For this weeks article, I want to dedicate my opening to David Johnson. He has quickly emerged as the best running back in both Fantasy Football and real life, and Johnson owners have to be thrilled with what they have gotten so far. Let’s dig a little bit deeper into his success before we get into the Updated Rest-of-Season Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings.
Standing at 6’1″ and 225 pounds, Johnson is hard to miss on the football field for viewers of Arizona Cardinals football games. The same cannot be said about opposing defenders, however. Johnson currently leads the NFL in missed tackles forced among running backs. While some of these missed tackles are due to his natural power that comes from his size, he also possesses surprising speed that is evidenced by his 4.5 40 that looks even faster on the field.
Johnson also combines his physical abilities with production on the field, as shown by his league leading 1,004 yards from scrimmage. He gets it done both through the air and on the ground. This production is endlessly valuable to Fantasy owners, especially those in PPR leagues that can benefit from his 28 receptions, which ranks tied for fourth among RBs.
The last thing that makes him so valuable in Fantasy is his usage. In today’s NFL, there are running back committees where one running back takes care of short yardage and goal line work and the other handles the passing downs. Running backs who handle all situations are becoming rarer and therefore more valuable, and Johnson is the epitome of this type of running back. He leads the NFL in percentage of offensive snaps played for his team with 82.1%, and his goal-line work places him tied for first with eight rushing touchdowns.
So, Johnson’s physical abilities, production, and the amount of opportunities he receives makes him the most valuable running back in Fantasy Football. With Johnson at No. 1, let’s take a look at the rest of the Top 30 running backs for the rest of the 2016 Fantasy Football season.
Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings
No. 1: David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals
Just refer to the intro of this article. He is an absolute stud, and combines awesome consistency with sky-high upside. Even against a great Seattle defense on Sunday Night in Week 7, he was able to contribute in the passing and running game. Keep rolling with him as a matchup proof, high-end RB1.
No. 2: Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
Entering Week 7, Elliott was the NFL’s rushing leader by over 100 yards. He has had a heavy workload so far this season, and combine that with his talent and offensive line and you get exactly what he has been so far this year. He will continue being one of the best running backs in Fantasy for the rest of the season, no matter the matchup.
No. 3: LeVeon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
Even with Ben Roethlisberger out 4-6 weeks with a knee injury, Bell remains a top option at the running back position. Like Johnson, he contributes both in the air and on the ground. While he hasn’t found the end zone since returning from his 3-week suspension, he is bound to soon and will be a high-end RB1 every single week.
No. 4: DeMarco Murray, Tennessee Titans
I was a little bit skeptical on Murray coming into the year, but he has shattered both my and everyone else’s expectations. Even with the presence of Derrick Henry, Murray still has the highest offensive snap percentage among running backs. His heavy workload and share in both goal line sets and passing downs make for a high-end RB1.
No. 5: Lamar Miller, Houston Texans
While the Fantasy point totals have been slightly disappointing for Miller so far this season, there is nothing to worry about. The workload and yards were there, it was just the touchdowns that were missing. He finally broke loose in Week 6 with two touchdowns on 24 rushes for 149 yards, and the efficiency that he has displayed throughout his career combined with his work-horse role will be good enough for high-end RB1 production.
No. 6: LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills
The last of the high-end RB1s (I know right, it is a top heavy year for running backs), McCoy has been a completely rejuvenated player since the hiring of offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn. Although he only managed 8 carries on 11 yards in Week 7, he was playing through the hamstring injury that he suffered in Week 6. The only worry is the fact that he aggravated his injury in Week 7. You have to watch his health going forward, but when he returns to full health, he will be a force to be reckoned with again.
No. 7: Melvin Gordon, San Diego Chargers
After a disappointing rookie season, Gordon is enjoying a breakout year in 2016 with Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead both on Injured Reserve for the Chargers. While he hasn’t been the most efficient runner this year, the workload and goal line role is there, and he will be a mid-range RB1 until further notice.
No. 8: Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams
Gurley has been a terribly frustrating player to own this year. On average, he is the second RB selected in standard ESPN leagues (behind Adrian Peterson), but he has not performed up to his lofty expectations that were set for him this year. I still like him due to his immense talent and his consistency that comes with his newfound receiving ability and heavy workload, but he lacks upside due to the terrible Rams offensive line.
