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Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings

Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings

The running back position can be very difficult in the fantasy realm because of injuries and other factors. Some managers prefer to sink their early picks on running backs and land the studs while others take backs late in the draft. The ranks should give you an idea of exactly who to target regardless of which strategy you employ so let’s get into Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings! 

Note – Any ADP (average draft position) is taken from FantasyData.com. In addition, these are my personal ranks and not WinDaily Staff ranks.

Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings

  1. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers – Since the start of 2019, CMC has posted at least 29 points per game in PPR formats. When he played a full season in 2019, he racked up almost 2,400 scrimmage yards and scored 19 touchdowns. He’s among the easiest picks on the board. 
  2. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints – Even with Drew Brees riding off into the sunset, Kamara is going to remain an elite back. They now have a full offseason to create an offense tailored to the strength of their quarterback and Kamara is one of the most lethal players in the NFL with the ball in his hands. 
  3. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings – When you have a running back that rushes for over 1,500 yards, second in carries inside the 20, tied for first in carries inside the 10, and an 11.5% target share, you draft said running back. Cook is an absolute stud. 
  4. Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers – I am all in on Ekeler this year. He did miss six games in 2020 but still racked up 54 receptions, over 900 scrimmage yards, and three touchdowns. With the Chargers upgrading their offensive line this offseason, Ekeler has even higher upside on the ground and he finished fifth among running backs in receptions in his 10 games. 
  5. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans – Some will see him at five and ask me if I’m nuts. King Henry rushed for over 2,000 yards and honestly looks like the Hulk in a blue uniform out there. So why is he fifth in the rankings? My one small (I emphasize small) concern is the change in the Titans this offseason. The defense struggled last year and they added Julio Jones. If the defense doesn’t improve, they could be in more shootouts than they plan for. Henry was 38th in targets and is not a part of the passing game. He could see some week-to-week volatility and he takes just a slight knock in my eyes. The argument against me here is the defense wasn’t very good last year either, but I would take Ekeler even though I know it’s a spicy choice. 
  6. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants – Provided the knee checks out alright in camp, I have almost no issue with Barkley. His offensive line isn’t anything to write home about but he’s a home run hitter and Barkley has always been a major part of the passing game. 
  7. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns – I wish Chubb caught a few more passes but if Cleveland continues to run the ball at a top-five rate, things will work out. 20 targets in 13 games is a legitimate concern but he still finished ninth in points per game and scored 12 touchdowns rushing, tied for the third-most. He’s a centerpiece of a good offense, that’s all you can ask for in a top-tier back. 
  8. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys – It’s truly splitting hairs between Chubb and Zeke. I give Chubb the slight nod because, in my eyes, the Dallas passing offense is more advanced. Dak Prescott will be back under center and that could slightly ding Zeke’s touchdown upside. He finished first in carries inside the five last year but Dak adds a much different dimension to the offense. 
  9. Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts – I’m slightly lower than the field because the Colts still have Nyheim Hines and they brought Marlon Mack back. Hines was third in targets last year among backs and swiped 27 red zone rushing attempts. There’s no question that Taylor is the best player in the backfield. I just believe Hines and Mack are going to be more of a thorn in his side for fantasy production than folks think. 
  10. Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers – I do like Jamaal Williams heading to Detroit because that hopefully means more work for Jones. Williams took 25 RZ attempts (40 for Jones) and 32 targets last year (47 for Jones). Provided A.J. Dillon doesn’t take all of those, Jones should be in for another big season. Hopefully, Aaron Rodgers is still there as well. 
  11. Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers – I’ll be the first one to tell you that the O-line concerns are very, very legitimate. At the same time, Pittsburgh drafted Harris in the first round with a lot of other glaring holes. It’s a bad pick by value but they as a team have been pounding the table to improve the running game. The only two scenarios stopping Harris from 350+ touches, all the red zone work, and 1,100-1,300 scrimmage yards are injury and a rookie not making the jump immediately. He may have efficiency issues but there is no doubt he is the feature back. Even as much as I think it’s a bad pick in real life, Harris is talented and has every opportunity we crave for fantasy. 
