NFL Fantasy: Top 25 RBs + Sleepers and Rookie watch

I hope you have gotten a chance to look at the top 15 quarterbacks list. If not, you can see it here.

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“Saquon Barkley” by Keith Allison is under CC BY-SA 2.0

But now it’s time to rush down the field and see who’s getting you the best chance to win at the running backs position. Before we get started with this list, let’s keep in mind that this list is based off the PPR format.

But this is where all drafts start, and all this guys should be drafted within the first five rounds (before the QBs).

I will also give you a list of sleepers and rookies to keep an eye on in the later rounds of the draft like I did with the QB’s, so let’s see what we have to work with.

Top 25 Fantasy RBs:

  1. Saqoun Barkley, Giants
  2. Christain McCaffrey, Panthers
  3. Alvin Kamara, Saints
  4. Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys
  5. Le’Veon Bell, Jets
  6. Melvin Gordon, Chargers
  7. David Johnson, Cardinals
  8. Todd Gurley III, Rams
  9. Joe Mixon, Bengals
  10. Leonard Fournette, Jaguars
  11. Devonte Freeman, Falcons
  12. Dalvin Cook, Vikings
  13. James Conner, Steelers
  14. Nick Chubb, Browns
  15. Sony Michel, Patriots
  16. Kerryon Johnson, Lions
  17. Aaron Jones, Packers
  18. Marlon Mack, Colts
  19. Derrick Henry, Titans
  20. Damien Williams, Chiefs
  21. Philip Lindsay, Broncos
  22. Kenyon Drake, Dolphins
  23. Mark Ingram, Ravens
  24. James White, Patriots
  25. Lamar Miller, Texans

When it comes to PPR, the top two RB’s were Barkley and McCaffrey and we saw that all last season as they led in PPR points alongside with QB Patrick Mahomes. We could expect much more of the same from these two.

Kamara and Elliot were also in the top when it came to PPR leagues and things will be the same here too. Kamara doesn’t need to worry about Mark Ingram taking away from his carries and he has lead the league with more receptions from the running back position.

For Elliot, we need to keep an eye on his hold out and how things go with the contract negotiations between him and the Dallas Cowboys. We don’t want to spend a first round draft pick on Elliot if he won’t play in the 2019 season.

Elliot is reportedly close to a deal or at least closer than Gordon. Yes, Melvin Gordon is also holding out and he worries me as a first round pick. The Chargers have shown that they could win without him and if he wants to hold out, you might not want to risk it.

I am talking a lot about the hold outs of Elliot and Gordon because we are saw what happened to several fantasy teams would drafted Bell last year. For the sake of fantasy, I hope both Elliot and Gordon find new deals with their teams or at least actually play this season.

We know that Bell will be available with a new team this year, and it will be interesting to see how he does with a new team.

Gurley, Fournette, and Freeman are looking to prove that they are still worthy of a top pick in fantasy.

Fournette and Freeman have been banged up the past few seasons, but they are looking healthy and the offensive lines has improved which means that they should be able to do more.

Gurley was banged up late in the season and is still dealing the injury, but coach McVay has said he’ll be ready.

Mixon is looking to use the new offense to improve his performance and allow him more receptions in the backfield, that’s always a positive for those who can draft him in PPR leagues.

Cook and Conner will be the primary backs on their team once again and it’s going to be interesting how their team uses them. The Vikings like to use their running backs a lot, so expect Cook to give you some catches and rushes.

Conner is also very capable of during that too and without Bell or Antonio Brown, he’ll be a bigger option in the Steelers offense alongside WR Juju Smith-Schuster and TE Vance McDonald. I’ll talk more about them in the next sections. But look for Conner to have another great season.

Chubb, Michel, and Johnson all came onto to the scene as rookies last year and they all had good seasons. We should expect all three of these guys to have better numbers this season.

Chubb will be the lead back at the start of the season instead of coming on half way. Johnson and Michel were solid players when healthy and they had to share some time with other backs. They will be do that again this year, but the ceiling is high on this guys.

Jones and Henry are good picks, but we hope that they can be more consistent for our teams this year. Like seriously, Henry hurt me so much in one league because he was on the bench during the weeks when he didn’t do so good, but ended up killing it for me.

Jones got a late start to the season, but he’ll be entering into a new offensive scheme and QB Aaron Rodgers may lean to him as one of the main targets this season, so expect bigger role here.

Mack and Lindsay fought off the rest of the backs on their team to become the primary backs. Their backs are still involved in the offense, but the ball will be in their hands a lot and it doesn’t matter who the quarterback will be for either guy because they have that explosiveness you want in a back on your team.

