College Football Draft Kit: 2022 Running Back Fantasy Rankings

College Football Draft Kit: 2022 Running Back Fantasy Rankings

This article is part of our College Football Draft Kit series.

For our next installment of our College Fantasy Football Draft Kit, we're diving into the running back position. Our staff of writers has penned outlooks for our top-ranked backs this season. Texas' Bijan Robinson headlines our list after displaying rare talent over the last two years and with the Longhorn offense expected to reach another level this year, we expect Robinson to do the same. Our Top 36 list is a varied one featuring players from Alabama to Wyoming and everywhere in between, including a certain freshman who is getting set to change the run game in Happy Valley. Below you'll find all of our other college football content to get you ready for the upcoming season. 

2022 College Fantasy Football Draft Kit

2022 College Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs

1.) Bijan Robinson, Texas

There is nothing Robinson cannot do. Whether it's running between the tackles, bouncing it outside and weaving through traffic, or catching passes, Robinson is the complete package. He averaged 5.8 yards per carry on nearly 20 carries per game last season with 11 scores and added 26 grabs for 295 yards and four touchdowns on 33 targets. With it being Year 2 in the Sarkisian offense and an upgrade at quarterback incoming, there could be even more room for Robinson to operate, and that's a scary proposition for anyone facing a manager with him on their roster this fall. -John McKechnie

2.) Lew Nichols, Central Michigan

The reigning fantasy RB1 is set to defend his crown but it's tough to hold onto the throne when the position is as deep as it is at the top this year. He took on an FBS-leading 341 carries and added 40 receptions on top of that to total 2,186 yards from scrimmage and 18 touchdowns. His volume was directly linked to Kobe Lewis' absence, but Lewis is no longer the threat to Nichols he was earlier in the offseason as he has since entered the transfer portal. With Lewis gone, there's little reason to think Nichols can't push for the FBS lead in carries once again. Tack on Nichols' pass-catching ability (40 receptions, 338 yards, 2 TD) and there's reason to believe he can repeat as the fantasy RB1. -John McKechnie

3.) Deuce Vaughn, Kansas State

Despite being an undersized back at just 5-foot-6, 176 pounds, Vaughn is effective as both a runner and a receiver, averaging 6.0 yards per carry while reeling in 49 passes, good for fifth among running backs in the FBS ranks. His lack of size can be slightly concerning in terms of potential for injury, but Vaughn didn't miss a game last season and handled 20-plus totes in four of the last six contests. He has a dual-threat transfer and three-year starter in Adrian Martinez is set to take over for Skylar Thompson, so the Wildcats should have a similar backfield makeup. -Chris Benzine

4.) TreVeyon Henderson, Ohio State

Henderson was among the most hyped freshman running backs in 2021 and proved why, eventually wrestling away lead-back duties en route to 183 rushes for 1,248 yards and 15 rushing scores. That doesn't mention his 27 catches for 312 yards and another four scores. With him set in stone as the team's lead back ahead of 2022 and the team's two-star wideouts in Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson moving to the NFL ranks, Henderson could have a star season in store as part of one of college football's most dynamic offenses. -Chris Benzine

5.) Rasheen Ali, Marshall  

Perhaps the most under-the-radar nationally that ranks this high for us, Ali finished third in the nation in fantasy points among running backs as a redshirt freshman last season. Rushing volume? Check. He took on 250 carries and scored 23 touchdowns. Pass catching work? Check. 46 catches on 57 targets. The touchdowns will likely regress and the offense will be worse overall without Grant Wells at quarterback, but Ali remains the engine of this offense. Ali's talent with that many touches against a soft schedule will keep him as a top 10 back in 2022. -John McKechnie

6.) Sean Tucker, Syracuse

Tucker's 2020 freshman season was impressive too, but his sophomore season last year was memorable. Tucker took on a huge volume burden for Syracuse, taking 246 carries in an offense where the second-leading RB had just 17, and he still managed to maintain an explosive rushing average of 6.1 yards per carry. Tucker will be hard-pressed to improve on 1,496 yards and 12 touchdowns in 12 games, but even if he regresses slightly he would still likely finish the 2022 season as one of the nation's most productive running backs. -Mario Puig

