As you prepare for each draft, multiple factors are incorporated into your analysis of every selection. For those of you who participate in the highly popular Best-Ball leagues, this process includes building a team that can withstand the challenges that emerge during the season, without having the opportunity for any form of in-season roster management. That’s why the team at RotoBaller delivers a detailed analysis of our latest Best-Ball rankings that help you plan your drafts.
That includes this breakdown of the critical running back position. It is recommended that you develop a strategy for selecting your backs that remains flexible based upon the flow of each draft. This can still allow many of you to focus on seizing backs during the early rounds (Robust RB). The initial results of your draft could also compel you to only select one back in these rounds (Modified-Zero RB), or avoid the position completely (Zero RB).
Regardless of how you build your roster, your running backs will perform a significant role in determining your team’s success. Nine backs are located among the top 12 in our rankings, while 35 runners currently reside in our top 100. We will continue to update rankings in every format as we approach Week 1, and you can find the latest rankings here.Editor's Note: Love the strategy of season-long fantasy sports? Live for the short term gratification of DFS? Try Weekly Fantasy Sports on OwnersBox - a new weekly DFS platform. Sign up today for a FREE $50 Deposit Match. Sign Up Now!
RB Best-Ball Rankings
|Position Rank||Position Tier||Player Name||Overall Rank||Overall Tier|
|15||3||Todd Gurley II||30||4|
|16||3||Melvin Gordon III||31||4|
|26||4||Mark Ingram II||59||6|
|41||7||Ronald Jones II||126||10|
|64||9||Anthony McFarland Jr.||218||15|
|74||10||Benny Snell Jr.||255||17|
|85||11||Lynn Bowden Jr.||289||18|
Uncertainty remains prevalent in many aspects of this unique offseason. But McCaffrey’s ADP has never wavered, while he has also maintained a steady presence atop our rankings as we approach Week 1. He should also remain entrenched as the first overall selection in your drafts after leading all players in PPR scoring, and outdistancing other backs by a whopping 10 points per game. He finished first in all-purpose yards (2,392) and total touchdowns (19), became the first back to achieve two 100-catch seasons, and was just the third runner to generate 1,000 yards rushing and receiving yards in the same year.
Barkley contended with a lingering ankle issue last season, which prevented him from replicating his numbers from 2018. Barkley was first in PPR scoring and total yards from scrimmage (2,028) during that stellar season, while finishing second in rushing yards (1,307) and collecting 91 receptions. But he regained his usual degree of proficiency from Weeks 13-17, which propelled him to second in both scoring and rushing yards (542/108.4 per game). That serves as a reminder of how productive Barkley can be when he is unencumbered by injury. He should be targeted as the second overall selection in all drafts.
Elliott is amazingly just 25-years old. But he has already stockpiled 5,405 yards and 40 touchdowns on the ground since his 2016 rookie year. He has surpassed 300 attempts and 1,300 yards in three of his four seasons, while a six-game suspension prevented him from matching those numbers during 2017. He was second in carries (301) and fourth in yardage (1,357) last season while also leading the league in red zone attempts (59), and rushing yards (162). Elliott was also the top-rated rusher in Football Outsiders’ DYAR Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement and should be among the top three backs selected during your drafts.
Cook’s arrival at Minnesota’s training camp finally ended months of speculation, due to conflicting reports about a potential holdout. Owners might still have concerns regarding his succession of health issues, which have forced him to miss 19 games. But his 2019 resume also included the second-highest point per game scoring average among backs. Cook entered Week 11 as the NFL leader in rushing yards (991) and was also second in receiving yards (424) before contending with chest and shoulder injuries.
|Weeks 1-10||Rec Yards||Recepts||Targets||Targets/Game|
Cook's unquestioned talent and his extensive involvement in Minnesota's attack keep him entrenched within the group of backs that can be selected midway through Round 1.
