Fantasy Football: Christian McCaffrey runs roughshod in win percentage analysis for top 40 running backs, too
Which running backs led Fantasy teams to the highest winning percentage? No. 1 is pretty easy to figure as Jamey Eisenberg analyzes the top 40 from 2019.
Christian McCaffrey was the No. 1 Fantasy running back in 2019 by a wide margin, and he helped many people win championships this past season. It showed in his win percentage on CBS Sports as well.
In looking at the win percentage data for 2019, McCaffrey was the No. 1 running back and No. 2 overall player. His 0.626 win percentage trailed only Breshad Perriman (0.632), but McCaffrey once again dominated his peers at running back in another category.
The data we're looking at here is how players impacted Fantasy leagues and not necessarily about individual performance. It is based on the winning percentage for Fantasy managers of all players owned in 60 percent or more of leagues on CBS Sports, which came to about 150 players, and shows total wins and not Fantasy titles. Only commissioner leagues were considered with at least eight Fantasy teams or more.
McCaffrey was the No. 3 overall player selected in 2019 behind just Saquon Barkley and Alvin Kamara based on Average Draft Position, but he far exceeded everyone at the position. He scored 456 PPR points with an average of 28.5 PPR points per game, and he became the third player in NFL history with 1,000 rushing and receiving yards in the same year, joining Roger Craig (1985) and Marshall Faulk (1999). He was second in the NFL in receptions (116), trailing only Michael Thomas (149), and tied Aaron Jones (19) for the most total touchdowns.
It was a standout season for a standout player, and he should have the chance to be a statistical monster once again in 2020. With Matt Rhule as the new coach in Carolina, he should lean on McCaffrey as much as possible, and he will be the No. 1 overall player drafted in all leagues next season.
He could also repeat as the winningest running back again in 2020. Here are the top 40 running backs based on win-percentage data for 2019:
1. Christian McCaffrey, CAR - 0.626
2. Dalvin Cook, MIN - 0.562
3. Derrick Henry, TEN - 0.558
4. Aaron Jones, GB - 0.557
5. Raheem Mostert, SF - 0.557
6. Austin Ekeler, LAC - 0.546
7. Alexander Mattison, MIN - 0.542
8. Ezekiel Elliott, DAL - 0.537
9. Nick Chubb, CLE - 0.535
10. Mark Ingram, BAL - 0.528
11. Chris Carson, SEA - 0.526
12. Leonard Fournette, JAC - 0.518
13. Miles Sanders, PHI - 0.510
14. Devin Singletary, BUF - 0.509
15. Latavius Murray, NO - 0.505
16. Kareem Hunt, CLE - 0.505
17. Marlon Mack, IND - 0.504
18. Josh Jacobs, OAK - 0.502
19. Melvin Gordon, LAC - 0.501
20. Adrian Peterson, WAS - 0.499
21. Alvin Kamara, NO - 0.495
22. Saquon Barkley, NYG - 0.493
23. James White, NE - 0.489
24. Jamaal Williams, KC - 0.489
25. Kenyan Drake, ARI - 0.488
26. Carlos Hyde, HOU - 0.487
27. Phillip Lindsay, DEN - 0.487
28. Devonta Freeman, ATL - 0.486
29. Todd Gurley, LAR - 0.485
30. Ronald Jones, TB - 0.482
31. James Conner, PIT - 0.480
32. Joe Mixon, CIN - 0.479
33. Tevin Coleman, SF - 0.477
34. David Montgomery, CHI - 0.474
35. Matt Breida, SF - 0.472
36. Sony Michel, NE - 0.470
37. Le'Veon Bell, NYJ - 0.470
38. Duke Johnson, HOU - 0.466
39. LeSean McCoy, KC - 0.464
40. Jordan Howard, PHI - 0.461
After McCaffrey, Cook was also the No. 2 running back in PPR points per game this season at 20.0. It was disappointing that he missed two games at the end of the year with a shoulder injury, so once again he'll face some durability concerns for 2020, but he's a top-five pick heading into next season in all leagues.
