2019 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: RB strategy and Tiers 1.0

Positional Tiers 1.0: QB Tiers | RB Tiers | WR Tiers | TE Tiers

As a position, running backs matter. They've always mattered. For Fantasy they matter because they're highly productive thanks to their workloads, they're the best trade currency out there, and there are enough good ones to go around.

That means Fantasy players have plenty of strategies when it comes to drafting them, and your league's scoring system will play a huge role in what strategy you go with.

PPR RB Tiers 1.0

ELITE

NEAR-ELITE

HIGH-RISK HIGH-REWARD

ROUND 1

ROUNDS 2, 3

ROUNDS 3, 4

Alvin Kamara

Le'Veon Bell

Phillip Lindsay

Saquon Barkley

David Johnson

Derrick Henry

Christian McCaffrey

James Conner

Sony Michel

Ezekiel Elliott

Joe Mixon

Marlon Mack

Melvin Gordon

Nick Chubb

Leonard Fournette

 

Todd Gurley

Josh Jacobs

 

Damien Williams

David Montgomery

 

Dalvin Cook

James White

 

Aaron Jones

Chris Carson

 

 

Kerryon Johnson

 

 

 

VERY GOOD

NO. 3 RBs/LESS UPSIDE

HIGH-POTENTIAL BACKUPS

ROUND 5

ROUNDS 6-7

ROUND 8

Devonta Freeman

Tarik Cohen

Peyton Barber

Mark Ingram

Lamar Miller

Rashaad Penny

Tevin Coleman

LeSean McCoy

Ito Smith

Miles Sanders

Jordan Howard

Carlos Hyde

Kenyan Drake

Derrius Guice

Latavius Murray

 

 

Darrell Henderson

 

 

 

MID-POTENTIAL BACKUPS

BENCH DEPTH

BENCH DEPTH

ROUNDS 9-10

ROUND 11+

ROUND 11+

Ronald Jones

Jamaal Williams

Kareem Hunt

Austin Ekeler

C.J. Anderson

Adrian Peterson

Alexander Mattison

Justice Hill

Royce Freeman

Jaylen Samuels

Devin Singletary

Matt Breida

D'Onta Foreman

Dion Lewis

Nyheim Hines

Jerick McKinnon

Kalen Ballage

Jalen Richard

 

 

Chase Edmonds

In PPR, where wide receiver and tight end values rise with the value of catches, the top-two tiers of rushers are pushed into early Round 3 and further pushes the third and fourth tiers down the line. Fantasy drafters will still chase running backs, but there's a little less pressure because there are enough of them who catch the ball and can accrue useful Fantasy points that way. I'm going for three running backs through six rounds in PPR.

Non-PPR RB Tiers 1.0

ELITE

NEAR-ELITE

HIGH-RISK HIGH-REWARD

ROUND 1

ROUND 2

ROUND 3

Ezekiel Elliott

James Conner

Sony Michel

Saquon Barkley

Le'Veon Bell

Aaron Jones

Alvin Kamara

David Johnson

Phillip Lindsay

Christian McCaffrey

Joe Mixon

Derrick Henry

Melvin Gordon

Nick Chubb

Leonard Fournette

 

Todd Gurley

Marlon Mack

 

Damien Williams

Josh Jacobs

 

Dalvin Cook


 

 


VERY GOOD

NO. 3 RBs/LESS UPSIDE

HIGH-POTENTIAL BACKUPS

ROUNDS 4-5

ROUNDS 6-7

ROUNDS 8-9

David Montgomery

Lamar Miller

Rashaad Penny

Chris Carson

Tarik Cohen

Ito Smith

Kerryon Johnson

Kenyan Drake

Carlos Hyde

Mark Ingram

Jordan Howard

Latavius Murray

Tevin Coleman

LeSean McCoy

Darrell Henderson

Devonta Freeman

Derrius Guice

Ronald Jones

Miles Sanders

Peyton Barber

Alexander Mattison

James White


Jaylen Samuels




MID-POTENTIAL BACKUPS

BENCH DEPTH

BENCH DEPTH

ROUNDS 9-10

ROUND 11+

ROUND 11+

D'Onta Foreman

Justice Hill

Adrian Peterson

Austin Ekeler

Devin Singletary

Dion Lewis

Jamaal Williams

Kalen Ballage

Matt Breida

C.J. Anderson

Kareem Hunt

Chase Edmonds

Jerick McKinnon

Royce Freeman

Tony Pollard

It's a different story in Non-PPR. he first two tiers of running backs will get you through the first two rounds there. You'll want to land at least one of them as either a cornerstone for your team or as a very good starter to match with the receiver you chose as the squad's cornerstone instead. Most drafters will begin taking one running back and one wide receiver. If running backs mean anything to you at all, taking three within the first five rounds — and two in the first four — should set you up nicely for a well-built roster.

Is Zero RB still a thing? It is, and it's not a bad way to go if you're picking late in Round 1/early in Round 2 in full PPR. You could kick off a team with DeAndre Hopkins, Travis Kelce and Julian Edelman and still find roster-filling running backs later on. It's a lot less appealing in non-PPR when receptions become meaningless, and it's borderline insanity to do it when there's an elite-tier running back staring you in the face, so rule it out if you have an early first-round pick.

Because running backs are so vital to Fantasy Football success, it's still recommended to get a lot of them. If you have six bench spots, aim for at least six on your roster. Seven or eight bench spots? Aim for seven. Remember, each running back you take represents potential, even the ones who begin the season as backups. Never draft a running back you're not excited about, and never draft a running back who you'd probably drop after one or two dud games to begin the year.

Draft for opportunity, draft for potential, and draft youth. Then be as patient as you can. 

Senior Fantasy Writer

Dave Richard has spent nearly his entire career covering the National Football League. Beginning with NFL.com at the boom of the Internet, Richard was that site's first Fantasy Football writer before transitioning... Full Bio

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