Kamara finished eighth in point per game scoring last season despite missing two matchups and operating with multiple injuries from Weeks 10-17 (ankle/back/knee). But he will reemerge with his health restored and should reaffirm his standing as a top-four back. He remains one year removed from generating 18 touchdowns, finishing second in red zone attempts (50), and placing fourth among all backs in receptions (81).
Alvin Kamara earned a 94.0 receiving grade on backfield screens in the 2019 regular season. That ranks 2nd best among ALL RBs.
Here were AK's totals on screens:
• 16 catches on 18 targets (88.9%)
• 127 yards (207 YAC)
• 1 TD
• 114.6 passer rating
• 6 forced missed tackles pic.twitter.com/8F9BSkkbdP
— PFF NO Saints (@PFF_Saints) May 22, 2020
Kamara has also finished among the top four at his position in targets during each of his three seasons (100/105/97) while averaging 6.7 per game. That includes last season‘s 6.9 per game average, which was second among backs.
Mixon’s monstrous talent has been unquestioned since his 2017 rookie season. Now, after performing in three offenses that ranked 26th or lower, an infusion of surrounding talent could launch him to the most prolific numbers of his career. Cincinnati’s offensive line finished 29th in Football Outsiders’ Stuffed rankings – which measures the percentage of times a runner is tackled at or behind the line of scrimmage. But the convergence of 2019 first-round pick Jonah Williams at left tackle, this year's first-rounder Joe Burrow under center, and a bolstered unit at wide receiver should create additional space for Mixon. This strengthens his appeal as a Round 1 selection.
Chubb would be located even higher in our rankings if he was operating without the looming presence of Kareem Hunt. Chubb was rushing for 104 yards per game and collecting 4.0 targets/3.1 receptions per game from Weeks 1-9. Those averages declined after Hunt was injected into the Browns’ offense from Weeks 10-17 (86.3 rushing yards/2.1 targets/1.4 receptions per game). He still finished third in all-purpose yards (1,772), second in yards after contact (882), and tied for the league lead in broken tackles (32). Chubb should also benefit from improvements to Cleveland’s offensive line. But his scoring potential will be reduced in PPR leagues.
Since Henry’s one-man demolition of Jacksonville in December of 2018 (238 yards/14 yards per attempt/4 touchdowns), he has stockpiled 390 regular-season carries while accumulating 2,125 yards and 23 touchdowns. That includes his massive usage and production last season, when Henry led the NFL in attempts (303), yardage (1,540), yards after contact (968), and tied for first in touchdowns (16). Owners will contend with Henry’s minimal involvement as a receiver (24 targets/18 receptions). But he remains the foundation of a Tennessee offense that ranked fourth in run play percentage (47%). This makes him worthy of selection in Round 1.
Jacobs’ ADP would also reside firmly in Round 1 if not for concerns regarding his usage as a receiver (27 targets/2.1 per game). But he should easily surpass last year’s target total, while neither his workload nor his proficiency as a rusher is in question.
Josh Jacobs had a nice rookie year 😎 pic.twitter.com/sAdETyHsDz
— PFF (@PFF) July 30, 2020
He was also fourth with 1,061 yards after Week 14 before his shoulder injury limited him to 89 yards from Weeks 14-17. He still finished eighth in rushing (1,150 yards), third in yards per game (88.5), and was fifth in yards after contact (683). Jalen Richard and rookie Lynn Bowden will siphon opportunities. But that does not preclude Jacobs from attaining greater usage as a pass-catcher.
The Chargers’ conversion to an attack that is spearheaded by Tyrod Taylor has created conflicting opinions regarding Ekeler’s ability to match his 2019 production. Replicating last year’s eight receiving touchdowns could prove to be a daunting task, which will also impact Ekeler's ability to match his RB4 finish in PPR scoring. However, his prospects of functioning effectively as a dual-threat back remain firmly intact. Ekeler will accumulate more rushing attempts than Joshua Kelly and Justin Jackson, while he will also operate as LA’s third receiving option. This keeps the dynamic Ekeler planted among your high-end RB2 options.