And it's not a bad idea to handcuff Cook with Mattison, who was surprisingly at No. 7 on this list. The reason for that is Mattison was likely on the bench for a lot of successful Fantasy rosters in 2019.
Henry wasn't available for Fantasy managers in Week 16, which is the championship in most leagues, because he was nursing a hamstring injury. But he helped many managers reach the title game in their league by leading the NFL in rushing yards (1,540) and tying Aaron Jones for the lead in rushing touchdowns (16). He's a first-round pick in all leagues in 2020, with his value higher in non-PPR formats. Remember, as good as Henry was in 2019, he still only managed 18 catches.
We've already mentioned Jones a lot for his touchdowns in 2019, and he finished second in total PPR points at running back behind McCaffrey. There will be some regression from his 19 total scores, but he's still someone to consider in Round 1 in all leagues in 2020. Hopefully, we see more touches for Jones in comparison to Jamaal Williams, who was No. 24 on this list.
One of the top Fantasy free agents at any position is on this list with Mostert, who was No. 5 in win percentage. Over the final six games of the season, Mostert scored eight total touchdowns, and he had at least 19 PPR points in three outings over that span. We'll see what the 49ers do with Mostert, Coleman and Breida in 2020, and all three made the list here. Mostert is the one to draft first in most leagues, and he should be considered a Round 6 pick at the earliest if everyone remains on the roster.
Ekeler finished higher in PPR scoring (No. 4) than he did with his win percentage (No. 6), and he could be a polarizing Fantasy option in 2020 if Melvin Gordon leaves the Chargers as a free agent. I would draft Ekeler toward the end of Round 2 in PPR and in Round 3 in non-PPR if he's the main running back for the Chargers in 2020, and I would love to see what he could do with 250 total touches. Before Gordon returned from his holdout in Week 5, Ekeler was on pace for 320 total touches, so there's a lot to like if Gordon is gone.
As for Gordon, he came in at No. 19 on this list. The team he plays for in 2020 will determine his Fantasy value, but I don't anticipate drafting him before Round 4 in most formats.
Elliott was only No. 8 in win percentage in 2019, but he was still No. 3 in PPR scoring. The Cowboys have a new coach in Mike McCarthy this year, and Elliott should again be the catalyst of the Dallas offense. He's a top-five overall pick in all leagues in 2020.
Chubb finished at No. 9 in win percentage, and Hunt was at No. 16. It's amazing the Browns didn't have a better season with how their backfield performed. For Chubb, he was the No. 8 PPR running back in 2019, and he finished behind Henry in rushing yards (1,494). He lost production once Hunt was activated from his suspension in Week 10, but the hope is Hunt leaves Cleveland as a free agent this offseason.
Chubb will be a first-round pick in all leagues in 2020, and Hunt could be a top-60 overall selection if he lands a featured role with a new team. In a part-time role behind Chubb, Hunt still managed six games with at least 11 PPR points in eight outings.
I'm hoping that Ingram will be fine for the divisional-round of the playoffs since he's dealing with an injured calf. He had a quality first year with the Ravens in 2019, finishing No. 11 in PPR points and No. 10 in win percentage. We'll see how the NFL playoffs finish for Ingram, and he remains a No. 2 running back on Draft Day in 2020. However, he's 30, and a breakdown could be coming. As a result, I'm drafting Gus Edwards in all leagues with a late-round pick.
Carson ended his season on injured reserve with a bad hip, but hopefully he's fine for the start of 2020. We'll what happens with Rashaad Penny (ACL) and if Seattle adds anything else to the backfield in the offseason, but right now Carson is someone to target in Round 3 if healthy for training camp.
I'm glad Fournette finished in the top 12 in win percentage because he had a solid season in 2019. He only scored three total touchdowns, which hurt his overall production, but he still managed over 1,600 total yards and 76 catches. If those stats can be repeated, along with a few more trips to the end zone, Fournette could be a top-five running back in 2020. He's worth drafting in Round 2.
