Early Fantasy Rankings: Running Backs

As we continue to gear up for the fantasy season, let’s take a look at the running backs who are most likely to get you big points in 2016.

  1. David Johnson, Arizona: This guy is getting a lot of buzz around the league after what he did at the end of last season. With injuries hampering Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington, it was David Johnson who rescued the Cardinals’ running game. The multi-talented rookie out of Northern Iowa finished the year with 1,038 total yards and 12 touchdowns. Johnson has a bit of a Matt Forte quality to him. He should be the lead back this season and will put up huge numbers.
  2. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota: Peterson is a monster, no matter how you look at it. In 2015, he finished with 1,485 yards and 11 touchdowns. The Vikings offense now has more weapons with Stefon Diggs and Laquon Treadwell, so Peterson doesn’t have to shoulder such a heavy load. There’s no reason why he doesn’t put up more video game numbers in 2016.
  3. Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh: This guy would definitely be at the top of the list were it not for the uncertainty surrounding his comeback from a knee injury. When healthy, Bell is very dynamic as a runner and a receiver. The Steelers have a highly potent offense and should score bunches of points. Le’Veon Bell will be right in the middle of that.
  4. Todd Gurley, Los Angeles: Gurley is too talented to not be high on this list. After missing a couple games with injury, Gurley came back to rush for 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns. The Rams were pitiful last season, but Gurley was a huge bright spot. Now in Los Angeles and with a new quarterback, Gurley should once again be the focal point of the offense.
  5. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas: It’s not normal to put a rookie so high on the list, but Elliott is just that talented. There’s a reason why Dallas took him so high in the draft. He has all the tools to be a highly impactful player, aka Todd Gurley. Also, we can’t forget what DeMarco Murray did in Dallas just a couple of years ago. The Cowboy offensive line is outstanding, and Elliott is more talented than Murray. This guy could easily be going in round one in many fantasy drafts.
  6. Devonta Freeman, Atlanta: Freeman was a surprise fantasy gem in 2015. He combined for 1,634 yds. and 14 tds. Freeman should again be the man in the Falcons offense this season. While he may not match the numbers from a year ago, he probably won’t be too far off.
  7. Lamar Miller, Houston: Miller finished sixth in fantasy points amongst running backs a year ago. He was painfully underutilized in Miami, but that shouldn’t be the case in Houston. Miller doesn’t have a lot of tread on the tires, and the Texans won’t be afraid to heavily involve him in the offense.
  8. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City: Here’s another guy who went down with a knee injury last season. He, like Bell, is a super dynamic playmaker when he’s on the field. Charles may not be asked to carry the whole load in 2016, but The Chiefs still look to get him involved in every way possible. Hopefully, he will be back to full health.
  9. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay: Martin enjoyed a resurgent year in 2015. He was able to avoid injuries and finished the season with 1,402 yards and 6 touchdowns. It’s being reported that Martin will be more involved in the passing game this season, which bodes well for his owners. The Bucs are a team that is on the rise thanks to the play of Martin, Jameis Winston, and Mike Evans.
  10. Thomas Rawls, Seattle: Rawls came in last year when Beast Mode went down, and proved to be a more than capable NFL back. He went for over a 100 yards four different times, including a 209 yard effort in week 11. Lynch has retired, so Rawls is in line to be the workhorse for the Seahawks. He should have a big year.

The best of the rest: Mark Ingram, Eddie Lacy, Gio Bernard, Ameer Abdullah, Carlos Hyde, LeSean McCoy, C.J. Anderson, Matt Forte, Jonathan Stewart, Jay Ajayi, Dion Lewis, DeMarco Murray, Latavious Murray, Melvin Gordon, Jeremy Hill

Header image based on “Adrian Peterson” by Mike Morbeck (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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