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Running Back Standard Rankings, Tiers and Analysis

In the NFL, everyone knows that quarterback is the most vital positions to the success of their team. But in fantasy football, the most vital position is running back, with seven of our top nine ranked players at the position. That's especially true in standard scoring leagues.

It's such a relief to have one of the top guys, like Christian McCaffrey or Ezekiel Elliott, but not every team is lucky enough to have a set-and-forget RB1. If you aren't lucky enough to be dealt a top pick, you have to scout harder to find the next breakout RB to save your team. Luckily, some of our Rotoballer experts have come together to create some standard league rankings to make it easier for you to find that breakout RB.

Below are RotoBaller's consensus staff rankings for the 2020 fantasy football season. These rankings are compiled by Nick MarianoPierre CamusScott EngelDominick Petrillo, Brandon Murchison and Antonio Losada.

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2020 Standard RB 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 Derrick Henry 5 1
5 1 Alvin Kamara 6 1
6 1 Dalvin Cook 7 1
7 1 Joe Mixon 9 1
8 2 Nick Chubb 13 2
9 2 Josh Jacobs 14 2
10 2 Kenyan Drake 17 2
11 2 Aaron Jones 19 3
12 2 Leonard Fournette 20 3
13 2 Austin Ekeler 22 3
14 3 Miles Sanders 25 3
15 3 Todd Gurley 28 3
16 3 Melvin Gordon 29 3
17 3 Chris Carson 32 3
18 3 Le'Veon Bell 34 3
19 3 Jonathan Taylor 36 3
20 3 Clyde Edwards-Helaire 40 4
21 3 Devin Singletary 44 4
22 3 D'Andre Swift 46 4
23 3 James Conner 47 4
24 4 David Johnson 53 5
25 4 Mark Ingram II 59 5
26 4 David Montgomery 61 5
27 4 Cam Akers 64 5
28 4 Raheem Mostert 65 5
29 4 Kareem Hunt 69 5
30 4 Jordan Howard 72 5
31 4 Marlon Mack 75 6
32 4 Sony Michel 77 6
33 4 Derrius Guice 79 6
34 4 J.K. Dobbins 80 6
35 5 Ke'Shawn Vaughn 83 6
36 5 Kerryon Johnson 85 6
37 5 Matt Breida 87 6
38 5 Ronald Jones II 88 6
39 5 Damien Williams 89 7
40 5 Phillip Lindsay 91 7
41 5 James White 93 7
42 5 Latavius Murray 97 7
43 5 Tevin Coleman 102 7
44 6 Tarik Cohen 115 8
45 6 Darrell Henderson 117 8
46 6 Nyheim Hines 119 8
47 6 Zack Moss 123 8
48 6 Boston Scott 124 8
49 6 Alexander Mattison 125 8
50 6 Duke Johnson 126 8
51 7 Adrian Peterson 134 9
52 7 Joshua Kelley 136 9
53 7 Jamaal Williams 137 9
54 7 A.J. Dillon 141 9
55 7 Chase Edmonds 147 9
56 7 Tony Pollard 151 9
57 8 Justin Jackson 162 10
58 8 Justice Hill 165 10
59 8 Giovani Bernard 166 10
60 8 Rashaad Penny 173 11
61 8 Gus Edwards 175 11
62 9 Malcolm Brown 188 11
63 9 Ryquell Armstead 194 11
64 9 Anthony McFarland Jr. 197 12
65 9 Darrynton Evans 199 12
66 9 Dion Lewis 200 12
67 9 Benny Snell Jr. 201 12
68 9 Devonta Freeman 211 12
69 9 Jaylen Samuels 218 13
70 9 Rex Burkhead 221 13
71 9 Ito Smith 228 13
72 9 Antonio Gibson 230 13
73 10 Jalen Richard 233 13
74 10 Damien Harris 235 13
75 10 Royce Freeman 238 13
76 10 Eno Benjamin 244 13
77 10 Darwin Thompson 249 14
78 10 Chris Thompson 251 14
79 10 Lamical Perine 255 14
80 10 DeAndre Washington 265 14
81 10 Carlos Hyde 266 14
82 11 Lamar Miller 269 15
83 11 Jerick McKinnon 275 15
84 11 Bryce Love 276 15
85 11 Mike Boone 281 15
86 11 Peyton Barber 282 15
87 11 Dare Ogunbowale 283 15
88 11 DeeJay Dallas 284 15
89 11 Jordan Wilkins 289 15
90 11 LeSean McCoy 301 15
91 11 Ryan Nall 303 15
92 11 Patrick Laird 304 15
93 12 Dwayne Washington 316 16
94 12 Reggie Bonnafon 317 16
95 12 Lynn Bowden Jr. 319 16
96 12 Brian Hill 320 16
97 12 Bo Scarbrough 323 16
98 12 Darrel Williams 324 16
99 12 Raymond Calais 325 16
100 12 Myles Gaskin 327 16
101 12 Qadree Ollison 332 16
102 12 T.J. Yeldon 334 16
103 12 Wayne Gallman 343 16
104 12 J.D. McKissic 345 16
105 13 Dexter Williams 346 17
106 12 Bilal Powell 348 17
107 13 Kalen Ballage 354 17
108 13 Ty Montgomery 355 17
109 13 Travis Homer 356 17
110 13 Kyle Juszczyk 357 17
111 13 Frank Gore 361 17
112 13 Ty Johnson 362 17
113 13 James Robinson 363 17
114 13 Devine Ozigbo 368 17
115 13 Jeff Wilson 374 17
116 13 Mike Davis 375 17
117 13 Rodney Anderson 379 17
118 13 John Kelly 386 18
119 13 Trayveon Williams 387 18
120 13 Kerrith Whyte Jr. 388 18
121 13 Corey Clement 389 18
122 13 Dontrell Hilliard 390 18
123 13 C.J. Anderson 400 18
124 13 Devontae Booker 402 18
125 13 J.J. Taylor 414 18
126 13 Rico Dowdle 445 18
127 13 Wendell Smallwood 449 18

