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:
- The training wheels should be off for Javonte Williams next year! In his rookie season, the 21-year-old ranked in the top-ten in yards after contact per carry (3.42), while he was only behind Jonathan Taylor in missed tackles forced (63). Meanwhile, he also took over the team’s receiving duties out of the backfield. Simply put, he has true dominant three-down back in his range of outcomes for next season. Should Melvin Gordon III sign elsewhere, he could be a top-five back in both redraft and dynasty.
- Quietly, Derrick Henry‘s regression started last season. He had his worst yards/carry (4.2) of his career, his worst yards after contact per carry (3.28) since 2017, as well as his worse PFF rushing grade (74.9) since his rookie season in 2016. Volume and touchdowns may have saved him this year when healthy, but we cannot expect the same again next season.
- Don’t fear Elijah Mitchell just because he’s attached to Kyle Shanahan. Rather, be excited about how much Shanahan prioritized getting him the ball over the team’s other running backs, as well as appreciating his elite talent- he ranked ninth in yards after contact per carry (3.44), and averaged 15.7 points per game over his past eight games after coming back from injury. While others are scared by his perceived risk, buy his stock before it gets any higher!
- I have full faith in Devin Singletary heading into next season. He’s a former day-two pick who ranked sixth in missed tackles forced (51), and 11th in PFF rushing grade (82.5) attached to an elite offense as the potential three-down back. I don’t see the Bills adding a running back after his breakout down the stretch, and as long as that remains true, he could finish as an RB1 next season.
- All eyes will be on Rashaad Penny‘s landing spot in free agency after he showcased the type of skillset that once made him a first-round pick towards the end of the season. He led the league in yards after contact per carry (4.52) and breakaway rate (52.3%) by a wide margin last season. He’s an extremely talented 26-year-old who whose value is tightly attached to what team he signs with.
- Is all hope lost for Clyde Edwards-Helaire? In his second year, the former first-round pick didn’t breakout as expected, but found himself behind Jerrick McKinnon and even Darrell Williams on the depth chart by the end of the year. He’s the only running back in Kansas City under contract next season, but it’s unclear how much the team trusts him. He truly is a curious case.
- It will be interesting to see how Travis Etienne and JK Dobbins fare coming back from injury next season.
- After flourishing with an 84.4 PFF rushing grade when David Montgomery was injured last season, Khalil Herbert is one of the top handcuffs in football, and is only 23-years-old!