2022 Free Agent Rankings: Running Backs

Leonard Fournette

This is Part 2 of our offseason look at the 2022 NFL free agent class, this time for running backs.

Quarterbacks can be found here.

Leonard Fournette RB TB 27 14 623 8 454 1
Melvin Gordon RB DEN 29 16 918 8 213 2
James Conner RB ARZ 26 15 752 15 375 3
Rashaad Penny RB SEA 26 10 749 6 48 0
Sony Michel RB LAR 27 17 845 4 128 1
Chase Edmonds RB ARZ 26 12 592 2 311 0
Cordarrelle Patterson RB ATL 31 16 618 6 548 5
Ronald Jones RB TB 24 16 428 4 64 0
Marlon Mack RB IND 26 6 101 0 8 0
Alex Collins RB SEA 27 11 411 2 87 0

Leonard Fournette – All of Tampa Bay’s running backs are set to hit free agency but it’s Fournette who rightfully attracts the most fantasy attention. Before going down in Week 15, Fournette was posting top-5 fantasy points per game numbers. There would be no better landing spot than for Fournette to re-sign with the Bucs, but he undoubtedly will test the market. Wherever he signs, Fournette is a solid RB2 due to his voluminous role in the passing game.

Melvin Gordon – Even splitting carries with Javonte Williams, Gordon managed to surpass 1,100 scrimmage yards and topped double-digit scores for the fifth time in his last six campaigns. Gordon also averaged 4.5 yards per tote again and snagged 28-of-39 targets. 29 when the season begins, Gordon can still be a productive three-down back and his signing with a new team would be great news for both Gordon and Williams fans.

James Conner – Even though I’m a huge fan and picked Conner to be our Comeback Player of the Year, Conner managed to exceed my lofty expectations with a lofty 18 touchdowns. He certainly deserves to attract plenty of teams as a potential workhorse back but a return to the desert would be the best-case scenario.

Rashaad Penny – Perhaps no player made themselves as much money as Penny did in the final month of the 2021 season.  In Seattle’s final five games, Penny averaged 134.2 rushing yards per game and scored six TDs. He wasn’t asked to catch many passes in Seattle, but Penny flashed the tremendous upside and home-run ability he displayed at San Diego State and may have parlayed his hot streak into a significant contract. With Pete Carroll appearing to be back in Seattle, a reunion would be beneficial for all parties, but expect Penny to test the market, where he could command north of $5-6 million annually.

Sony Michel – The trade that sent Michel to Los Angeles wound up working out well for both the Rams and Michel, who showcased solid feature back skills while subbing in for Darrell Henderson. As the starter, Michel rattled off five straight games with 74-plus rushing yards and caught a career-high 21 passes. With Henderson and Cam Akers back, there may not be room for Michel to return to the Rams but he played well enough to warrant attention as a potential starter for many of the RB-needy teams.

Chase Edmonds – Injuries limited Edmonds to a dozen games and he wound up falling behind James Conner as Arizona’s main back. Still, Edmonds is a plus receiver who excels in space as a weapon too elusive for linebackers to cover. Wherever he signs, Edmonds will probably be utilized in a committee but re-signing in Arizona would be ideal, particularly if Conner were to sign elsewhere.

Cordarrelle Patterson – The Falcons were able to use Patterson brilliantly, leading to a career-best season. As a former wide receiver, that is where Patterson is best, but he can also be a plus returner and red-zone weapon. If Patterson sins with a creative play-caller who knows how to use him, he can remain a solid RB3 but he could also be a significant bust if forced into a scheme that won’t appreciate his skill set.

Ronald Jones – All of Tampa Bay’s backs (except Ke’Shawn Vaughn) are free agents but Jones is highly unlikely to return after falling out of favor with Bruce Arians. In Tampa, Jones would flash upside as a runner and receiver but could never quite take control of the backfield. There’s enough there to consider Jones a decent sleeper if he takes over as a team’s starter but he’s likely looking at a one or two-year “prove it” contract.

