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Dynasty Tiered Rankings and Analysis (Running Back)


It's never too early for some fantasy football rankings, right?

We here at RotoBaller firmly believe that, which is why we've already done rankings for the 2020 season. Standard. PPR. Dynasty. (Click the word "dynasty" to go see our complete dynasty rankings.)

But what are rankings without some kind of context by which to understand those rankings, a way of figuring out what all of those numbers and names and tiers and so on all mean? That's why I'm here today. We're going to look at our dynasty running back rankings and then try to make sense of some of the most important things about the rankings. Ready? Scroll on down!

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Dynasty RB Rankings

Position Rank Position Tier Player Name Overall Rank Overall Tier
1 1 Christian McCaffrey 1 1
2 1 Saquon Barkley 2 2
3 1 Ezekiel Elliott 4 2
4 1 Dalvin Cook 5 2
5 1 Alvin Kamara 6 3
6 2 Joe Mixon 11 4
7 2 Nick Chubb 13 4
8 2 Josh Jacobs 15 4
9 2 Derrick Henry 17 4
10 2 Miles Sanders 18 5
11 2 Clyde Edwards-Helaire 24 5
12 2 Austin Ekeler 27 6
13 2 Aaron Jones 28 6
14 3 Jonathan Taylor 30 6
15 3 Leonard Fournette 34 7
16 3 Cam Akers 41 7
17 3 J.K. Dobbins 43 7
18 3 D'Andre Swift 44 8
19 3 Melvin Gordon 47 8
20 3 Kenyan Drake 49 8
21 3 Todd Gurley 51 9
22 3 David Montgomery 53 9
23 3 Le'Veon Bell 64 10
24 4 Chris Carson 67 11
25 4 James Conner 71 11
26 4 Kareem Hunt 74 12
27 4 Devin Singletary 75 12
28 4 Derrius Guice 78 12
29 4 David Johnson 81 12
30 4 Ke'Shawn Vaughn 86 13
31 4 Sony Michel 90 13
32 4 Kerryon Johnson 96 14
33 4 Raheem Mostert 97 14
34 4 Phillip Lindsay 98 14
35 5 Mark Ingram II 100 14
36 5 Marlon Mack 102 14
37 5 Darrell Henderson 104 14
38 5 Rashaad Penny 119 14
39 6 Ronald Jones II 120 14
40 6 James White 125 15
41 6 Matt Breida 127 15
42 6 Tarik Cohen 128 15
43 7 Tevin Coleman 129 15
44 7 Zack Moss 134 15
45 7 Damien Williams 135 15
46 7 Tony Pollard 140 15
47 7 A.J. Dillon 142 16
48 7 Alexander Mattison 145 16
49 7 Jordan Howard 147 16
50 7 Justice Hill 154 16
51 7 Damien Harris 157 17
52 7 Duke Johnson 159 17
53 7 Antonio Gibson 166 18
54 7 Nyheim Hines 167 18
55 8 Latavius Murray 169 18
56 8 Chase Edmonds 171 18
57 8 Anthony McFarland Jr. 174 18
58 8 Darrynton Evans 180 18
59 8 Joshua Kelley 186 18
60 8 Devonta Freeman 193 19
61 8 Lynn Bowden Jr. 196 19
62 8 Justin Jackson 197 19
63 9 Ryquell Armstead 200 19
64 9 Jamaal Williams 202 19
65 9 Lamical Perine 207 20
66 9 Boston Scott 208 20
67 9 Royce Freeman 210 20
68 9 Benny Snell Jr. 218 20
69 9 Jaylen Samuels 220 21
70 9 Eno Benjamin 223 21
71 9 Ito Smith 231 21
72 10 Darwin Thompson 233 21
73 10 Malcolm Brown 237 21
74 10 DeeJay Dallas 241 21
75 10 Dion Lewis 242 21
76 10 Gus Edwards 243 21
77 10 Giovani Bernard 245 21
78 10 Bryce Love 253 21
79 10 Jerick McKinnon 256 21
80 10 Carlos Hyde 259 21
81 10 Jalen Richard 262 22
82 10 Bo Scarbrough 266 22
83 10 Lamar Miller 270 22
84 10 Adrian Peterson 271 22
85 10 Rex Burkhead 273 22
86 11 Chris Thompson 275 22
87 11 Michael Warren II 281 22
88 11 Peyton Barber 283 22
89 11 Trayveon Williams 284 22
90 11 Jordan Wilkins 288 22
91 11 Mike Boone 297 22
92 11 LeSean McCoy 310 23
93 11 Myles Gaskin 311 23
94 11 Dare Ogunbowale 312 23
95 12 Wayne Gallman 317 23
96 12 Darrel Williams 318 23
97 12 Brian Hill 326 23
98 12 DeAndre Washington 327 23
99 12 Travis Homer 337 23
100 12 Kalen Ballage 343 23
101 12 T.J. Yeldon 347 24
102 12 Rico Dowdle 348 24
103 12 Jeff Wilson 353 24
104 12 Ty Johnson 354 24
105 13 Qadree Ollison 358 24
106 13 JaMycal Hasty 359 24
107 13 Patrick Laird 360 24
108 13 Dexter Williams 363 24
109 13 Jonathan Williams 364 24
110 13 John Kelly 365 24
111 13 Mike Davis 366 24
112 13 Rodney Anderson 367 24
113 13 Jason Huntley 368 24
114 13 Scottie Phillips 369 24
115 13 Kenneth Dixon 370 24
116 13 Raymond Calais 371 24
117 13 Ty Montgomery 372 24
118 13 Josh Adams 373 24
119 13 Salvon Ahmed 374 24
120 13 Dontrell Hilliard 375 24
121 13 C.J. Prosise 376 24
122 13 Jordan Scarlett 377 24
123 13 Bilal Powell 378 24
124 14 J.J. Taylor 379 24
125 14 Darius Anderson 380 24
126 14 James Robinson 381 24
127 14 Levante Bellamy 382 24
128 14 Javon Leake 383 24

