Fantasy Football: 5 breakout running backs for 2022 season

Fantasy Football: 5 breakout running backs for 2022 season

Fantasy football breakout players

Fantasy Football: 5 breakout running backs for 2022 season

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Following roster cuts and waiver claims, NFL backfields have been sorted out and fantasy football managers are now ready to draft ahead of the season opener next week.

When drafting your team, keep an eye on these five running backs — they all have potential for big breakout seasons in 2022.

5
Ken Walker, Seattle Seahawks

(AP Photo/Barry Reeger)

Walker (RB39 ADP) will be playing in a shared backfield with Rashaad Penny, but Penny only has a one-year contract and Seattle just used a second-round draft pick to select Walker in April. The Seahawks clearly view Walker as their long-term RB, and Penny is yet to play a full 16- or 17-game season in his career. Given Penny’s injury concerns and Walker’s long-term outlook, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the rookie running back takeover Seattle’s backfield by midseason.

4
Travis Etienne, Jacksonville Jaguars

(Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)

After missing all of his rookie season with a Lisfranc injury in 2021, Etienne (RB19 ADP) is now healthy again and set to lead Jacksonville’s backfield with his college teammate at quarterback. James Robinson will eventually eat into Etienne’s touches, but Robinson might take a few weeks to get his legs under him after returning from a 2021 Achilles injury. Even when Robinson is back in the rotation, Etienne’s receiving ability could make him a breakout player in PPR leagues, especially when the Jaguars have to throw when playing from behind.

3
J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens

(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Dobbins (RB23 ADP) played in a shared backfield as a rookie in 2020, and he then missed the entire 2021 season with a torn ACL. His status for Week 1 this year is uncertain, but once he returns to health, Dobbins is poised to serve as the lead back in a run-heavy offense. Veteran Kenyan Drake was signed after his release by Las Vegas, and he’ll be a factor early on but doesn’t figure to interfere for long. A former second-round pick, Dobbins showed great flashes in 2020 with a 6.0 yards per carry average and 13 total touchdowns in 15 games (one start). Now the primary RB in Baltimore, Dobbins should have a breakout season.

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2
Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos

(Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

Last year, Williams and veteran Melvin Gordon had a 50-50 split in Denver’s backfield. Signs to be trending toward the split switching to 65-35 this year, with Gordon even recently admitting that the Broncos want Williams to be “the guy” this season. Fantasy managers are well aware of the situation, so you’ll have to pay to get Williams (RB12 ADP), but it should be worth it. Williams was one of the most elusive RBs in the NFL as a rookie, and his increased workload this year should lead to a breakout season.

1
Dameon Pierce, Houston Texans

(Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports)

Pierce was considered a sleeper earlier this summer, but he’s just about a household name these days. After being named the Texans’ starting running back, Pierce’s fantasy football stock has skyrocketed. Pierce’s most recently listed ADP is RB36, but that probably needs an update — he’ll likely go off the board much earlier than that in your fantasy draft. Houston will likely feature Pierce as a workhorse back after relegating Marlon Mack to the practice squad. The rookie’s (expected) high-volume usage makes him the top breakout RB candidate for the 2022 season.

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