The running back position is one of the most versatile in fantasy football. Teams have won championships that drafted two players high up in the RB rankings and teams have won with a bus full of guys in the middle rounds. Elite level running backs are more predictable, but you also have to pay a steep premium for that predictability in the draft. The sleeper running backs that provide value usually come with some question marks. Injury luck plays a huge factor too. The stars need to avoid those injuries, while the later round guys usually need an injury to the starter in order to get their chance. Zero RB, heavy RB, and hero RB are all viable roster building options. No matter which strategy is employed, the key is to know where guys should be drafted in order to get as much value as you can from every running back pick. It is better to have a stable full of running backs drafted one round later than they should be, rather than one round too early. The position is volatile, which means that embracing that volatility with volume and value is the best way to increase your chances of success. 

Fantasy Football RB Rankings-By Benny Ricciardi


Tier 1: Christian McCaffrey, Austin Ekeler, Nick Chubb, Bijan Robinson


You SHOULD be drafting Nick Chubb in fantasy football

These four guys are all elite options. McCaffrey is usually off the board in the top 6 picks along with Travis Kelce and the four elite WR options. Austin Ekeler is built for fantasy football. He catches a ton of passes and scores a ton of touchdowns. Those are the things that provide a safe floor and huge upside in fantasy scoring. He tends to go right after the top 6 and is rarely on the board if you pick 10th or later. The next running back off the board is usually Bijan Robinson, but I actually prefer Nick Chubb over him as the third RB. Kareem Hunt is gone, which should give Chubb a slightly bigger workload than in the past. Chubb is also expected to be more involved in the passing game this season. I understand the case for Bijan, but am hesitant to use a first round pick on a rookie running back. I understand he has a great line, but Chubb does too. Chubb has less competition for touches and an actual track record of success at the NFL level. Both guys deserve to be drafted in the top 15 picks, but I prefer Chubb over Bijan if both are on the board in the early teens. 

Tier 2: Saquon Barkley, Tony Pollard, Derrick Henry, Jonathan Taylor


You SHOULD be drafting Saquon Barkley in fantasy football

This is not ground breaking analysis here, but Saquon Barkley is the safest pick in this tier. Jonathan Taylor has legit contract issues and a chance he could hold out. Derrick Henry is a great runner, but suffers when the team is trailing and forced to throw. The Titans are not expected to be a 12 win team this year, so they may find themselves trailing more often. Tony Pollard is a legit freak who can rack up yardage with a few touches, but there is concern about him being able to handle a full workload. I am not shying away from Pollard in the second round as his upside and path to more touches is absolutely there. Of the four guys in this tier, Saquon is the safest though. 

Tier 3: Rhamondre Stevenson, Josh Jacobs, Jahmyr Gibbs, Najee Harris


You SHOULD be drafting Josh Jacobs in fantasy football

Josh Jacobs is a guy that gets overlooked often. He averaged 4.9 yards per carry last season on his way to a league leading 1,653. He also had 12 rushing touchdowns. He is also the 10th running back coming off the board in most drafts according to his current ADP. Najee Harris is a boring plodder, Jahmyr Gibbs is an electric untested rookie, and Rhamondre Stevenson now has the specter of losing goal line touches to Ezekiel Elliot. Jacobs is going in the late 3rd or early 4th round of most drafts. He should not be the #1 RB on your board, but he deserves better than 10th. 

Tier 4: Joe Mixon, Aaron Jones, Kenneth Walker, Alexander Mattison, Breece Hall


You SHOULD be drafting Alexander Mattison in fantasy football

Alexander Mattison is the beneficiary of the Vikings bad cap decisions. Dalvin Cook was the casualty, which opened up a clear path to three down work for Mattison. Mattison has been solidly efficient in smaller workloads over the years. That does not mean he will remain that efficient as the opportunity increases, but the key part here is that the opportunity is going to increase. The Vikings offense is very talented, which means Mattison should be on the field as they move the chains. With rookies and untested young guys as his understudies, we should expect to see him on the field quite a bit. 

