clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Four Running Backs to Avoid in Fantasy Football Drafts

Jeff Pratt breaks down four running backs to avoid in fantasy football drafts ahead of the 2022 NFL season.

NFL: AFC Wild Card-Las Vegas Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to the second installment of my fantasy football series ahead of the 2022 NFL season. If you haven’t read my top five steals article yet, you can find it here.

For today’s article, we’re taking a look at some potential busts at the running back position. Whether it’s due to a bad situation, injury concerns, or an inflated ADP (Average Draft Position), these are four backs you should avoid in fantasy drafts this year.

Without further ado, let’s get right into it.

Josh Jacobs

NFL: Hall of Fame Game-Jacksonville Jaguars at Las Vegas Raiders Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Poor Josh Jacobs.

I’m not sure what else he could have done in his first three years with the Raiders to earn their trust and respect. Just look at these stats:

Jacobs has served as a legitimate workhorse for Las Vegas since entering the league. He’s carried the ball at a relatively efficient rate despite the gaping deficiencies in the offensive line. He hasn’t missed many games, and he’s improved every season as a receiver out of the backfield.

Jacobs has given the Raiders just about everything he could. I don’t think most people understand the toll that 273 carries takes on someone’s body throughout the course of a season.

So, how did Vegas reward Jacobs for his impressive efforts as the team’s bell-cow?

They declined his fifth-year option.

Not only that, but Josh McDaniels made it abundantly clear what the team thinks of the 24-year-old by not only starting him in the irrelevant Hall of Fame Game, but continuing to play him throughout the contest.

It looks like the Raiders are going to utilize their backfield depth this season. Fourth-round rookie Zamir White could see plenty of touches, and whoever makes the roster between Ameer Abdullah and Kenyan Drake — assuming one gets cut — will see the field quite a bit.

At this point, it’s too risky to take Jacobs at his current redraft ADP in the third or fourth round.

Josh Jacobs’ DraftKings best ball ranking is currently 51.

Miles Sanders

NFL: NFC Wild Card Playoffs-Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

This one is pretty obvious.

If you’ve been following my fantasy content for a while, my disdain for Sanders from a fantasy perspective is clear as day. In real life, I think he’s a talented player that hasn’t been utilized correctly by the Eagles.

The main problem with Sanders is well-known... the guy just can’t get into the end zone. The fourth-year back has scored 12 times in his NFL career, but laid a goose egg last season.

Outside of the touchdown deficiencies, there are a few other factors working against Sanders’ fantasy prospects right now.

The first issue is injuries. Over the last two years, Sanders has missed nine total games. It reached a point in 2021 where Philly clearly didn’t believe in his ability to stay on the field, and it’s fair to assume that the same lack of trust will remain this year.

With Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott breathing down Sanders’ neck as capable options, it’s hard to feel confident in the 25-year-old right now. Don’t forget to factor Jalen Hurts’ rushing ability into the equation either.

Fading Sanders until proven otherwise is the right decision.

Miles Sanders’ DraftKings best ball ranking is currently 81.

Damien Harris

NFL: Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

If you’ve already read my fantasy steals article, you know that Rhamondre Stevenson appears on the list.

As a result, it only makes sense that I’m avoiding Harris this season. I firmly believe that Stevenson is the guy to draft from this backfield, especially factoring in both of their ADPs.

Considering how the Patriots drafted earlier this year — taking Pierre Strong in the fourth round and Kevin Harris in the sixth — it feels like New England is preparing to let the Alabama product walk next offseason.

On one hand, that’s a bit disappointing. During his time with the Patriots, Harris has bought into the system and embodied Bill Belichick’s team-first mentality. That being said, New England doesn’t pay running backs, and Stevenson is clearly a more enticing prospect than Harris at this stage in their respective careers.

For those who haven’t followed Pats training camp, Stevenson has emerged as the top pass-catching option in James White’s absence.

Not only does this limit Harris’ fantasy upside, but Stevenson is also likely to eat into his carries this season. Don’t be surprised if the two see almost an equal split on the ground.

Belichick also said the following to reporters earlier this week:

While Harris will likely remain a solid factor in New England’s offense, his fifth-round ADP and lack of receiving upside should make you steer clear of him in drafts.

Damien Harris’ DraftKings best ball ranking is currently 72.

J.K. Dobbins

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Washington Football Team Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Dobbins is such an easy player to root for, and I’d love to see him break out this season. Unfortunately, there are simply too many things to be worried about with the Ohio State product in 2022.

The obvious concern is his health. Dobbins has gone back and forth with reporters about the state of his rehab following an ACL tear last year. Those familiar with the situation claim that he may hit the PUP list at the start of the season, but the player himself is adamant that he’ll be ready by Week 1.

Dobbins’ health is a bit of a mystery, and this wasn’t exactly the most optimistic report from Jim Harbaugh on Thursday:

Putting his injury concerns aside, there are other solid players in Baltimore’s backfield this year. Gus Edwards is obviously returning from an injury himself, but Mike Davis is also a capable rusher.

Even if Dobbins separates himself from the pack, his worst enemy from a fantasy perspective is his quarterback. Lamar Jackson has never rushed less than 133 times in a season, and there’s no reason to expect that to change in 2022.

Taking all of those factors into consideration, along with Dobbins’ surprisingly-high fourth-round redraft ADP, it’s probably best to avoid him in drafts this year.

J.K. Dobbins’ DraftKings best ball ranking is currently 58.

Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game.

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (IL/IN/MI/NJ/PA/WV/WY), 1-800-NEXT STEP (AZ), 1-800-522-4700 (CO/NH), 888-789-7777/visit (CT), 1-800-BETS OFF (IA), 1-877-770-STOP (7867) (LA), 877-8-HOPENY/text HOPENY (467369) (NY), visit (OR), call/text TN REDLINE 1-800-889-9789 (TN), ConnexOntario 1-866-531-2600 (ONT), or 1-888-532-3500 (VA).

21+ (18+ NH/WY; 19+ ONT). Physically present in AZ/CO/CT/IL/IN/IA/LA/MI/NH/NJ/NY/ONT/OR/PA/TN/VA/WV/WY only. Eligibility restrictions apply. See for full terms and conditions. DraftKings operates pursuant to an Operating Agreement with iGaming Ontario. Please play responsibly.