 

Top Tier Analysis

Five running backs make up our first tier, with all of them ranking in our overall top six.

The first player shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, as it's Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey. The list of reasons why McCaffrey is the No. 1 dynasty option right now is long, but let's just sum it up like this: He had 1387 rushing and 1005 receiving yards last year, 19 touchdowns, and he's only going to be 24 in 2020. McCaffrey was just the third player to ever hit that 1000/1000 mark, and while repeating it will probably not happen again just because of how rare the feat is, McCaffrey's the undisputed first pick.

Or...is he? In our staff's dynasty mock, McCaffrey didn't go first overall; Saquon Barkley did. Barkley's a year younger than McCaffrey and while he's isn't quite as dangerous in the receiving game, Barkley's a threat to take the football to the house anytime he touches it. In 13 games last year, Barkley was sixth among running backs in yards created, but the real year to look at for what his ceiling in was his rookie year, when he was healthy and played in all 16 games for the Giants. That season, Barkley led the league in yards created while also evading the most tackles and also catching 91 passes. His ceiling is high. I just don't think it's as high as McCaffery's.

Beyond that, three more names make up this tier. Ezekiel Elliott is our RB3. It feels like there's a pretty big gap between Barkley and Elliott, mostly because Elliott isn't as versatile as Barkley is. While he did have 77 catches in 2018, that number dropped to 54 last year, and Elliott probably doesn't wind up getting the receiving game usage to be as valuable as the two guys above him, unless you're playing in a standard-scoring dynasty league.

Dalvin Cook checks in at RB4. He's coming off a very good season, but Cook's struggled to stay healthy, which isn't something you like to see from a running back, since injuries can be especially derailing at this position. Right behind Cook is Alvin Kamara, another dynamic playmaker, but one whose rushing share in New Orleans isn't quite high enough to see him challenge the McCafferys and Barkleys of the world.

 

Running Backs Who Are Trending Down

Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars - RB15

Fournette learned to catch the football last year! But it doesn't really matter much, because A) he won't be catching it as much this year since Jacksonville signed Chris Thompson and B) with his fifth-year option declined, his role in Jacksonville is on really uneasy ground. If Fournette even is a Jag this year, will he see the same level of usage that he's had in the past, or will the team want to see what they have in their other backs? Will Fournette find a new home that gives him the level of attention he's had in his three years with Jacksonville? Too many question marks here.

Melvin Gordon, Denver Broncos - RB19 (plus the other Broncos backs)

Gordon's holdout in 2019 led to the Chargers moving on. Now, he's in Denver, sharing a backfield with Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman. All three find themselves falling down the rankings. Gordon still has the most short and long term value of the trio, while Freeman is in a bad, bad spot unless he somehow winds up on a new team as soon as possible.

Todd Gurley, Atlanta Falcons - RB21

I'm going to plug my own recent article for this site about Gurley's dynasty value, because I spent a lot of time writing it. But the short of it is that Gurley's got a degenerative knee issue and his dynasty value is basically that final descent on a roller coaster before it pulls into the station and you get off.

Le'Veon Bell, New York Jets - RB23

Hmm, maybe there's something to be said for running back holdouts? The problem seems to be that for a position that is both dispensable and that features a short shelf life for players, holding out doesn't hold the same weight that it does at other positions. And so Bell is now playing for Adam Gase and won't ever be the set-and-forget RB1 he was in Pittsburgh again.

