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Running Back Best-Ball Tiered Rankings and Analysis

We have entered June with rising optimism that a 17-week regular season will eventually unfold. The team at RotoBaller shares your enthusiasm while providing you with non-stop news, and analysis. This is designed to help you prepare for upcoming drafts, and reshape your current rosters. We are also making continual updates to our tiered rankings in every format.

That includes the enormously popular Best-Ball leagues, which present the opportunity to construct your teams without requiring any form of in-season management. This makes it essential for you to assemble rosters that can withstand injuries and insufficient production without the benefit of a waiver wire.

That is why we also supply you with a detailed breakdown of our rankings, which incorporates analysis on the players to target during your draft process, and the performers to avoid at their current ADPs. This article will focus on running backs, which remain essential components toward your goal of securing league championships. We will continue to update rankings in every format throughout the offseason and you can find the latest rankings here.

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RB Best-Ball Rankings

Position Rank Position Tier

Player Name

Overall Rank Overall Tier
1 1 Christian McCaffrey 1 1
2 1 Saquon Barkley 2 1
3 1 Ezekiel Elliott 3 1
4 1 Dalvin Cook 4 1
5 1 Joe Mixon 6 1
6 1 Alvin Kamara 7 1
7 1 Nick Chubb 8 1
8 2 Josh Jacobs 13 2
9 2 Derrick Henry 15 2
10 2 Austin Ekeler 16 2
11 2 Aaron Jones 17 2
12 2 Miles Sanders 22 3
13 2 Leonard Fournette 25 3
14 2 Todd Gurley II 26 3
15 3 Kenyan Drake 31 4
16 3 Clyde Edwards-Helaire 32 4
17 3 Melvin Gordon III 34 4
18 3 Chris Carson 36 4
19 3 Le'Veon Bell 39 4
20 3 Jonathan Taylor 41 4
21 4 Cam Akers 51 5
22 4 Mark Ingram II 56 5
23 4 David Montgomery 57 5
24 4 Devin Singletary 58 6
25 4 David Johnson 61 6
26 4 James Conner 63 6
27 5 Kareem Hunt 69 6
28 5 D'Andre Swift 70 6
29 5 J.K. Dobbins 75 7
30 5 Sony Michel 76 7
31 5 Jordan Howard 79 7
32 6 Raheem Mostert 86 7
33 6 Damien Williams 89 8
34 6 Phillip Lindsay 91 8
35 6 Ke'Shawn Vaughn 92 8
36 7 Latavius Murray 105 9
37 7 Marlon Mack 110 9
38 7 James White 116 10
39 7 Zack Moss 118 10
40 7 Tarik Cohen 119 10
41 7 Kerryon Johnson 121 10
42 7 Darrell Henderson 122 10
43 8 Tevin Coleman 129 10
44 8 Matt Breida 133 10
45 8 Ronald Jones II 135 11
46 8 Justin Jackson 137 11
47 8 Derrius Guice 138 11
48 8 Alexander Mattison 141 11
49 8 Joshua Kelley 145 11
50 8 Tony Pollard 147 11
51 9 Chase Edmonds 154 12
52 9 Darrynton Evans 157 12
53 9 Adrian Peterson 159 13
54 9 Lynn Bowden Jr. 164 13
55 9 Nyheim Hines 165 13
56 9 Jamaal Williams 168 13
57 9 Duke Johnson 176 13
58 9 A.J. Dillon 177 13
59 9 Boston Scott 184 14
60 9 Ryquell Armstead 189 14
61 9 Justice Hill 190 14
62 9 Royce Freeman 195 14
63 9 Malcolm Brown 201 14
64 9 Antonio Gibson 204 15
65 9 Rashaad Penny 208 15
66 9 Giovani Bernard 210 15
67 10 Ito Smith 215 15
68 10 Gus Edwards 218 15
69 10 Benny Snell Jr. 221 16
70 10 Carlos Hyde 222 16
71 10 Darwin Thompson 230 16
72 10 Jalen Richard 241 16
73 10 Brian Hill 243 16
74 11 Devonta Freeman 249 17
75 11 Peyton Barber 250 17
76 11 Damien Harris 251 17
77 11 Jaylen Samuels 254 17
78 11 Qadree Ollison 258 17
79 11 DeeJay Dallas 264 18
80 11 DeAndre Washington 266 18
81 11 Chris Thompson 268 18
82 12 Lamical Perine 270 18
83 12 Rex Burkhead 278 18
84 12 Dare Ogunbowale 281 18
85 12 Eno Benjamin 282 18
86 12 Lamar Miller 288 18
87 12 Dion Lewis 289 18

