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. 
    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. 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, but the 285 touches and 1,558 yards are true while his touches have risen every year of 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. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. 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. 
    11. 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.
    12. 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).
    13. 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. 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. 
    14. 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.
    15. 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 is the only top-20 back supremely on the back end of his career arc. 
    16. 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. It’s not a matter of if the Chiefs add a back this offseason, but what kind of capital they invest in the position that will shake the tree for Williams.  
    17. 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 playing with a touchdown-hog running quarterback.
    18. 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. 
    19. 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. 
    20. 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. 
    21. 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. 
    22. Jonathan Taylor: Grouping the “Big Three” rookie backs together in ranks and each is a potential value at current draft cost due to the unknown risk of landing spots. 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 should seal the deal that he’s the fist running back selected in the draft. 
    23. D’Andre Swift: Doesn’t have the resume of production compared to J.K. Dobbins and Jonathan Taylor, but Swift is projected to be taken in the the first round universally in this spring’s draft. Opportunity is the name of the game for running backs and if a team does invest into Swift as the top back selected then he’ll slide into the RB2-range with upside at worst. 
    24. 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 was unavailable to participate in physical drills at the combine due to an ankle injury suffered in that final game.
    25. 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.
    26. 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. 
    27. 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. 
    28. 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 committee, posting just nine receptions over that span still exist.  
    29. 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, expect the Steelers to add competition this offseason. 
    30. 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 should be expected to add more insurance or a compliment to Johnson after last season’s exposure to their depth chart.
    31. 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.
    32. 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.
    33. Cam Akers: The secondary tier of rookie running backs also offer risk and reward at their pre-draft costs in drafts. Akers is in that tier. 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. 
    34. Clyde Edwards-Helaire: Edwards-Helaire’s versatility and pass-catching ability could have him selected earlier than expected. He has the best individual game tape of any back in this class versus Alabama, but was absolutely a benefactor of playing in the nation’s top offense after pedestrian output in 2018.
    35. Darrell Henderson: Managed just 43 touches for 184 yards as a rookie. Coming off offseason ankle surgery, Henderson still has to contend with Malcolm Brown for opportunities, but the release of Todd Gurley opens up potential for the year-two back to take the bulk of touches.
    36. 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. 
    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. 
    38. 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. With Tampa Bay players in the running back market this offseason, Jones’s 2020 usage remains a question mark.
    39. 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.
    40. 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.
    41. Devonta Freeman: The 28-year old back has reached 1,000 yards from scrimmage in each of his past four full seasons, Freeman’s yards per touch have dropped in each of the past three seasons from the year prior.  A candidate to be released this offseason, Freeman’s days as a lead back are in jeopardy. 
    42. 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. 
    43. 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.
    44. 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. 
    45. 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.
    46. Royce Freeman: Freeman carved out a larger role in the passing game than Lindsay, but still played second fiddle and lost ground as the season wore on. Freeman managed double-digit touches in just six of the final eight games after hitting that mark in each of the opening eight weeks.
    47. 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. 
    48. 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. If Colts don’t add a pass catching threat, then gets a boost playing that role alongside Philip Rivers.
    49. Justice Hill: Had just 66 touches for 295 yards as a rookie, but with Gus Edwards a free agent, could be in line to move up the depth chart right behind a 30-year-old back should Baltimore not add significant competition. 
    50. Zack Moss: Moss is a favorite for many scouts and could be in the mix to be drafted among the second tier of backs. Moss forced the most missed tackles (87) in this draft class in 2019. 
    51. Malcolm Brown: Totaled 71 touches for 271 yards and five touchdowns in relief for the Rams in 2019. Could be a potential touchdown vulture at worst if the depth chart remains him and Henderson.
    52. 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. 
    53. 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. 
    54. Lamar Miller: The unrestricted free agent missed all of 2019 due to a torn ACL suffered in the preseason. Will enter 2020 at age-29 with 1,100 yards in each of his past five seasons played.
    55. Carlos Hyde: The free agent could return to Houston after turning in 1,112 yards on 255 touches, but turning 30-years old this upcoming September with just 20 receptions over his past 30 games played.
    56. 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, but Philadelphia will also likely add a bigger back to the depth chart this offseason. 
    57. Matt Breida: A restricted free agent this offseason, Breida fell out of favor in 2019 after a strong start and once again missed multiple games due to injury. Breida managed just 26 touches over his final seven games played. 
    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. Adrian Peterson: Despite a new regime, Peterson is expected to be back this season at age-35 after posting 1,250 and 1,040 yards from scrimmage in his past two seasons with Washington. 
    60. Rashaad Penny: Penny has been outplayed by Chris Carson in each of his first two seasons and is coming off a torn ACL suffered in Week 14.