The FOX Sports fantasy football experts have been updating their top 200 rankings constantly as the season approaches. Here's a look at the 35 running backs who cracked the top 100, with comments included.
Getty ImagesDilip Vishwanat
No. 3 - Todd Gurley
With fears caused by his ACL rehab and the timetable of his regular season return, the Rams’ rookie running back's 2015 ADP settled at 51st overall / fifth round. Since 2007, only two other rookie running backs have averaged better than Gurley’s 85.1 YPG — Alfred Morris and Doug Martin (2012). Gurley is in a great position to produce more yards and touchdowns for owners following his 13-game freshman season.
Getty ImagesChristian Petersen
No. 5 - David Johnson
Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians isn’t the type of guy to swoon over rookie talent. So, it wasn’t a shock that D.J.’s rookie breakout came down the stretch. Plus, the Cardinals were enjoying above-average production out of Chris Johnson. Over his last five regular season games, D.J. averaged 21 touches, 88 rushing and 43 receiving yards per game with five touchdowns. If he averaged 88 rush yards per game for the season, he’d rank RB3.
Jake Roth-USA TODAY SportsJake Roth
No. 7 - Adrian Peterson
With 327 more carries in 2015, AP’s window to thrive must be closing, right? Well, all he did last year was lead the league in rushing with 92.8 yards per game. He also had double-digit rushing touchdowns for the eighth time in his eighth full season. AP is far from a spring chicken, but in terms of potential workload and opportunity within the Vikings offense, to completely write him off would be contrarian.
Getty ImagesEzra Shaw
No. 9 - Ezekiel Elliott
Darren McFadden rushed 239 times for 1,089 yards behind this Cowboys line in a Tony Romo-less, bottom rung offense. The presumed vertical threat of the offense will only help boost Elliott’s fantasy value — especially in the red zone and inside the opponent’s 5-yard line. Just need to keep tabs on McFadden (when he returns from injury) and Alfred Morris – both prepared to vulture.
No. 11 - Devonta Freeman
Probably wise to at least scan this Falcons beat writer’s report on Freeman’s 2016 workload. In short, they want to cut back on his touches and to inject Tevin Coleman back into the rotation. You may forget, but last season Coleman rushed 20 times for 80 yards in Week 1 and 18 times for 110 yards in the regular season finale when Freeman was sidelined. However, with 73 receptions in his rookie season, it’s nearly impossible for PPR owners to overlook and devalue Freeman.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
No. 13 - Lamar Miller
Anybody who owned Miller last season was frustrated at some point. The Dolphins mismanaged the running back’s workload on a regular basis. He averaged just 12 carries per game when he should have averaged 15 or more. He did set a career high with 47 receptions for 397 yards and two touchdowns. In Houston, it’s his backfield and he should earn 300+ touches in 2016.
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY SportsCary Edmondson
No. 15 - Le'Veon Bell
Will miss three games for reportedly skipping NFL-mandated drug tests. Bell entered the fantasy draft season somewhat risky after snapping the MCL and PCL in his right knee in 2015. DeAngelo Williams becomes a must-draft running back asset as he’ll carry the load in September and also could factor in the rest of the season.
During his only full season in 2014, Bell joined Marshall Faulk as the only running backs since 1970 to rack up 1,300+ rush yards, while averaging 10 yards per reception (min. 65). Bell finished with 83 receptions that season.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
No. 18 - Jamaal Charles
For the second time in five years, the Chiefs running back’s season was cut short due to a torn ACL. Charles popped ACLs in both knees and comes with a fluorescent yellow risk tag in 2016. Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware are nipping at his heels to take his offensive touches. The duo scored 11 touchdowns in his absence.
Getty ImagesRonald Martinez
No. 22 - Mark Ingram
Ingram has been an integral part of the Saints' effort to feature the backfield more in recent seasons. However, the Alabama product has missed 12 games over the past three seasons with only one 16-game campaign under his belt. Tim Hightower stepped up in his place and produced at a higher level than expected down the stretch in 2015.
However, Ingram also produced well-above average numbers in the passing game last season. The thought being the C.J. Spiller gamble didn’t pay off and why not give Ingram a chance to catch and run. He finished with 50 receptions for 405 yards in 12 games. If he can keep up that pace this year, he’s a must-have in PPR leagues albeit the risks. That’s if the Saints keep the backfield in the plans. They also drafted Marques Colston 2.0 in Michael Thomas and signed Coby Fleener to replace Ben Watson.
No. 23 - LeSean McCoy
Since his fantasy-friendly 2011 season when he scored 17 rushing touchdowns, McCoy has scored only 19 rushing TDs over the past four seasons. Now, this is for a variety of reasons — including misuse by Chip Kelly around the end zone — but McCoy also has been riddled with nagging injuries that carry indefinite timetables of return. It’s maddening. Although he’s missed only four games over the past four seasons, the Bills running back could appear in a game but miss chunks of it with various ailments.
