As we’re rolling along this offseason. We’re laying the groundwork for early best ball drafts, new dynasty startups and everything else under the fantasy sun. The league’s landscape is going to shift a lot through free agency and the NFL draft, but we’re starting that early outlook with positional ranks. These will move and be updated throughout the offseason, so keep tabs on them through the spring. We’ll also have a more linear list of the top-200 players once all the initial rankings have been released that will be updated throughout offseason movement. This early ranking is all about the running back position. You can take a look at long running production and fantasy trends for the running back position here

Running back rankings

    1. Christian McCaffrey: This era’s Marshall Faulk. The only running back to ever have back-to-back seasons with 100 receptions. Since entering the league in 2017, only Michael Thomas (378) and DeAndre Hopkins (315) have more receptions than McCaffrey (303).
    2. Saquon Barkley: An early-season ankle injury, a quarterback change, and preseason expectations made 1,441 yards and eight touchdowns feel disappointing. Barkley had his receiving points per game go from 11.7 as a rookie to 8.3 per game in 2019, but reminded us in the fantasy playoffs that his upside is still capable of being the best fantasy player in the league. 
    3. Ezekiel Elliott: Top-six in points per game in all four years to start his career, has finished top-three at the position in touches per game in all four.
    4. Dalvin Cook: Posted 1,654 yards from scrimmage and 13 scores while trailing only McCaffrey in points per game in 2019. Has now missed multiple games in each of his first three seasons. It is too early to get overly spooked out about Cook’s potential threat of a holdout given the limitations of the new CBA, but something to monitor as we approach an official start date for training camps.
    5. Alvin Kamara: Has averaged 18 touches per game in each of the past two years. Kamara has at least 80 receptions in each of his first three seasons, but yards per catch have gone from 10.2 to 8.8 to 6.6 in each of those years. Lack of touchdowns (six) after scoring 31 times through two seasons and a midseason ankle injury capped his explosiveness.
    6. Joe Mixon: End of season surge saved his outlook after a nightmarish open to the season. Mixon had 994 total yards over his final eight games after just 431 through the first eight. Has now notched at least 1,400 yards and eight scores in each of the past two seasons while his touches have gone from 208 to 280 to 313 to start his career.
    7. Derrick Henry: The Titans and Henry are in a climate where they each are worth more to each other than anywhere else. Henry has yet to have more than 18 catches in any season, but has scored 28 touchdowns over his past 23 games played. 
    8. Nick Chubb: Trailed only McCaffrey and Elliott with 1,772 yards from scrimmage last year while being unlucky in the red zone. But both his fantasy ceiling and floor were lowered once Kareem Hunt took the field. Chubb was a RB1 in 2-of-8 games with Hunt active and the RB33 or lower in four of those games after being an RB1 in 4-of-8 games to start the year and just one game lower than RB26. New staff could alter the end of 2019 usage.
    9. Miles Sanders: Set a franchise rookie record with 1,327 yards from scrimmage. Averaged 18.5 touches for 95.4 yards per game over the final eight games of the season while playing 72% of the snaps. Philly added no significant no backfield depth this offseason.
    10. Aaron Jones: The 19 touchdowns he scored are sure to regress as he out-kicked his expected red zone fantasy point total by a league-leading 42.6 points and the team added a 247-pound banger in the second round. But Jones has averaged 5.2, 5.9 and 5.5 yards per touch over his first three seasons as his touches and usage in the passing game has taken a large step forward yearly.
    11. Kenyan Drake: 1,000 total yards and eight touchdowns in each of the past two seasons. Drake averaged 18.9 touches for 101.8 yards per game over his eight games after joining Arizona.
    12. Austin Ekeler: Touches have gone from 74>145>224 over his three seasons in the league while also averaging over 10.0 yards per catch in all three seasons.  Anthony Lynn has seemed reluctant to lean into Ekeler as an alpha back, but his recent contract extension is a significant sign that he will be a major part of the offense moving forward and have an advantage over a rookie runner in Joshua Kelley. His eight receiving scores are sure to come back to reality to go along with the loss of RB-target spike quarterback in Philip Rivers, just to keep us honest. 
