The running back position is essential to Fantasy success, but sometimes the best running backs are found on the waiver wire.
Every year it seems that the top running back through the past few weeks started the season on the waiver wire. With this being such a great year for running backs, that may not be the case, but there will certainly be a few running backs that will propel people’s teams to glory.
Last year it was the likes of Tim Hightower and David Johnson. The year before it was C.J. Anderson and others. Even this year, Jay Ajayi has been a breakout star. The point is that even if you don’t have the best running backs right now, you could find a diamond in the rough down the road.
You never know who that player will be. Maybe we already found one in Thomas Rawls now that C.J. Prosise is hurt. Maybe it will come later on after another huge injury. Just know that you have to constantly be on the lookout for that possible league winning player.
However, you may not need that waiver wire stud if you are already stacked at running back. Let’s go over the Top 30 running backs for the rest of the year so you can assess if you need to improve at the position.
Updated Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings
No. 1: Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
Ezekiel Elliott finds his name at the top of the Rest of Season Running Back Rankings this time around, and for good reason. He has been dominant all year long. The workload is there as evidenced by his 22.3 carries per game, and he also has an NFL leading 1,102 yards and is near the top of the leaderboards with his 10 total touchdowns. He will continue being a stud down the stretch, and has a very good chance of finishing the year as the #1 scoring running back.
No. 2: David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals
David Johnson falling out of the top spot in these rankings has been more to do with what Ezekiel Elliott has done rather than what Johnson hasn’t done. He has been a stud, scoring touchdowns and ripping off huge gains left and right. Even after struggling in the rushing yardage department in Weeks 8 and 10 (but more than making up for it both in the air and in the endzone), he bounced back with a huge game with 160 total yards and two total touchdowns. Johnson should be able to keep up his elite RB1 production for the rest of the year.
No. 3: LeVeon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
Bell has been great since returning from his three week suspension to start the year. He has produced on the ground and through the air at elite levels. His best two games have come in the last few weeks, which may be an indicator of him getting extra hot down the stretch. He is an elite RB1 in both standard and PPR leagues.
No. 4: DeMarco Murray, Tennessee Titans
After finishing as the best Fantasy running back two years ago for the Cowboys and having a disaster of a season last year with the Eagles, Murray has been closer to the former this year with the Titans. At the start of the year many people were waiting for the breakout of Derrick Henry, but instead Murray has been nothing short of dominant. He is one of the elite class of players who have had double digit standard points in every single game this year, and has done it by racking up both rushing yards and touchdowns on a heavy workload. He has even added three receiving touchdowns and even a passing touchdown. Murray has truly done it all this year, and is a great RB1 for the end of the season and the playoffs.
No. 5: Melvin Gordon, San Diego Chargers
Melvin Gordon has bounced back in a big way after being a disappointment last season. He has had a steady workload all year long, and has even been a big factor as a receiver due to Danny Woodhead’s season ending injury. That workload and his large amount of touchdowns has been able to offset a few inefficient games, so he hasn’t really had a bad Fantasy game all year. He also has been getting hot as of late, and that is a good sign for him to continue his elite RB1 production down the stretch
No. 6: Jay Ajayi, Miami Dolphins
The waiver wire pickup of the year so far, Ajayi has been a beast for Fantasy owners everywhere. Even excluding his crazy back-to-back 200 yard performances, he has been great as the starter in Miami. With a heavy workload, great production, and high trust from his coach, there is no reason to expect anything other than RB1 numbers for the rest of the year from Ajayi.
No. 7: LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills
LeSean McCoy is such a talented running back. It is a shame that he is so injury prone. When on the field this year, he has been an absolute stud. However, he has either missed or been limited in his fair share of games this year. You just have to hope he doesn’t get injured, and if he doesn’t, then he is a great RB1.
No. 8: Spencer Ware, Kansas City Chiefs
Spencer Ware is one of the draft steals of the year. Many took him as a handcuff to Jamaal Charles or took him hoping for a Charles injury. A Charles injury is what they got, and Fantasy owners have to love the production that they have gotten from Ware. He hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 7, and in games that he doesn’t score, he hasn’t really been able to make up for it. However, he still should find the end zone often enough throughout the rest of the year to supply back-end RB1 production.