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY SportsTimothy T. Ludwig
No. 25 - Doug Martin
Healthy and on the field for 16 games last year, Martin posted a career-best 4.9 yards per rush. What hurt his overall fantasy production was Jameis Winston’s six rushing touchdowns. I’m also pretty sure Martin’s 41 red zone rushes inside the 20-yard line will regress somewhat in 2016 as Winston’s confidence in his arm will allow Mike Evans to post better stats in that area of the field.
Getty ImagesCliff McBride
No. 29 - Eddie Lacy
How much does he weigh? It’s a popular question that probably should take a back seat to “How is he getting along with head coach Mike McCarthy?” That’s more important because the coach is calling the plays once again and if Lacy finds himself in the dog house, fantasy owners will pay the price. If Lacy can return to his 2014 form and combine that with Jordy Nelson’s revival, his fantasy point ceiling carries top-five RB potential. He needs those touches inside the opponent’s 5. Lacy earned 23 touches inside the 5 during his first two seasons.
Getty ImagesDylan Buell
No. 30 - Thomas Rawls
How many of the first 25 fantasy players are tagged with the health asterisk? Add Rawls to the list. He’s worked his way back from a broken ankle that cut his rookie campaign short. Before the injury, he averaged 5.65 yards per rush. That ranks second in NFL history and ahead of Adrian Peterson for a rookie running back (min. 140 carries). The Seahawks drafted C.J. Prosise, which has pundits eager to devalue Rawls coming off injury. If active, Rawls is a top-three, standard scoring league running back. He has the potential to truly replace Marshawn Lynch rushing between the tackles.
Getty ImagesStephen Brashear
No. 31 - C.J. Anderson
Demaryius Thomas’ fantasy losses may turn into gains for the Broncos running back. Anderson was M.I.A. for most of the 2015 season before three respectable games during the final five weeks of the regular season and what-we-thought-he-was production during the playoffs.
Anderson averaged 78 rushing yards per game during the playoffs compared to 48 during the regular season.So, it would behoove the Broncos to work CJA into the mix with an average of around 15 touches per game.
Steve Nehf/Getty IMages
No. 36 - Latavius Murray
He ranked RB10 in standard and PPR scoring leagues. Now, fantasy contrarians are eager to shove him out before he’s had dessert. While the 4.0 ypr stat isn’t great, Murray was one of only seven running backs to finish with 1,000 or more yards last year. I don’t comprehend why the Raiders drafting DeAndre Washington makes Murray’s 2016 fantasy value cloudy.
No. 38 - Carlos Hyde
Talk about your fantasy question marks. Hyde missed nine games last season due to injury and now has Chip Kelly as his head coach. Kelly butchered the fantasy values of LeSean McCoy and DeMarco Murray over the past two seasons. So, forgive me if I’m not jumping for joy at the 49ers running back situation heading into 2016.
Getty ImagesEzra Shaw
No. 43 - Matt Forte
A NY Post training camp preview suggested although Forte will be the “featured” back, Bilal Powell and Khiry Robinson will be worked into the equation to spell the 30-year-old veteran. I’m not overly concerned as Chan Gailey has a proven pass-catching running back to showcase his play-calling creativity.
Note: Powell averaged 60 receiving yards per game the final six of the 2015 season.
Getty ImagesRich Barnes
No. 44 - Jonathan Stewart
He hasn’t played a full season since 2011. Despite DeAngelo Williams moving on to the Steelers, Stewart lost touches to Cam Newton last season. Stewart still managed to have his best rushing season since 2009, falling only 11 yards short of 1,000. He doesn’t have much of a threat behind him, which makes him an appealing RB2.
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
No. 49 - DeMarco Murray
Chip Kelly muted Murray in 2015. Expect the Titans to let him roar in 2016. According to one of the team’s beat writers, Murray should carry the bulk of the work out of the backfield. Just be aware, for Murray to replicate 2014 fantasy stats is an unfair expectation, as the Cowboys’ line was at peak performance that year and Marcus Mariota is still learning to be a NFL quarterback in Tennessee.
No. 51 - Jeremy Hill
Hill’s 794 rushing yards last year were a disappointment, but 11 touchdowns helped him rank 14th among RBs in FOXSports.com fantasy scoring. Hill will again be the thunder to Gio Bernard’s lightning in the Bengals’ backfield, and his draft cost is a lot lower than it was last season.
No. 54 - Ryan Mathews
Mathews was terrific last season, averaging 5 yards on 107 carries, and generally looking like the guy who teased fantasy owners with big seasons in 2011 and 2013. However, Mathews has had trouble staying healthy, and new head coach Doug Pederson has suggested a committee backfield. That makes the Eagles similar to most other teams, and could be a good way to keep Mathews healthy.