    13. Josh Jacobs: Rookie back notched 1,316 yards and seven touchdowns while finishing second in missed tackles created (78) in 13 games. Ranked seventh in rushing points per game (12.1), but 55th in receiving points per game (2.8). With Jalen Richard extended and Lynn Bowden added, those receiving totals are unlikely to spike significantly.
    14. Todd Gurley: Workload reduction was real in 2019 as he fell to 17th in touches per game (16.9) but his major issues from fantasy stemmed from lack of explosive plays (4.2 yards per touch) and evaporation of use in the passing game, averaging 2.1 catches per game after 4.2 and 4.3 per game the previous two seasons. Still 26-years old entering 2020, Gurley is still a proven touchdown scorer, scoring double-digit times in four of his five NFL seasons.  He heads to an Atlanta team are missing 52.4% of their 2019 rushing attempts from the roster (fourth most) and 39.8% of their team targets from a year ago. 
    15. Clyde Edwards-Helaire: Edwards-Helaire’s versatility and pass-catching ability found a perfect home in Kansas City. Damien Williams should be expected to have an early-season role and CEH has pass protection issues to round out in becoming a three-down back in year one, but the upside is of that of someone like Ekeler’s 2019 season.
    16. Melvin Gordon:  Has averaged fewer than 5.0 yards per touch in four of his five seasons, but his 47 touchdowns over the past four years are third at the position. Moving on to Denver, he has an edge over Phillip Lindsay in goal line and receiving work, but fell down to 17.0 touches per game (16th) a year ago playing with an effective Austin Ekeler. Lindsay should command a larger role in the rushing game than Ekeler did.
    17. James Conner: Just 715 total yards in 2019 after 1,470 in 2018, Conner was a victim of the Steelers’ offensive ineptitude, his own recoil, and inability to remain healthy. Durability has been an issue for Conner over the past two seasons, missing nine games outright due to injury and playing fewer than 40% of the team snaps in 10 of his 23 games active. Entering 2020 on the final year of his contract, but was the RB18 in points per game a year ago (14.6) in a poor offense climate that is surely going to rise with Ben Roethlisberger returning. 
    18. Chris Carson: The RB16 and RB13 in points per game over the past two years. Carson closed 2019 with a major hip injury and enters 2020 on the final year of his contract with significant injuries in each of his first three seasons. Fumble concerns crept up in 2019, but with Rashaad Penny’s early season availability in question, Carson may only have Carlos Hyde to contend with early in the season in establishing his hold on the backfield once again.
    19. Le’Veon Bell: Bell set career-lows in nearly every major category in his first season with the Jets. His patient rushing style is a poor fit for the Jets porous offensive line, ranking last in yards before contact per carry. On the positive end, was still a workhorse, handling 72.3% of the backfield touches, which ranked eighth among running backs. With not much behind him on the depth chart even after adding Frank Gore, Bell should once again see a ton of touches.
    20. Leonard Fournette: Staying healthy, set career-highs in touches (341), yards (1,674), and receptions (76) while running frigid in touchdown fortune (three). If the receptions are sticky, touchdown regression will vault him, but also became Le’Veon Bell-ish once Jacksonville became one of the league’s worst teams down the stretch, having just two top-20 weeks over the final seven games. Early this offseason, everything surrounding Fournette’s standing with the organization has been sour. From the team exploring trading him and declining his fifth-year option while Jay Gruden brought in longtime satellite back Chris Thompson to cut into Fournette’s receiving work. 
    21. Jonathan Taylor: Taylor posted over 2K yards in each of his three collegiate seasons and closed his career with a career-high 26 receptions.  An impressive combine at 226 pounds, Taylor will share early-down work with Marlon Mack for at least a partial stretch of 2020, but he could prove to be better in that role very quickly.