No. 9: Lamar Miller, Houston Texans
Lamar Miller has finally been given the workload we have been waiting for him to get for so long this year, and in real life he has been pretty good. However, in Fantasy, his lack of touchdowns (3 on the season) have held him to mediocre point totals. However, I have him this high because of an easy schedule the rest of the way, and he should be able to have a few huge games and find the end zone enough to support his RB1 status.
No. 10: Matt Forte, New York Jets
Forte started off the season strong in the first two weeks, but only managed 189 combined yards in the next four. He has bounced back in the last four, as he has had over 10 standard Fantasy points in each of those games and has had two with 20. It also helps that the biggest threat to Forte’s workload, Bilal Powell, is a receiving specialist and that happens to be one of Forte’s strengths. He is a low-end RB1 for the rest of the season.
No. 11: Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts
There is nothing new to write for Gore. You can basically refer to the last article. He is a boring option at this point in his career, but you can’t argue with his production. He has been one of the most consistent running backs in Fantasy this year, and the veteran should be able to rumble along for the rest of the year and finish the year as an RB1, even though most owners play him as their RB2.
No. 12: Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams
This year, Gurley has basically been a slightly worse version of Frank Gore if Frank Gore was drafted as an early first round pick. While he has been a huge disappointment due to how high he was drafted, he still is a valuable Fantasy asset. He has had a large workload all year long, and that has resulted in consistent, although unspectacular, yardage totals. I give my vote of confidence that he will be able to find the end zone a couple more times during the rest of the season and give you high-end RB2 production.
No. 13: Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With a banged up backfield, Martin has a prime chance to earn back a huge role in the running game for Tampa Bay. In the two Weeks since returning from injury in Week 10, Martin has received a combined 40 carries. He has only had 96 rushing yards on those 40 carries, but there is no reason to panic. Martin is a talented running back with a great track record and virtually no competition. He just needs to get back to 100%, and when he does, he will be a high-end RB2.
No. 14: Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals
It seems like we have just been waiting for an injury all year for the Bengals backfield. They had two very good running backs in Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill, but they were holding each other back (for Fantasy purposes). Now that Bernard is out for the season with a torn ACL, it will be all uphill for Hill from here (pun intended). He should also get extra touches due to A.J. Green’s injury. He is a strong RB2 for the rest of the season.
No. 15: LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots
This has finally been the year that Bill Belichick has committed to a running back. I would have advised staying away from the Patriots backfield before the season, and I also believed in selling high on Blount due to the return of Tom Brady from suspension. However, Blount hasn’t missed a beat, as his two best Fantasy performances of the year have come with Brady back. Although the running back receptions will go to the likes of James White and Dion Lewis, the rushing yards and touchdowns are basically all Blount’s. He is a solid high-end RB2.
No. 16: Thomas Rawls, Seattle Seahawks
Like Jeremy Hill, Thomas Rawls is largely going to benefit from his fellow running back’s injury. Rawls came back from injury this week and C.J. Prosise was the only thing in his way of returning to RB2 status. Following Prosise’s injury in Week 11 that could sideline him for the rest of the year, Rawls should be a strong RB2 with league winning upside moving forward.
No. 17: Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears
Besides a two game stretch during weeks 6 and 7, Jordan Howard has been great in the lead role for the Bears. He has had a large workload and has been able to consistently produce yardage on the ground. As long as he doesn’t struggle and fall into John Fox’s doghouse in his hot-hand running back approach, he is a fine RB2 for the rest of the year.
No. 18: Devontae Booker, Denver Broncos
Devontae Booker was viewed as a potential league winner after C.J. Anderson went down with an injury. However, he hasn’t been as good as expected. He has had mediocre yardage totals in his four weeks as the starter, and has only been saved by two touchdowns. He remains as an RB2 with upside for me considering his heavy workload, but he does carry some risk.
No. 19: Robert Kelley, Washington Redskins
I was going to post Kelley slightly lower on the list, but then he went off for 137 yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries on Sunday Night Football against the Packers. He has had a very large workload in the three weeks that he has been the starter with carry totals of 21, 22, and 24. Kelley also has had over 87 rushing yards in each of those games and now has four totals touchdowns during that stretch. He is an RB2 until further notice.