No. 58 - Jeremy Langford
Langford appeared headed toward a committee with Ka’Deem Carey and rookie Jordan Howard — head coach John Fox had said the Bears will "ride the hot hand" — but his preseason usage suggests more of a lead-back role. Langford had a few good fantasy performances last season, but he ran for just 3.6 yards per carry. Before you draft Langford in Round 4, check out this Pro Football Focus article/takedown. It’s brutal.
No. 64 - Melvin Gordon
2015 was a disaster. Gordon ran poorly behind a patchwork offensive line, fumbled a lot and scored zero TDs. Sad! Well, the line has nowhere to go but up, with veteran Matt Slauson and rookie C Max Tuerk coming aboard, and better health likely. Also, the Chargers drafted Gordon 15th overall last year. Don’t you think they’ll give him every opportunity to succeed?
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY SportsBruce Kluckhohn
No. 67 - Arian Foster
If the Dolphins really liked Jay Ajayi, would they have signed Foster? He should fit well in Miami’s passing game, and if he stays in the fifth round, the risk of him not recovering well enough from his Achilles injury won’t cost you too much. His price has been rising due to the increasing feeling that he'll be the lead back when the season opens.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY SportsSteve Mitchell
No. 70 - Duke Johnson
DUUUUUKE! Gio Bernard’s role in Hue Jackson’s offense should give us a clue as to how Johnson might be used this season, and podcast guest Mike Tagliere said that Johnson could get 150 to 175 carries and catch 60 to 70 passes (start listening at the 20:35 mark). If you’re zeroRB-ing, Johnson is a great get in Round 6.
Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY SportsScott Galvin
No. 71 - Matt Jones
Jones had chances to grab the Redskins’ lead back role in 2015, but he fumbled them away — five times in 163 touches, to be exact. He’s certainly got the opportunity to succeed this season, but there’s bust potential.
USA TODAY SportsTommy Gilligan
No. 73 - Gio Bernard
Bernard finished last season as RB21, and while he’s a nice player, his upside is limited by a timeshare with short-yardage monster Jeremy Hill, who had eight TDs on 13 carries inside the 5-yard line in 2015.
Getty ImagesRob Tringali
No. 77 - Danny Woodhead
Melvin Gordon might be an underrated fantasy back, but that doesn’t mean we think Woodhead is going anywhere. And if you think Woodhead is only PPR-worthy, consider that he finished last season as RB11 in FOXSports.com STANDARD scoring. Even if he doesn’t score nine TDs again, he’ll be a solid RB3, and an RB2 in PPR leagues.
Getty ImagesJohn Grieshop
No. 78 - Justin Forsett
Forsett struggled through injury and ineffectiveness last season, and Buck Allen and rookie Kenneth Dixon figure to be in the mix this year. Forsett’s receiving skills seem to be a good fit for Marc Trestman’s offense, but Forsett is an eight-year vet, and in all but one of those he’s been Just a Guy.
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY SportsTommy Gilligan
No. 82 - Ameer Abdullah
Abdullah won’t carry the same hype as he did after some big preseason performances in 2015, and that’ll give him much better fantasy draft value. The beat writers seem to think Abdullah will be busy, and he’ll be running behind an improved offensive line.
Getty ImagesDonald Miralle
No. 85 - Frank Gore
Old guy alert! Gore doesn’t have any competition in the Colts’ backfield, but he had a career-low 3.7 yards per carry last season. At age 33, we probably shouldn’t expect a rebound.
Getty ImagesRob Foldy
No. 90 - Chris Ivory
Adam Meyer has Ivory lower than our other three analysts, but you’ll need to draft Ivory earlier than this if you want him.
No. 96 - DeAngelo Williams
Williams closed out the fantasy draft season as an early sixth-round pick, and the 28th running back off the board per the ADP at FantasyFootballCalculator.com). The problem with drafting Williams so early is that he could be terrific from Weeks 1-3, and a non-entity after Le'Veon Bell returns from his suspension. Bell was healthy for five full games last season, and in those games Williams had a total of 13 carries. Unless Bell gets hurt again, Williams' fantasy value figures to be short-lived.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY SportsCharles LeClaire
No. 99 - Rashad Jennings
Jennings had a career best 1,159 yards from scrimmage last season, and was RB20 in FOXSports.com fantasy scoring. He’s never carried 200 times in a season, but he’s shown that he can be productive (if unspectacular) without doing so. Late in Round 6? Sure.
Al Bello/Getty Images
No. 101 - T.J. Yeldon
Yeldon had 1,019 yards from scrimmage in 12 games last season, but he’s set to share duties with Chris Ivory, which is kind of a bummer. On the bright side, Yeldon can be nabbed about two rounds later than his somewhat injury-prone teammate. Per FFC, Ivory’s ADP is 6.03, while Yeldon’s is 8.11.