This Running Backs Rankings 2019 from Red Zone Rick might be the key ingredient for you to succeed in your fantasy draft this year.
Running backs are the motor of any good football team. And that makes no difference if it’s fantasy football or the real thing. A good running back can take over the game. A pass-catching running back in a PPR league can be a deal-sealer or a back-breaker depending whether he’s on your team or not.
There is even a school of thought out there that drafting only running backs in rounds 1 – 4 is not a bad strategy for the draft. I completely kind of, sort of, maybe agree.
If all the right backs are there, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking straight RBs through the first four rounds. But if there are excellent WRs available and at a good price, don’t overthink it. Take the best value.
Running Backs Rankings 2019
Running backs have ruled the roost for a long time in the fantasy world. Receivers are gaining in importance, but it’s still a RB league.
NFL RB Rankings: The Best of the Best
1.) Saquon Barkley
Saquon (as a rookie) was the best RB in the league in all fields. His stats were good, he stayed healthy, and most importantly he passed the eye test. Again: As a rookie he looked far better than anyone else. The stats, the coaches, and his peers all back it up.
The most enticing factor about Barkley is that even at his floor (the Giants were not good at all last year) he is still a bonafied number 1 pick. His ceiling hasn’t even been reached yet.
2.) Ezekiel Elliott
Similarly to Barkley, Elliot looked every bit the part of an elite back. Except unlike Barkley, Elliot had more help at QB, WR, and on defense. Also, unlike Barkley, Elliot has already shown us what his ceiling looks like. He also has shown us that he can get himself suspended with his poor judgment. And now he is in a contract dispute with the Cowboys.
If the holdout gets resolved, Elliot is the Number 2 draft choice. But as the season opener creeps closer, the more likely it is that he sits out for any number of games, I’d skip him for the next guy on this list.
3.) Christian McCaffrey
There was a lot of speculation about if McCaffrey could actually handle the workload of a featured RB; well in case you missed the entire 2018 season, he can, and how! McCaffrey gets the edge on Kamara because McCaffrey and the Panthers don’t have a Michael Thomas to feed passes to.
That means if the Panthers want to be contenders again (and yes, every season you are a contender when Cam Newton is your QB) they will have to funnel their offense through their Swiss army knife RB. McCaffrey has the versatile skill set to thrive under the demands of the Panthers’ season.
4.) Alvin Kamara
With Ingram gone, the plan is clear: unleash Kamara. Think of last year as “testing the waters” as to just how much work the saints could place on their young RB and in what situations. He passed all the tests. That’s part of why the Saints were okay with letting Ingram go. This season, expect consistent floors and high ceilings for the Saints’ starting back.
5.) Melvin Gordon
The reason why Gordon and the chargers are having contract disputes: because Gordon is really good and he knows it.
Could this pose a potential issue for prospective fantasy owners as the draft inches closer? Yes, it could. Is it starting to get worrisome? Yes, it is starting to look that way. But this likely will push him down the draft into the second round, so he might just be worth the risk because when healthy, Gordon can be every bit as dangerous as the first 4 RBs on this list.
6.) Le’Veon Bell
Le’Veon never seems to be far removed from the top of any NFL talent list. Even last year when he didn’t play a down he went near the top of fantasy drafts in virtually every league. And undoubtedly that poor return on investment rubbed more than a few fantasy managers wrong, and put-off more than a few others.
Their lack of infatuation with Bell, mixed with the uncertainty of his new situation, could finally pull Bell down the draft boards. Yet he is still ranked as one of the best backs in the NFL after all of that. There is some risk surrounding him but he’s worth it.
7.) David Johnson
David Johnson hasn’t exactly delivered on expectations, but every year those expectations seem to keep him creeping up toward the top of the rankings. And once again this year looks to be the same story. Will he deliver on those expectations this time? There is good reason to believe that he will. Arizona is focusing their attention on offense, and Johnson is a huge part of this offense.
Arizona wants to deploy their receivers in 2019 and the best way to keep that strategy effective is to balance it with an effective ground game. The entire Arizona ground game is Johnson. So in many ways, Johnson is the pivittle piece for success in the desert. (And if you look at his stats from last year, he really didn’t do as poorly as people seem to think).
8.) Joe Mixon
Mixon has steadily been gaining steam but has yet to really take charge. The biggest reason for him being ranked this high: he’s expected to breakout this year. If he does, he could even be underrated at number 8. However, the last time a Bengal RB was ranked this high: Jeremy Hill. And that didn’t pan out well for anyone.
9.) James Conner
In some ways, last season Conner was even superior to Le’Veon, especially in the first half of the season which was surprising to say the least. The fact that Conner succeeded in the Steeler offense and that the Steelers chose to rely heavily on a single RB rather than a committee, however, is not surprising.
The Steelers like to feature a single back and run him wild. Even if he doesn’t flash like he did last season, the volume will be such that he is a top ten back either way.
10.) Dalvin Cook
Dalvin was selected to replace Adrian Peterson, and for 3 and a half games his rookie season he was doing that exceptionally well. But since then AP has had the last laugh (he went for over 1000 yards last year).
