2016 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings- Updated: Sunday, August 28th
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 from Kevin Hanson and are for the 2016 NFL season.
Here are our 2016 fantasy football running back rankings:
1. David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals
Injuries finally led to Johnson getting a shot at the featured role, but the third-rounder out of Northern Iowa had been productive in limited opportunities before that. Johnson scored a total of 13 touchdowns -- eight rushing, four receiving and one return -- on only 161 touches last season. Finishing as a top-five weekly performer in three of his five starts, Johnson could lead all running backs in fantasy points in 2016.
2. Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams
Should you draft Gurley first overall? Well, if you ask Gurley, you should. Although Gurley shouldn't be the first player off the board in fantasy drafts (Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown should), you could argue that he should be the first running back off the board. Despite missing the first three games of last season, Gurley finished third in the NFL with 1,106 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. Despite running behind a poor offensive line with a rookie quarterback (at some point) under center, Gurley will be one more year removed from his torn ACL and could lead the league in rush attempts in 2016.
3. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
With the skill set to be a true three-down back and workhorse, Elliott could not have ended up in a better situation as he gets to run behind the NFL's best offensive line. With Tony Romo (back) already set to miss the first half of the season, the Cowboys will rely heavily on Zeke and their ground game. It wouldn't be a big surprise if Elliott finished as fantasy's RB1 in 2016.
4. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
After sitting out virtually all of the 2014 season, Peterson led the NFL in carries (327), rushing yards (1,485) and rushing touchdowns (11). The Vikings will continue to ride AP as their workhorse. Despite his superhuman physical traits, the only concern is that he turned 31 years old in March, but I have Peterson projected for the second-most touches (328) behind only LA's Todd Gurley (332).
5. Lamar Miller, Houston Texans
Perennially under-involved in Miami's offense, Miller has been highly productive on a per-touch basis. Despite his modest workload (194 carries, 18th-most in 2015), Miller scored the sixth-most fantasy points last year and has now finished as a top-10 fantasy running back in back-to-back seasons. Given the change of scenery, Miller is poised for a huge jump in workload as the new lead back in Houston. Since Bill O'Brien has taken over as coach, only the Seahawks (1,025) have run the ball more than the Texans (1,023).
6. Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
Injuries at the position are obviously a huge risk with any running back and Bell missed a huge chunk of last season due to both injury and suspension. Unfortunately for his fantasy owners, Bell is suspended three games (cut from four games) to start the 2016 season. A highly productive, true three-down back on the field, Bell has 510 touches -- 403 carries and 107 receptions -- for 2,907 yards from scrimmage and 14 touchdowns in 22 games over the past two seasons. That averages out to 23.18 touches, 132.14 YFS and 0.64 touchdowns -- or more than 17 (standard) fantasy points -- per game. In other words, Bell should lead all running backs in fantasy points on a per-game basis.
7. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
Coming off a second torn ACL in four seasons, Charles began camp on the active/PUP list but remains on track for Week 1. He's unlikely to appear in any preseason games, but Charles recently participated in full-team drills for the first time. In his five games last season, Charles averaged 18.4 touches, 108.2 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown per game. While Charles has never averaged less than 5.0 yards per carry, it's fair to project a slightly reduced workload given the other capable backs on the roster and his return from injury.
8. Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons
While few (read: nobody) saw it coming, no running back scored more fantasy points in 2015 than Freeman. Not only did Freeman rush for more than 1,000 yards, but he hauled in 73 catches, third-most among running backs, for 578 yards, and scored a total of 14 touchdowns last season. While he's shown a three-down skill set, the Falcons want to lower Freeman's workload and get second-year back Tevin Coleman more involved in the offense in 2016.
9. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
After two injury-plagued and disappointing campaigns, Martin exceeded the value of his 2015 draft slot and finished second to only Adrian Peterson for the 2015 NFL rushing title. With 1,673 YFS and seven touchdowns last season, Martin should rank near the top of the league in workload and production provided he can stay healthy.
10. Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers
Totaling 3,001 yards from scrimmage with 24 total touchdowns in his first two seasons, Lacy disappointed fantasy owners with less than 1,000 YFS and just five total touchdowns. Ceding more work than expected to James Starks last season, Lacy has shed weight this offseason and a fitter version is poised to bounce back as he enters a contract season.
11. Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders
Not only did Murray rank fourth in the NFL in touches (307), but no other running back had as many games with 15-plus touches than Murray (15). Rookie DeAndre Washington may cut into Murray's workload some, but the Raiders have one of the league's best offensive lines and their overall roster improvements should lead to more positive game flows when it comes to running the football. In addition, Del Rio has said that he wants Murray to get more carries in 2016 than he had in 2015.
12. Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints
The biggest issue with Ingram has been durability. The 26-year-old back has missed three or more games in four of five seasons including four games in 2015. Over the past two seasons, however, Ingram has averaged 18.84 touches, 91.32 yards and 0.6 touchdowns per game. Despite playing just 12 games, Ingram still finished as fantasy's RB15 (RB10 in PPR) in 2015.
13. C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos
Drafted as a late first-round pick in many 2015 fantasy drafts, Anderson started slowly and spent much of the season in a timeshare with Ronnie Hillman. In the second half of the season, however, CJA was much better than both his first half and Hillman. Starting with Week 8, Anderson carried the ball 85 times for 540 yards (6.35 YPC) and five touchdowns and he enters 2016 as the team's clear lead back.
14. LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills
Missing four games in his first season with the Bills, McCoy averaged nearly 20 touches (19.58/G) and 100 YFS (98.92/G) per game. Assuming good health, McCoy should rank near the top of the league leaders in usage and YFS in 2016 for the run-heavy Bills.
15. Matt Forte, New York Jets
One of the most versatile running backs in the league, Forte turned 30 in December and signed as a free agent with the Jets this offseason. Even though he missed three games last season, Forte averaged close to 100 yards -- 69.1 rushing and 29.9 receiving -- per game in 2015. Forte won't dominate touches in the Jets' backfield the way he did in Chicago, but he's a solid RB2 in 2016.
16. Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers
A stress fracture in his foot limited Hyde to just seven games last season, but he should benefit from playing in an up-tempo, run-heavy Chip Kelly offense. With Kelly as head coach, the Eagles are one of seven NFL teams with 1,400-plus rush attempts over the past three seasons. Provided he stays healthy, Hyde has a plenty of upside in 2016.
17. Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals
Disappointing fantasy owners in 2015, Hill's rushing yards dropped from 1,124 (5.1 YPC) in 2014 to 794 (3.6 YPC) in 2015. That said, he did score a total of 12 touchdowns. Fantasy owners shouldn't expect similar efficiency as his rookie season, but I do expect to see a bit of a bounce-back from the 235-pound Hill.
18. DeMarco Murray, Tennessee Titans
After leading the NFL in rushing (1,845 yards) in 2014 and signing a large free-agent deal with the Eagles, Murray rushed for only 702 yards in 2015 and set career lows in YPG (46.8) and YPC (3.6). If things go according to (the coaching staff's) plan, Murray will get the largest workload share of a run-heavy offense. So far, both Murray and second-round rookie Derrick Henry have looked good in the preseason.
19. Thomas Rawls, Seattle Seahawks
Fantasy owners have seen a glimpse of what life could be like with Rawls as the full-time starter. In the six games that he has started and finished, Rawls had four 100-yard rushing games while averaging 118.67 rushing yards per game and 5.65 yards per carry. Rawls (ankle) began training camp on the active/PUP list, but he has been activated from the PUP list and should be ready for the start of the season.
20. Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts
Falling short of the 1,000-yard milestone with a career-low 3.7 YPC average, Gore had the fifth-most touches and still scored the 12th-most (14th in PPR) fantasy points among running backs last season. With a healthy Luck and improved offensive line, Gore made my list of 12 Undervalued Players in 2016 Fantasy Football Drafts.
- Continue to 2016 Preseason Fantasy Football RB Rankings: 21-40
- Go back to 2016 Preseason Fantasy Football RB Rankings: 1-20
- 2016 Fantasy Football PPR Running Back Rankings
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- Fantasy Football RB Rankings
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