Sanders’ ADP was located at 19 in late April. But after Philadelphia declined the opportunity to select any backs during the NFL Draft, his ADP slowly climbed into Round 1. With only Boston Scott dwelling below him on the depth chart, that should help Sanders sustain the late-season momentum that he experienced during his rookie season. His snap percentage rose from 38% in Weeks 1-10 to 76% during his next six matchups, while his attempts per game nearly doubled during that span (8.4-15.7). He also finished eighth in yardage (430) from Weeks 11-16, while his yards per game average improved from 37.3 to 71.6.
Jones’ ADP peaked at 8 in mid-April. But it has dropped since Green Bay’s Matt LaFleur and general manager Brian Gutekunst seized A.J. Dillon in Round 2 of the NFL Draft. Jones is now available in the second round of current drafts, due to the likelihood that last year’s extensive workload will be reduced (236 carries/68 targets). Jones capitalized on his opportunities by generating 1,084 yards, and a league-best 16 touchdowns on the ground while also accruing 474 yards as a receiver. But the prospects of both Dillon and Jamaal Williams pilfering touches will make it difficult to meet the expectations of his ADP.
Exactly one year ago, Drake was being selected at the conclusion of Round 6. But the monumental career transformation that occurred following his trade to Arizona has launched Drake to the cusp of Round 1 during this year’s draft process. Drake averaged 102 total yards per game from Weeks 9-17, led the league in rushing during the critical Weeks 15-16 (303 yards/ 6.6 per attempt), and also registered a league-best six touchdowns. He will begin the season with an uncluttered path to feature back duties and will provide owners with coveted fantasy points as a rusher and receiver.
Edwards-Helaire’s mid-April ADP (86) had placed him at RB32 prior to the NFL draft. But he vaulted to RB14 by late July. Now, his ADP has surged to 7, following Damien Williams’ decision to opt-out of the regular season.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire PPR RB6pic.twitter.com/qwt16cLrnm
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) July 29, 2020
His rising stock has also elevated him over 100 spots since our pre-draft rankings, as he will operate as the RB1 in Kansas City’s powerful offense. He possesses the attributes that will allow him to excel as both a rusher and receiving option within the Chiefs’ unrelenting attack. This solidifies his Round 1 status.
Owners have been compelled to select Gurley at the onset of Round 3. But the decline in his 2019 numbers was universal when contrasted with 2017 and 2018. He plunged to 17th in point per game scoring after finishing at RB1 during the previous two seasons. His attempts per game decreased from 18.3 to14.9, while he also experienced a dramatic drop in targets (81/49), receptions (59/31), and yardage (580/207). He was also rated just 21st in Football Outsiders’ DYAR (Defense-Adjusted Yards Above Replacement) and 25th in DVOA (Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average) after finishing first in both categories during 2018.
Gordon has not reclaimed the Round 1 draft status that he had attained earlier in his career. But his stock has rebounded following last year’s disastrous hold out with the Chargers. He averaged a career-low 13.5 attempts and 17 touches per game following his Week 5 return. However, Gordon also averaged 17.4 attempts and 21 touches per game from 2016-2018 and should attain similar numbers as Denver’s lead back. He is a viable target in Round 3 of all drafts and will function as a dependable point producer for his owners.
Under normal circumstances, a 25-year old feature back who had just finished among the top seven in PPR scoring, attempts (265), and rushing yards (1,152) would be a viable target at his Round 3 ADP. But Fournette’s status as Jacksonville’s lead back is precarious after the Jaguars attempted to trade him, then declined to extend his contract. He will not reach last season’s target total under new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden (100), and he could be supplanted as the team’s RB1 at any point during the season.
