Watch Now: Jamey's Running Back Breakouts (2:33)

In an ideal world, you'd love to avoid running back committees when drafting your Fantasy football team. They're every Fantasy players' worst nightmare, especially when it's a seemingly subpar option taking production away from someone you just know would be a superstar if they got the chance. 

Of course, this isn't an ideal world. At this point, true three-down running backs are probably more rare than not. If you were to count them up, you'd probably need a second hand's worth of fingers, but probably not a third. Last season, Christian McCaffrey, Joe Mixon, Le'Veon Bell, Leonard Fournette, Ezekiel Elliott, Saquon Barkley, Dalvin Cook, Devonta Freeman, Chris Carson and Kenyan Drake were probably the only backs who counted, and the last two only in the second half of the season. Of that group, the ones who are still expected to dominate all three downs of work are also among the most coveted assets in Fantasy. 

For good reason. 

Identifying those situations where a star can emerge from a committee is our goal here, but it's worth defining what a committee actually is. Not every backfield without a three-down back is a true committee. 

Take the Bears: Tarik Cohen and David Montgomery will likely split snaps pretty evenly, but there isn't much doubt about what role each one holds. Cohen gets the receiving work, Montgomery the rushing work. Similarly, you've got backfields like New Orleans, where multiple backs will get work, but there's no question who the top option is. Those defined situations are harder to find Fantasy value from, because it usually requires an injury to knock someone out of their role. 

Committees, however, are where Fantasy value can blossom. Just think of New Orleans during Alvin Kamara's rookie season, when Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson created a three-way time share until Kamara proved to be so good that he forced the Saints to put him in a featured role alongside Ingram. That is the ideal scenario — a young player with a well-rounded game and the opportunity to become the focal point. 

That's what we're looking for here. Backfields without clearly defined hierarchies, where someone can step up and dominate the work if they prove their worth. At the start of training camp, I have eight teams with what look like clear committee situations, plus a few more that could end up that way. Let's try to figure out where you might be able to find value in each, starting with the highest upside situations first:

Potential superstar situations

Colts RBBC
Projections powered by Sportsline
IND Indianapolis • #25
Age: 24 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
90th
RB RNK
36th
PROJ PTS
121
SOS
32
ADP
103
2019 Stats
RUYDS
1091
REC
14
REYDS
82
TD
8
FPTS/G
12.9
Early down option
IND Indianapolis • #21
Age: 23 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
111th
RB RNK
44th
PROJ PTS
112
SOS
32
ADP
164
2019 Stats
RUYDS
199
REC
44
REYDS
320
TD
2
FPTS/G
6.6
Passing-down specialist
IND Indianapolis • #28
Age: 21 • Experience: Rookie
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
58th
RB RNK
26th
PROJ PTS
143
SOS
32
ADP
52
2019 Stats (Wisconsin)
RUYDS
2003
REC
26
REYDS
252
TD
26
FPTS/G
29.1
Potential breakout

If you're looking for this year's Alvin Kamara, Taylor is probably the best candidate. If Taylor wasn't here, the split in Indy would be clear: Mack would get the rushing downs and Hines would get the passing work. And it would be a great situation for both, because the Colts have a potentially dominant offensive line and a new quarterback in Philip Rivers who loves checking down. If it was just them, both might be in the RB2 conversation.

But in an ideal world, Taylor would make both Mack and Hines irrelevant. He's an elite athlete with an incredible production profile in college, including an increased workload in the passing game in his final season. There are questions about pass protection and fumbles, but it's not hard to see a situation where Taylor is so good that he's a three-down — and top-five Fantasy — back before long. Or, this stays a committee all season and none are better than flex options. Please, not that. 

Rams RBBC
Projections powered by Sportsline
LAR L.A. Rams • #23
Age: 21 • Experience: Rookie
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
72nd
RB RNK
30th
PROJ PTS
158
SOS
1
ADP
54
2019 Stats (FSU)
RUYDS
1144
REC
30
REYDS
225
TD
18
FPTS/G
24.9
Every-down potential
LAR L.A. Rams • #27
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
97th
RB RNK
42nd
PROJ PTS
110
SOS
1
ADP
150
2019 Stats
RUYDS
147
REC
4
REYDS
37
TD
0
FPTS/G
1.6
Passing-down specialist?
LAR L.A. Rams • #34
Age: 27 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
172nd
RB RNK
NR
PROJ PTS
14
SOS
1
ADP
NR
2019 Stats
RUYDS
255
REC
2
REYDS
16
TD
5
FPTS/G
4.1
Early-down role