Tier 5: Travis Etienne, Miles Sanders, Cam Akers, Dameon Pierce, J.K. Dobbins, Alvin Kamara


You SHOULD draft Miles Sanders in fantasy football

Miles Sanders left the Eagles to join Carolina in the offseason. He is being discussed as a three down back in that offense. Sanders has shown some flashes, but the Eagles always employed him as part of a committee. The Panthers are saying they will use him as a workhorse runner and pass catcher. As an Eagle he lost passing down work to Gainwell and some touchdown equity to Jalen Hurts and occasionally Boston Scott. If he does get the workhorse roll in Carolina, expect his numbers to look much better than they have in recent years.

Tier 6: David Montgomery, Javonte Williams, James Conner, Rachaad White, D’Andre Swift


You SHOULD draft Rachaad White in fantasy football

Tom Brady has retired and I get that most people expect Tampa Bay to stink this year. Bad teams trailing is not usually a positive for the running back, unless that running back also gets the passing down work. Rachaad White is expected to get the passing down work, the early carries, and goal line duties in Tampa. A true three down back is rare in today’s NFL and it’s even rarer in fantasy football when you can get that guy in round 7. 

Tier 7: James Cook, Isaiah Pacheco, Dalvin Cook, Antonio Gibson, Rashaad Penny, AJ Dillon, Brian Robinson, Zach Charbonnet


You SHOULD draft James Cook in fantasy football

James Cook is a guy the Buffalo Bills like a lot. The Buffalo offense is one fantasy players like a lot. LAst year Cook lost touches to Devin Singletary and Nyheim Hines. Singletary is a Texan and Hines suffered a season ending injury in a freak water sport accident. The Bills did bring in some goal line backs to handle some short yardage situations, but Cook should get all the passing down work and a lot of the touches in nuetral situations. A lot of the players left in this tier are one dimensional guys who will likely end up in a time share. Cook is not immune to that, but also has more upside than the rest of this list and plays on a great offense.

Tier 8: Devon Achane, Khalil Herbert, Samaje Perine, Jerick McKinnon, Tank Bigsby, Jamaal Williams, Damien Harris


You Should be drafting Tank Bigsby in fantasy football

Travis Etiene is not efficient down near the goal line. He has home run speed, but is not a guy that can bang between the tackles in short yardage. Tank Bigsby is. Tank also has good hands, something Etiene lacks a bit. That means Tank could get the highly coveted pass catching and short yardage roles. Even if he does not see as many touches, his touches are the ones that we want for fantasy. He is starting to creep up draft boards and ADP lists, so make sure you know the nae do your research on him. 

Tier 9: Roschon Johnson, Elijah Mithell, Tyler Allgeier, Jaylen Warren, Kenneth Gainwell


You should be drafting Roschon Johnson in fantasy football

I do like Khalil Herbert more, which is why he is a tier above. Roschon Johnsn could end up as the #1 back in Chicago at some point this year though. D’Onta Foreman is not the answer and Johnson has already been taking some snaps in higher leverage situations early in camp. This is a round 9 pick in the 140 ADP range, so temper expectations. He also has the upside to be a every week fantasy starter if things do break in his favor and you can not say that about many guys remaining at this point in your drafts. 

Tier 10: Raheem Mostert, Ezekiel Elliot, Devin Singletary, Tayjae Spears, Zamir White, Gus Edwards, Cordarelle Patterson


You should be drafting Tayjae Spears in Fantasy football

At this stage in your draft you are taking back ups with upside and few have the potential to make the difference Tayjae Spears might be able to. Sure it would require an injury to Derrick Henry, but he plays on a run first offense and Henry does have a recent injury history and huge workload. Spears is the next best option in a really thin backfield. He could be a 15 or more touch per game guy if Henry falters and might even see some passing down work one way or another. 

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