  12. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City Chiefs – CEH was a disappointment to many but let’s put it into some context. First, not every rookie just hits the ground running. Secondly, his disappointment was RB22 in 13 games and finished 14th in targets with Dalvin Cook. If that’s my floor at an ADP of RB15, I’ll take that all day long. The Chiefs sunk a first-round pick into him just one year ago. I wouldn’t be shocked at all if he’s a top-eight back this year. 
  13. Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams – Akers took over the Rams backfield in the last four regular-season games with a total of 86 carries and eight receptions. He added another 49 touches in two playoff games and comes into this season as the most popular breakout candidate of the industry. 
  14. Antonio Gibson, Washington Football Team – This kid walked into a rookie season having never been a full-time running back in college, and dazzled with over 1,000 total yards in 14 games. Washington was only 24th in rushing attempts and perhaps the largest issue with Gibson is a teammate. J.D. McKissic led the league in targets for a back and finished second in receptions. That’s a LOT of work for Gibson to not get. He also got 14 RZ attempts to 31 for Gibson. Picking Gibson this high does bake in the idea that Washington phases McKissic out more, which I am comfortable with. 
  15. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals – It seems like Mixon is a polarizing figure in fantasy circles. His ADP is RB14 so I would say I’m with the field on this one. I’m generally not a person that worries about injuries from the previous season and Gio Bernard is no longer in Cincinnati. Mixon should have the backfield to himself for the most part and was 11th in points per game last year. Gio ate up 47 targets which were fourth on the team. Mixon should be the fourth option in the passing game which is more than enough to have him right on the edge of an RB1 season. 
  16. David Montgomery, Chicago Bears – Perhaps there is hesitation with Tarik Cohen returning from injury but I’m not sure I understand Montgomery at an ADP of RB21. He paced the Bears with 65% of the RZ carries, finished fifth in receptions, fourth in rushing attempts, and had over 1,500 scrimmage yards. We’re taking him after 20 other backs? Even with some questions at the quarterback position, that’s not the slightest bit different than 2020. 
  17. Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks – It seems as his injury history (which is extensive in fairness) leaves Carson perpetually underrated. Even with just 12 games, Carson finished in the top 20 in receptions, 14th in points per game, and top 30 in attempts. When he’s healthy, he’s an auto-lock for an RB2 slot. 
  18. Myles Gaskin, Miami Dolphins – He came out of nowhere and finished as a top 30 option in just 10 games while compiling an RB13 year in points per game. The best thing that could have happened to Gaskin happened because Miami did not address the running back position in any significant way. They singed Malcolm Brown as a free agent and drafted Gerrid Doaks in the seventh round. Gaskin took 41.5% of the RZ attempts last year and 47 targets. There is little reason to think he won’t be the lead back for what should be an improved Dolphins offense. 
  19. Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles – It’s somewhat of the opposite end of the spectrum for Sanders. While none of these backs are a threat to take the job, Philly signed Kerryon Johnson, still have Boston Scott, and then drafted Kenneth Gainwell in the fourth round. You’re not drafting him as an RB1 but it’s not the most comfortable situation. 
  20. JK Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens – He’s a back I will likely have almost none of in redraft. Not only did Dobbins only have 24 targets all season long, Baltimore sunk $9 million into Gus Edwards. So we’re talking about a back that is in a time-share, has no discernible pass-catching upside, and saw his offense add receivers with two of their first five draft picks (Rashod Bateman in the first round). That’s not a situation that I’m all that excited about. 
  21. Kareem Hunt, Cleveland Browns – Hunt is the type of player that every roster can use. If Nick Chubb gets hurt, he can churn out borderline RB1 numbers. If Chubb stays healthy, Hunt can still be a low-end flex option. These two split RZ carries 42-40 in favor of Hunt last year and Hunt led in targets at 52-20. Even with Chubb missing four games, Hunt finished last year with 236 total touches. He was 11th in carries alone so he has standalone value with a high ceiling as well.
  22. D’Andre Swift, Detroit Lions – Speaking of situations I’m not happy about, Swift qualifies in spades. I love the talent but despise the situation. The team is in full rebuild and is an underdog in 16 of 17 games currently. They really have no reason to grind Swift to death and signed Jamaal Williams. Not only is Williams very capable, why would Detroit ride Swift for 20-24 touches per game? 
