2016 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings- Updated: Monday, July 25th
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 will spend all of 2016 as the team's lead back.
2. Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams
Despite missing the first three games of the season, Gurley finished third in the NFL with 1,106 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. Gurley exceeded the 100-yard mark only once in his final eight games, but he still averaged 4.8 yards per carry over his rookie campaign. Despite running behind a poor offensive line and with a rookie quarterback 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
Elliott is a complete back with the vision, power and speed to excel as a runner and he possesses soft hands as a receiver. In addition, Elliott is also outstanding in pass protection, which tends to limit rookie playing time. From a fantasy football perspective, Elliott could not have ended up in a better situation. With the skill set to be a true three-down back, he gets to run behind the NFL's best offensive line. Provided Tony Romo and Dez Bryant stay healthy to keep opposing defenses honest, Zeke has the upside to finish as fantasy's overall 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 a league-high 331 touches. (LA's Todd Gurley is second with 330 projected touches.)
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 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. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
Coming off a torn ACL, there's obviously concerns with Charles from a health perspective, but the good news is the injury happened reasonably early in the season so he remains on track for Week 1. The next time the versatile eight-year veteran averages less than 5.0 yards per carry for a season, it will be his first. In his five games last season, he averaged 18.4 touches, 108.2 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown per game. In addition to returning from the injury, the other concern with Charles is that the Chiefs will scale back his workload with the presence of other capable backs.
7. 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.
8. Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers
Totalling 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.
9. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
As a rookie, Martin exploded onto the scene with 1,926 yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns. After two injury-plagued disappointing campaigns, Martin exceeded the value of his 2015 draft slot with 1,673 YFS and seven touchdowns last season. Re-signing with the Bucs this offseason, Martin should rank near the top of the league in workload and production provided he can stay healthy.
10. 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.
11. 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, Bell is facing another suspension to start the 2016 season, but he's a highly productive, true three-down back when he's on the field. In 22 games over the past two seasons, Bell has 510 touches -- 403 carries and 107 receptions -- for 2,907 yards from scrimmage and 14 touchdowns. That averages out to 23.18 touches, 132.14 YFS and 0.64 touchdowns -- or more than 17 (standard) fantasy points -- per game.
12. Thomas Rawls, Seattle Seahawks
It's been an impressive run for Marshawn Lynch in Seattle, however, he has decided to hang up his cleats. The Seahawks and 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 started and finished, Rawls had four 100-yard rushing games and averaged 118.67 rushing yards per game. There is risk with Rawls, however, following last year's broken ankle injury.
13. 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.
14. Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders
Scoring the 11th-most fantasy points among running backs, Murray finished fourth in the NFL in touches (307) and sixth in rushing (1,066 yards). Not only did he have a large workload overall, Murray had 15-plus touches in 15 of 16 games with 13 being the lone exception. Here is the list of players with 15 15-touch games in 2015: Murray. End of list. Comments by the coaching staff about Murray this offseason are a bit of a concern, but they waited until the fifth round to draft a running back (DeAndre Washington). If you draft Murray, however, handcuffing him with Washington makes sense.
15. 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 hopefully that momentum will carry over into 2016. The Broncos brought back Hillman on a one-year deal, but the bigger concern is fourth-rounder Devontae Booker becoming more involved as the season progresses.
16. 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.
17. 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.
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). Murray's 2016 outlook took a bit of a hit when Tennessee drafted last year's Heisman winner, but the Titans should rank near the top of the league in rush attempts with Murray as their lead back if things go according to script.
19. Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals
Admittedly, I was high, too high, on Hill going into the 2015 season and he was a disappointment. With one more carry than he had as a rookie, 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. Perhaps we 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.
20. Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts
Gore fell just shy of the 1,000-yard milestone with 967 yards on 260 carries and a career-low 3.7 YPC in his first season with the Colts. That said, Gore's efficiency was much better with Luck (4.11 YPC) than Matt Hasselbeck (3.44 YPC) under center. With a healthy Luck and improved offensive line, Gore, who was fantasy's RB12 last season, should be more consistent week to week even though he recently turned 33 years old.
- 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
More Fantasy Football Rankings:
- Fantasy Football QB Rankings
- Fantasy Football RB Rankings
- Fantasy Football WR Rankings
- Fantasy Football TE Rankings
- Fantasy Football Mock Draft Simulator
- Fantasy Football Strength of Schedule
- Fantasy Football Projections
- Fantasy Football Mock Draft
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