Another situation with a promising rookie, but what makes this one harder to judge is that there aren't those clearly defined roles. Could Malcolm Brown be the starter in Week 1? Sure! But Henderson and Akers could too. At the very least, we're expecting Henderson to get plenty of passing work, while Brown figures to have the leg up as the goal-line back after the Rams used him in that role at times last season even with Todd Gurley around. That makes Akers the wild card. If Akers can prove to be a viable option on third down, he's probably the only one here with the potential to become a three-down back, and that's been a very valuable role in this Rams offense in recent years. The most likely outcome is that this is a mess for a long time, and I wouldn't bet on Brown ending up the most valuable of the group with the goal-line role. 

Chargers RBBC
Projections powered by Sportsline
LAC L.A. Chargers • #30
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
11th
RB RNK
8th
PROJ PTS
236
SOS
16
ADP
18
2019 Stats
RUYDS
557
REC
92
REYDS
993
TD
11
FPTS/G
19.3
Passing downs and more
LAC L.A. Chargers • #22
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
159th
RB RNK
60th
PROJ PTS
87
SOS
16
ADP
191
2019 Stats
RUYDS
200
REC
9
REYDS
22
TD
0
FPTS/G
4.4
Fighting for Melvin Gordon's role?
LAC L.A. Chargers • #27
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
143rd
RB RNK
54th
PROJ PTS
83
SOS
16
ADP
165
2019 Stats (UCLA)
RUYDS
1060
REC
11
REYDS
71
TD
13
FPTS/G
18.4
Fighting for Melvin Gordon's role?

Chargers coach Anthony Lynn has said he doesn't want Ekeler to be an every-down back, but that's pretty much what he was before Melvin Gordon returned from his hold out last season, playing more than 70% of the Chargers snaps over the first four games. If neither Jackson nor Kelley can prove worthy of more than a bit role, Ekeler could just end up being the primary option in both the rushing and passing games, and would probably be a top-five Fantasy back — even with questions about how much Tyrod Taylor will target him. 

What I would bet on is something more like what we saw when Gordon was active, however, with Ekeler topping 10 carries just once in his final 12 games but still being a very active participant in the passing game. If Tyrod Taylor looks his way 5-6 times every week, Ekeler will still be a must-start option in all leagues, but one of Kelley or Jackson will need to take on the bulk of the Gordon role to be viable starting Fantasy options. At this point, it's not clear either has the edge, though training camp may clarify it one way or the other. For now, both are among the better late round dart throws you can make. 

Buccaneers RBBC
Projections powered by Sportsline
TB Tampa Bay • #27
Age: 23 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
61st
RB RNK
25th
PROJ PTS
153
SOS
27
ADP
84
2019 Stats
RUYDS
724
REC
31
REYDS
309
TD
6
FPTS/G
10.3
Maybe the guy
TB Tampa Bay • #30
Age: 23 • Experience: Rookie
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
151st
RB RNK
56th
PROJ PTS
60
SOS
27
ADP
86
2019 Stats (Vanderbilt)
RUYDS
1028
REC
28
REYDS
270
TD
10
FPTS/G
18.2
Fighting for a role
JAC Jacksonville • #44
Age: 26 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
198th
RB RNK
NR
PROJ PTS
32
SOS
27
ADP
NR
2019 Stats (Wisconsin)
RUYDS
17
REC
35
REYDS
286
TD
2
FPTS/G
4.6
Fighting for a role

I'm not quite sure this one counts anymore after Bruce Arians said Ronald Jones will "carry the load" for the Buccaneers, with Vaughn and McCoy "fighting for roles — who goes in second when he gets tired, maybe who is the third-down guy." Ah, that last part is a little worrisome. Jones notably struggled with his pass protection last season, which ultimately kept him from running away with the job despite being the most effective back on the team for the stuff we care about. McCoy is a vet with extensive experience in the passing game, and Vaughn was lauded for his blocking skills in college, so that could be Jones' Achilles' heel yet again. 

