It’s that part of the offseason where we know more than we did last month but we still don’t know what we will know a month from now, classic offseason. This week we’ll be taking a peek at the most critical position in fantasy football: running backs. We’ll be taking a look at all of the RB1 candidates and a few of the RB2 prospects.
1. Le’Veon Bell – Pittsburgh Steelers
Spoiler alert: Le’Veon Bell will be a beast in fantasy this season (barring any serious injuries, of course). It’s a no-brainer. Bell averaged 27 touches per game last season, was First Team All-Pro, and is one of the most uniquely talented backs in football.
2. Todd Gurley – Los Angeles Rams
Todd Gurley had an amazing season in 2017. One reason is that he was finally used in the passing game. Gurley had 21 receptions in 2015, 43 receptions in 2016, and 64 receptions in 2017. He took his 64 receptions for 788 yards and six touchdowns to couple with his 1,305 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns. He is in contention for the first overall pick.
3. David Johnson – Arizona Cardinals
David Johnson will be a great pick in fantasy again this season. He is a huge asset to the Cardinals’ passing game and could get a lot of attention from the new quarterback, whether it be Sam Bradford or Josh Rosen. He missed all but the first game of the 2017 season with a wrist injury; with fresh legs and contract-year incentives, he should bounce back to the top with ease.
4. Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints
The 2017 Offensive Rookie of the Year will look to have another great season in 2018. Also benefitting Kamara is fellow Saints running back Mark Ingram‘s four-game suspension. Kamara was getting a heavy workload before, but now he should get even more work to start the season. Kamara was playing more snaps than Ingram by season’s end.
5. Ezekiel Elliott – Dallas Cowboys
Ezekiel Elliott should be a good pick for fantasy owners now that the suspension drama has run its course. Elliott is still talented and the Cowboys’ offensive line is still king. It would be nice to see him get more work in the passing game.
6. Leonard Fournette – Jacksonville Jaguars
Leonard Fournette proved that he can handle a heavy workload in Jacksonville. He managed to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards in only 13 games and is a classic downfield bruiser. His lower-body injuries raise some concerns, but Fournette should find success if he stays healthy. The Jags clearly want to run the ball as much as possible.
7. Saquon Barkley – New York Giants
Falling to the second overall pick was best case scenario for Saquon Barkley. The Giants’ offense is a solid catalyst for Barkley’s game. Barkley was arguably the most talented player in the 2018 draft class, and his talent gives him the opportunity to play a crucial role in New York’s running and passing games.
8. Melvin Gordon – Los Angeles Chargers
Melvin Gordon is a playmaker. Period. The former Badger got plenty of work in Los Angeles last season, averaging over 20 touches per game. In 16 games, Gordon averaged 98.8 scrimmage yards per game. The Chargers now-elite defense should give Gordon plenty of positive game scripts.
9. LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills
The offense in Buffalo runs through LeSean McCoy. The addition of Josh Allen through the draft should help to alleviate the pressure on McCoy and Buffalo’s running game. McCoy still has the talent and workload to have RB1 potential.
10. Kareem Hunt – Kansas City Chiefs
Kareem Hunt started the 2017 season incredibly strong, fizzled out towards the middle, then ended the season strong. His workload was fairly inconsistent throughout the season, but Hunt still rushed for 1,327 yards and eight touchdowns on 272 carries.
11. Dalvin Cook – Minnesota Vikings
Dalvin Cook was a spectacle before suffering a serious knee injury. He has upside in that Jerick McKinnon is no longer in Minnesota to steal work, but it will remain to be seen how he has recovered from his injury. Regardless, in Cook’s four games in 2017, he averaged 18.5 carries and 88.5 yards per game. Kirk Cousins‘ presence should only make things better.
12. Devonta Freeman – Atlanta Falcons
Devonta Freeman is a solid RB1 that can be taken in the second round and would pair very well with a top-tier wide receiver, like beer and pizza. Some questionable playcalling, especially around the one-yard line, put a cap on Freeman’s production in 2017, but Freeman still averaged 61.8 yards and 14 carries per game.
13. Jordan Howard – Chicago Bears
Jordan Howard has found consistency in Chicago’s offense. He had fewer yards in 2017 than he did in 2016, but he had more carries. The coaching staff likes Tarik Cohen, especially in the passing game, but that shouldn’t worry prospective Howard owners. Howard had a steady workload last season, rushing for 1,112 yards and nine touchdowns on 276 carries. He already has two top-ten fantasy seasons on his resume.
14. Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers
Panthers offensive coordinator Norv Turner has said that he wants to get McCaffrey the ball more, even after picking up CJ Anderson in free agency. McCaffrey did most of his damage in the passing game, netting 651 receiving yards and five touchdowns on 80 receptions, the second-most catches among running backs. The former Stanford Cardinal was also targeted 113 times out of the backfield in 2017.
15. Jerick McKinnon – San Francisco 49ers
Jerick McKinnon has very, very, very high upside for the 2018 season. Niners coach Kyle Shanahan believes that McKinnon is a three-down back with loads of potential. In addition, the 49ers gave the former Viking a four-year/$30M deal this offseason. According to Rotoworld, that $7.5M/year average makes McKinnon the fourth-highest-paid running back in the NFL. Follow the money my friends.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.