In the most recent episode of The Fantasy Footballers podcast, hosts Andy, Mike, and Jason gave us their early preseason rankings of the running back position. In the first episode of this two-part series, we get the #1 thru 10 ranks. All rankings are based on 0.5 PPR, which is Ballers Preferred Scoring.
If you’re looking for some tips to build your team around the RB position check out “5 Ways to Draft RBs” by yours truly. If you’re looking for early top-10 rankings, read on.
1. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
With Elliott becoming more of a pass-catcher last season, he enters 2019 as the consensus top fantasy RB. In 2018, he was targeted 95 times in the passing game, only 4 fewer targets than Alvin Kamara, and leads the league in rushing yards per game since entering the league. Zeke is as secure as it comes at the RB position and should even see improvement on his rushing TD numbers.
2. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants
In his rookie season, Barkley led all RBs in scrimmage yards and never fumbled the football. He was targeted 121 times in the passing game last season and with Odell Beckham leaving town, those numbers could rise. The question with Barkley is can he repeat with a less dangerous offense? With Eli Manning at QB, he will be facing stacked-boxes on nearly every play.
3. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers
Run CMC was the most consistent RB in fantasy football last season. McCaffrey caught over 100 balls to go along with his 219 carries and over 1000 yards rushing. With Cam Newton’s health up in the air, it’s more of a question of his ability to repeat his
4. Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers
Only Todd Gurley has more TDs over the last 3 season than Melvin Gordon. The only knock on Gordon has been his ability to stay on the field. When healthy, the volume is never an issue, he just feels like a ticking time bomb. You have to take into consideration that he is more than likely going to miss time for you at some point if you draft him. But his per-game totals still make him a guy you want on your fantasy team.
5. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
In 2018, Super Kamario dismissed any talk of sophomore regression. He is dangerous every time he touches the ball and is one of the few top RBs whose role might expand in 2019. With Mark Ingram being replaced by Latavius Murray, Kamara could see more opportunities in the running game. With Ingram in the lineup from Weeks 7-16, Kamara was the RB8 last year.
6. Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams
It was a tale of 2 seasons for Gurley in 2018. For the first 10 weeks, he was the unquestioned RB1 and there was not a close 2nd. Then towards the end, injuries starting to pop up, questionable usage with CJ Anderson added to the roster, and now an arthritis diagnosis. Anderson recently fled town for Detroit and the Rams matched an offer sheet to Malcolm Brown. With the Rams current cap situation, it doesn’t appear that they will be adding any significant RB, and with Brown and John Kelly as competition, it’s flaps down on Gurley in 2019.
7. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals
The only problem with Joe Mixon is the Cincinnati Bengals. In 2018, he had over 1100 rushing yards, 8 TDs, and 43 receptions in 14 games on a bad offense. With new head coach Zac Taylor, from the Sean McVay tree, the hope is for a Gurley-like superstar season for Mixon. His lack of “burst weeks”, where he score 20+ fantasy points. leaves something to be desired but his consistency should land him in the RB1 ranks at season’s end.
8. James Conner, Pittsburgh Steelers
Conner enters 2019 in a very different light than 2018. No more peeking over his shoulder for Lev Bell, he is the anointed man in Pittsburgh now. Despite only playing in 13 games, he finished 2018 as an RB1, finishing with over 900 yards, 12 rushing TDs, and 55 (FIFTY-FIVE!) receptions. Mike Tomlin’s track record with fantasy RBs speaks volumes as to what you could expect from Conner in 2019…BUT…Jaylen Samuels played well in Conner’s absence and they hired Samuels’ college RB coach due to how impressed they were with Samuels last season. History says Conner will be the man, but recent actions point to a split with Samuels, who is a better pass-catcher. The hope is that the volume Conner sees in the running game will be enough to keep him in the top 10.
9. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings
Over the finals 5 weeks of the 2018 season, Dalvin Cook was the RB6. Latavius Murray left for New Orleans, and Cook is THE GUY in Minnesota. He has dealt with injuries in both of his first 2 seasons so he carries risk, but he has been dominant when healthy. Cook is averaging 4.7 yards per
10. Le’Veon Bell, New York Jets
Bell finds himself in a new place after a tumultuous 2018 and just sneaks into the Ballers’ top 10. The talent cannot be denied but there are questions aplenty. The last time he played, he was the overall RB2 and had more carries than anyone in the league in the last 2 seasons. But the Jets offense is a very different place than the Steelers. We aren’t quite sure what to expect from Sam Darnold and the Jets in 2019…but a good comp for Bell would be 2018