However this year looks to be the second coming of Cook. Everything is in place in Minnesota’s offense and they just need a reliable ground game to round out one of the most talented rosters in the league. And there are no doubts coming from anyone involved with the Vikings as to whether or not Cook is that guy. So although he makes this top ten list via expectations, you can expect him to deliver.
11.) Todd Gurley
The truth is, there is a strong chance Gurley dominates defenses in 2019. There is also a strong chance that L.A. has a real problem with their star RB’s surgically repaired knee. Only time will tell, but this list is taking into account the projections for the entirety of the fantasy football season, and frankly Gurley is a risk for any owner strictly on durability concerns.
12.) Nick Chubb
With Duke Johnson out of the mix, this will be strictly Chubb for the first 8 weeks of the season. That’s a good line of work. However, Kareem Hunt is every bit as talented as Chubb and you better believe he’s going to be more than just second fiddle when he returns.
13.) Devonta Freeman
There’s a chance with Tevin Coleman gone that Devonta Freeman is the steal of the second round. He has everything in place to be an RB1 as it is but this year he will have more touches and will get his number called in more situations. He’s an excellent RB2 for your team because of this upside potential.
14.) Derrick Henry
If this is the year that Derrick Henry breaks out into a full-blown all-star, you’re going to be kicking yourself for not drafting him at the discount price. Yet, there is also the unshakable truth that he posted a lot of unstartable performances last year.
He fits with the Titans perfectly because their defense is very good and their air game is, well, “sufficient at best”. He has the ultimate change of pace partner in Dion Lewis, and the Titans will be perfectly happy letting Derrick Henry be this year’s Todd Gurley and then some.
15.) Leonard Fournette
Injuries. That is the only real reason why a runner with as much talent and fortitude as Fournette hasn’t taken over as the most feared RB of the AFC South. But let his injuries be testament to how tough he really is, as he has been bit by the injury bug in some form for the majority of his professional career.
16.) Phillip Lindsay
The word on the street is Royce Freeman. Royce has looked good in the offseason. Well, that may be something, but Lindsay looked good in the actual season. And he looked really, really good. Royce Freeman’s rise will inevitably cut into some of Lindsay’s touches but let’s face it, if Lindsay was expected to post the same numbers as last year you’d be drafting him in Round 1. So as an RB2 with upside, he is a great addition for your team.
17.) Damien Williams
Andy Reid is an offensive genius and the Chefs got better on offense this year. They also got better on defense. And they also improved their running game in the offseason with two words: Carlos Hyde. He isn’t the biggest name, and he’s bounced around a bit, but Hyde was a top-10 back 2 years ago in PPR leagues with the 49ers and Williams has never been a workhorse back for an entire season.
With Reid’s offensive mind it is safe to think both will be used effectively, but just take some caution and avoid reaching for Williams because he may not be as much of a season-long lead back as it seems right now.
18.) Marlon Mack
Marlon Mack is in the right place at the right time and he’s the best man for the job. The Colts have faith that he can be their guy. Their offense is humming once again with Luck in the driver’s seat and Mack is the versatile RB that has the power and efficiency to round out the offense.
19.) Josh Jacobs
Never underestimate what a healthy Antonio Brown can do to opposing defenses, with or without the ball in his hands. That opens things up for the run game a lot. Jacobs is a Rookie but he should shine in his new outfit.
20.) Aaron Jones
If he can stay healthy, Jones has all the potential to be an RB1. If he gets hurt again, he may never even reach true RB2 status.
21.) Sony Michel
The Patriots have an interesting backfield always. That can be a scary thing when it comes to drafting/ starting one of their RBs. The truth is, Michel is very good and the Patriots want to win and know how to win. So all trickery aside, you can expect a lot of Michel in 2019.
Sony Michel Highlights Video
22.) Kerryon Johnson
He hasn’t exactly wowed us yet – but the word sleeper is getting floated around a lot. The offensive line has been on the up-and-up for years since JBC took over, and Detroit has been desperately looking for its RB for half a decade. Johnson hasn’t made it there yet but there is reason to believe he has everything he needs to break out this year.
23.) James White
He’s technically a running back, which should make you worried because he’s on the Patriots. But he plays like a receiver that comes out of the backfield. And Tom Brady loves it. So fear not, if he doesn’t get the touches he’ll surely get the catches. He’s your PPR darling.
24.) Chris Carson
Mike Davis is out of the picture. Chris Carson is the guy. Seattle’s running game wasn’t as in-your-face as it was when Beat Mode used to chew up defenses, but it still boomed last year. And word on the street is that they want to get Davis involved in the passing game to the tune of 50 targets this year.
25.) David Montgomery
Speaking of Mike Davis, he’s now in Chicago. And so is Tarik Cohen. And so is David Montgomery. So how does one make sense of this deadly trio? I don’t have that answer, but what is easy to make sense of is simply the fact that Montgomery has looked really, really good so far. Like, potentially A+ good.
It’s Still a Running Back World
Fielding an awesome backfield can make a huge difference in your fantasy football league. A major star can mean the difference between advancing far in the playoffs and being caught sitting on the sidelines come payout time. This research will help you. Good luck.
— Red Zone Rick
With excellent vision, Red Zone Rick hits the hole quickly to identify the top 25 running backs. Not only can Rick take you to the red zone with your team, he can help you score big time!
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