Fantasy Football: Early RB Rankings for 2019 Part 2

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This is the second of a two-part series, covering the early ranked #11 to #24 running backs. Before you listen to Part 2 or (read about it), you should check out the first episode (or read about it) to see who The Fantasy Footballers have ranked as the top 10 RBs for 2019.

Depending on your strategy for drafting RBs, the backs talked about in this episode are going to be key. Their ADPs are all over the map and they could be important in an early RB draft approach or the key to your team in a Zero-RB draft strategy. Let’s look at the guys that are going to help you bring in that #FootClanTitle.

Note: These are the consensus rankings of the Andy, Mike, and Jason based on .5 PPR scoring.

11. David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals
Coming off of 2 disappointing seasons, one with injury, another with mediocre play, DJ is not the asset he once was. The light at the end of the tunnel is that Johnson got better after Mike McCoy was fired and he finished his down year as a top 10 RB. It’s not out of the realm of possibilities that he finds himself there again but his draft price should be much more affordable this season. It should be noted that he will have a totally revamped offense in 2019, with a new coaching staff and possible new QB. There are still a lot of variables for determining Johnson’s success next season.

12. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns
Chubb was a very solid back after he took over the job in Week 7 last year. He comes into this year as the starter for at least the first 8 weeks. The Browns did sign Kareem Hunt, who will miss the first half of the year under suspension. The question is: Can Chubb perform so well in those first 8 weeks that he doesn’t cede much work to Hunt after he returns? If Chubb produces, he is going to put in you a great spot for a playoff run but will give you the headache of how does he split time with Hunt. Chubb’s ceiling is limited by his subpar pass-catching skills but he will begin the season as “the guy” in what should be a very exciting offense.

13. Damien Williams, Kansas City Chiefs
Speaking of exciting offenses. Williams comes into 2019 with rankings all over the board and changing weekly. He was the overall RB3 over the season’s last 4 weeks but the Chiefs rotation at RB is up in the air. If they draft an RB early or if Carlos Hyde has an impressive preseason, Williams could be left out in the cold. Damien should, at the very least, start the season with the 1st shot at being the primary back in one of the NFL’s premier offenses, especially for RBs that can catch the football.

14. Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars
Fantasy owners could not have been happy with what they got from Fournette in 2018. The good news, the Jaguars franchise has shown that they have supreme confidence in Fournette, only bringing in Alfred Blue and Benny Cunningham to back him up. He should be a huge volume play with career benchwarmers behind him on the depth chart. Health will be the biggest concern, as it was injuries that marred most of his 2018. Fournette started to show chops in the receiving game last season and with TJ Yeldon no longer on the roster, that could be a huge fantasy opportunity in 2019.

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15. Sony Michel, New England Patriots
Sony Michel’s performance in the NFL playoffs ensured that he was going to rocket up preseason fantasy rankings. Michel averaged over 100 yards per game in the playoffs last season and scored 3 TDs in 3 games. The Patriots ran the ball 3rd most in the league last season and Michel should be the primary runner. His deficiencies as a pass-catcher and the presence of James White limit his upside a bit, but his ceiling for TDs in this offense (see LeGarrette Blount) makes him a hot commodity. There is a risk of games where he doesn’t get utilized enough but his boom outshines his bust.

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16. Marlon Mack. Indianapolis Colts
After returning from injury in 2018, Mack averaged over 80 yards and 1 TD per game. He is another back that is not utilized much in the passing game, so TDs will be key for him to finish high the RB ranks in 2019. The faith in Marlon Mack is very much tied to faith in the Colts offense. The Colts want to run the football and Mack established himself as the primary runner in this offense. The question will be if their defense can play well enough for them to run the ball as much as they’d like to.

17. Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons
With Steve Sarkisian leaving town, faith is restored in Devonta Freeman. Freeman excelled as a pass-catcher prior to Sarkisian taking over the Falcons offense and the return of Dirk Koetter points to a return to RB involvement in the passing game. Injuries appear to be the only thing holding Freeman back in 2019. With Tevin Coleman leaving town for San Francisco, Freeman is the unquestioned most talented back in Atlanta, can he handle the workload?

18. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
Last year, for 13 weeks, nobody could’ve cared less for Derrick Henry in fantasy football. Then he scored 47.8 points in Week 14 and set the world on fire. He actually finished as the RB15 while scoring 48% of his fantasy points in weeks 14-16. He definitely has the build of a guy that can handle a massive workload but consistency and Derrick Henry don’t belong in the same book, let alone the same sentence, to this point in his career. The Titans are building their team to run the ball with Henry, and if he can continue on the tear he ended on last season, he could be a league winner in 2019. He is in a contract year and on a team that wants him to be a feature back, the stars are aligned.

19. Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers
Once Aaron Jones took over ownership of the primary RB role in Green Bay, he was the RB12 on a fantasy points-per-game basis before getting hurt. In games where he was the featured back, his numbers averaged out to a season with over 1200 yards and 16 TDs. He averages over 5.5 YPC over his young career but can never seem to get his coaching staff to realize that he is more talented than Jamaal Williams. New head coach Matt LaFleur immediately talked about a split workload so confidence is low that Jones will get the volume he needs to succeed…yet again.

20. Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions
Johnson was oft-injured his rookie year and finished the season as the RB34. Looking at the consistency rankings (found in the Ultimate Draft Kit), he was the #19 most consistent fantasy RB. On a PPG basis in 2018, he was the RB14. The talent is there, but this Lions team is not exactly in a position to be a run-first offense. Questions are aplenty, will he cede much work to CJ Anderson? Will the Lions offense improve with Matt Patricia still at the helm? At the very least, his familiarity with the offense should mean that he enters the year as the Lions “mane” back.

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21. Philip Lindsay, Denver Broncos
Lindsay went from UDFA to fantasy RB12 in his rookie season. He finished with over 1000 yards despite only receiving 192 carries, the only back with fewer than 200 carries to do so and he also reeled in 35 receptions. How he recovers from a late-season wrist-injury will determine if he is able to keep fellow sophomore Royce Freeman from cutting into his workload.

22. Mark Ingram, Baltimore Ravens
Ingram comes into 2019 in a role he hasn’t seen in quite a while, his offense’s primary back. And it’s in a very RB friendly offense as Ingram left New Orleans to sign with the Baltimore Ravens. If Lamar Jackson improves as a passer and can keep teams from stacking the box, Ingram could put up great fantasy numbers.

23. Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks
Despite the Seahawks spending a 1st round pick on Rashaad Penny last season, Carson was the man in Seattle. After Week 3, Carson averaged the 4th most touches in all of the NFL and was top 5 in touches inside the 10-zone. He gets carries where they matter most. In weeks 11-17, Carson finished as the RB5, and most importantly, the Seahawks won. With that commitment, Carson could be a bell-cow in Seattle.

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24. Tarik Cohen, Chicago Bears
The recent trade of Jordan Howard marks Cohen time beginning in earnest in Chicago. Cohen finished as the RB13, despite not even seeing 100 carries last season. As this offense continues to improve, Cohen’s pass-catching volume should stay consistent and more carries are definitely a possibility. The only real question is can the 5’6″ 180 lbs RB handle much more work? Mike Davis was brought in from Seattle to help shoulder the load but Cohen will be the feature back in this offense.

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