Or, the work he put in this offseason could prove fruitful and he could run away with the job. The talent is certainly there, and in an offense that expects to light up the scoreboard with Tom Brady taking over at quarterback, the upside is clear. If Jones truly works into a role where he is playing 65% of the snaps and getting extensive work on passing downs, a top-10 season isn't out of the question. 

Lions RBBC
Projections powered by Sportsline
DET Detroit • #32
Age: 21 • Experience: Rookie
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
73rd
RB RNK
31st
PROJ PTS
169
SOS
28
ADP
49
2019 Stats
RUYDS
1218
REC
24
REYDS
216
TD
8
FPTS/G
15.2
Potential three-down role
DET Detroit • #33
Age: 23 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
91st
RB RNK
39th
PROJ PTS
143
SOS
28
ADP
119
2019 Stats
RUYDS
403
REC
10
REYDS
127
TD
4
FPTS/G
10.5
Potential three-down role

Despite his reputation as a gun-slinger, Matthew Stafford has thrown to his running backs plenty, so locking up a three-down role here could be crucial. Both Johnson and Swift have the tools for it, and the concern here is that they'll just split work evenly across the board. If Johnson can stay healthy, that's definitely a possibility, so this one might come down to who can stay healthy. Given that they're both running backs, injuries are always a risk, making both worthwhile targets, albeit more as upside plays than weekly starters. 

Broncos RBBC
Projections powered by Sportsline
DEN Denver • #25
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
35th
RB RNK
17th
PROJ PTS
191
SOS
9
ADP
33
2019 Stats
RUYDS
612
REC
42
REYDS
296
TD
9
FPTS/G
15
The No. 1 guy
DEN Denver • #30
Age: 26 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
94th
RB RNK
38th
PROJ PTS
131
SOS
9
ADP
128
2019 Stats
RUYDS
1011
REC
35
REYDS
196
TD
7
FPTS/G
12.3
Just a backup?

I'm not actually sure this one is a committee, but it's worth mentioning that Gordon has proven he can be a very effective player in every situation, so it comes down to whether the Broncos want to use him in that role. If they do, he figures to be a must-start option, and that's kind of where I'm leaning — it's not like Lindsay is a standout in any one role where it makes sense to consistently take Gordon off the field. My expectation is Lindsay will simply be a backup. A return to the 300-touch threshold isn't out of the question for Gordon, and even if I don't love the Broncos offense as a whole, it's hard to argue that doesn't create "superstar potential."

Steelers RBBC
Projections powered by Sportsline
PIT Pittsburgh • #30
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
29th
RB RNK
16th
PROJ PTS
182
SOS
24
ADP
44
2019 Stats
RUYDS
464
REC
34
REYDS
251
TD
7
FPTS/G
14.5
Potential every-down back
PIT Pittsburgh • #24
Age: 22 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
NR
RB RNK
NR
PROJ PTS
50
SOS
24
ADP
NR
2019 Stats
RUYDS
426
REC
3
REYDS
23
TD
2
FPTS/G
4.4
Rushing-down specialist
PIT Pittsburgh • #38
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
NR
RB RNK
NR
PROJ PTS
59
SOS
24
ADP
NR
2019 Stats
RUYDS
175
REC
47
REYDS
305
TD
2
FPTS/G
7.4
Passing-downs specialist
PIT Pittsburgh • #26
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
157th
RB RNK
NR
PROJ PTS
82
SOS
24
ADP
176
2019 Stats (Maryland)
RUYDS
614
REC
17
REYDS
126
TD
9
FPTS/G
13.2
Wild card

For a long time, the Steelers never even thought about using a committee. Even when Le'Veon Bell was hurt or held out, they were content to have DeAngelo Williams and James Conner step into that every-down role, making both elite options at the time. Of course, Conner struggled to stay healthy himself in that role, both in 2018 and most notably in 2019, which brings up significant questions about whether he can hold up to it. And, with Snell, Samuels and rookie McFarland on the roster, they may choose not to find out. There's already talk that Snell could lock in a regular role, which would limit Conner's upside, but Fantasy players should be hoping Conner is the No. 1 guy without much fuss.