 

Tier 1

Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott, Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon, Alvin KamaraNick Chubb   

McCaffrey escorted many of his owners to league championships during 2019, as anyone who drafted him reaped the benefits of his astronomical production. He generated the highest number of fantasy points at any position in PPR leagues while averaging 10 points per game more than any other back. McCaffrey also led the NFL in all-purpose yardage, (2,392), including the 1,387 that he accrued on the ground. He also capitalized on his league-best opportunity share (91.5) to produce 15 rushing touchdowns, and lead all backs in targets (142), and receiving yards (1,005). McCaffrey became the first running back to collect 100+ receptions in two different seasons and his historic output cements him as the first overall selection in all drafts.

Barkley was second in rushing yards after Week 2 (227) and was averaging a whopping 7.8 yards per attempt before an ankle injury temporarily derailed his production.  But Barkley reemerged in Week 7 and eventually finished fourth in scoring, sixth in rushing yards (766), and fourth in runs of 20+ yards (6) during his final 10 games. Barkley’s 77.2 yards per game average would have placed him fifth overall if he had maintained that average over 16 games (1,235). He was also seventh among all backs in targets (55/5.5 per game), sixth in receptions (41/4.1 per game) and fourth in receiving yards (364/36.4 per game). Barkley is just 23 entering his third season and is entrenched as the second pick behind McCaffrey.

Elliott has already accumulated over 5,400 yards and 40 touchdowns on the ground during his tenure with Dallas. He has also been entrusted with 21 attempts per game since 2016, averaged 83 targets and 66 receptions since 2018, and has finished among the top 10 backs in each category. The Cowboys have built a three-headed nightmare for opposing defenses at wide receiver, and Dak Prescott will capitalize on the luxury of launching passes to Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup. However, Elliott is rooted in a workhorse role and should be selected among the first three backs in your drafts.

Cook enters the final year of his rookie deal amid the increasing possibility that he will holdout for a new contract. He has missed 19 games during his first three seasons. However, he did perform in 14 contests during 2019, while finishing eighth in rushing attempts (250), and 10th in yardage (1,135). He was leading the NFL in rushing yards (991) and attempts (203) after Week 10 (991) before a shoulder injury limited him to 11.8 attempts and 36 yards per game from Weeks 11-17. Cook also finished fourth in touchdowns (13), sixth in receiving yards (519), and would function as the centerpiece of Minnesota’s offense if he is available in Week 1. His ranking would clearly be impacted if he is absent from the Vikings’ offseason activities.

Mixon has amassed 515 carries during his last two seasons, while also generating 2,305 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also accumulated a career-high 278 attempts in 2019, while assembling 1,137 yards and five touchdowns. Those numbers were built despite an excruciating start, including the failure to reach 18 rushing yards in four of his first seven matchups. But Mixon capitalized on his league-high 177 attempts (22 per game) from Weeks 10-17 by tying for second in 100-yard performances, and rushes of 20+ yards.

