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Fantasy Football: 2019 Running Back Rankings and Tiers

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The previous 2 articles were to get you guys up to speed on the QBs and TEs, now it’s time to move onto the meat and potatoes of Fantasy Football, the RBs. Don’t forget, as always, these fantasy football rankings are in the order of my personal preference. If they are within the same tier, they should be within the same range from a fantasy point projections perspective. Feel free to choose whom you prefer. So, without further ado, let’s get in to the 2019 Running Back Rankings and Tiers.

Tier 1 – Elite


Saquan Barkley – New York Giants
Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints
Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers
Ezekiel Elliott – Dallas Cowboys

The common thought now is RBs are replaceable, but Barkley is 1 of the few special talents that is another type of breed. He’s a legit threat every year for 2000+ total yards and 15 TDs. Kamara will get you a floor of 1600 yards and 16 TDs, without Ingram, he could do near to Barkley numbers. McCaffrey ay not get as much TDs, but he’ll come darn close to around 2000 total yards to go with around 12 TDs. Elliott is not the pass catcher that the other 3 are, but he’s almost a guarantee of 1800+ yards to go with 9-10 TDs.

Tier 2 – Top 5 Possible

Todd Gurley – Los Angeles Rams
Le’Veon Bell – New York Jets
Melvin Gordon – Los Angeles Chargers
David Johnson – Arizona Cardinals

Because of how the year ended for him, Todd Gurley has been dropping to the end of the 1st round and even early 2nd round in fantasy drafts, don’t let yourself make this mistake. I wouldn’t take him top 5 overall, but 7-8 is his sweet spot. Bell apologized to his fantasy owners for sitting out last year and I fully believe he will make it up to them. He’s still a 1st round pick, albeit late 1st. Gordon will be a top 7-8 back, as long as he actually reports to the team. Johnson has big talent, but is behind a bad line, very risky.

Tier 3 – Rest of the #1 Backs

Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals
Nick Chubb – Cleveland Browns
James Connor – Pittsburgh Steelers
Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans

Mixon is poised for a big year, and could be ranked higher in keeper and dynasty leagues, a potential stud, if his team was better. Chubb grabbed the starting job and ran with it. He started half the year and ended as a top 15 back. The only worry is Hunt is there if he doesn’t start the year well. Connor has shown he can put up big numbers in that offense, I think this is the perfect range for him. Henry ended the year hotter than any other RB. Titans seem committed to making him the focal point of the offense.

Tier 4 – Borderline #1 Backs

Damien Williams – Kansas City Chiefs
Dalvin Cook – Minnesota Vikings
Josh Jacobs – Oakland Raiders
David Montgomery – Chicago Bears
Aaron Jones – Green Bay Packers
Devonte Freeman – Atlanta Falcons

If you are in a PPR, Williams moves up above Henry. There is 1 thing that is certain in fantasy football, Andy Reid knows how to put his running backs in a position to score big points, not matter who that are. Cook just need to stay healthy to show how talented he can be. He’s a risk, but had 1500 yards and 10 TD potential. Josh Jacobs will be the bellcow for the Oakland Raiders. Will Isaiah Crowell done for the year and Doug Martin not much of a threat, he could be in for a lot of carries. He runs violently.

Montgomery isn’t the strongest or the fastest, but he always seems to be balanced, has great vision, and he’s a very good pass catcher. He could quietly be a top 15 back. Aaron Jones happens to be on a team that can move the ball, yet uses their RB inside the 5. That is the perfect scenario for any RB. Jones numbers are much better than you’d probably expect. Freeman is coming off an injury-filled year, but he seems mostly healthy and he was a top 10 back the year before.

Tier 5 – Starters

Leonard Fournette – Jacksonville Jaguars
Kerryon Johnson – Detroit Lions
Miles Sanders – Philadelphia Eagles
Marlon Mack – Indianapolis Colts
Mark Ingram – Baltimore Ravens
Chris Carson – Seattle Seahawks

Fournette is the exactly opposite of Montgomery. He has elite size and speed, but his issue is he seems to lack feel for the game and he’s not a good pass catcher. He fits better as a player in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s. Johnson ended the 5 years drought of a 100-yard rusher. He could also be the 1st 1000-yard Lions RB since that same year in 2013. He’s got big time talent. Sanders is a do everything type back that would be ranked higher if Howard wasn’t still on the team.

Mack is the perfect fit for the Colts offense. He isn’t going to get 300 carries, but he can get a little over 200 carries and be a steady presence in a high-flying offense. Ingram finally breaks away from the Saints and now will be the main guy in Baltimore. The offense could lead to him having 1 of his best year. He must beware of Lamar Jackson stealing a few of a TDs. Carson finished last year as a top 15 RB, but Penny is breathing down his neck, I’ll get to more on that later.