No. 9: Christine Michael, Seattle Seahawks
I had always liked Michael’s talent and believed that he just needed an opportunity, and he has had just that with Seattle this year. With Thomas Rawls out, he has been the workhorse running back for the Seahawks, and his production so far makes it look like he will be able to keep the starting job even when Rawls returns. If he keeps the starting job and doesn’t concede too many touches to Rawls, he is a solid back-end RB1.
No. 10: Matt Forte, New York Jets
After starting out the season on fire, Forte had struggled in Weeks 3-6. However, in two of those games he had over 4 yards per carry and the other two were against Seattle and Arizona, two great defenses. He marched right back onto the scene in Week 7 with 30 carries for 101 yards and a two total touchdowns with an added 54 yards through the air. I see no reason as to why he can’t be a low-end RB1 for the rest of the season.
No. 11: Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints
Ingram worries me a bit. He has not had the greatest season so far, and has only managed one touchdown on the ground. Without his two receiving touchdowns, this season would be a complete disaster so far. While there is reason to believe that he may bounce back, he is a borderline RB1 for now and could sink to RB2 level very soon.
No. 12: Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers
While I usually hate owning running backs who are in bad offenses, Hyde is an exception. He is an extremely talented runner in an offense that wants to run the ball. Also, the 49ers have shown they want to lean on him heavily near the goal line as shown through his six rushing touchdowns. The one concern with him is health, but if he can stay healthy, he is a borderline RB1.
No. 13: Spencer Ware, Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City running back situation is confusing to say the least. While Ware was expected to concede his starting duties to Jamaal Charles following his return, that hasn’t been the case. He has continued to produce at the RB1 level that he had been performing at prior to Charles’ return. Kansas City may be moving away from Charles and looking to the future, and this is a great sign for Ware owners. The only thing keeping him from being higher is the definite possibility of him conceding his role to Charles. After all, Charles is just a couple of years removed from being one of the leagues top running backs. You may want to sell high on Ware, but even if you don’t, he is a borderline RB1 until further notice.
No. 14: Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers
Man, was it nice to have Stewart back. While this year has been friendly to he top end RB1s, it has not been so friendly to the RB2 tier. So, that made it that much sweeter when Stewart came back and ran the ball 19 times for 85 yards. He should continue to be leaned on with a Carolina team that is looking to turn things around, so he will be a high-end RB2 moving forward.
No. 15: Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts
While Gore isn’t the sexiest of options, you can’t argue with consistency. He lacks the upside of many running backs, but he has a stable role and floor in the Colts offense that makes him a solid RB2. I especially love Gore when paired with an elite RB1, but even if you don’t have one, he is a great Fantasy asset.
No. 16: Jay Ajayi, Miami Dolphins
Wow! Jay Ajayi was basically written off the Fantasy radar after Arian Foster signed with the Dolphins this offseason. After Foster’s injury, there was optimism, but it never came to fruition. Who would have guessed that his breakout would come once Foster returned? Ajayi has become the fourth running back in NFL history to post back-to-back 200 yard rushing games, and has added three touchdowns as well. While you shouldn’t expect him to continue his 200 yard game streak, his 53 carries in these magical two weeks show that Miami is committed to him. He could easily soon rise into RB1 territory, but I want to see a bit more from him first.
No. 17: LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots
After leading the NFL in rushing through the first three weeks, Blount was obviously due for regression with the return of Tom Brady. However, he has regressed less than I expected. He has remained a goal-line beast, with four touchdowns in the three weeks since Brady’s return. While he isn’t getting 20-plus carries every week any more, he surprisingly has maintained a good amount of carries as the Patriots have committed to trying to run the ball this year. His goal line role and workload make for a strong RB2.
No. 18: CJ Anderson, Denver Broncos
What happened here? After starting the season off with a bang, Anderson has looked awful in recent weeks. With the emergence of Devontae Booker, there are even questions on if he can even hold on to the starting job. It is too soon to write him off just yet, but there is a possibility that he could slide in these rankings very soon if he doesn’t pick things up.
No. 19: Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
While Jacquizz Rodgers has done a nice job filling in for Martin, there is no question that he will regain his workhorse role when he returns. This is especially true now that third down back Charles Sims is on Injured Reserve. After suffering a setback to his injury last week, it remains a question as to when he will return to action, but when he does, he will be a high-end RB2.