Weeks 10-17 Attempts Yards Yards-Carry TDs 20+ 100+
Joe Mixon 177 817 4.6 5 6 4
Nick Chubb 144 691 4.8 2 6 4
Ezekiel Elliott 143 616 4.3 6 3 2
Derrick Henry 139 896 6.4 10 7 5
Todd Gurley 131 502 3.8 6 2 0
David Montgomery 130 483 3.7 1 1 1
Saquon Barkley 129 602 4.7 4 5 2
Christian McCaffrey 122 506 4.1 5 0 1
Le'Veon Bell 120 374 3.1 2 0 0
Aaron Jones 114 588 5.2 8 5 3
Devin Singletary 111 508 4.6 0 4 1
Kenyan Drake 108 533 4.9 7 3 2
Phillip Lindsay 106 427 4 2 1 1
Miles Sanders 103 482 4.7 2 3 1
Chris Carson 103 466 4.5 4 2 2

Mixon will be functioning as Cincinnati's unchallenged feature back as he begins the final year of his rookie contract. A potential holdout is the only hurdle that should prohibit him from generating the most prolific numbers of his career.

Kamara’s troublesome ankle affected his availability and his effectiveness during 2019. But he still finished eighth in point per game scoring, accumulated 797 rushing yards, and remained near the top of multiple receiving categories. His 6.9 target per game average was second only to McCaffrey, while he was also third in receptions (81/5.8 per game), and fourth in receiving yardage (533/38 per game). His six touchdowns represented a significant decline from the 15.5 that he averaged during his first two seasons. But he returns to a sizable role within a potent New Orleans attack and is capable of approaching his touchdown total from 2018 (18).

Chubb finished third in all-purpose yards last season (1,772) and was also second in rushing yards (1,494). He was fourth in rushing from Weeks 1-9 (803 yards) while averaging 19.3 attempts/100.4 yards per game. Those averages only declined slightly (18 attempts/86.3 yards per game) after Kareem Hunt reemerged from suspension in Week 10. However, Chubb’s usage and production as a receiver were impacted by Hunt’s return, as his averages in targets (4.0), receptions (3.1), and receiving yards (20.1) dropped to 2.1/1.4/14.6 yards per game. Chubb did accumulate 100+ yards in four of his league-high 7 games after Hunt resurfaced, and his rushing proficiency sustains his status as a top-10 back.

 

Tier 2

Josh Jacobs, Derrick HenryAustin Ekeler, Aaron Jones, Miles Sanders, Leonard Fournette, Todd Gurley II 

Jacobs was ninth in scoring, fourth in rushing yards (1,061) and second in rushes of 20+ yards entering Week 14. His protracted shoulder issue limited him to just one more game, yet he still finished eighth in rushing yardage for the season (1,150). His 88.5 yard per game average was exceeded only by Chubb and Derrick Henry, while Jacobs also finished fifth in yards after contact (683).

Weeks 1-13 Attempts  Yards  YPC   20+ 100+
Nick Chubb 238 1175 4.9 8 5
Christian McCaffrey 235 1167 5 6 6
Derrick Henry 232 1140 4.9 5 4
Josh Jacobs 218 1061 4.9 8 5
Dalvin Cook 223 1046 4.7 7 5
Ezekiel Elliott 227 990 4.4 2 5
Leonard Fournette 220 989 4.5 6 3
Chris Carson 231 981 4.2 7 5
Lamar Jackson 140 977 7 9 4
Marlon Mack 192 862 4.5 7 3
Carlos Hyde 184 853 4.6 8 2
Mark Ingram 166 837 5 4 4
Phillip Lindsay 164 766 4.7 6 1
Sony Michel 184 645 3.5 2 0
Aaron Jones 159 645 4.1 1 2
Joe Mixon 183 643 3.5 1 1

Any optimism that Jacobs would become increasingly involved as a receiver has been impacted by Jalen Richard’s two-year extension and the impending addition of Lynn Bowden as a multi-purpose weapon. But Jacobs retains sizable value as an undisputed lead back.

Since Week 14 of 2018, Henry has carried 431 times. He has also seized his opportunity to function as the centerpiece of Tennessee’s offense during those contests by accumulating 2,125 rushing yards, producing 23 touchdowns, and averaging 5.94 yards per attempt. During 2019 he also led the league in attempts (303), yardage (1,540), touchdowns (16), and yards after contact (968). A depth chart that only contains rookie Darrynton Evans provides the potential for increased usage as a receiver following last year’s modest numbers (24 targets/18 receptions/206 yards). But it is Henry’s extensive workload on the ground that keeps him embedded as a top-12 back.