7.) Jordan Mims, Fresno State

Four years went by and for each of them Mims was thwarted by the presence of Fresno legend Ronnie Rivers, but Rivers is off to the NFL and Mims might finally be Fresno's featured back in this fifth season. Mims has flashed standout pass-catching ability throughout his career and showed considerable upside as a runner at certain points in 2021. In a high-scoring offense with a strong passing game regularly propelling them into scoring range, Mims could be one of the top college fantasy football backs of 2022. -Mario Puig

8.) Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama

Georgia Tech averaged 5.3 yards per play last season. Gibbs averaged 6.8 yards per touch. Put another way, if the ball wasn't in Gibbs' hands, the play probably wasn't going anywhere. Now he gets to be unleashed at Alabama, where defenses will have to worry about Bryce Young and a loaded receiving corps in addition to Gibbs. It's unlikely that Gibbs gets the 271 carries that went to Brian Robinson last season given his slighter frame and Alabama's backfield depth, but the prized transfer will be explosive on a per-carry basis with plenty of catches and touchdowns to boot. -John McKechnie

9.) Titus Swen, Wyoming

It's no secret that Wyoming loves to run the ball and with Xazavian Valladay gone, Swen should have a huge slice of the rushing pie this fall. Swen impressed as Valladay's backup last season with 785 yards (5.95 YPC) and a team-high seven touchdowns. The volume ceiling for Swen is massive. Not only did Wyoming run it 63 percent of the time last year (8th), but the 'Pokes also lost their starting quarterback and top receiver. The run-heavy scheme is baked in and no other Wyoming back had more than 17 rushes last year. This is Swen's backfield and 300 carries is possible. -John McKechnie

10.) Zach Charbonnet, UCLA

After largely falling out of the running back rotation at Michigan in 2020, Charbonnet returned to his home state to play for the Bruins in 2021 and found immediate success, handling a team-high 203 carries for 1,137 yards and 13 rushing scores. He also finished third on the team in receptions (24), proving he can contribute in both facets of the offense. With his primary backfield challenger in Brittain Brown and the team's top two pass catchers moving on from the group, Charbonnet could be lined up for an even more prominent role this season. -Chris Benzine

11.) Zach Evans, Mississippi

Evans is one of the most talented backs in the game but his potential has yet to be unlocked after two promising but frustrating seasons at TCU marred by injuries and confusing usage from the coaching staff. He now gets to lead the backfield in a more explosive Ole Miss offense that could skew a bit more towards the run with Matt Corral gone. Fellow transfer Ulysses Bentley will see work, too, but Evans is the top option in this backfield and his talent is such that he's worth betting on despite having never handled more than 100 carries in a season to this point. -John McKechnie

12.) Travis Dye, USC

USC signing high-profile transfers like Jordan Addison and Caleb Williams overshadowed the Dye addition from Oregon, though the former Duck running back is far from an afterthought in the fantasy landscape this season. He's set to take over the top role in an offense that is less run-heavy than his previous system, but also projects to be more explosive on a per-play basis and the threat USC poses in the passing game should lead to lighter boxes for Dye. Even if Dye's volume slides a bit, he's still a strong bet to reach over 1,000 yards and 10-plus touchdowns. -John McKechnie

13.) Braelon Allen, Wisconsin

A bruising back at 6-foot-2 and 238 pounds, Allen entered 2021 as the presumed third or fourth-string running back. Things all changed with Jalen Berger's dismissal and season-ending injuries for Isaac Guerendo and Chez Mellusi moving him into a workhorse role. Allen finished with 1,219 yards and 11 rushing scores over the last nine games. While Mellusi and Guerendo's returns to the mix could scale back the team's reliance on Allen, he should remain the featured option in an offense that sported the nation's fifth-highest run play rate (64.0 percent) last season. -Chris Benzine

14.) Blake Corum, Michigan  

Corum's spent the last two campaigns working behind Hassan Haskins a whopping 270 times (49 percent carry share last season). With Haskins out of the picture, it could be Corum's turn to lead The Wolverines' backfield. The junior averaged 6.61 yards per carry a season ago, good for 10th best in the country among runners with at least 100 carries. Corum's next challenger in the backfield will be Donovan Edwards, but Corum should receive first crack at lead duties for a backfield that boasted a 58.4 run play percentage (23rd in FBS) last season. -Chris Benzine