    22. David Johnson: Johnson was the RB5 in overall fantasy points through six weeks in 2019 prior to back issues and the addition of Kenyan Drake a year ago, catching 30 passes for 315 yards and three touchdowns in those games. Turning 29-years-old during the 2020 season, Johnson will head a Houston backfield missing 59% of their team rushing attempts from the 2019 season. 
    23. David Montgomery: A letdown based on required draft capital a year ago, Montgomery still tallied a respectable 267 touches for 1,074 yards and seven touches as a rookie. Surprisingly ranked seventh among all backs in air yards last season on just 35 targets, but Tarik Cohen still caps his overall upside in the receiving game. 
    24. Devin Singletary: 969 yards in just 12 games as a rookie, Singletary averaged 18.9 touches per game over his final nine games in 2019. Only bugaboos remaining for a year two takeoff as a lead back are uneven receiving usage and lack of scoring opportunities (2-of-18 team carries inside of the 5-yard line) playing with a touchdown-hog running quarterback.
    25. Raheem Mostert: The only 49er running back currently with a contract beyond 2020. Mostert tallied 792 total yards and 12 touchdowns over the final eight games of 2019. Risk of 2020 timeshare at any given moment still aren’t non-zero and he posted just nine receptions over that hot stretch.
    26. Mark Ingram: 1,265 yards and 15 touchdowns in his first season in Baltimore attached to the league’s highest-scoring team and top rushing offense. Turning 31-years old in-season next year, Ingram ranked just 24th in touches per game (15.2) in 2019. With touchdown regression and the addition of J.K. Dobbins, Ingram’s touches shouldn’t be expected to rise.
    27. Cam Akers: The youngest back in this draft class, Akers played behind a dismal offensive line in 2019, but still was hyper-productive with 1,369 yards and 18 scores. Landing with the Rams, Akers can immediately push to be the starter earlier than Taylor or Dobbins. The Rams offensive situation remains a question in terms of targeting backs out of the backfield and their offensive line was subpar a year ago with almost no additions. 
    28. J.K. Dobbins: With 2,250 yards and 23 touchdowns in 2019, Dobbins closed his collegiate career with 221 yards in his final game against Clemson. Dobbins lands in a perfect fit for scheme on the league’s best rushing team, handling 261 carries out of the shotgun last season at Ohio State. Mark Ingram is still there and should be expected to handle the crux of 2020 scoring opportunities while non-Ingram backs last season handled 11.5 touches per game for Baltimore last season outside of Week 17.
    29. D’Andre Swift: Swift also landed in a potential year one timeshare. Matt Patricia has not been shy about suggesting that he prefers a committee approach from his backs. Kerryon Johnson has more three-down ability than someone like Marlon Mack and is much younger than someone like Mark Ingram, leaving Swift with more of a battle to fight than the previous two backs.
    30. Damien Williams: Williams had just 711 yards in 11 games in 2019. But once again flashed the fantasy appeal of his role in the offense. Over his final seven full games played, Williams played 77% of the snaps, handled 82% of the backfield touches, and averaged 110.4 YFS and 22.9 fantasy points per game. Williams should be expected to maintain a role in the offense as Clyde Edwards-Helaire is groomed. But with no full season output on his resume and CEH lurking, Williams drops to FLEX status.
    31. Derrius Guice: Playing just five games over his first two NFL seasons, the allure in chasing the upside for Guice is waning while the offensive climate and potential of a timeshare still remain prevalent. 
    32. Kareem Hunt: A restricted free agent this offseason. Hunt was the average weekly RB21 over his eight games active with the Browns while ranking fifth at the position in receptions over that span (3.7 per game). Downside is he was truly more of a complementary piece over a 1B option to Nick Chubb, averaging 10.9 touches per game with 5.5 rushing attempts per game.
    33. James White: White has been a top-40 seasonal scorer in each of the past five seasons. His RB23 rank in points per game last season is more in line with expectations than his RB10 rank in 2018.