Ekeler's stellar 2019 season vaulted him to RB4 in PPR scoring, as he led all backs in receiving touchdowns (8), yards per reception (10.8), and yards per target (9.2). He was also second in targets (108), receptions (92), receiving yards (993), and yards-after-catch (966). He is currently being drafted as a low-end RB1. However, it will be difficult for Ekeler to reach last year’s output following the departure of Philip Rivers.  He was targeted 5+ times in 12 different matchups while averaging 6.8 per game. His chances of replicating that usage is now diminished regardless of whether Tyrod Taylor or newcomer Justin Herbert is spearheading the Charger attack.

Jones' 2019 touch total (285) obliterated his previous season-high, as he finally achieved the long-deserved role of a lead back. He also tied with Henry for the league lead in rushing touchdowns (16), finished second in scoring, and was eighth among all backs in receiving yards (474). But Jones’ Best-Ball ADP has slowly dropped to the threshold of Round 2 following Green Bay’s selection of A.J. Dillon. This has added an additional layer of congestion to a backfield that already contained fourth-year back  Jamaal Williams. Jones can still be drafted as an RB2. But his value has been diminished by the injection of Dillon into the backfield.

After averaging 8.7 carries and 3.1 targets per game from Weeks 1-11, Sanders’ usage expanded to 15.3 attempts/5.3 targets per game from Weeks 12-17. That fueled a significant rise in his output as Sanders vaulted to seventh in rushing yards (444/74 per game) during Philadelphia's last 6 matchups. He also finished eighth among all backs in targets and seventh in both receptions (4.3 per game) and receiving yards (32.5 per game) during that span. Sanders appears destined to maintain the momentum of that late-season surge by commandeering a mammoth workload - even if a veteran back is infused into the Eagles' backfield equation. 

Fournette finally eluded injuries and disciplinary issues in 2019, which kept him affixed in Jacksonville's lineup for a career-high 15 games. He also averaged 22.7 touches per-game, while finishing seventh in rushing attempts (265/17.6 per game), and rushing yardage (1,152). He was also fourth among backs in targets (100), and fifth in both receptions (76), and receiving yards (522). However, Fournette’s future is now uncertain after the Jaguars' failed attempts to trade him were followed by a decline of his fifth-year option. His target total is also destined to plunge as former Redskin Chris Thompson will confiscate a sizable receiving role. These unfavorable developments have fueled a drop in his ADP (25) during the past four weeks.  

Gurley accumulated 4,547 yards and 36 touchdowns as a rusher, and 1,883 yards as a receiver from 2015-2018. Those exceptional numbers remain impressive. But they become increasingly irrelevant for anyone who is drafting him in 2020. Confidence in his ability to sustain an extensive workload has diminished considerably after Gurley manufactured a career-low 857 yards on the ground and just 207 yards as a pass-catcher in 2019. However, he has resurfaced in Atlanta with only Ito Smith, Brian Hill, and Qadree Ollison below him on the depth. This supplies the potential for respectable numbers that justify his current ADP (28).

 

Tier 3

Kenyan Drake Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Melvin Gordon III, Chris Carson, Le'Veon Bell, Jonathan Taylor

Drake averaged 126.6 touches and 707.6 total yards from 2016-2018. He was also relegated to RB41 from Weeks 1-8 last season while averaging an anemic 58 total yards per game with Miami. But he skyrocketed to RB4 from Weeks 9-17, after commandeering RB1 responsibilities with Arizona. Only five backs accumulated more rushing yards during that span (643), while only Henry generated more touchdowns (8). He also led the NFL in rushing in Weeks 15-16 (303 yards/ 6.6 per attempt). This provided the Cardinals with the incentive to jettison David Johnson, and utilize Drake as their primary back.