Tier 6 – Flex Options

Phillip Lindsay – Denver Broncos
Kalen Ballage – Miami Dolphins
Tevin Coleman – San Francisco 49ers
Sony Michel – New England Patriots
Derrius Guice – Washington Redskins
LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills

Lindsay was the undrafted free agent that came out of nowhere to be the darling of the NFL. Now that people know about him, we get to see if the league has caught up to him. Ballage averaged over 5 yards per carry as a rookie and is now looking to take over the full-time starting position from Drake. At the time of this article, Drake is injured and Ballage has a great opportunity to lock down the starting job. Coleman was the big free agent acquisition for SF. He will be what they wanted McKinnon to be.

Michel should be higher than I have him, but the Pats will hold him back to where I can’t really rank him much higher. They will have White and Harris in the mix. They are the only team that will have 3 players talked about in this article. I’m a big fan of Guice, but he is coming back from a serious injury and the Redskins seem to have about 5 RBs on that roster. Whoever starts for Buffalo, where is McCoy, Singletary, Gore, or Yeldon, they should be all around the same range as a flex option.

Tier 7 – Bye Week Options

Lamar Miller – Houston Texans
Peyton Barber – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Devin Singletary – Buffalo Bills
Adrian Peterson – Washington Redskins

I have always been a big fan of Miller, but he just doesn’t seem to be effective in that offense. It maybe time for a change, more on that later. Barber isn’t very good, but they had no one else to take the job, the questions will be asked if Jones can regain his confidence and take the job. Singletary is taking a lot of snaps with the 1st team and may replace the guy that he runs so much like, in McCoy. Peterson is in a crowded backfield, but if Guice gets hurt, he can have a similar year to last year, which means top 20.

Tier 8 – 3rd Down and Goal line Backs

James White – New England Patriots
Tarik Cohen – Chicago Beers
Duke Johnson – Houston Texans
Matt Breida – San Francisco 49ers
Latavius Murray – New Orleans Saints
Dion Lewis – Tennessee Titans
Austin Ekeler – Los Angeles Chargers
Giovanni Bernard – Cincinnati Bengals

Everyone in his group will be on the field for significant plays, whether is on 3rd down or as a goalline back. White and Cohen will be huge parts of the offense for the Pats and Bears respectively. Johnson could take over in Houston if given the correct opportunity. He averaged over 6 yards a carry last year and as I said earlier, Miller has not impressed. Breida is a Coleman injury away from being a solid flex option like he was all year last year.

Murray is in line to possibly get a lot of TD as he will take over the Mark Ingram role in New Orleans. He could approach 10 TDs without really being on the field for too much. Lewis will not only give Henry a rest every couple drives, but will also be the pass-catching back for the Titans. Ekeler will be the 3rd down back for the Chargers and could be in-line for a large role if Gordon continues how holdout. Bernard isn’t an exciting option, but he’s a Mixon injury away from at least being a top 25 RB.

Tier 9 – Stash and wait

Kareem Hunt – Cleveland Browns
Darrell Henderson – Los Angeles Rams
Rashaad Penny – Seattle Seahawks
Kenyon Drake – Miami Dolphins
Jordan Howard – Philadelphia Eagles
Tony Pollard – Dallas Cowboys
Damien Harris – New England Patriots
Ronald Jones – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Hunt was a top 5 RB in KC, but as I said earlier, Reid is great for fantasy RBs, and also Chubb is already the starter, but Hunt is a must pick for if Chubb gets hurt or starts off badly. Henderson will be there to take some of the load off Gurley, and if Todd is hurt again, Henderson could be a monster fill-in. Penny played on the same level, of not better than Carson at the end of the year. He looks ready to take over. Drake never seems to be given a fair shot. If he does get a fair shot, he’s a top 15 RB in my opinion.

Howard will, at best, split time with Sanders, but he is talented and could be very good if Sanders went down. Pollard could get some early season work if Elliott continues his holdout. Even if Elliott comes back, it appears that Pollard will have a significant space in the offense. Harris was a 3rd round pick by the Pats and is an ultra-expensive insurance for if Michel gets hurt. Jones started his career bad ad lost all confidence, but I know from watching him in college that he does have good talent, needs a boost.

I think the RB group is about 24 guys deep. You can easily get 2 top 24 RBs, but after that, you really have to decide if the next group is good enough to start as an every week flex. If it was me, I would go RB for 2 of the 1st 3 rounds in the draft, because you don’t want to hit that drop-off when you are drafting your 2nd RB. We’ve got 1 more position to get through before you can start drafting your future fantasy football championship team. So next up, the WRs.

If you want fantasy advice during the season, you can reach me on twitter @pacman453323 or checkout my weekly fantasy podcast on youtube (information within my twitter).

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