Williams took over from Kareem Hunt after he went through everything he did. We expect to see Hunt return at some point in the season with the Cleveland Browns, but Williams is the lead guy in Kansas City. Williams had a break out year immediately as the Chiefs go to back. We will see much more of the same from Williams and the Chiefs offense.

Ingram missed a few games due to suspension in the beginning of the season last year which set up Kamara for a huge season. Ingram had a decent season himself though, but they wasn’t enough more for two dominant RBs in New Orleans and Ingram has moved onto Baltimore where we’ll seen him become a great leader to a group of young, talented athletes on the offensive side. Watch Ingram get his numbers up.

Drake was one of those players that was on and off throughout the season. Hopefully he’ll be able to stay a bit more steady in terms on yards and receptions. If he plays great, Miami’s QBs could be great. Drake will be a huge piece in the success of QB Josh Rosen that is if he can stay healthy this season.

White and Miller are two veterans playing on playoff teams. White will continue to have a good season has along as he stays healthy on the Patriots. He’ll be the leading pass catching back on the team which could hurt Michel owners a bit, but not as bad as you might think.

Miller is one of the underrated backs in the NFL as everyone focuses on WB DeShaun Watkins and WR DeAndre Hopkins. Miller will silently give you 15 plus points on a weekly bases, so we can definitely make him a high-end RB 3 with RB 2 upside.

Top Five Sleeper RBs:

  1. Tarik Cohen, Bears
  2. Chris Carson, Seahawks
  3. Tevin Coleman, 49ers
  4. Kalen Ballage, Dolphins
  5. Austin Ekeler, Chargers

Now we will look at some of those primary backs that could help you win some unexpected games this season.

Of course, we have to put Cohen and Carson on here as they will be the team’s best backs and continue to grow the numbers.

Cohen will get more rushing attempts with Jordan Howard out, so add that with the pass catching ability and you’ll have a nice RB 3 for the buy weeks.

Carson is on the top running team in the NFL and we expect that to be the same. He honestly could’ve been in the top 25, but due to the injuries and the continued progress of backup RB Rashad Penny, I find it to get him there. I do think that he’ll be a nice RB 2 with the upside of RB 1 depending on how the Seahawks spread the ball.

Coleman is coming to the Niners to play with former OC, now head coach, Kyle Shanahan. Coleman will be an immediate impact on this Niners team and could be a nice RB 3 or RB 2. My only concern is how will Matt Breida and Jerrick McKinnon play into just carries. I could see a lot of two RB formations being run with the Niners, but who’s the more successful back?

Ballage is going to have a big role in the Miami offense and he looks give greater now that Drake is banged up. If Drake can’t go week 1 and misses multiple games, Ballage is the next man up in the depth chart and he should have a good year for the Dolphins.

Ekeler is the hottest backup RB in the league right now with the status of Gordon and his contract. Ekeler is a solid RB 2 in PPR leagues regardless of Gordon’s status. Ekeler is used so much in the passing game and I expect him to be drafted by most of the leagues who need RBs. Last year, he was the RB 1 in one person’s team due to injuries and a stacked WR core.

Rookie Watch:

  1. Josh Jacobs, Raiders
  2. David Montgomery, Bears
  3. Darrell Henderson, Rams
  4. Devin Singletary, Bills
  5. Alexander Mattison, Vikings

Jacobs should be one of the top 10 to 15 RBs drafted in fantasy because he’ll be getting the workload in Oakland as coach Gruden really loves this guy. So don’t miss this guy because Gruden wants to make him Rookie of the Year.

Other rookie that I left off was Miles Sanders. I do think he’ll be drafted in the middle rounds, but the Eagles are always questionable about their RBs as they literally do RB by committee every year. Sanders will have to battle with Jordan Howard, Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood, and maybe Darren Sproles. So draft hin but keep an eye in his usage throughout the season.

The rest of these guys, however, are looking to be play big roles on their teams. All these guys are also good handcuffs for the players in front of them. Montgomery and Henderson will likely play big roles in their offenses and will get drafted by several teams.

Mattison could be a deep sleeper depending on how the Vikings use hi.. They do like to run a lot, so he could get more looks behind Cook.

But I’m more interested in where Singletry will fit in. Right now he is the 3rd or 4th guy in the depth charts, but could very well be the back up to McCoy as the season progresses. Let’s keep this gut in our watchlist for now.

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This is the list of RBs to look at during the draft, comment below with your thoughts on certain players and continue to look forward to the wide receivers and tight ends list as well.

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