    34. Ronald Jones: A major step forward as Jones went from 77 total yards on 30 touches in 2018 as a rookie up to 1,033 yards on 203 touches a year ago, but never fully got the coaching staff in Tampa Bay to just let him take unrelenting control of the backfield. Jones reached 203 touches, but also shared 170 with Peyton Barber. With Tampa Bay adding Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Jones will have a tough time building on those 200 touches while having a threat to reduce them.
    35. Matt Breida: Going to Miami, Breida gains new life. Breida has averaged 5.5 yards per touch over his first three years in the league. His biggest hang up has been getting a full-allotment of touches at 5’10”, 190 pounds and as a byproduct, not catching enough passes or scoring touchdowns. Howard (and Miami in general) are problems for Breida reaching the end zone, but the door  is open for Brieda to finally be used as a pass catcher. 
    36. Jordan Howard:  Howard is a proven touchdown scorer in the league and will stand be at worst a goal line thorn to an incoming player. The 25-year-old power back tallied 525 rushing yards in 10 games with the Eagles last season, and scored seven touchdowns in his opening nine games of the season prior to a shoulder injury. With the Dolphins only adding Matt Breida, Howard’s early-down and short yardage roles gained security.
    37. Sony Michel: 259 touches for 1,006 yards in 2019, his one-dimensional usage makes him a touchdown-dependent option without the overall volume of other similar backs previously listed. Michel has five RB1 scoring weeks in 29 regular season games with 18 weeks as an RB3 or lower. With New England potentially losing a lot of positive game script, Michel will need to be used more creatively in his third season.  
    38. Ke’Shawn Vaughn: Vaughn was a workhorse back the past two years at Vanderbilt. He’s not as electric as the top backs in this class, but he doesn’t do anything poorly and is a sound receiver. Not making mistakes and catching the football are the most vulnerable areas of Ronald Jones’s game.
    39. Marlon Mack: An RB2 in each of the past two seasons, Mack has ranked sixth and eighth in rushing points per game over the past two years, but also 59th and 79th in receiving points per game with a combined 31-185-1 receiving line. A two-down back sharing work is already a fragile commodity. The addition of Jonathan Taylor lowers both Mack’s floor and ceiling.
    40. Kerryon Johnson: Struggled with just 4.3 yards per touch while active in his second season, but staying active has been his largest obstacle. Missing six and eight games over his first two seasons, the Lions added D’Andre Swift to the fold, reducing Johnson to a FLEX timeshare with the potential he could even lose more ground.
    41. Darrell Henderson: Managed just 43 touches for 184 yards as a rookie. Coming off offseason ankle surgery, Henderson still has to contend with Cam Akers Malcolm Brown for opportunities, but the release of Todd Gurley opens up potential for the year-two back to take the bulk of touches.
    42. Phillip Lindsay: Sharing a backfield a year ago, Lindsay still notched his second straight 1,200-yard season playing alongside Royce Freeman. But after 117 catches in college, hasn’t found a significant role in the receiving game at the NFL level and had his role reduced there in year two, catching 18 passes for a paltry 54 yards over the final 11 games of 2019. With Melvin Gordon now on the roster, Lindsay could have a minimal role in both the receiving game and near the goal line, which makes him a deluxe version of Matt Breida.
    43. Tevin Coleman: Coleman battled multiple injuries in 2019 on his way to 51.7 total yards per game, his fewest in a season since his rookie year. With fewer than 200 touches through five seasons, Coleman is unlikely to make the official jump to a lead back for a full season.
    44. Tarik Cohen: Through three seasons, Cohen’s 2017 and 2019 rate stats look extremely similar sandwiching his breakout in 2018. 2019 seen Cohen catch a career-high 79 passes, but his 5.8 yards per grab and reduction in rushing opportunity and effectiveness have him trending towards being a healthy version of Chris Thompson. 
    45. Tony Pollard: Pollard is stuck behind Ezekiel Elliott despite turning in an efficient 5.6 yards per touch as a rookie on 101 opportunities, but he’s the best handcuff in the league given his environment, efficiency and receiving ability.