 

Tier One

This is a large top tier with seven players: Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott, Derrick Henry, Alvin Kamara, Dalvin Cook, and Joe Mixon.

Christian McCaffrey is obvious the No. 1 player in our rankings after a season in which he had 1387 rushing yards and 1,005 receiving yards. Saquon Barkley isn't far behind after running for over 1,000 yards last season despite dealing with an ankle injury.

Ezekiel Elliott has been the most consistent running back on the field over the last four years, averaging nearly 100 rushing yards per game (96.5) in his career. Derrick Henry gets the biggest boost in standard leagues because while he's not a great pass-catcher, he's a freight-train runner as we saw in the playoffs where he led the Tennessee Titans to the AFC championship with 83 carries for 446 rushing yards.

Alvin Kamara was disappointing last year but remains one of the best dual-threat running backs in the league. Dalvin Cook is the most worrisome of these ranks this year as he has recently announced his intention to hold out until he receives a contract extension. And Joe Mixon rounds out tier one after his second straight 1100+ yard rushing season.

 

Tier Two

Tier two consists of just three players this year: Nick Chubb, Josh Jacobs, and Kenyan Drake.

Nick Chubb leads off this tier. Talentwise, he belongs in tier one. However, Chubb will have to share some of his workload with Kareem Hunt which bumps him down to tier two. Josh Jacobs had a phenomenal rookie season and is probably the safest draft selection in this tier for standard play with little competition for touches and a full season of being a bell-cow under his belt. Kenyan Drake rounds out this tier. Drake is the riskiest player in this tier, but arguably has the most upside. Drake has never rushed for more than 850 rushing yards in his previous four seasons in the league, but he's the #1 running back in Kliff Kingsbury's offense and closed out 2019 very strong for the Cardinals: 123 carries, 643 rushing yards, 28 receptions, 171 receiving yards, eight touchdowns.

 

Tier Three

Tier three is larger than tier two, consisting of: Aaron Jones, Leonard Fournette, Austin Ekeler, Miles Sanders, Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon, Chris Carson, Le'Veon Bell, and Jonathan Taylor.

This is the tier where the draft really gets interesting for running backs in standard leagues as many of the players have massive upside, but some big question marks. Aaron Jones was one of the best backs in standard leagues last year running for over 1,000 yards and scoring 19 touchdowns, but he may be dealing with more competition with the Packers drafting A.J. Dillon in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft.

Leonard Fournette has been one of the few true workhorses in the NFL in recent years. Fournette is due for some positive regression for his touchdown total after scoring only three last year, but will likely see a dip in receiving production with the Jaguars adding Chris Thompson.

Austin Ekeler broke out last season and will no longer have to compete with Melvin Gordon, but he's never been given 135+ carries and may be more reliant on receiving production than the rest of his tier three counterparts. Miles Sanders really came on strong at the end of his rookie year and ended his campaign with 818 rushing yards and 509 receiving yards. With no Jordan Howard in the mix, he has an opportunity to get more carries than any back in Doug Pederson's tenure as the Eagles head coach.

Chris Carson is a player who gets a boost from the standard league format, but will have competition for reps with newly signed Carlos Hyde and with former 1st round pick Rashaad Penny when he returns from injury.

Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon, and Le'Veon Bell were some of the best fantasy running backs regardless of format not too long ago, but are on different teams now and all three were disappointing in 2019. Rookie Jonathan Taylor is unproven in the NFL, but was one of the best running backs in college football last season and will be running a very talented Indianapolis Colts offensive line.

 

Tier Four 

The members of tier four include: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Devin Singletary, D'Andre Swift, and James Conner.

If you're the type of fantasy player that guns for upside, Clyde Edwards-Helaire may have the highest upside of any rookie fantasy back as he joins a high-scoring Chiefs offense. If you're looking for the safest player to be an RB2 in this tier, Devin Singletary is your best bet as the Bills are a run-heavy team and he'll only have to share the load with Zack Moss.