  23. Mike Davis, Atlanta Falcons – There are some circles in the industry that are a little too excited here in my eyes. The line of thinking is Davis is the lead dog, and that is accurate. However, we saw that in Carolina and Davis fizzled after a couple of big games. I’m fine with him as a lower-end RB2 or a flex option, but not past that. 
  24. Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders – I fully believe Jacobs is still the lead back in Vegas, but Kenyan Drake hurts the ceiling without a doubt. Jacobs had 33 receptions last season but it’s hard to see that going anywhere but down, along with a decrease in his third-most attempts last year. If Jacobs retains his 68% of the red zone carries, he’s going to be solid but volatile week-to-week. 
  25. Javonte Williams/Melvin Gordon, Denver Broncos – This is something of a cop-out but it will take care of itself as camp starts. There are already beat reports saying Williams will be the lead back, but that’s a big leap as of now. If I drafted tomorrow, I’d skip both around this range and take the chance on the one that fella bit. 
  26. Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals – With Kenyan Drake in Vegas, Edmonds has the opportunity in front of him for a lead role. James Conner lurks and could be a value himself, but Edmonds should get the first crack. Arizona was second in pace last season and Arizona was sixth in rush attempts. Some of those come from Kyler Murray but Edmonds isn’t going so high he’s not worth a look here. 
  27. Raheem Mostert, San Francisco 49ers – You know who doesn’t care about who you started in fantasy? Kyle Shanahan, 49ers head coach. They have a habit of riding a hot hand but Mostert can get hot in a hurry. His speed is incredible and he can break legitimately any touch for a touchdown. This is a situation to monitor through camp with the addition of Tre Sermon (among others) but we know what Mostert is capable of and that’s 521 rushing yards on just 104 carries last year. 
  28. James Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars – Robinson would have been much higher coming off a season that saw him finish as the RB7 until the Jaguars drafted Travis Etienne in the first round of the draft. I don’t particularly understand that but we can be sure that 289 touches aren’t very likely to happen again. The early report is Robinson will still be a two-down back but if he loses receptions to Etienne, that’s going to drop the floor and ceiling for him. 
  29. Michael Carter, New York Jets – The rookie walks into an incredible opportunity. Only Tevin Coleman and Lamical Perine stand in front of him for carries and receptions. The obvious questions are how quickly Carter can adjust to the NFL and how good the Jets can be. Still, at this point we’re shooting for some upside and Carter does have that potential.
  30. Ronald Jones, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – As things stand, Jones would be my guy in the Tampa backfield. Last year saw Jones lead Leonard Fournette in RZ carries 35-20, carries overall at 192-97, and overall touches 220-133. They are going within about four picks of each other right now but Fournette is going first. I’m not sure I understand that one. 
  31. Damien Harris, New England Patriots – The Patriots running backs don’t exactly have the best reputation in fantasy, but Harris could jump up a bit during camp. I would imagine New England is likely going with a play-action heavy, two-tight end offense since they signed Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry. The smash-mouth approach could help Harris rack up attempts and yards, I just wouldn’t expect many receptions. 
  32. Travis Etienne, Jacksonville Jaguars – He has the draft capital that tells us he will have a significant role. It’s just hard to know exactly what it is. Robinson seemingly could lead in carries, Laviska Sheanult can carry the ball and get targets near the line of scrimmage, and Etienne has questions about how he’ll run inside at the NFL level. 
  33. A.J. Dillon, Green Bay Packers – Jamaal Williams has 150 touches last season and it would stand to reason that Dillon will handle the bulk of those left behind. Aaron Jones was 10th in carries and ninth in targets. To see Williams get 150 touches in addition to Jones’ workload, Dillon is interesting as is. If Jones went down, Dillon could be a league-winning player. 
  34. James Conner, Arizona Cardinals – Last year saw both Kenyan Drake and Edmonds have value for fantasy as Drake was the hammer back and Edmonds was the receiving back. There is no guarantee that Edmonds will succeed in the lead role whereas Conner does have experience (and has thrived) in that role with the Steelers. 
  35. Zack Moss, Buffalo Bills – The Stix Special. Devin Singletary is still there and last year was an absolute pain to play either one. They split snaps nearly down the middle when both were healthy but Moss had the lead in RZ carries at 30-22. He missed three games while Singletary played all 16 so this is a situation that we need to look at closely through camp. 

Thank you for reading my Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings and make sure you follow me on Twitter at @bucn4life! Be sure to sign up for an ALL ACCESS GOLD ACCOUNT account here at Win Daily Sports. Gain access to our Projection Models and jump into our Discord where we will have our experts talking plays across every sport and slate!

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