Bell operated as the Jets’ lead back, averaged 16.3 carries per game, and finished 11th in attempts (245). But he was only 16th in point per game scoring after averaging an anemic 3.2 yards per game and finishing 23rd in yardage (789). This was a major disappointment for owners who invested a late-Round 1 pick on the former All-Pro. Bell is being drafted as a back that will commandeer another sizable workload (ADP 36). But the Jets have melded Frank Gore and Lamical Perine into the backfield equation, and Adam Gases’ potential for dubious decision-making maintains its looming presence.
Carson’s ascension from a 7th-round pick to last year’s top-5 finish in yardage (1,230) has been impressive. He also placed third in yards after contact (905).
Most rushing yards after contact in 2019
Nick Chubb - 1,055
Derrick Henry - 968
Chris Carson - 905
Ezekiel Elliott - 785
Joe Mixon - 776
Leonard Fournette - 757
Josh Jacobs - 717
Dalvin Cook - 682
Christian McCafrrey - 583
Lamar Jackson - 521
— NFL Stats (@NFL_Stats) August 6, 2020
His 2019 averages in attempts (18.5) and yards per game (82) were extremely consistent with his numbers in 2018 (17.6 attempts/82.2 yards per game), while he has also generated 2,381 yards and 16 touchdowns during the past two seasons. He will function as Seattle’s workhorse back. But fumbling (7 in 2019) and injury concerns (15 missed games since 2017) remain part of the equation when considering Carson at his current ADP (39).
The Rams now advance into the post-Gurley era with a backfield that will allocate touches between Akers, Darrell Henderson, and Malcolm Brown. LA utilized a second-round selection on Akers, whose skills as a runner, blocker, and receiver provide the prospects of a three-down role. But even though he should eventually rise atop the depth chart, the timetable for that to occur has been delayed by the obstructions of condensed offseason activities. That will keep Henderson and Brown involved in the distribution of touches during much of the season.
Taylor became the NCAA’s sixth all-time leading rusher in just three seasons (6,174), while also becoming the first back in FBS history to generate over 6,000 yards in three seasons.
|NCAA Rushing Leaders||Yards||Yards Per Season||# Of Seasons|
|Ron Dayne||7,125||1,781||4 (1996-1999)|
|Tony Dorsett||6,526||1,631||4 (1973-1976)|
|Donnel Pumphrey||6,405||1,601||4 (2013-2016)|
|Ricky Williams||6,279||1,570||4 (1995-1998)|
|Charles White||6,245||1,561||4 (1976-1979)|
|Jonathan Taylor||6,174||2,058||3 (2017-2019)|
|DeAngelo Williams||6,026||1,507||4 (2002-2005)|
Most runs of 15+ yards since 2018:
➤ Jonathan Taylor - 64
➤ Travis Etienne - 59
➤ Eno Benjamin - 41
➤ Chuba Hubbard - 40
➤ JK Dobbins - 38 pic.twitter.com/WOlk5DiGgy
— PFF College (@PFF_College) August 6, 2020
Taylor is also destined to become the feature back in Indianapolis. The only remaining question involves his timeline for seizing that role. Marlon Mack was ninth in attempts during 2019 (246), while finishing 11th in yardage (1,091/4.4 per attempt). His performance was respectable but unexceptional and did not deter the Colts from securing Taylor in Round 2 of the NFL Draft. Taylor also possesses multiple attributes (size/speed/vision patience), that will allow him to thrive behind Indy’s offensive line - which has been ranked as the NFL’s best by PFF.
Conner demonstrated his ability to flourish as a feature back in 2018, by finishing seventh in point per game scoring, eighth in yards per game average (74.8), and third in rushing touchdowns (12). But he also showed his susceptibility to injuries last season, by managing just 464 yards, four touchdowns, and being sidelined for six contests. While Benny Snell, Jaylen Samuels, and Anthony McFarland also occupy the depth chart, Conner will operate as Pittsburgh’s RB1. But he must evade any additional health issues in order to maintain lead back duties.
