Fantasy Football Rankings: 2018 Running BacksUpdated: Sunday, July 15th
Scoring: These rankings are based on standard-scoring formats -- one point per 10 rushing yards, six points per rushing touchdown plus one point per 10 receiving yards and six points per receiving touchdown. These rankings are for the 2018 NFL season.
Our 2018 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings from Kevin Hanson:
1. Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers (Bye: 7)
Franchise tagged for the second time in as many offseasons, Bell is unlikely to report before the end of the preseason if the two sides are unable to reach a long-term deal before the looming July 16th cutoff. Aside from his six-game 2015 season, the three-down workhorse has 1,200-plus rushing yards, 75-plus receptions and 600-plus receiving yards in three of his past four seasons.
2. Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams (Bye: 12)
What a difference a year (coach) makes! Leading all running backs in fantasy points scored, Gurley compiled 2,093 yards from scrimmage and 19 touchdowns, both of which led the NFL. Repeating those lofty numbers in back-to-back seasons may be unreasonable for Gurley (or any NFL player), but he or Le'Veon Bell will be the top-overall pick in most fantasy drafts this summer.
3. David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals (Bye: 9)
Missing all but part of Week 1 last year, Johnson is two seasons removed from 2,118 yards from scrimmage, 80 catches and 20 touchdowns. The ambitious goals he set for himself in 2017 -- 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards -- remain his goals for 2018. The order may be debatable, but Johnson is a top-four fantasy back along side Todd Gurley, Le'Veon Bell and Ezekiel Elliott.
4. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys (Bye: 8)
The rushing champion as a rookie, Elliott served a six-game suspension in 2017 but led the league in rushing yards per game (98.3) with a larger workload (24.2 carries per game) in his sophomore campaign. With limited weapons in the passing game, Elliott and the Cowboys will face many eight-men fronts, but the former Buckeye should get north of 300 carries with a chance for another rushing title.
5. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (Bye: 9)
Over the past two years, a rookie running back -- Ezekiel Elliott (2016) and Kareem Hunt (2017) -- has led the NFL in rushing. Arguably the most talented back to enter the league since Adrian Peterson, Barkley has a rare combination of size (233 pounds) and athleticism (4.4 forty and 41-inch vertical) and was highly productive (3,801 YFS and 43 TDs over past two seasons) at Penn State. The do-it-all back is a top-five fantasy option with legitimate upside to lead the position in fantasy points as a rookie.
6. Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers (Bye: 8)
Gordon has yet to average 4.0 yards per carry in a season, but last year he rushed for 1,105 yards and added 58 catches for 476 yards, all of which were career highs. And after not scoring on 217 touches as a rookie, MG3 has scored exactly 12 touchdowns in each of the past two seasons. Ex-Chargers HOFer LaDainian Tomlinson said "the first thing I thought about when Hunter [Henry] went down, is Melvin is going to have to become a weapon in the passing game. Hunter makes easy throws for Philip, easy first downs and easy red zone targets. Now somebody has to pick up that role, and that can be Melvin."
7. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints (Bye: 6)
Due to efficiency (6.1 YPC and 10.2 Y/R) and 14 touchdowns (eight rushing, five receiving and one return), Kamara finished as a top-four fantasy back (RB3 in PPR) as a rookie. Even though that level of efficiency won't be sustainable, Kamara was slated for a larger workload even before Mark Ingram was suspended for four games. An increase to 250-plus touches (from 201) could mean that Kamara repeats as a top-five fantasy back in 2018.
8. Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars (Bye: 9)
Missing three games as a rookie, Fournette was less than 100 percent for several others but managed to finish as fantasy's RB8 (RB10 in PPR) in Jacksonville's run-first scheme. With the league's best defense and a run-first offensive philosophy, the workhorse back has a chance to lead the NFL in carries if he can stay healthy for a full season.
9. Kareem Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs (Bye: 12)
The 2017 rushing champion, Hunt started and finished his rookie season strong with a bit of a slump in the middle. Not only did Hunt rush for 100-plus yards in four of his first five games, but he racked up 100-plus YFS first seven games of his career. Posting 1,782 YFS, 53 receptions and 11 touchdowns as a rookie, Hunt will be a first-round pick in fantasy drafts this summer.
10. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings (Bye: 10)
Before having his rookie season cut short by a torn ACL, the Florida State product carried the ball 74 times for 354 yards (4.78 YPC) and two touchdowns with 11 catches for 90 yards. Cook was on a 16-game pace of 1,776 yards from scrimmage, 44 catches and eight touchdowns. If he's able to stay healthy, Cook has top-five upside in what should be a run-heavy offense.
11. Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons (Bye: 8)
Based on current ADP from Fantasy Football Calculator, Freeman is the 13th running back off the board in early fantasy drafts. Missing two-plus games last season, Freeman still managed to finish as the RB13 after much better seasons in 2015 (RB1) and 2016 (RB6). Over the past three seasons, only Todd Gurley (4,599), Le'Veon Bell (4,522) and LeSean McCoy (4,396) have more yards from scrimmage than Freeman (4,357) and his 35 touchdowns are tied with Gurley for the most over that stretch.
12. Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears (Bye: 5)
A top-10 fantasy back in both seasons to start his career, Howard has rushed for 1,100-plus yards in back-to-back seasons. Handling the ball 299 times in 2017, Howard was less efficient than his rookie season, but he finished with 1,247 yards from scrimmage and nine touchdowns.
13. LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills (Bye: 11)
Averaging a career-low 4.0 yards per carry, McCoy was a do-it-all option for the Bills last season. Not only did he rush for 1,138 yards and six touchdowns, but he led the team in targets (77) and receptions (59) and was second to only Charles Clay in receiving yards (448). Going into his age-30 season, Shady will remain the focal point of Buffalo's offense.
14. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals (Bye: 9)
Now a "svelte" 225 pounds (compared to 238 last rookie minicamp), Mixon is poised for bigger things in his sophomore campaign. The versatile back averaged just 3.5 yards per carry last season behind one of the league's worst offensive lines, but the trade for Cordy Glenn and first-round selection of Billy Price give the line two big upgrades.
15. Jerick McKinnon, San Francisco 49ers (Bye: 11)
Signed to a $30 million contract, McKinnon gets an opportunity to be a lead back for the first time in his career. Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee recently wrote: "The over/under on his catches for the season might be 73, the highest number that Devonta Freeman caught when Shanahan was coaching him with the Falcons." Running backs in Kyle Shanahan's offense typically flourish and McKinnon has a ton of upside this year.
16. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers (Bye: 4)
As a rookie, McCaffrey finished with 80 receptions, 1,086 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns as he scored the 15th-most fantasy points (ninth-most in PPR). The signing of C.J. Anderson deals a blow to what appeared to be a massive opportunity for McCaffrey, but the second-year back has a chance to post better year-over-year numbers in 2018.
17. Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks (Bye: 7)
The Seahawks used the 27th overall pick on Penny, which (of course) assures that he'll be the team's featured back. With good size (5-11, 220) and speed (4.46 forty), Penny could be used as a three-down back by the Seahawks.
18. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans (Bye: 8)
Compared to his rookie season (123 touches in 2016), Henry saw a significant bump in his workload (187 touches) in 2017. With DeMarco Murray out and Dion Lewis in, Henry should see another boost to his workload. Even with last year's increase, Henry (187) was still out-touched by Murray (223) last season. A big, bruising back (with excellent speed), Henry wears down defenses as the game progresses.
19. Derrius Guice, Washington Redskins (Bye: 4)
Regardless of why he slipped to the middle of Round 2, Guice is arguably the second-most talented running back in this year's rookie class. While Guice should dominate touches on first and second down, coach Jay Gruden comments about the rookie's pass-catching skills — "it's been very exciting" — is encouraging.
20. Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints (Bye: 6)
Even with rookie Alvin Kamara finishing as fantasy's RB4, Ingram set career highs in 2017 with 1,124 rushing yards, 12 touchdowns, 58 receptions and 416 receiving yards. To a certain degree, Ingram's four-game suspension creates more fantasy appeal. Granted, his full-season production will be lower, but filling his RB2 spot in the first four weeks without the burden of (many) byes isn't difficult and there is a discount given the level of strong production from Weeks 5 to 16.
21. Jay Ajayi, Philadelphia Eagles (Bye: 9)
On limited regular-season touches (70 carries and 10 receptions in seven games), Ajayi averaged 5.8 yards per carry and 9.1 yards per reception. Ajayi saw a postseason workload bump with 42 carries and six receptions over three playoff games and he's poised for a larger workload heading into 2018 with LeGarrette Blount in Detroit.
22. Kenyan Drake, Miami Dolphins (Bye: 11)
Over the final five games of the 2017 season, Drake ran for a league-high 444 yards on 91 carries (4.88 YPC) with two touchdowns and added 17 receptions for 150 yards. Adding future HOFer Frank Gore to the running back room with rookie Kalen Ballage likely means that Drake won't see his December workload (21.6 touches per game) carry over into the 2018 season even though he's likely to be the team's most productive back.