49ers RBBC
Projections powered by Sportsline
SF San Francisco • #31
Age: 28 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
69th
RB RNK
29th
PROJ PTS
139
SOS
13
ADP
60
2019 Stats
RUYDS
772
REC
14
REYDS
180
TD
10
FPTS/G
10.3
Lead back?
SF San Francisco • #26
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
95th
RB RNK
40th
PROJ PTS
116
SOS
13
ADP
110
2019 Stats
RUYDS
544
REC
21
REYDS
180
TD
7
FPTS/G
9.6
On the bubble?
SF San Francisco • #28
Age: 28 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
NR
RB RNK
NR
PROJ PTS
85
SOS
13
ADP
195
Passing downs specialist?

Unfortunately, this one is probably always going to be a committee. Raheem Mostert is talking about himself like an every-down back, but that's just never been Kyle Shanahan's MO — last season, Mostert, Coleman and Matt Breida could all have been called the "lead back" at one point or the other. One thing that may clarify things is if Jerick McKinnon is healthy after two lost seasons due to knee injuries. If he can lock down the third-down role, maybe that would allow Mostert to simply be the primary rusher, a role he could excel at in this offense, as we saw late last season. Coleman could be on the bubble in camp, which would make Mostert a much more interesting option, even if McKinnon or Jeff Wilson remains a factor. 

Potential starters

These are all situations where, even if someone does emerge, I don't think there is legitimate top-10 upside, either because of the situation or the talent of the players involved. Still, you don't need to be a superstar to be a viable Fantasy starter at running back. 

Jets RBBC
Projections powered by Sportsline
NYJ N.Y. Jets • #26
Age: 28 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
39th
RB RNK
18th
PROJ PTS
214
SOS
10
ADP
26
2019 Stats
RUYDS
789
REC
66
REYDS
461
TD
4
FPTS/G
14.3
Every-down option
NYJ N.Y. Jets • #20
Age: 37 • Experience: 16 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
NR
RB RNK
NR
PROJ PTS
55
SOS
10
ADP
NR
2019 Stats
RUYDS
599
REC
13
REYDS
100
TD
2
FPTS/G
5.9
Fantasy headache
NYJ N.Y. Jets • #22
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
NR
RB RNK
NR
PROJ PTS
10
SOS
10
ADP
219
2019 Stats (Florida)
RUYDS
676
REC
40
REYDS
262
TD
11
FPTS/G
15.4
Wild card

This one probably isn't a committee, though you never know with Adam Gase. He used Bell like a true No. 1 last season, but even occasionally backed off that in the second half — and that was after Gase's rumored disagreement with the signing of Bell. The Jets brought in Perine and signed Gore, who has been a pain in the neck for Fantasy players for years, including under Gase, when he led the Dolphins in carries in 2018. However, if Bell bounces back from a disappointing 2019 and the offense steps up as a whole, we know he's got every-down skills and can be a very productive Fantasy option. If anyone in this group does have superstar upside, it's Bell. 

Bills RBBC
Projections powered by Sportsline
BUF Buffalo • #26
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
55th
RB RNK
21st
PROJ PTS
186
SOS
3
ADP
40
2019 Stats
RUYDS
775
REC
29
REYDS
194
TD
4
FPTS/G
12.3
No. 1?
BUF Buffalo • #20
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
115th
RB RNK
45th
PROJ PTS
111
SOS
3
ADP
112
2019 Stats
RUYDS
1416
REC
28
REYDS
388
TD
17
FPTS/G
23.9
No. 2?

Here's why I don't love this situation: Josh Allen. In addition to being a mediocre passer overall (thus limiting the upside of the offense as a whole), his skill set also seems like it was designed in a lab to create Fantasy nightmares. Because much of his rushing production comes on scrambles, rather than designed runs, Allen doesn't often look to his backs for safe dump-off passes — "safe" isn't in Allen's vocabulary. Plus, he's the team's best option near the goal-line, something that isn't likely to change unless he takes a significant step forward as a passer. Allen will siphon scoring opportunities from either Moss or Singletary and won't look for them much in the passing game, creating a scenario where I wouldn't be all that interested in either even if one broke out of the committee. 

