season.

His impending case opens the door for 33-year-old veteran running back Mark Ingram to step in and be the starter if Kamara misses any game. Ingram has lost many steps at this stage of his NFL career. However, he could be a viable fantasy option in deeper leagues. The Saints also have Tony Jones, who played sporadically last season and doesn't have much fantasy appeal. Malcolm Brown was just signed by the Saints and is just a depth piece for the team and fantasy irrelevant.

The Saints will welcome back Winston behind center and add some weapons around him, including free-agent signee Jarvis Landry and first-round pick Chris Olave. They also help to have a healthy Michael Thomas catching passes again. As a result, Winston will have enough firepower to guide the offense until Kamara returns. However, the question is, how long will Kamara be out? Maybe the bigger question is, are fantasy managers willing to invest their draft capital in Kamara as the RB12? That seems too steep of a price for a descending player who could miss a third of a season.

Elijah Mitchell, RB, San Franciso 49ers

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San Francisco 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell was one of the season's hottest waiver pickups for fantasy managers last season. Mitchell burst upon the fantasy scene after the 49ers running back room was filled with injuries. The Niners lost Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson Jr., and even Trey Sermon throughout the beginning of last season. All Mitchell did was rush for 963 yards, besting Ken Washington's franchise rookie record of 811 yards in 1971.

Mitchell only played in 11 games, but he produced 4.7 yards per carry and five touchdowns in the league's seventh-best rushing attack. He also chipped 19 receptions for 137 yards and a score as the team's three-down back. However, his production can be tied primarily due to his availability when simply the team was desperate for someone to tote the rock.

There is also a concern regarding his durability. Mitchell missed six games due to injuries and even had minor knee surgery during the offseason. In addition, fantasy managers know the upcoming committee approach in the Shanahan coaching tree. Kyle Shanahan has had a different leading rusher in each season with the Niners. The odds are that this season will not break that streak.

Shanahan is determined to utilize the running back by committee approach this season. Along with Mitchell, the Niners will employ Jeff Wilson and third-round rookie Tyrion Davis-Price in running situations along with sophomore Trey Sermon.

The Niners backfield will be a frustrating situation to manage all season. Mitchell is currently being drafted as the RB21, and it's hard to envision biting the bullet at that draft capital. Mitchell is elusive and talented, but a crowded backfield limits his upside. Unless Mitchell somehow drops into the late RB3 vicinity, stay clear of Mitchell in your fantasy drafts.

Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

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Miles Sanders is a huge question mark for fantasy managers heading into their fantasy football drafts. However, Sanders has something to prove in the final year of his rookie deal. Nagging injuries throughout his career has limited Sanders to never starting more than 12 games in a season. In addition, he has only surpassed the 850-yards rushing plateau once in his three-year NFL career.

Sanders didn't have a single touchdown last season, and his scrimmage yards have steadily declined in his three seasons. The Eagles rushed more than any other NFL team last season. Most of that success can be attributed to quarterback Jalen Hurts, averaging 52.3 rushing yards per game and ten rushing scores. The Eagles' offensive line ranks among the best lines in the league and is the strength of their offense.

Plus, Sanders is not alone in the Eagles backfield. Kenneth Gainwell was one of my sleepers this season with the way he produced last season with 33 catches for 253 yards and a score. Gainwell proved quite capable of handling himself in the passing game with his pass-catching and pass-blocking abilities. Shockingly, Boston Scott even chipped in seven rushing touchdowns behind this elite offensive line. Even the ghost of Jordan Howard came in, made a cameo appearance, and scored three touchdowns.

Currently, Sanders carries an RB28 ADP, and it's challenging to envision Sanders putting up numbers to match that draft capital. Yes, positive touchdown regression will result in Sanders not getting shut out this season. However, his role in the Eagles' backfield will be just one part of a rushing offense that will take a hit with Hurts and the rest of the backfield, limiting the ceiling. Additionally,  he is still behind Rashaad Penny and Tony Pollard at his current ADP, making Sanders a running back to bust this season.

Be sure to stay up to date with our 2022 Fantasy Football Draft Kit!

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