Shemon & Sheppard – In The Afternoon

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Running back is the most position to get right in your fantasy team. You can find a late round Wide Receiver or Quarterback, but finding a pair of bell cow running backs is the key. Because you’re trying to find the guys that will get 20-25 touches every game, they tend to break down quicker than the other positions. Forecasting wear and tear is far from an exact science, but there are some rules to follow. Guys over the age of 30 rarely perform at an elite level. Once the soft tissue injuries start, they tend to hang around. And touchdown dependent backs normally regress the following seasons. But like all fantasy football rankings, RB included, tiers matter.

The running back position keeps evolving at the NFL level, and knowing your league’s scoring system is imperative. A guy like Austin Ekeler with the Chargers has way more value in PPR formats vs. non-PPR formats. For the most part, guys don’t get 25 carries a game any more. Even a talented back like Ezekiel Elliot in Dallas split carries with a solid backup just a year after signing a massive contract.

Each of the last 9 top performing running backs in fantasy fit within a very specific framework. They were 25 years-old or younger, drafted in the top-12 ADP, and haven’t been back-to-back since 2007. Taking those data points, there are only 4 players to fit within that criteria. Najee Harris, DeAndre Swift, Saquon Barkley, and Jevonte Williams. I am not saying take these guys as your top 4 picks, but if it’s close then lean with one of these guys. Here are the fantasy football RB rankings by tier.

  • Tier 1

    Jonathan Taylor Fantasy Football RB Rankings by Tier

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    1. Jonathan Taylor (Indianapolis Colts)
    2. Austin Ekeler (Los Angeles Chargers)
    3. Najee Harris (Pittsburgh Steelers)
    4. Derrick Henry (Tennessee Titans)

    These should be the first four picks of your draft. When healthy all of these guys are heavily featured in both the run and pass game.

  • Tier 2

    Christian McCaffrey Fantasy Football RB Rankings by Tier

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    5. Christian McCaffrey (Carolina Panthers)
    6. Dalvin Cook (Minnesota Vikings)
    7. D’Andre Swift (Detroit Lions)
    8. Joe Mixon (Cincinnati Bengals)
    9. Nick Chubb (Cleveland Browns)

    When healthy CMC should be in tier 1. Unfortunately he hasn’t been able to do that over the past 2 seasons. Cook, Swift and Mixon are all heavily featured backs, but aren’t the level of backs in the tier above. Cook is the safest pick, Swift has the most upside, and Mixon is a blend of the 2. These guys should be taken in the 1st round, but not ahead of the tier 1 RB’s, or the elite WR’s.

  • Tier 3

    Jevonte Williams Fantasy Football RB Rankings by Tier

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    10. Jevonte Williams (Denver Broncos)
    11. Saquon Barkley (New York Giants)
    12. Cam Akers (Los Angeles Rams)
    13. Antonio Gibson (Washington Commanders)
    14. Alvin Kamara (New Orleans Saints)

    These are all guys with something to prove this season, but enter the year as the #1 back in their offense. There are some names that haven’t been put in yet, but that’s largely due to a backup that should get plenty of touches this season.

  • Tier 4

    Aaron Jones Fantasy Football RB Rankings by Tier

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    15. Aaron Jones (Green Bay Packers)
    16. Leonard Fournette (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
    17. Travis Etienne (Jacksonville Jaguars)
    18. J.K. Dobbins (Baltimore Ravens)
    19. James Conner (Arizona Cardinals)

    These are your elite RB2’s. Jones scares me a bit because of AJ Dillon’s effectiveness las season. Fournette and Conner are the safe options on this list. Etienne and Dobbins have the most potential to break through to the top tier’s of RB’s.

  • Tier 5

    Ezekiel elliot Fantasy Football RB Rankings by Tier

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    20. Ezekiel Elliot (Dallas Cowboys)
    21. Josh Jacobs (Las Vegas Raiders)
    22. David Montgomery (Chicago bears)
    23. Elijah Mitchell (San Francisco 49ers)
    24. Clyde Edwards-Helaire (Kansas City Chiefs)
    25. Breece Hall (New York Jets)
    26. Devin Singletary (Buffalo Bills)
    27. Rashaad Penny (Seattle Seahawks)

    Zeke has real competition with Pollard in Dallas. Same story with Jacobs in Vegas with Kenyon Drake. Montgomery will be in a bad offense, but should get enough touches to have value. Mitchell, CEH, Hall, and Singletary should get plenty of touches, but there are question marks with either the offense they play in, or their touches per game.

  • Tier 6

    Melvin Gordon Fantasy Football RB Rankings by Tier

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    28. Melvin Gordon (Denver Broncos)
    29. AJ Dillion (Green Bay Packers)
    30. Tony Pollard (Dallas Cowboys)
    31. Damien Harris (New England Patriots)
    32. Chase Edmonds (Miami Dolphins)
    33. Kareem Hunt (Cleveland Browns)

    Gordon, Dillon, Pollard, and Hunt are starting caliber backs in the NFL. They are in timeshares with the starters though, so they won’t get enough volume to be a starter every week. Harris should start the season as the feature back in New England, but I’m fearful this offense will take a major step back this season. Edmonds is an intriguing fantasy player. If the Miami offense even closely resembles the San Francisco offense of the last few seasons, Edmonds could finish the season as a top 15 back.

  • Tier 7

    Cordarrelle Patterson Fantasy Football RB Rankings by Tier

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    34. Cordarrelle Patterson (Atlanta Falcons)
    35. Miles Sanders (Philadelphia Eagles)
    36. James Cook (Buffalo Bills)
    37. Dameon Pierce (Houston Texans)
    38. Rhamondre Stevenson (New England Patriots)
    39. Tyler Allgeier (Atlanta Falcons)
    40. Kenneth walker (Seattle Seahawks)

    Patterson and Sanders are technically the lead backs in their offenses, but I fully expect that to not be the case by October. The rest of this tier is full of young backs who can take over the feature role by the middle of the season.

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