Dolphins RBBC
Projections powered by Sportsline
MIA Miami • #34
Age: 25 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
85th
RB RNK
34th
PROJ PTS
137
SOS
5
ADP
92
2019 Stats
RUYDS
525
REC
10
REYDS
69
TD
7
FPTS/G
11
Rushing downs specialist
MIA Miami • #22
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
86th
RB RNK
37th
PROJ PTS
153
SOS
5
ADP
98
2019 Stats
RUYDS
623
REC
19
REYDS
120
TD
2
FPTS/G
7.9
Potential breakout

This one seems pretty likely to be a true committee, with Howard handling rushing downs and goal-line work and Breida working in the passing downs and serving as Howard's backup otherwise. But, it doesn't need to be that way. Breida has three-down skills if he can stay healthy. Howard seems like he's got a pretty safe floor, but it's not entirely out of the question that Breida stays healthy and pushes Howard into a 12-carry-per-game role. 

Patriots RBBC
Projections powered by Sportsline
NE New England • #28
Age: 28 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
81st
RB RNK
32nd
PROJ PTS
135
SOS
14
ADP
100
2019 Stats
RUYDS
263
REC
72
REYDS
645
TD
6
FPTS/G
13.3
Passing-downs specialist
NE New England • #26
Age: 25 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
104th
RB RNK
41st
PROJ PTS
117
SOS
14
ADP
88
2019 Stats
RUYDS
912
REC
12
REYDS
94
TD
7
FPTS/G
9.5
Potential No. 1
NE New England • #37
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
149th
RB RNK
58th
PROJ PTS
76
SOS
14
ADP
245
2019 Stats
RUYDS
12
REC
0
REYDS
0
TD
0
FPTS/G
0.5
Sleeper

In the past, you could always rely on James White to be a reliable PPR starting option, but that may not be the case with Cam Newton likely to play quarterback. His rushing prowess might mean he looks to White a lot less than Brady used to, which could push White to the fringes of Fantasy relevance. However, that rushing prowess could also help unlock more room for Michel or Harris to operate. Michel will have to prove he can still be effective (after he proves he is healthy after offseason foot surgery), while Harris has a lot more to prove after a pretty uneventful rookie season. This situation probably doesn't have much upside, but either Michel or Harris could be sneaky options if they run away with the rushing work. 

Washington's RBBC
Projections powered by Sportsline
DET Detroit • #28
Age: 35 • Experience: 13 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
193rd
RB RNK
NR
PROJ PTS
59
SOS
17
ADP
188
2019 Stats
RUYDS
898
REC
17
REYDS
142
TD
5
FPTS/G
9.7
Rushing downs specialist
WAS Washington • #24
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
108th
RB RNK
43rd
PROJ PTS
101
SOS
17
ADP
146
2019 Stats (Memphis)
RUYDS
369
REC
38
REYDS
735
TD
12
FPTS/G
15.7
Passing downs specialist?
WAS Washington • #25
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
NR
RB RNK
NR
PROJ PTS
11
SOS
17
ADP
NR
2019 Stats
RUYDS
470
REC
16
REYDS
115
TD
7
FPTS/G
7.3
Camp body?
WAS Washington • #41
Age: 27 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
NR
RB RNK
NR
PROJ PTS
12
SOS
17
ADP
NR
2019 Stats
RUYDS
205
REC
34
REYDS
233
TD
1
FPTS/G
5.2
Passing downs specialist?
WAS Washington • #35
Age: 23 • Experience: 1 year
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
NR
RB RNK
NR
PROJ PTS
0
SOS
17
ADP
NR
The wild card

And here, we've just got a mess. Peterson remains a marvel, but we know he's not the kind of player who gets you excited for Fantasy; McKissic has shown flashes as a pass catcher; Barber was a thorn in Ronald Jones' side all last season; Antonio Gibson is a converted wide receiver drawing Christian McCaffrey comparisons; and Bryce Love was a serious prospect before a knee injury ended his college career. So ... it's a mess, but with Derrius Guice's release, there's a serious opportunity for someone here. Someone.

As for how I'm drafting them, Gibson is my favorite as a Round-10-plus flier, and I haven't really touched anyone else. Love is an intriguing deep sleeper to watch for in camp, too — remember, he was a Heisman finalist after emerging from McCaffrey's shadow at Stanford. Love was a former record-setting sprinter in high school and was one of the best prospects in his class before the injury. I'm not sure if he'd ever be an every-down back, but a Love/Gibson timeshare could be pretty interesting — certainly more interesting than another rehash of Peterson or Barber. 

So what Fantasy football sleepers should you snatch in your draft? And which WR1 candidate can you wait on until late? Visit SportsLine now to get cheat sheets from the model that was all over Derrick Henry's huge season, and find out.