15.) Devon Achane, Texas A&M

After splitting time with Isaiah Spiller for the last two years, Achane is set to take over the Aggie backfield. Achane has track speed on the football field and it shows with a 7.4 YPC mark and 13 touchdowns over 173 career carries. He also produced in the passing game in 2021 with 24 catches for 261 yards and a score. At 185 pounds he may not have the frame for much more than 200 carries in the SEC but his big-play ability is among the best in the nation. Achane projects for double-digit touchdowns and with his per-carry efficiency, he's among the top fantasy backs in 2022. -John McKechnie

16.) Mohamed Ibrahim, Minnesota  

It's not clear where he's at in his recovery or what's a fair expectation, but Ibrahim's 2022 forecast simply depends on his health as he attempts to return from an Achilles' tendon tear that ended his 2021 season in Week 1. Ibrahim established himself as one of the nation's most productive running backs before that, running for 1,000-plus yards in two of the three prior seasons, including an especially memorable 2020 where he ran for 1,076 yards and 15 touchdowns in just seven games. Hopefully, that same player steps on the field in Week 1 of 2022. -Chris Benzine

17.) DeWayne McBride, UAB

McBride entered 2021 as an appealing sleeper after averaging nearly 10.0 YPC in a shortened 2020 and he delivered for his backers by rushing for 1,368 yards and 13 scores. 2021 got off to a rocky start for McBride when he lost two fumbles in the opener against an FCS opponent, leading to workload concerns. He got on track midseason and averaged 17.6 carries at a 7.9 YPC clip over the last seven games and 12 of his touchdowns came in that span. UAB is one of the most run-heavy offenses (61%) in the nation and McBride is at the forefront of it. Just don't expect any receiving production. -John McKechnie

18.) Tavion Thomas, Utah

Thomas is looking to build on his 2021 breakout as he enters the year as the unquestioned starter following his 204-carry, 1,108-yard, 21-touchdown campaign. His first month was uneven with 21 total carries but he took over down the stretch with 974 yards and 19 scores in his final nine games. Utah runs the ball 57 percent of the time, one of the highest clips in the country. Thomas' workload will be strong again this year and with Utah expected to be a high-scoring offense yet again (36.1 PPG), Thomas' touchdown regression may not be as harsh as expected. -John McKechnie

19.) Chase Brown, Illinois

Brown headed the Illini's rushing attack in 2021 under first-year coach Bret Bielema, whose offenses typically portend to a heavy reliance on the ground game. While he wasn't quite a bell cow, accounting for 45 percent of the team's carries last season, Brown did average 17 totes per game and topped 1,000 rushing yards (1,005) for the first time in his career. He should remain at the head of the backfield mix for Illinois entering 2022, with Josh McCray likely his second-in-command, but the run-heavy approach should lead to plenty of available carries. -Chris Benzine

20.) Tank Bigsby, Auburn

Bigsby's first season in the new offense provided some important details. On the positive end, Bigsby's workload ballooned from 138 to 223 carries and he cracked the 1,000-yard mark on the ground. He also corralled 21 of 29 targets. However, his efficiency dropped from 6.0 YPC to 4.9. This could be due in part to growing pains in a new system, but it could also be due to Auburn having shoddy offensive line play. A new quarterback this season could either unlock the offense or crater it. Bigsby is a legit talent, but the team context and tough schedule make him risky at his early ADP.

21.) Braydon Bennett, Coastal Carolina

Bennett was the third running back for Coastal Carolina in 2021, seeing less usage than lead back Shermari Jones and RB2 Reese White but proving more explosive than either with 8.6 yards per carry. That usage pattern could be due to Bennett's skinny frame – at a listed 6-foot-2, 190 pounds he's some 30 pounds lighter than Jones – but Jones graduated and it's on Bennett to step up. Look for Bennett's new contributions to often occur by the pass as Coastal tries to replace star pass catchers Jaivon Heiligh and Isaiah Likely. -Mario Puig

22.)  Keaton Mitchell, East Carolina

There's only so much volume Mitchell can take on at a listed 5-foot-9, 188 pounds, which led East Carolina to calling nearly as many run plays for Rahjai Harris (164) as Mitchell (174), even though Mitchell averaged nearly three full yards more per carry than Harris. If East Carolina changes that approach and feeds Mitchell more work then he could post mammoth numbers, but in the meantime, there's reason to think his touches from scrimmage per game will be held under 20 again. -Mario Puig