Interest in Edwards-Helaire has skyrocketed since Andy Reid and Brett Veach deployed a first-round pick on the former LSU Tiger. His ADP has soared from 83 to 21 since the NFL Draft, in anticipation of schematic placement that will produce significant yardage totals in Kansas City’s high-octane offense. Damien Williams could split touches with Edwards-Helaire initially. But the Chiefs did not expend their draft capital on Edwards-Helaire with the goal of affixing him to the sidelines. However, patience might be required for anyone who invests in this elusive rookie at his surging  ADP.

Gordon's passageway within the AFC West has presented him with lead back responsibilities in Denver. His presence should elevate the effectiveness of a rushing attack that ranked 20th last season while averaging 103.9 yards per game. Gordon’s role will be sizable, and he should reach the 62% snap count that he averaged from 2016-2018. He should eclipse the 17-touches per game that he averaged in 2019. as Phillip Lindsay’s 16.2 touch-per game average is destined to decline. This will propel Gordon's rushing output above last year’s career-low (612 yards).

The addition of Carlos Hyde might create hesitation in selecting Carson at his Round 4 ADP (38). However, Carson should function as the Seahawks' primary back providing that he can achieve sustained health. Carson finished fifth in attempts (278) and yardage (1,230), while eclipsing in 100 yards in six different matchups. He was also third in rushing from Week 6-15 (810 yards/90 per game) before his season suddenly ended in Week 16 (hip). The addition of Hyde supplies depth if Rashaad Penny’s, lengthy recovery (torn ACL) extends into the regular season.

Bell did not approach the 321 rushing attempts that he attained during his final year with Pittsburgh. But the 245 carries that he accrued last season were exceeded by just 10 other backs. His career-low 3.2 yards per carry average relegated him to just 24th overall in yardage (789). The Jets added four offensive linemen during the off-season transformation of a unit that finished 31st in Football Outsiders’ run blocking ratings. However, the perpetual shroud of uncertainty regarding Adam Gase's self-defeating usage of his personnel still remains.

Taylor flourished with a massive workload during his three seasons at Wisconsin (926 carries) by generating 6,174 rushing yards and 50 touchdowns. He also averaged 6.7 yards per attempt, while performing with an enticing mixture of speed, power, and reliability. He now joins an Indianapolis offense that ranked fifth in run play percentage during 2019 (46.4), as Marlon Mack confiscated 52% of those attempts. Mack could maintain an ongoing role this season, while Nyheim Hines lurks as a theoretical threat for targets. However, Taylor is destined to collect a sizable percentage of touches, which creates his path toward functioning as the Colts' RB1.   

 

Tier 4

Cam Akers, Mark Ingram, David Montgomery, Devin Singletary, David Johnson, James Conner

Akers possesses a collection of attributes that equip him to thrive with feature back responsibilities. The timetable for his ascension atop LA’s depth chart remains unclear. But the Rams would not have used a second-round pick on Akers if they were planning to rely extensively on Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown. Henderson only supplied flashes of his elusiveness as a rookie (43 touches/184 total yards), while the uninspiring Brown will be limited to a backup role.

Ingram entered his age-30 season as a strong candidate for touchdown regression after establishing a new career-high during 2019 (15). Now he must also contend with the foreboding presence of Dobbins. The rookie’s arrival will not eviscerate Ingram’s value immediately. But it will accelerate the timetable for Ingram to cede his role as Baltimore’s lead back. His ADP has dropped from 45 to 55 since late April, and selecting him at that point in your draft presents an inherent risk.

Montgomery tied for 13th in rushing attempts as a rookie (242/15.1 per game). However, he was also 19th in yardage (889/55.6 per game), averaged 3.7 per attempt, and finished 42nd in Football Outsiders’ DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement). He did finish 13th in red zone carries (33/64.7%), and his only competitor for carries is Tarik Cohen  64 attempts). This should supply Montgomery with a favorable workload as a rusher, even if his usage as a receiver remains minimal.

Only five backs accumulated more rushing yards than Singletary from Weeks 9-15 (557), while he also averaged 16.6 carries/79.6 yards per game during that seven-game span. His ADP had risen to 26 after Buffalo declined to add another back during free agency. But rising optimism that he might operate as a feature back was quashed when the Bills selected  Zack Moss. Singletary should still receive a respectable workload. But he will not perform to the expectations of his current ADP (37).

