No running back was picked in the first round for the first time since 2014, but there are still valuable rookie dynasty assets at the position, led by the New York Jets‘ Breece Hall. Still, only a few fantasy managers will be able to make clear upgrades in dynasty rookie drafts. The rest of the fantasy managers looking to upgrade will need to trade.
Here are my top 80 dynasty running backs, broken into tiers to show how to value the incoming rookies against everyone else and how to dominate the trade market.
Jonathan Taylor will be the unanimous RB1 in dynasty leagues throughout the offseason, though Najee Harris shouldn’t be far behind. The Pittsburgh Steelers‘ workhorse finished as the RB3 this past season thanks, in large part, to volume — his 978 offensive snaps were 170 more than any other running back.
Harris played behind one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL in 2021, finishing the year as the only 1,000-yard back who averaged less than a yard before contact per carry. Pittsburgh also fielded one of the youngest offensive lines in the league, which should improve with another season together. The Steelers also added two unrestricted free agents to that unit to help Harris.
Javonte Williams ranks third among running backs due to the combination of his age, talent and potential opportunity. The North Carolina product just turned 22 years old and led the NFL in avoided tackles per carry (0.31) in 2021. Williams played roughly 50% of offensive snaps for the Denver Broncos last season but finished as the RB1 for the week when he was elevated into the starting role. Melvin Gordon III returned to the Broncos, but under a new coaching staff, it wouldn’t be surprising for Williams to take the lead in carries and routes. Russell Wilson is set to take over at quarterback for Denver, which should lead to more red-zone opportunities for both backs.