Marlon Mack – Speaking of falling out of favor, Mack surpassed 1,000 scrimmage yards and scored 18 touchdowns in 2018-19 but found himself as a healthy scratch for most of the 2021 season behind Jonathan Taylor. Just 26 in March, Mack has battled injuries but also showcased a three-down skill set in his first three seasons. He’ll likely sign a modest contract to mix into a committee but don’t discount Mack as a potential sleeper for ‘zero RB’ drafters to target in the latter rounds of drafts.

Alex Collins – Injuries have always been an issue for Collins and will likely force him to sign a modest contract as an RB2. He can chip in as a runner and pass-catcher but only had one game with over 50 rushing yards in Seattle. Collins looks destined to sign a short-term deal as a veteran contributor who could fill in when called upon.

Phillip Lindsay RB MIA 27 14 249 1 45 1
Jeff Wilson RB SF 26 9 294 2 31 0
Raheem Mostert RB SF 30 1 20 0 0 0
J.D. McKissic RB WAS 28 11 212 2 397 2
James White RB NE 30 3 38 1 94 0
Darrel Williams RB KC 27 17 558 6 452 2
Justin Jackson RB LAC 26 14 364 2 178 0
Royce Freeman RB HOU 26 15 169 0 77 0
Matt Breida RB BUF 27 9 125 1 72 2
Tevin Coleman RB NYJ 29 11 356 0 49 0

Phillip Lindsay – Lindsay was an anomaly, going from un-drafted free agent to posting consecutive 1000-yard seasons to open his career. Since then, the Broncos and Texans have given up on Lindsay, who was also used sparingly in Miami. He’s still only 27, so there is still time to rekindle some of that early magic.

Jeff Wilson – A solid short-yardage option, Wilson has battled injuries and will likely be destined for committee duties but offers enough upside that he remains a viable late-round target in most fantasy drafts.

Raheem Mostert – Wilson’s teammate in San Francisco, Mostert has also had trouble staying on the field and the emergence of Elijah Mitchell means Mostert will likely be playing elsewhere in 2022. It’s fair to wonder if Mostert is anything more than a system runner and turning 30 before the season, his days of being a prominent late-round fantasy sleeper are likely over.

J.D. McKissic – Predictably, McKissic didn’t come close to duplicating his terrific 2020 numbers but he did still haul in 43 receptions and scored a career-high four touchdowns on 91 touches over 11 games. He can certainly contribute as a change-of-pace and third-down back and still has some modest late-round appeal if he lands in a fantasy-friendly offense.

James White – Another pass-catching specialist, White’s fantasy fortune is likely tied to re-signing with the Patriots. A fractured hip cost White 14 games but in the two full tilts he played, he caught 12-of-13 targets. Should he return for a 9th season with Bill Belichick, White would be a tremendous late-round target for PPR drafters.

Best of the Rest

Peyton Barber RB LV 28 10 212 2 67 0
Devonta Freeman RB BAL 30 16 576 5 190 1
Malcolm Brown RB MIA 29 7 125 1 10 0
Damien Williams RB CHI 30 12 164 2 103 1
Latavius Murray RB BAL 32 14 501 6 75 0
Brandon Bolden RB NE 32 17 226 1 405 2
David Johnson RB HOU 30 13 228 0 225 1
Wayne Gallman RB MIN 27 8 104 0 21 0
Salvon Ahmed RB MIA 23 12 149 0 117 0
Giovani Bernard RB TB 30 12 58 0 123 3

This tier is mostly filled with aging veteran who could fill-in but their best days are certainly in the past. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see several of these aging veterans remain unsigned well into August.

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About Jody Smith 488 Articles
With over a decade of winning experience, Jody is a well-known fixture in the fantasy football community. He was named Fantasy Pros’ **Most Accurate Ranker** previously and was the site’s Top NFL over/under totals picker with a record 65% accuracy in 2020, while also ranking 5th in the country with a 55% against-the-spread hit rate. Jody has written for many sites over the years including Pro Football Focus, FantasyPros, CBS Sportsline, FantasyData, and is a regular contributor to the Fantasy Index magazine expert’s poll, draft, and auction. Jody’s experience ranking and projecting player performance will help prepare the Fulltime Fam for their big draft days as well as answers they can trust on Sunday for those ever crucial Who Do I Start questions.