Johnson has not been able to replicate his stellar 2016 season, in which he led all backs in scoring, targets (120), receptions (80), receiving yards (879), and produced his only 1,000-yard season as a rusher. But he could approach his 2018 numbers, when Johnson generated 1,386 total yards, and finished ninth in PPR scoring. Bill O’Brien will be motivated to justify the trade that he engineered for Johnson by relying heavily on the 28-year old back.

An assortment of injuries sidelined Connor for six contests during 2019, although he still led the Steelers in attempts (116) and rushing yards (464). But that represented a sizable decline from 2018 in carries and yardage (215/973). Second-year back Benny Snell and fourth-round pick Anthony McFarland loom as candidates to siphon touches. Connor should still commandeer lead back duties. But only if he can elude any further health issues.

 

Tier 5

Kareem Hunt, D'Andre Swift, J.K. Dobbins, Sony Michel, Jordan Howard

Hunt remains a proven point producer whenever he remains on the field.  He led the league in rushing during 2017 (1,327 yards), and was third in 2018 (824/74.9 per game) before a highly-publicized incident abruptly concluded his season. He also accrued 464 total yards (58 per game) while operating as a complement to Chubb in 2019. His value would evaporate quickly if there are additional off-the-field issues. But he would elevate into RB1 terrain if Chubb is sidelined for any reason.

Swift’s ADP had peaked at 33 on April 20. But it has now regressed to 42 due to production-inhibiting factors that could emerge in Detroit. However,  Swift’s enormous talent should not be dismissed. He assembled 3,551 total yards during three seasons at Georgia while blending burst and durability as a runner with his dependability as a receiver. He is easily a more gifted performer than Kerryon Johnson and should receive a workload that exceeds current expectations.

Dobbins was highly proficient in three years at Ohio State while accruing 4,459 yards and 38 touchdowns as a rusher. He has landed in a backfield that contains an uncomfortable level of congestion. But Dobbins will still benefit from operating within a Baltimore offense that led the NFL in run play percentage (56.02). The the Ravens’ run-first philosophy will enable Dobbins to split touches with Ingram, while 2019 backups Gus Edwards (8.8 touches per game) and Justice Hill (4.1 per game) could also pilfer opportunities.

Michel led the Patriots in rushing attempts (247/15.4 per game) and rushing yards (912/57 per game) for a second consecutive season, but his yard per carry average dropped to 3.7. New England’s impending offensive transformation could be unsightly, But Michel's workload could expand if deficiencies within Patriots' passing attack force the team to rely heavily on their ground game.

Only one back accrued more rushing yards than Howard during his 2016 rookie season (1,313). But a continual decline in his production during his last three seasons culminated with a career-low in 2019 (525). However, Howard’s ADP has risen from 150 to 102 since April 1, in anticipation of his opportunity for career resurrection in Miami. He should accrue favorable numbers even as he shares touches with Matt Breida.

 

Tier 6

Raheem Mostert, Damien Williams, Phillip Lindsay, Ke’Shawn Vaughn

Mostert’s late-season statistical surge might not preclude him from the constraints of a time share with Tevin Coleman, while Williams is destined for a diminished role as the season progresses. Gordon’s arrival will dramatically reduce Lindsay’s workload, while Vaughn could eventually surpass Ronald Jones on Tampa Bay’s depth chart.

 

Tier 7-8

Latavius Murray, Marlon Mack, James White, Zack Moss, Tarik Cohen, Kerryon Johnson, Darrell Henderson, Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida, Ronald Jones II, Justin Jackson, Derrius Guice, Alexander Mattison, Joshua Kelley, Tony Pollard

Tiers 7 and 8 contain backs that are currently located between RB36 and RB50 in our rankings. Their value could change considerably due to factors that emerge during the season.

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Check out all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings. Staff rankings are updated regularly for all positions and include standard formats, PPR scoring, tiered rankings and dynasty leagues.