Montgomery will enter Week 1 with an unchallenged role as Chicago’s primary back. He will also absorb a sizable workload that replicates his 2019 usage (242 attempts/15 per game). The absence of a timeshare is appealing to owners. But enthusiasm should be tempered by his inefficiency (3.7 yards per attempt). Only 12 backs were allotted more carries, but Montgomery placed 18th in rushing yards (889/55.6 per game). He was also just 44th in yards after contact per rush, while his involvement as a pass-catcher placed him 45th among backs in targets per game (2.2).
Singletary only averaged 5 attempts/43 yards per game from Weeks 1-8 while being impacted by a hamstring injury. But his workload increased significantly during Buffalo’s final eight games (16.4 attempts per game). He also finished sixth among all backs in yardage from Weeks 9-15 (557/79.6 per game) and seemed to be a candidate for a substantial workload. But Buffalo’s third-round selection of Zack Moss has dropped his ceiling. Moss will pilfer carries, targets, and red zone opportunities. This leaves Singletary overvalued at his ADP (50).
Bill O’Brien’s considerable investment in Johnson has assured that the former Cardinal will be entrusted with an integral role within the revamped Houston offense. That has propelled Johnson’s ADP into Round 3. However, it is highly uncertain whether he can perform effectively or remain healthy as he absorbs the responsibilities of a mammoth workload. Johnson finished third in attempts during 2018 (258) but his average of 3.6 yards per attempt relegated him to 13th in yardage (940). Last season’s 3.7 per game average was equally uninspiring before Drake surpassed Johnson on Arizona’s depth chart.
Ingram eclipsed 1,000 yards (1,018) and assembled a career-high 15 touchdowns during his first year as a Raven. Five of those scores were produced on receptions, even though he only collected 26 during the season. Touchdown regression already appeared inevitable even before Baltimore selected J.K. Dobbins, but the rookie's abbreviated offseason should help Ingram preserve his RB1 role throughout 2020.
Hunt will be operating in a timeshare with Chubb. But that has not prevented his ADP from climbing 25 slots during the summer (76-51). The former NFL rushing leader finished at RB17 in scoring from Weeks 10-17 and averaged 10 touches/targets 5.5 per game during his eight matchups. His involvement as a receiver could easily increase in Kevin Stefanski’s offense.
Swift averaged 1,134 yards and generated 17 rushing touchdowns during final two seasons at Georgia, while also accruing 56 catches and 415 yards as a receiving weapon. His immense talent and versatility will propel him to a larger workload than Kerryon Johnson, and Swift’s timetable to seize an extensive role is shorter than many analysts have projected.
Dobbins will benefit from Baltimore’s ground-oriented philosophy, as Greg Roman’s offense should lead the NFL in run play percentage once again. But Ingram presents a significant obstacle in Dobbins’ path toward 2020 production. while Gus Edwards could also siphon carries.
Mostert’s scoring potential could be neutralized in any given week by Kyle Shanahan’s deployment of Tevin Coleman, Jerick McKinnon, and other components within San Francisco’s congested backfield. Mostert averaged 12.8 attempts and 75.8 yards per game from Weeks 13-17. But he only averaged 7.3 carries/39.3 yards from Weeks 1-12.
Howard was 13th in rushing yards from Weeks 1-9 (525) and was tied for fifth in rushing touchdowns (6). But his production was circumvented by a shoulder injury that sidelined him for six contests. He will split touches with Matt Breida but should capture early-down and red zone responsibilities.
Concerns regarding Michel's inefficiency in 2019 have been exacerbated by his placement on the PUP list (foot surgery). His status for Week 1 remains unclear, and it is likely that the uncertainty triggered New England’s signing of Lamar Miller.
Tiers 8-10 contain backs that are currently located between RB33 and RB43 in our rankings. Their value could change due to factors that might emerge before Week 1 of the regular season.
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