2015 Fantasy Football: Week 16 Fantasy Running Back Rankings

Not only was it the best performance of the week, but it was also the best performance of the season for any running back.

On Sunday Night Football, Arizona Cardinals rookie running back David Johnson carried the ball 29 times for 187 yards and three touchdowns and added four catches for 42 yards as well.

Since taking over as the team's lead back (by necessity), Johnson has exceeded 110 yards from scrimmage in three consecutive games. In addition, he has a minimum of 24 touches in each of those games.

During that three-game span, Johnson has 378 rushing yards, 11 catches for 94 yards and four total touchdowns. In each of those games, he has a minimum of 12.3 fantasy points (standard scoring).

Despite his workhorse status over the past three weeks, Johnson still has just 135 touches on the season. (He had only only 54 touches through Week 12.) That said, he has scored a total of 12 touchdowns -- seven rushing, four receiving and one return -- this season.

It's unclear whether Andre Ellington will return in Week 16, but either way, Johnson has seized the lead-back role for good even if Bruce Arians has been reluctant to prominently feature rookies.

Hosting the Packers on Sunday, the Cardinals can clinch a first-round bye with a win. The Packers have allowed the 11th-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season and they have allowed only one 100-yard rusher (Darren McFadden) since Week 9.

With that said, Johnson is a top-three fantasy option in Championship Week.

Here are some more fantasy football notes on running backs:

  • On Christmas Eve, the Raiders will host the Chargers giving Latavius Murray fantasy owners an early present. So far this season, the Chargers have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs. In his first matchup against San Diego, Murray rushed for 85 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Murray has 20-plus carries in three of his past four games a total of 85 touches during that four-game span. Given his usage and the matchup, Murray is a top-eight option for me and he has top-three upside in Week 16.

  • With a huge four-touchdown performance on Sunday, San Diego's Danny Woodhead moved into the top-12 fantasy running backs this season. In fact, he's now the RB3 in PPR formats. While he's unlikely to score 30 fantasy points again this week, the team placed disappointing rookie Melvin Gordon on season-ending injured reserve. At a minimum, Woodhead is a viable start in standard-scoring formats and a must-start in PPR leagues this week.

  • Over the past five weeks, it's been a roller coaster ride for Eddie Lacy fantasy owners. In three of those five games, Lacy has rushed for 100-plus yards. In the other two, he has scored 0.1 and 2.3 fantasy points, respectively. Given the variance in his production and the tough matchup (Arizona has allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs), the range of possible outcomes for Lacy is very wide this week.

  • Indianapolis Colts running back Frank Gore has a minimum of 16 touches in seven consecutive games and an average of 20.57 per game over that stretch. In addition, no running back has a more favorable matchup as the Dolphins have allowed the most fantasy points to the position this season. That said, Gore has finished as the weekly RB35 (or worse) in four of his past five games.

  • St. Louis rookie running back Todd Gurley has undeniable talent and Gurley currently ranks third in the NFL in rushing (1,023 yards) behind Adrian Peterson (1,314) and Doug Martin (1,305). While the 10th overall pick has five 100-yard rushing games this season, he also has less than 50 rushing yards in four of his past six games. To make matters worse, he faces the Seahawks this week and no team has allowed fewer fantasy points this season.

  • Saints running back Tim Hightower had another productive outing in his new starter role. With 16 touches against the Lions, Hightower gained 85 yards from scrimmage and finished as fantasy's RB24 in Week 15. In his past two games, he has a total of 45 touches and 180 YFS and a touchdown. The Jaguars have been middle of the road in terms of fantasy points allowed to backs, but they have allowed only two running backs to gain more than 60 rushing yards since Week 6: LeSean McCoy (68, Week 7) and Antonio Andrews (78, Week 11).

  • With McCoy (MCL) likely out for the rest of the season, the team will turn to Karlos Williams and Mike Gillislee to handle the workload against the Cowboys in Week 16. Williams has averaged 6.0 yards per carry on limited carries (70) this season, but he has scored a total of seven touchdowns. Meanwhile, Gillislee has scored in back-to-back games and has 146 yards on his 14 carries in three games with Buffalo. The Cowboys have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs.

Below you find my Week 16 Fantasy Football RB Rankings:

1. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings (vs. NYG)
2. David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals (vs. GB)
3. DeAngelo Williams, Pittsburgh Steelers (at BAL)
4. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. CHI)
5. Charcandrick West, Kansas City Chiefs (vs. CLE)
6. Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons (vs. CAR)
7. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears (at TB)
8. Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders (vs. SD)
9. Todd Gurley, St. Louis Rams (at SEA)
10. Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins (vs. IND)
11. Darren McFadden, Dallas Cowboys (at BUF)
12. Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts (at MIA)
13. Chris Ivory, New York Jets (vs. NE)
14. Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers (at ARI)
15. Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers (at OAK)
16. Tim Hightower, New Orleans Saints (vs. JAX)
17. Karlos Williams, Buffalo Bills (vs. DAL)
18. Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals (at DEN)
19. Bilal Powell, New York Jets (vs. NE)
20. Denard Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars (at NO)
21. James White, New England Patriots (at NYJ)
22. Ryan Mathews, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. WAS)
23. Christine Michael, Seattle Seahawks (vs. STL)
24. Javorius Allen, Baltimore Ravens (vs. PIT)
25. Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals (at DEN)
26. Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (at MIN)
27. Matt Jones, Washington Redskins (at PHI)
28. Cameron Artis-Payne, Carolina Panthers (at ATL)
29. Ameer Abdullah, Detroit Lions (vs. SF)
30. Shaun Draughn, San Francisco 49ers (at DET)
31. Ronnie Hillman, Denver Broncos (vs. CIN)
32. James Starks, Green Bay Packers (at ARI)
33. Jeremy Langford, Chicago Bears (at TB)
34. Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins (at PHI)
35. C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos (vs. CIN)
36. Mike Gillislee, Buffalo Bills (vs. DAL)
37. Charles Sims, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. CHI)
38. Donald Brown, San Diego Chargers (at OAK)
39. Darren Sproles, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. WAS)
40. Alfred Blue, Houston Texans (at TEN)
41. Theo Riddick, Detroit Lions (vs. SF)
42. Jay Ajayi, Miami Dolphins (vs. IND)
43. Bryce Brown, Seattle Seahawks (vs. STL)
44. Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns (at KC)
45. DeMarco Murray, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. WAS)
46. Spencer Ware, Kansas City Chiefs (vs. CLE)
47. Brandon Bolden, New England Patriots (at NYJ)
48. Joique Bell, Detroit Lions (vs. SF)
49. Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns (at KC)
50. Shane Vereen, New York Giants (at MIN)

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