For fantasy running back production, it is all about volume. Simply looking at the players who are given the most touches (weighing a reception twice as much as a carry), can give you a good idea of which players are thriving in a more stable fashion. At the running back position, I’m mainly evaluating their likely future role. Those who are poised to be three-down backs for a long period of time are coveted, and it’s important to keep in mind that running back production tends to decline after the age of 27. Thus, younger players, as well as those with draft capital attached to them, are more likely to receive a favorable ranking.
Before we get to the rankings, let’s go over some of the key points to touch on:
- I’d consider the second through five spots in this list interchangeable. Meanwhile, Najee Harris, Antonio Gibson, and D’Andre Swift separate themselves from other younger running backs because of their dual-threat ability.
- Derrick Henry and Ezekiel Elliot each are the prototype for “too much tread on the tires”, although both still should see enough volume to be top-ten options for this season and the next. Austin Ekeler and Joe Mixon are arguably top-five players right now, and are much fresher options; Aaron Jones is similar, although older, and Nick Chubb simply will never have the receiving volume to be a high-end “RB1”.
- Javonte Williams, as discussed in my rookie running backs piece, could profile as a first-round pick next year given his gaudy talents and the likelihood of significant volume, a la Jonathan Taylor. I just have much more confidence in his talent than, say, Clyde Edwards-Helaire at this point, though the latter is a good buy-low target.
- Travis Etienne, Cam Akers, and JK Dobbins will all be coming back from significant injuries last year, though all should have meaningful roles if healthy. Akers would be in the most jeopardy coming back from a torn Achilles and with the emergence of Darrell Henderson Jr., while Etienne’s first-round pedigree could solidify his status as the top back in Jacksonville.
- We’re all wondering what to make of the San Francisco running back situation. I see Elijah Mitchell and Trey Sermon as the future 1-2 tandem moving forward, though I actually believe in Mitchell’s talents slightly more; Sermon’s draft status gives him an advantage though.
- Rhamondre Stevenson is an interesting sleeper likely to see a greater role in New England this year, but he doesn’t have the same upside as some of the “handcuffs” ranked near him.
- Unheralded sleepers to keep an eye on in deep leagues: Khalil Herbert, Jaret Patterson, and Chris Evans.
- Also, Demetric Felton could be an interesting option given his running back + wide receiver eligibility.