2016 NFL Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings
Running backs have traditionally been the backbone of good fantasy football teams, and while good running backs are still important, the shift towards a committee approach throughout the NFL has made them much harder to come by. With most NFL teams now passing the ball more frequently, and most fantasy football leagues awarding points for receptions, the value of running backs has fallen. 2000 yard seasons and 20 touchdown seasons appears to be a thing of the past. Still, productive running backs are necessary in most leagues. Here are our rankings.
Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams. Gurley is in a good situation running behind a veteran offensive line with a rookie quarterback. If he can stay healthy he should get ample touches and be very productive.
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota. Peterson is still, pound for pound, the best running back in the NFL. As he ages his production will want but he should still be among the top running backs and his floor is much higher than most of the others.
DeVonte Freeman, Atlanta. Freeman’s breakout year in 2015 was impressive. While he isn’t likely to surpass, or even reach, those numbers he should have a top 5 season.
David Johnson, Arizona. Johnson is a bit of a dual threat for Arizona and plays in an offense that allows him to get the ball in situations where he can make plays in space.
Jamaal Charles, Kansas City. Injuries and age might catch up with Charles but he’s too good to not be a high pick in Andy Reid’s offense.
Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh. Bell would be the first or second ranked player on this list if not for the possibility of a 4 game suspension. He’ll be more productive in 12 games than most runners will be in 16 though.
LeSean McCoy, Buffalo. McCoy needs a break out year and the Bills need a break out year.
Doug Martin, Tampa Bay. Martin is underrated heading into 2016. He should put up similar numbers to 2015 and is a steady and dependable player.
CJ Anderson, Denver. Anderson is a workhorse. Hillman will continue to siphon some carries away from him but Anderson is still the starter in Denver.
Ezekial Elliott, Dallas. Elliott looks like a perfect fit in Dallas and fantasy prognosticators are already ranking him as a top 5 player. While that wouldn’t be shocking, it is a projection without any NFL action to back it up. The 9 players listed above Elliott are proven commodities, either coming off of big 2015 seasons, or over time. Don’t overthink it.
Lamar Miller, Houston. Like Elliott fantasy pundits are forecasting a huge year for Miller. While that is a possibility, it is far from a certainty.
Eddie Lacy, Green Bay. Remember when Lacy was a top 5 pick? He’s still in the same offense and now he should understand what having a sense of urgency means.
Thomas Rawles, Seattle. Rawls has flashed potential and is in a good situation. That doesn’t make him Marshawn Lynch.
DeMarco Murray, Tennessee. Murray needs to rebound this year and Tennessee will want to use him to protect Mariota and open up the passing game. I think he offers solid value with a high upside.
Matt Forte, New York Jets. Forte has a proven track record but finds himself in a new home. With his penchant for catching the ball Forte should produce consistently in a PPR league.
Carlos Hyde, San Francisco. Hyde is going to get a lot of carries. How many will he get before he gets hurt. A full season with 300 carries for Hyde could equal a huge year.
Jonathan Stewart, Carolina. Stewart will continue to do what he has always done. Carolina is built for a running back like Stewart.
Mark Ingram, New Orleans. Ingram will be solid and consistent but a marginal #2 starter.
Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati. Hill needs to play a full season at a high level. He has the ability. He needs the desire.
Latavius Murray, Oakland. Murray is an average back in a good situation.
Jeremy Langford, Chicago. See Murray except for the good situation part.
Frank Gore, Indianapolis. Gore, with an average season, should move deep into the top ten rushers of all time. The recent injuries to Andrew Luck, and the reinvestment in the offensive line, makes that look like a strong possibility.
Ryan Matthews, Philadelphia. Matthews has the talent but needs to do something with it. Pederson is a better head coach for him than Kelly.
Matt Jones, Washington. Washington has been a revolving door at running back since Clinton Portis retired.
Justin Forsett, Baltimore. He’s good when healthy.
Melvin Gordon, San Diego. On my most optimistic days I see Gordon as a sleeper.
Duke Johnson, Cleveland. Johnson should get a lot of work in Cleveland. Not good work exactly, but a lot of it.
Chris Ivory, Jacksonville. Meh.
Dion Lewis, New England. How many games will he get more touches than James White?
Arian Foster, Miami. It’s a nice story if it works out.
Ameer Abdullah, Detroit. Someone will have to catch Stafford passes and I would expect Abdullah to be among the league leaders.