David Johnson, Houston Texans - RB29

Johnson's an interesting case. He's been injured a lot and he looked that a player who was on the downswing of his career at times last year. But he's also got some intriguing short term value in Houston. Bill O'Brien is going to use him a lot; volume alone could give him a year or two as a fringe fantasy RB1 still, provided he stays healthy and can be maybe...75 percent of his old self? Fantasy owners in win-now mode should have some interest here.

Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions - RB32

I like Kerryon Johnson, but he's a Lions running back, and you never want to be a Lions running back. Detroit drafted D'Andre Swift, ending all hopes that Johnson would be the team's bell cow this year. With Swift around, we don't even know how much longer Johnson will be part of this team, much less be their lead back.

 

Where The Top Rookies Rank

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City Chiefs - RB11

The only rookie to make it in our second tier is Clyde Edwards-Helaire. I like CEH. He was fun to watch during his last year at LSU. He's a dynamic weapon. He seems exactly like what you want from an Andy Reid running back. But part of me does worry that the Chiefs aren't the great landing spot we anticipate they are. Still, running back feels top-heavy this year, and Edwards-Helaire is in a better spot than anyone to break into the top tier.

Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts - RB14

Taylor was a machine for Wisconsin. Here are his college stats per Sports Reference:

I mean, look at that rushing total. If you want to be concerned about something, it's that 2019 was the first year that Taylor was involved in the passing game. If you want to be concerned about something else, the Colts have been a team that's rotated backs lately, and both Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines should have roles on this team. Still, Taylor was unstoppable in college with the ball in his hands. He was Giannis Antetokounmpo driving to the basket. That counts for something.

Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams - RB16

Akers is the Todd Gurley replacement in Los Angeles. While his redraft outlook is clouded by the presence of Darrell Henderson, our dynasty ranking for his projecting that the bulk of the carries for the Rams will eventually go to Akers. A well-rounded rusher who can handle early-down work, Akers at RB16 in your dynasty start-up might not help you win a title right away, but he's a good building block for the future.

J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens - RB17

Another player who won't help you win immediately, Dobbins will split carries with Mark Ingram this year, with Ingram likely seeing the bulk of the work. But as soon as 2021, Dobbins should be the lead back on a run-first team that will give him plenty of opportunities, even with quarterback Lamar Jackson taking a good chunk of the carries. This is a great landing spot, and you can get him at a good value right now instead of having to overpay in a trade to get him next year.

D'Andre Swift, Detroit Lions - RB18

One of the worst places for a young running back is Detroit, right? Two years after they used a second round pick on Kerryon Johnson, they used a second round pick on Swift. Swift finds himself sharing a committee with Johnson for the next couple of years, and while Swift's pass-catching acumen helps him carve out an important role here, this wasn't a great landing spot, and drafting him in a start-up as the RB18 feels risky, though there's obvious upside due to his talent.

 

Let's Find Some Value Guys!

Here are some players ranked outside of our top-24 who have a decent chance of one day breaking into our top-24.

James Conner, Pittsburgh Steelers - RB25

In 2018, James Conner was a rising star. In 13 games, he ran for 973 yards and 12 touchdowns while also adding 55 catches for 497 yards. Last year, in 10 games Conner had just 715 total yards. During an injury-plagued campaign, Conner never got it going. But there were some encouraging signs. He was 14th among running backs in production premium and fantasy points per game. He still scored seven touchdowns. While Conner's trending down, don't be surprised if a (hopefully) improved Steelers offense helps Conner re-find his footing.

Zack Moss, Buffalo Bills - RB43

The Bills took Zach Moss to be their Frank Gore replacement. In theory, Moss will complement the lead back, Devin Singletary, while seeing most of the goal line work. I wrote more about this situation last week, but the basics of it are that Singletary barely saw any touches inside the 10. Moss could be set to see all of that work for the Bills, and red zone carries are a good predictor of rushing touchdowns.

Ryquell Armstead, Jacksonville Jaguars - RB61

Part of why Jacksonville didn't draft a running back this year is that they felt good about Ryquell Armstead backing up Leonard Fournette. Could that trust in Armstead as the team's No. 2 back lead to trust in him as the top guy once Fournette is gone from Jacksonville? We didn't see a lot of Armstead last year because Fournette commanded such a huge share of this offense, but if the Jaguars continue into the future with their approach where one RB gets a majority of the carries, that guy could be Armstead.

More Dynasty League Strategy


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.




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Justin Herbert - Fantasy Football Rookie Spotlight

As fantasy football players and NFL fans, every year we get excited about the NFL draft. It is a time of hope where a franchise's luck can change for the better or for the worst. This rings especially true for the teams that decide to select a quarterback. The starting quarterback of an NFL team... Read More