2022 Fantasy Football Running Back Sleepers

by Dennis Sosic
2022 Fantasy Football Running Back Sleepers

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

Every Fantasy manager wants to walk out of their Fantasy drafts feeling like the most brilliant Fantasy manager in the room. They review their newly created roster and brag endlessly about their ability to draft and obtain value.

But, more importantly, they shout out the players that are sleepers that they believe will be league winners, and only that manager knows who those sleepers will be.

Find out which six running back sleepers could rise to be league winners, and you should have qued up during your drafts in the 2022 Fantasy Football Running Back Sleepers.

2022 Fantasy Football Running Back Sleepers

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Kenneth Gainwell, Philadelphia Eagles

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Kenneth Gainwell has the ideal mix of potential and production for the modern NFL. His receiving ability and usage with 7.7 yards per reception rank 12th among running backs. As a 2021 rookie, Gainwell gained 544 scrimmage yards and six total touchdowns.

Gainwell looks to take a step forward this season with Miles Sanders entering his contract year. He will likely take over as the RB1 next season for the Philadelphia Eagles. However, it would not be that shocking if that torch didn't get passed this season. Sanders can't seem to stay healthy or that productive, and the running back depth chart looks dismal beyond Sanders and Gainwell.

The Eagles' offense should be improved with the addition of wide receiver AJ Brown and the continuing development of quarterback Jalen Hurts. The evolvement of the offense begins with Gainwell having a more prominent role in the offense and making a significant fantasy impact in 2022.

Khalil Herbert, Chicago Bears

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The Chicago Bears backfield could turn into one of those dreaded running back committees. The Bears will have a new offensive coordinator in Luke Getsy, the quarterback's coach with the Green Bay Packers, for the past several seasons. The Packers' dynamic duo in the backfield could provide a sample size for a similar touch ratio in Chicago with starter David Montgomery and second-year back Khalil Herbert.

Herbert exploded in the fantasy scene as a rookie last season when David Montgomery was injured and missed a handful of games. Herbert looked incredible in Week 7 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense. He finished with 100 yards rushing on 18 attempts and caught all five of his targets for additional 33 yards.

The Bears are gearing up for a ground-heavy approach to protect sophomore quarterback Justin Fields. Herbert should shine in the new offensive scheme emphasizing speed and receiving ability.

Herbert will not unseat Montgomery as the RB1 in Chicago. However, he will outperform Montgomery as he did last season. His abilities should lend themselves to having Herbert be a 1B in the Bears offense and provide excellent fantasy value this season.

Jerick McKinnon, Kansas City Chiefs

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The Kansas City Chiefs signed Jerick McKinnon in a one-year prove-it deal before last season. McKinnon proved his value in the 2022 playoff run. He averaged 4.41 yards per carry, caught 14 passes for 165 yards, and one score in three playoff games. His postseason performance gave the Chiefs backfield life down the stretch.

After not finding a deal in the open market, McKinnon returns to the Chiefs this season. Clyde Edwards-Helaire claims he is healthy and ready to surprise people this season.  The Chiefs did add Ronald Jones from Tampa Bay to add to the running back room. However, McKinnon is still a sleeper this season in a Chiefs offense looking for playmakers.

The Chiefs traded wide receiver Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins this offseason. The trade left a massive hole in a Chiefs offense that strives off the playmaking ability of quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs added weapons this offseason in wide receivers Juju Smith-Schuster, and Marquez Valdez-Scandling and drafted Skyy Moore. All newcomers to the Chiefs offense will need time to develop chemistry.

The uncertainty of the Chiefs' backfield should lead fantasy managers not to invest significant draft capital on CEH and Jones. Still, they should turn to McKinnon, who can surprise many with a role in a Chiefs offense looking for an identity. McKinnon is currently being selected as the RB81, which is an absolute steal in all PPR formats.

Rhamondre Stevenson, New England Patriots

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It took over half a season for Rhamondre Stevenson to escape the Bill Belichick doghouse. Finally, however, Stevenson displayed why he is the most talented running back in the Patriots backfield. Stephenson gained 606 yards and five touchdowns on 133 carries and added 123 yards on 14 receptions last season.

Damien Harris led the Patriots in rushing yards (929) and touchdowns (15), but Stevenson matched his output after Week 9 and finished only eight spots behind Harris during that span. No one knows who will run the offense in New England, but one player whose availability is in question is James White. White is coming off a hip injury that resulted in the veteran playing only three games last season. With White already placed on the PUP list, this opens the door for Stevenson to handle an increased role in the Patriots' offense.

Additionally, Harris has durability issues, evidenced in the former Alabama running back playing 27 games since entering the league in 2019. He is on an expiring contract, so he will likely play elsewhere in 2023. The increased touches for Stevenson will result in Stevenson being a considerable value for fantasy managers. Currently, he is being as the RB37 while Harris is going RB28. The ROI for Stevenson provides winning ammo for fantasy managers and is the running back to target heavily in the draft range.

Rachaad White, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers plucked running back Rachaad White in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft. White has an opportunity to earn a significant role as a rookie in the Bucs backfield. He is explosive and is a big-play machine who should assume the third-down/receiving back role as early as the 2022 season.

With Ronald Jones out of the Bucs backfield, the running back depth chart behind Leonard Fournette is there for the taking. However, White should catapult the depth chart directly into the pass-catching role in a high-volume passing attack led by the goat, Tom Brady.

The former Sun Devil running back is drafted in the ideal spot in Tampa Bay. Fournette is dealing with weight issues this preseason but is coming off a terrific season in which he produced 1,266 scrimmage yards and ten scores. If Fournette were forced to miss any games, White would be a waiver wire gem, and he will possess possible league-winning upside.

Darrel Williams, Arizona Cardinals

Darrel Williams enjoyed a breakthrough season for the Kansas City Chiefs last season. With Clyde Edwards-Helaire either on the injury report or disappointing, Williams rushed for 558 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. More impressively, the former LSU back added career-highs with 47 receptions, 452 receiving yards, and two more scores. Williams finished top five in receiving yards and yards per reception among running backs last season.

Williams finished his fourth season in Kansas City and was an essential role player in the Chiefs backfield.  However, the Chiefs could not agree to terms with Williams, so he hit free agency for the first time in his career.

The offseason departure of running back Chase Edmonds left a gaping hole as a role player in the Arizona Cardinals backfield alongside James Conner. Conner is coming off a career season. He tied for second in the NFL with 15 rushing touchdowns and was rewarded with a three-year extension.

The remainder of the Cardinals' running back depth chart looked bleak with 2022 sixth-rounder Keaontay Ingram and former seventh-round pick Eno Benjamin. However, Williams steps directly into a role in the Cardinals' offense that should pay fantasy dividends as the backup behind Conner.  He will also produce plenty in an explosive Cardinals offense led by quarterback Kyler Murray.

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

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