23.) Will Shipley, Clemson

Shipley was one of the few bright spots on an otherwise dreadful Clemson offense in 2021, running for 738 yards (5.0 YPC) and 11 touchdowns while securing 16 of 24 targets for 116 yards despite battling through some injuries. Clemson has too much talent to stagnate on offense again in 2022, even if it takes a quarterback change to unlock that potential. Shipley was a five-star recruit who produced amid suboptimal circumstances and a breakout is coming. He can push for well over 1,000 yards on the ground this year and there's untapped potential in Shipley as a pass-catcher. -John McKechnie

24.) Jabari Small, Tennessee

Small will reprise his role as the lead running back and should have even more opportunities in 2022 for the Volunteers due to the transfer of Tiyon Evans. Evans rushed for 525 yards and six touchdowns last year but ultimately decided to take his talents to Louisville. Meanwhile, Small rushed for 792 yards and nine touchdowns last season on nearly double the carries. However, Small still averaged a stellar 5.7 yards per tote. Jaylen Wright will also remain in the fold, as well as sophomore Len'Neth Whitehead. Quarterback Hendon Hooker returns to Knoxville and ran for 620 yards and five touchdowns as well. In other words, Small will carry the bulk of the load, but other ballcarriers will still be involved, which could limit his ceiling overall. -Jesse Siegel

25.) Chris Rodriguez, Kentucky

Rodriguez was arrested in May for careless driving and driving under the influence, so a suspension could affect his availability for the 2022 season. When on the field Rodriguez is one of the nation's most dangerous pure runners, making little impact as a receiver (13 receptions in four years) but breezing past triple-digit rushing yardage most weeks (1,379 rushing yards in 13 games in 2021). Rodriguez will need to show better ball security, though, after fumbling five times last year, so between that and the potential suspension there is some risk here. - Mario Puig

26.) Sean Tyler, Western Michigan

Tyler faces workload limitations due to both his small frame (5-foot-8, 185 pounds) and the presence of teammate bruiser back La'Darius Jefferson, but when he's on the field Tyler is one of the country's most productive running backs. He has a career rushing average of 6.3 yards per carry and was even better than that in 2021, when he ran for 1,150 yards and nine touchdowns on just 178 carries (6.5 YPC). It's possible the Broncos lean more on Tyler in 2021 as they try to replace their quarterback (Kaleb Eleby) and star wideout (Skyy Moore). -Mario Puig

27.) Raheim Sanders, Arkansas

Arkansas has a deep stable of running backs, which can make drafters shy away from spending an early-round pick on any of them. Sanders is a good bet to take over the lead role, however, and should be drafted as such. Known by many as "Rocket," Sanders ran for 578 yards and five scores as a freshman despite competing for carries. At least two other backs will see significant work, but Sanders should lead the way and in Arkansas' run-heavy scheme (9th in run play rate), there's enough volume here for a member of a committee to still post consistent fantasy production. - John McKechnie

28.) Taye McWilliams, Baylor

The Bears are losing a whopping 74 percent of their rushing production from 2021 with Abram Smith and Trestan Ebner off to the NFL. All signs point to McWilliams being the next man up. He was utterly explosive in limited work last season with 17 carries for 181 yards and two touchdowns over three games. It also helps that Baylor is now decidedly run-heavy, having run the ball at the 18th-highest rate in FBS last year. McWilliams exited spring atop the depth chart and assuming he holds the job coming out of fall camp, he will be startable in all formats. -John McKechnie

29.) Dominic Richardson, Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State has flipped its script of late, going from a prolific pass-first offense to a ground-and-pound outfit that ranked 25th in rushing play percentage in 2021. With Spencer Sanders still at quarterback, that will continue in 2022. Jaylen Warren is gone and now Richardson stands to lead this backfield. His career 4.8 YPC mark doesn't jump out, but his 169-yard, three-touchdown game against Baylor in 2020 shows his upside when he gets steady work. If nothing else, Richardson projects for a bankable workload in a run-heavy offense, making him a solid RB2 or FLEX. -John McKechnie

30.) Chris Tyree, Notre Dame

Tyree has been a productive running back in his two seasons at Notre Dame, accumulating a total of 841 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, but he has always been in the shadow of Kyren Williams. Last season, Williams had more rushing yards than the next ten best rushers combined on the Fighting Irish's offense, so with his decision to go pro, Tyree should see his action on the field increase exponentially. With fellow top running back Logan Diggs undergoing shoulder surgery in April, the depth of the running back position may be uncertain, but Tyree will surely be at the top of that list. -Alexa Rappaport