D'Andre Swift has the talent, but the Lions don't run the ball very much and are likely to run a committee between Swift and Kerryon Johnson. James Conner was a huge draft bust last year but has an opportunity to bounce-back for a Pittsburgh Steelers offense that will see the return of Ben Roethlisberger.

 

Tier Five

Tier five is one of my personal favorite tiers for value and it consists of David Johnson, Mark Ingram, David Montgomery, Cam Akers, Raheem Mostert, Kareem Hunt, and Jordan Howard.

David Johnson was one of the best backs in fantasy back in 2016 when he ran for 1239 yards, caught 80 passes for 879 receiving yards, and scored 20 touchdowns. But in the three seasons since then (30 games played), Johnson has only ran for 1308 yards, caught 92 passes for 883 receiving yards, and 16 touchdowns. Now traded to the Houston Texans where he'll be their primary back, Johnson will have to try and prove that he's still a talented back.

Mark Ingram has been one of the most consistent fantasy assets in recent years running for over 1000+ yards in three of the last four seasons. If he can hold off rookie J.K. Dobbins, he will be a great value for a talented Baltimore Ravens offense. David Montgomery gets a huge boost in value in standard play as he is locked in as the between-the-tackles back for the Chicago Bears and he doesn't catch a lot of passes due to the presence of Tarik Cohen.

Cam Akers has arguably the most upside in this tier as the likely starting back of the Los Angeles Rams offense who have scored 60 rushing touchdowns in the last 3 seasons. Raheem Mostert played extremely well for the San Francisco 49ers from week 12 on (9 games) taking 133 touches for 859 yards, and scoring 13 touchdowns. On the flip side, Kyle Shanahan has been known to use the hot-hand and Mostert has only gotten 20+ carries in one game of his entire career.

Kareem Hunt is the most talented player in this tier, but has to split reps with another extremely talented back in Nick Chubb. Jordan Howard is one of highest floor, lowest ceiling players in tier five for standard play as he will be the lead back for the Miami Dolphins.

 

Tier Six

Tier six consists of Marlon Mack, Sony Michel, Derrius Guice, J.K. Dobbins, Ke'Shawn Vaughn, Kerryon Johnson, Matt Breida, and Ronald Jones.

This tier is primarily composed of talented backs in shared backfields and lead backs on teams that are projected to have poor rushing attacks. Sony Michel is a player who gets a major boost in standard play because his inability to catch the ball is not nearly as important as it would be in a PPR league. Derrius Guice is expected to lead the Washington Redskins backfield in a committee that also features Adrian Peterson and Bryce Love. Rookie Ke'Shawn Vaughn and third-year player Ronald Jones are directly competing with each other for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lead back role where the winner will provide strong value in standard play.

Marlon Mack, J.K. Dobbins, Kerryon Johnson, and Matt Breida are projected to be on the lesser end of their committees but have the talent to provide great fantasy returns in standard leagues. Mack went for over 1000 yards on the ground last year and he'd be a very high draft pick in standard play if the Colts didn't draft Jonathan Taylor 41st overall. Dobbins is the player with the most upside in this tier as the talented rookie running back joins a Baltimore Ravens team that had the most rushing attempts and rush yards last year. Kerryon Johnson has been a very efficient back for the Lions, but has been plagued with injuries in the past and will have to compete second-round draft pick D'Andre Swift. Matt Breida will be in a committee with Jordan Howard, and will be a solid FLEX play when he's healthy.

 

Tier Seven

This tier consists of players who will have a role in their offenses, but it is unclear how large: Damien Williams, Phillip Lindsay, James White, Latavius Murray, and Tevin Coleman.

Damien Williams played extremely well in Super Bowl LVIII with over 100 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns but will have to compete with Kansas City Chiefs first-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire for reps. Phillip Lindsay has been the best player in this tier for standard play the last two seasons with two consecutive seasons of over 1200 yards from scrimmage, but with the Denver Broncos signing Melvin Gordon his role for 2020 is a little less clear. As a pass-catching back, James White is a much better player in PPR rather than standard. Latavius Murray and Tevin Coleman are two of the best handcuffs in the league and can be good FLEX options/bye-week replacements this season.

 

The Rest 

While we don't have these players ranked as highly as some of the players listed above, there is quite a bit of value to be had in these later rounds. Alexander Mattison's fantasy value skyrockets if Dalvin Cook continues his holdout as the lead back in Gary Kubiak's scheme. There are quite a few rookie and sophomore running backs that could surprise and provide strong value in standard leagues like Zack Moss, A.J. Dillon, Darrell Henderson, Bryce Love, or Joshua Kelley. There are some veteran free agents like Devonta Freeman and Lamar Miller that will gain fantasy value if they sign with a team in need of a running back.

More Fantasy Football Analysis


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.