23. Alex Collins, Baltimore Ravens (Bye: 10)
Collins had double-digit carries in the final 12 games of the season, but he didn't get his first reception until Week 8. From Week 8 to 17, the second-year back had the eighth-most fantasy points among running backs.
24. Tevin Coleman, Atlanta Falcons (Bye: 8)
Even if he's the 2 in the team's 1-2 rushing attack, Coleman has finished as a top-24 running back and exceeded 900 yards from scrimmage in each of the past two seasons. The contract-year back has scored 19 total touchdowns since 2016.
25. Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions (Bye: 6)
Without a 100-yard rusher since Reggie Bush (2013, three times) and ranking last in rushing offense last year, the Lions traded up in the second round for Johnson. The SEC Offensive Player of the Year and conference rushing champion, Johnson rushed for 1,391 yards and scored 20 total touchdowns for Auburn last season and is the favorite to lead Detroit's backfield in workload and production in 2018.
26. Rex Burkhead, New England Patriots (Bye: 11)
Missing six games in his first season with the Patriots, Burkhead scored eight touchdowns as he rushed for 264 yards and added 30 catches for 254 yards. Even though Dion Lewis is now in Tennessee, the Patriots drafted Georgia's Sony Michel in the first round and there will still be plenty of week-to-week volatility in the production of New England's running backs. That said, I'd expect Burkhead to lead the backfield in touchdowns and we've seen LeGarrette Blount rush for 18 touchdowns only two seasons ago.
27. Dion Lewis, Tennessee Titans (Bye: 8)
With Lewis likely to be more involved on passing downs, Henry and Lewis should form a 1-2 punch for the Titans backfield. Even though I expect Henry to lead the duo in touches, I see somewhere in the neighborhood of a 55-45 split between the two backs. Lewis had 212 touches for the Patriots last season and finished as fantasy's RB12 (RB13 in PPR), but his week-to-week role should be even more secure in Tennessee.
28. Marshawn Lynch, Oakland Raiders (Bye: 7)
After taking a year off, Lynch returned to the NFL and rushed for 891 yards and seven touchdowns and added 20 catches for 151 yards in 2017. Now 32 years old, there's the possibility that another Oakland native takes the role of lead back. That said, I still expect Beast Mode to lead the backfield in workload and production.
29. Lamar Miller, Houston Texans (Bye: 10)
Miller has two 1,000-yard seasons since 2014, but he was even less efficient in 2017 (career-low 3.7 YPC) than he was in 2016 (4.0). The Texans have one of the league's worst offensive lines (actually the worst if you go by PFF rankings) and the line won't be markedly better in 2018. Even more troubling for Miller, D'Onta Foreman could eventually emerge as the primary back with Miller serving more of a complementary passing-down type of role.
30. Royce Freeman, Denver Broncos (Bye: 10)
It's more than possible that Freeman becomes that the lead guy at some point during the season even if he doesn't begin the season in that role. A four-year starter for the Ducks, the 230-pound back rushed for 5,621 (5.9 YPC) yards and 60 touchdowns in his career while adding 79/814/4 receiving.
31. Ronald Jones, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Bye: 5)
While he may lack the size (205 pounds) of being a workhorse back, Jones has elite burst and explosiveness and has drawn his share of comparisons to Jamaal Charles. With Doug Martin released and now in Oakland, Jones figures to lead the backfield in touches even if he's sharing the workload with Peyton Barber and Charles Sims.
32. Sony Michel, New England Patriots (Bye: 11)
Expectations would be through the roof for most running backs selected in the first round. For the Patriots, however, it's anyone's guess how the workload will be allocated in any given week. Given his draft pedigree (and talent, of course), Michel figures to be heavily involved more often than not and it wouldn't surprise me if he finished as the team's most productive fantasy back.
33. Jamaal Williams, Green Bay Packers (Bye: 7)
With both Ty Montgomery and Aaron Jones missing time, only three running backs had more carries than Williams (122) from Week 10 on -- Melvin Gordon (137), Frank Gore (134) and LeSean McCoy (130). That said, Williams averaged only 3.6 yards per carry as a rookie and the workload allocation for the team's top-three backs could be fluid throughout the season. A two-game suspension of Aaron Jones to start the season helps.
34. Isaiah Crowell, New York Jets (Bye: 11)
Only 25 years old, Crowell signed a three-year deal in free agency with the Jets this offseason. With 850-plus rushing yards in each of the past two seasons, Crowell does not necessarily get an offensive upgrade with his new club and I expect similar production in 2018.
35. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns (Bye: 11)
Going into the draft, most expected the Browns to take a Chubb. While they passed on one Chubb (cousin Bradley at No. 4), the Browns selected another (Nick) with the first pick of Round 2. Even though they signed Carlos Hyde to a three-year deal, Chubb could still lead the team in carries. ESPN's Pat McManamon writes: "It would not be surprising to see Chubb get the bulk of the every-down carries."
36. Devontae Booker, Denver Broncos (Bye: 10)
With the Broncos releasing C.J. Anderson this offseason, Booker has a chance to enter the season as the starter, but I'm not sure that he'll end the season as the team's lead back. The Broncos used a third-round pick on Royce Freeman, who could/should overtake Booker at some point during the season.
37. Marlon Mack, Indianapolis Colts (Bye: 9)
With Frank Gore no longer in the picture, Mack is the favorite for the largest share of the backfield's workload, but Indianapolis drafted running backs Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins in the fourth and fifth rounds, respectively. Mack, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, had 583 YFS, 21 receptions and four touchdowns with an average of 3.8 YPC as a rookie in 2017.
38. C.J. Anderson, Carolina Panthers (Bye: 4)
Released by the Broncos this offseason, Anderson has a legitimate shot to lead the team in carries even though McCaffrey should be the team's most productive fantasy running back. CJA should get the most goal-line opportunities among the team's running backs, but in essence, Cam Newton is the team's goal-line back.
39. D'Onta Foreman, Houston Texans (Bye: 10)
Foreman's rookie season was cut short due to an Achilles injury. Assuming he's ready for the start of the season, which "remains up in the air" at this point, Foreman should at least form a committee with Lamar Miller and it's certainly possible that he handles the larger share of the split by season's end.
40. Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals (Bye: 9)
Mixon missed some time, but Bernard was highly productive down the stretch. In five December games, Bernard had 507 YFS, averaged 4.75 YPC with 24 receptions and two scores. Currently drafted outside the top-50 running backs (via FFC), Gio offers late-round value as a back that could return flex value.
Here are the best of the rest:
41. Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns (Bye: 11)
42. Carlos Hyde, Cleveland Browns (Bye: 11)
43. Chris Thompson, Washington Redskins (Bye: 4)
44. Latavius Murray, Minnesota Vikings (Bye: 10)
45. Tarik Cohen, Chicago Bears (Bye: 5)
46. James White, New England Patriots (Bye: 11)
47. Ty Montgomery, Green Bay Packers (Bye: 7)
48. Darren Sproles, Philadelphia Eagles (Bye: 9)
49. Frank Gore, Miami Dolphins (Bye: 11)
50. Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers (Bye: 7)
51. Corey Clement, Philadelphia Eagles (Bye: 9)
52. Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers (Bye: 8)
53. LeGarrette Blount, Detroit Lions (Bye: 6)
54. Doug Martin, Oakland Raiders (Bye: 7)
55. Chris Ivory, Buffalo Bills (Bye: 11)
56. Peyton Barber, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Bye: 5)
57. Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts (Bye: 9)
58. Kenneth Dixon, Baltimore Ravens (Bye: 10)
59. Matt Breida, San Francisco 49ers (Bye: 11)
60. Theo Riddick, Detroit Lions (Bye: 6)
61. Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks (Bye: 7)
62. Elijah McGuire, New York Jets (Bye: 11)
63. T.J. Yeldon, Jacksonville Jaguars (Bye: 9)
64. Javorius Allen, Baltimore Ravens (Bye: 10)
65. Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals (Bye: 9)
66. Bilal Powell, New York Jets (Bye: 11)
67. C.J. Prosise, Seattle Seahawks (Bye: 7)
68. Kalen Ballage, Miami Dolphins (Bye: 11)
69. Corey Grant, Jacksonville Jaguars (Bye: 9)
70. Jordan Wilkins, Indianapolis Colts (Bye: 9)
71. Charles Sims, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Bye: 5)
72. Spencer Ware, Kansas City Chiefs (Bye: 12)
73. John Kelly, Los Angeles Rams (Bye: 12)
74. Wayne Gallman, New York Giants (Bye: 9)
75. Jonathan Stewart, New York Giants (Bye: 9)
76. Robert Turbin, Indianapolis Colts (Bye: 9)
77. DeAndre Washington, Oakland Raiders (Bye: 7)
78. Kyle Juszczyk, San Francisco 49ers (Bye: 11)
79. Rod Smith, Dallas Cowboys (Bye: 8)
80. Bo Scarbrough, Dallas Cowboys (Bye: 8)
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