No. 20: Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons
It is funny to say that I am pleasantly surprised with Freeman being the No. 9 scoring Fantasy running back this year after being No. 1 last year, but I am. I had totally written him off coming into the year, and while his scoring looks better than he has actually played, he has still been better than I had expected. While I do expect him to slowly regress in the Fantasy scoring leaderboard, he still will be able to post low-end RB2 production, even with the presence of Tevin Coleman.
No. 21: Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals
I have long loved Giovani Bernard, and there is now reason for optimism surrounding his Fantasy stock. He has emerged as the lead back for the Bengals in the past few weeks, and even with a huge performance from Jeremy Hill, they still rode Bernard late in the game. He also has been the surprising goal-line back in the past two weeks. Bernard is so talented, and he will be able to post back-end RB2 production if he continues to receive opportunities.
No. 22: Terrance West, Baltimore Ravens
After breaking out in the past three weeks, West struggled to find running room up against the Jets in Week 7. However, West owners shouldn’t panic yet. The Jets have one of the best front seven in football, and it still seems like West has earned the trust of John Harbaugh. Especially with Kenneth Dixon failing to produce so far, West should be able to rebound after a Week 8 bye and return to low-end RB2 status.
No. 23: Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns
Here is a running back that falls under my “bad offenses rule.” Even when he had started off the season on fire, I wasn’t fooled. The Browns are the Browns, and Crowell isn’t that good. However, the Browns want to run, and Crowell is their best option. This could lead to low-end RB2 production for the rest of the year.
No. 24: Matt Jones, Washington Redskins
Jones’ steady workload had provided decent production this year up until Week 7. He ran the ball 10 times for 27 yards and fumbled twice, although he only lost one. I like Jones, but after a strong performance by Chris Thompson, his job security is not very strong. He will be a risky RB2 moving forward and has a good chance of dropping off these rankings entirely.
No. 25: Theo Riddick, Detroit Lions
While Riddick has missed the past two weeks with an ankle injury, he should be able to slide right back into his role of pass catcher upon his return. He is one of the best pass catching backs in the league, and that has value by itself. Due to Ameer Abdullah’s season ending injury, he also has been forced into a running role. Although the Detroit backfield has a lot a bodies, Riddick’s pass catching role and his 10 or so carries per game make for a great flex option.
No. 26: Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
As mentioned above, Charles is just a couple of years removed from being one of the NFL’s top running backs. While the Chiefs have been slow to work him back in, he has RB1 upside if he reclaims his workhorse role. However, no one knows what Kansas City will do. Even if Charles ends up starting soon, Spencer Ware will probably still receive a fair amount of touches.
No. 27: Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears
After great performances in Weeks 4 and 5, it looked like Howard was going to run away with the starting job in Chicago and a RB2 role in Fantasy. However, he has struggled greatly in the two weeks since, only managing 56 yards on 22 carries with one touchdown while conceding touches to Ka’Deem Carey. While this isn’t a backfield that you want to be involved with for now, especially with the return of Jeremy Langford looming, Howard still has high upside if he can bounce back.
No. 28: Jerick McKinnon, Minnesota Vikings
When Adrian Peterson went down with a season ending injury, it was finally McKinnon’s big chance. He had always had immense talent and just needed the opportunity to showcase it. He has gotten the opportunity, but he hasn’t produced yet. Despite receiving 65 carries in the last four weeks, he has only managed 209 yards. He will continue to have opportunities moving forward, and still possesses high upside, but the lack of production is worrisome. Nevertheless, his workload still makes for a good weekly flex option.
No. 29: Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals
Even after posting nine carries for 168 yards and a touchdown, Hill’s role has continued to shrink. Even his biggest asset, his goal-line role, is beginning to be threatened by Giovani Bernard. He is most likely a flex option for the rest of the year unless he starts to produce consistently.
No. 30: Ryan Mathews, Philadelphia Eagles
Last but not least, we have Ryan Mathews. I was high on him coming into the season, but his role hasn’t been as consistent as I thought. While he is getting a decent amount of carries, he is not getting many snaps and injuries remain a concern. He is best treated as a low-end flex option.
We hope you liked our 2016 Rest-of-Season Running Back Rankings! Make sure to come back next week as we take another look at our rest-of-season wide receiver rankings.
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