Let's group the rookie running backs together from this list, and Sanders (No. 13), Singletary (No. 14) and Jacobs (No. 18) all had solid win percentages. Montgomery (No. 34) wasn't as successful, but I like all of them heading into 2020. Sanders is worth drafting in Round 2, and hopefully he remains the featured back for the Eagles. Jacobs is also worth a Round 2 pick, and the neck injury he suffered toward the end of the season ruined a successful campaign.
Singletary should be drafted in Round 3, and he might have the most upside of this group if Buffalo treats him like a featured running back. And Montgomery should be able to improve if the Bears can upgrade their offensive line. He's worth drafting in Round 5.
I was curious to see where several of the bust running backs finished in win percentage, including Kamara (No. 21), Barkley (No. 22), Gurley (No. 29), Conner (No. 31) and Bell (No. 37). Kamara was only a bust because of his lack of touchdowns (six), although he scored four in his final two games of the regular season. Barkley missed three games with a high-ankle sprain, but he closed the season with three games in a row of at least 20 PPR points, which is a good indication he should be fine for 2020.
Gurley finished the season with at least 16 PPR points in four of his final five games, but he only averaged 13.9 PPR points for the season. Conner missed six games due to injury in 2019, as well as parts of others, but I'll give him a pass since the Steelers offense fell apart when Ben Roethlisberger (elbow) went down in Week 2. And Bell only scored four total touchdowns in his first year with the Jets and averaged 13.5 PPR points per game.
For 2020, I still like Barkley and Kamara as first-round picks in all leagues, with Barkely a top-three overall pick regardless of format. Gurley is worth drafting in Round 3 in most leagues, and the same goes for Conner and Bell, in that order.
Two other running backs who failed to make the top 40 were David Johnson (0.457) and Damien Williams (0.457), and both were also among the biggest busts at their position in 2019. Williams has the chance to rebound in 2020 if he can stay healthy -- he missed five games this season -- but Johnson might need a change of venue to help his cause. If the Cardinals bring back Drake as a free agent then Johnson won't be considered even a No. 3 Fantasy running back on Draft Day in most leagues.
Speaking of Drake, he was not a good Fantasy option with the Dolphins to open the season, and he had one game with double digits in PPR through seven weeks. He was traded to Arizona prior to Week 9, and he had at least 13 PPR points in five of eight games with the Cardinals. I hope he returns to Arizona, with Johnson gone, and he's someone to target in Round 4 or 5 in all leagues in that scenario.
Some other running backs of note are Mack (No. 17), Lindsay (No. 27), Freeman (No. 28) and Mixon (No. 32). Of these guys, Mixon is my favorite despite having the worst win percentage.
He got off to a slow start in 2019, and he averaged just 13.4 PPR points per game for the season. But if you look at his final eight games of the year he averaged 17.3 PPR points per game, and I expect the Bengals offense to improve in 2020 with likely Joe Burrow at quarterback. I'm drafting Mixon in Round 2 in all leagues.
Mack is better in non-PPR leagues than PPR because he had just 14 catches in 2019, but he also was No. 10 in rushing yards (1,091) and tied for No. 8 in rushing touchdowns (eight). He's a good pick in Round 3 in all leagues.
Lindsay had another solid season at 11.6 PPR points per game, but he was down from his rookie campaign in 2018 (14.8 PPR points per game). He remains a quality No. 2 running back in all leagues and should be drafted no later than Round 5.
As for Freeman, we'll see what the Falcons do with him in 2020. He should remain the starter, and he averaged a respectable 13.2 PPR points per game. But he only averaged 3.6 yards per carry, and that needs to be improved for Atlanta to be better offensively next season.
If he remains the No. 1 option in the Falcons' backfield then he's worth drafting in Round 4 in PPR and Round 5 in non-PPR leagues. But if Atlanta adds a running back to compete with Freeman, he could be a bust candidate in 2020.
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