No. 20: Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers
Jonathan Stewart hasn’t been overly effective when on the field this year. However, he is a player with a long leash and a relatively easy schedule down the stretch. He also has a large workload due to the fact that there is not very many options behind him. If he can play a little bit better in the last six games of the season, which I think he will, he will make for a good RB2.
No. 21: Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons
I have always liked Freeman less than most. Last year I didn’t fully buy into him, I didn’t want to touch him this year, and here we are and I am still a hater. He doesn’t score enough touchdowns, and his workload is consistent but not workhorse-like. He has been decent but not great while running the ball, and the same goes for him catching the ball. Especially with Tevin Coleman nearing a return, things are trending downward for Freeman. I would prefer using him as a flex in standard leagues, but he is a low-end RB2 in PPR.
No. 22: Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints
Ingram was shaping up to be a borderline RB1 this season. However, outside of Week 9 against San Francisco, his rushing yardage hasn’t been there, as he only has one game over 62 yards. He also has only added two rushing touchdowns. He hasn’t been all that great in the passing game, but he has added three touchdowns. The talent is there, but the Saints are a pass heavy team. It also looks like they want to keep Tim Hightower involved. Treat him as a risky low-end RB2 with upside.
No. 23: Theo Riddick, Detroit Lions
Riddick has been given a shot this year after Ameer Abdullah went down for the rest of the season, and he has done a good job. Nothing spectacular, but he has been good. Running the ball, he has been decent, but his contributions in the passing game are huge. I prefer using him as a flex or low-end RB2 in standard formats, but his steady share of targets makes him a borderline RB1 in PPR.
No 24: Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers
Carlos Hyde’s season this year is basically a repeat of last year. He started off the season hot, and looked like a huge Fantasy asset. Then he starts to slow down, only to get injured and totally derail his Fantasy value. This year he has come back from injury and followed up a dreadful game against the Cardinals with a decent one against the Patriots. The 49ers aren’t very good, and this will continue to limit the talented running back’s Fantasy value. He is a very risky RB2.
No. 25: Tim Hightower, New Orleans Saints
Hightower has been a flex in recent weeks after Mark Ingram was benched in Week 8 against the Seahawks. As said earlier, this Saints backfield has been more or less a committee. Hightower will retain flex production, but also gets a huge boost if the oft-injured Ingram suffers an injury down the stretch.
No. 26: Rashad Jennings, New York Giants
Now we have entered into the tier of running backs where they basically are all inconsistent flex options. Jennings is the first of these players. He is one of the worst starting running backs in the NFL, but the Giants have failed to get anyone better in the past few years. He gets enough touches to be a flex, but doesn’t have enough talent for much more than that. Don’t let the last two weeks fool you either: he isn’t very good.
No. 27: Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns
Crowell started off the season on fire. He was shaping up to be an RB2, and Matthew Berry even called him a low-end RB1. However, he hasn’t looked anything close to that as of late, as he has had both a small workload and little production. The Crow will sprinkle in a good game here and there, but he isn’t anything more than a flex.
No. 28: Terrance West, Baltimore Ravens
Although he wasn’t thought of as highly as Crowell at his peak value, Terrence West is another player who was in fact considered an RB2 at one point in the season. Crazy how things have changed, right? He gets enough touches to be a flex, but especially considering the fact that the Ravens will probably want to get rookie Kenneth Dixon involved more near the end of the season, he will not produce anything more than flex numbers.
No. 29: Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders
I haven’t liked Murray all year long, and outside of his huge three touchdown game against the Broncos, he hasn’t given me much reason to think otherwise. He will not be consistent, and I feel like a broken record right now, but he does generate enough touches and touchdowns to merit flex consideration.
No. 30: Ryan Mathews, Philadelphia Eagles
While Ryan Mathews has consistently posted good Fantasy games week in and week out, his real life production has not been a good reason for confidence. He has had only four weeks of double digit carries, and he has had a couple games of fewer than 20 rushing yards that were saved by a touchdown. In a crowded Eagles backfield, he definitely isn’t an RB2, but his touchdown upside makes him a flex. Just keep an eye on his injury as he is day-to-day with an MCL sprain.
We hope you liked our 2016 Rest-of-Season Running Back Rankings! Make sure to come back next week as we revisit and refresh our rest-of-season wide receiver rankings.
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