    46. Alexander Mattison: Mattison isn’t far off from Pollard in the handcuff pecking order, totaling 4.9 yards per touch on 110 opportunities as a rookie behind Dalvin Cook. Added upside if Cook’s threats of holdout ring true.
    47. Anthony McFarland: If given a runway, McFarlans can fly, positing the fifth-best speed score in this class by running a 4.44 at 208 pounds. He could already have an inside edge on being a compliment to James Conner and a direct backup as he is a more viable receiver than Benny Snell and a more viable runner than Jaylen Samuels.
    48. Latavius Murray: Murray was more handcuff than filling the void of usage that Mark Ingram left behind. Murray averaged 8.4 touches per game when Alvin Kamara was active, but we got a taste of his upside still when Murray had 60 touches for 307 yards and four touchdowns in the two games that Kamara missed last year.
    49. Boston Scott: 61 touches for 350 yards and four touchdowns over the final four regular season games in 2019 may be enough to keep Scott in the mix for the Eagles, and Philadelphia didn’t add another back via the draft, waiting sign an undrafted player in Michael Warren afterwards.
    50. Duke Johnson: Despite another efficient season per touch (6.5 yards), Johnson has consistently been a compartmentalized player now through multiple coaching staffs. After 156 touches in 2017, Johnson has received 87 and 127 touches the past two seasons. 
    51. Nyheim Hines: Snap share was significantly reduced last season (32%) from 2018 (44%), but Hines managed to catch another 44 passes a year ago, giving him 107 receptions through two years in the NFL. With the Colts not adding a pass catching back, Hines gets a boost playing that role alongside Philip Rivers, but also is roadblocked for a major snap increase outside of pass catching situations.
    52. Chase Edmonds: Jumped up to 5.7 yards per touch in his second season, but never could get back on the field after a midseason ankle injury. Edmonds’s viability will be contingent on the moves Arizona makes this offseason. 
    53. Zack Moss: Moss forced the most missed tackles (87) in this draft class in 2019. Moss can be a big compliment to Devin Singletary, while the Bills gave Frank Gore 11 carries inside of the 5-yard last season, but Gore averaged just 8.6 touches per game over the final 10 games of the season while Josh Allen has not used his backs heavily in the passing game through two years.
    54. Joshua Kelley: Anthony Lynn has seemed reluctant to lean into Ekeler (5’10”, 200 pounds) as an alpha back when a bigger body is available. In six games without Gordon the past two years, Ekeler has carried 96 times for 349 yards (3.6 YPC) versus his 5.4 yards per tote when in a combo role over the past two seasons. With Justin Jackson also being a lighter back (199 pounds) the Chargers were a candidate to add a bigger body to the picture. Kelley is a threat to being that “Latavius Murray-lite” compliment to Ekeler’s “Kamara-like” upside.
    55. Jamaal Williams: Williams has been surpassed by Aaron Jones, but is still a part of the Packers offense, tallying 140-plus touches in each of his first three seasons with at least 40 targets in each of his past two. 
    56. A.J. Dillon: The sixth running back taken in the draft, Dillon is in a year one logjam with no line to receptions and limited touches, but can be a major touchdown vulture at 247 pounds.
    57. Antonio Gibson: A jack of all trades option in a crowded backfield for rushing volume, but one dynamic enough to contribute everywhere and earn more opportunities based on a lack of surrounding explosive playmakers.
    58. Ryquell Armstead: Still just a backup and overlap in skill set to Leonard Fournette, Armstead had 15 touches for 85 yards in his lone game with Fournette sidelined as a rookie.
    59. Carlos Hyde: With Rashaad Penny likely to start the season on the PUP, Hyde is attached to a run-heavy offense early in the season and a play away form being a lead back again.
    60. Giovani Bernard: Staying the handcuff zone, Bernard has totaled just 91 and 83 touches the past two seasons.