31.) Jaylan Knighton, Miami

Knighton has struggled as a runner through two years, averaging under four yards per carry in that span, but he stands out more easily as a pass catcher and in any case did something to earn the trust of the Miami coaches, who made Knighton their lead runner ahead of other qualified candidates last year. The problem for Knighton is he's unlikely to turn into a highly efficient runner overnight, and his workload might otherwise be limited due to Miami's backfield depth. If he does improve his rushing production, though, it could propel a breakout year. - Mario Puig

32.) Donovan Edwards, Michigan

Edwards is primed to emerge into a larger role heading into his sophomore season with Michigan. The former top-100 recruit was relegated to a very limited role as a rusher behind primary backs Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum in 2021; though, Edwards did finish as Michigan's fifth-leading receiver with 265 yards on 20 catches over 27 targets last season. With Haskins departed for the NFL, Edwards will still likely slot in behind Corum in Michigan's pecking order at running back. The Wolverines leaned back into the ground game this past season and will return three of their five starting offensive lineman while also welcoming highly coveted center Olusegun Oluwatimi via the transfer portal. Therefore, the Wolverines should once again figure to utilize a prolific rushing offense while relying on one of the Big Ten's most dynamic running-back duos between Corum and Edwards. -Ryan Wollersheim

33.) Nate Noel, Appalachian State

It's increasingly rare in the transfer portal era to find two stars at the same position willing to share carries in the name of helping the team, but that's what Appalachian State has in Noel and backfield mate Camerun Peoples. While Peoples is more of the known quantity, Noel was the breakout star last season, running for 1,128 yards and four touchdowns. The Miami native still figures to rack up great yardage numbers this season, but the goal line touches will likely go to the bigger Peoples, which limits Noel's fantasy value. Still, with the Mountaineers' passing game suffering losses at the wide receiver position, Noel could potentially be leaned on even more to make hay. -Trevor Popoff

34.) Pat Garwo, Boston College

With starting quarterback Phil Jurkovec out for the majority of the season in 2021, Garwo became the main source of offense. Despite being the focus of defenses Garwo still managed to put up over 1,000 yards rushing with 5.1 yards per carry for the season. With Jurkovec back for the 2022 season defenses should be forced to play more honest, opening things up for Garwo on the ground, and allowing him to have an even bigger season this year. -Jake Blanchard

35.) Camar Wheaton, SMU

Wheaton is the wild card on this list but there's reason to believe he's deserving of being on it. A consensus five-star in 2021, Wheaton did not get on the field in his freshman season at Alabama due in part to a meniscus injury. He now becomes one of the most talented players on SMU, let alone in its backfield. Now, SMU will likely stay pass-happy under Rhett Lashlee, but Wheaton should see a heavy share of the rushing work available and should have explosive per-carry production against AAC defenses. Wheaton is the SMU back to target even if Tre Siggers still has a role. -John McKechnie

36.) Nicholas Singleton, Penn State

Our highest-rated true freshman, Singleton has a chance to be a fantasy force right away. The consensus No.1 back in the 2022 class, Singleton enters a backfield that is sorely in need of a go-to player after combining for 1,150 yards on 3.9 YPC last year. The second-leading rusher, Noah Cain, is gone, so there is ample opportunity up for grabs. It's unfair to lob Saquon Barkley comparisons at Singleton, but he is uber-talented and should push for the starting role behind a strong offensive line. He's not just the top freshman back, but he's viable as an RB2 in drafts. -John McKechnie

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Chris Benzine
Chris is a sports editor for various sports on the site and also a consistent contributor in the college sports arena.
Jake Blanchard
Jake attended college at the University of Alabama, where a childhood love for college football truly blossomed. During his time in college, Jake started his own blog, where he wrote about all sports, but it mainly focused on college football, NFL and MLB while also giving gambling advice. Jake now covers college football for RotoWire.
John McKechnie
John is the 2016 and 2021 FSWA College Writer of the Year winner. He is a Maryland native and graduate of the University of Georgia. He's been writing for RotoWire since 2014.
Trevor Popoff
Trevor Popoff has written and worked for numerous publications in both Canada and the United States. He graduated from the School of Journalism at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University) in 2022.
Mario Puig
Mario is a Senior Writer at RotoWire who primarily writes and projects for the NFL and college football sections.
Jesse Siegel
Siegel covers college football, college basketball and minor league baseball for RotoWire. He was named College Sports Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.
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