Maybe I’m dating myself, but I remember a time when the running back position used to be the cream of the crop position in Fantasy Football. Back even just a few years ago it was not uncommon to see the majority of teams in your league take two running backs with their first two picks.
The NFL has drastically changed, mainly due to rules for players safety, to a league that is more prone to the pass. This is one reason that the running back position has been devalued quite a bit in Fantasy Football over recent years.
Another change that has led to the devaluation of running backs in Fantasy Football is the ever popular running back by committee.
I know we have all probably heard it by now, but the workhorse back really is dead. In 2000, there were nine running backs with at least 300 carries and 11 with at least 350 touches. Compare this to last season when there was just one running back with 300 carries and just two with 350 touches.
That is a huge change and why we see many teams now taking a wide receiver with their first two picks or even both of their first two round picks. Point Per Reception (PPR) leagues make this an even more
2016 RB Changes Since 2015
Last season we saw plenty of new names near the top of the Fantasy Football leader board.
Devonta Freeman shocked everybody and finished as the No. 1 running back. This was after he was a pretty big bust his rookie season and the team drafted Tevin Coleman.
Doug Martin, not a new-comer to the leader board, returned for the first time since his rookie season in 2012. He seemed to thrive with an overall improved offense due to Jameis Winston’s arrival.
Rookies also made their mark. Todd Gurley and David Johnson appear to be the real deal and both finished as Top-7 running backs. They may even be future workhorse backs, well at least for 2016 standards.
Of course with new names emerging we saw reliable studs, fall. Eddie Lacy, Jamaal Charles, Marshawn Lynch and DeMarco Murray all had disappointing seasons according to their expectations. The term bust gets thrown around with all of them, along with Jeremy Hill and C.J. Anderson. All were top picks for the running back position but under-performed drastically in 2015.
This year we look at the running back rankings and we see that it is a pretty mixed bag of old and new at the top. Even rookie Ezekiel Elliot cracks the Top-10.
Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
There is no denying this guys talent when he is on the field. He is arguably the best Fantasy Football Running Back when he is on the field.
The problem is figuring out when he is on the field.
Last season he missed two games due to a suspension, then suffered a pretty bad knee injury.
Now he is not only dealing with recovery from the pretty brutal knee injury, but now is facing a four game suspension. He is appealing that suspension and there are mixed opinions on whether he will win it or not. Regardless because of it his stock has dropped in our rankings recently.
Of course if he wins the appeal, get ready to move him back up.
Ezekial Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
Zeke is getting a lot of praise and hype for somebody who has not played a down in the NFL.
I’m in the camp that he is a rookie and I’m not quite ready to buy in on him fully. He is also dealing with a hamstring injury has had trouble returning to the field.
He dropped somewhat due to the injury, but not too much, since its expected that the injury is not major.
If he can return and prove he is fully healthy and has a good showing in preseason, then I expect him to climb back up the rankings.
Arian Foster, Miami Dolphins
The signing of Arian Foster jumbled up things in the Miami backfield immediately.
Jay Ajayi for months was thought of as the clear starting running back in Miami. Foster comes in and now it is not clear.
As a staff we are still mixed with the rankings and actually have both ranked fairly close to each other. This is a situation to pay close attention to as camp and preseason progresses to see who becomes the front runner.
2016 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings
These Fantasy rankings are based on standard, non-PPR and PPR Fantasy leagues.
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