Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings: Expert top 24 highlights rankings disputes, sleepers, superstars

Back in January, the Fantasy Football Today team put out their initial rankings for each position, and it's interesting to look back and see what's changed since free agency, trades and the NFL Draft.

For instance, Leonard Fournette was pretty close to a unanimous top-10 running back, but after the Jaguars spent the past four months trying to trade him to anyone who would take him, the highest he ranks is 15th. Similarly, Aaron Jones went from a top-eight back on four of five rankings to outside the top 12 in four — he was one of the biggest losers from the draft.

Plus, we had rookies storming the party, with Clyde-Edwards-Helaire jumping into the consensus top 15 thanks to an ideal landing spot that made him one of the draft's biggest winners. Additionally, Jonathan Taylor and Cam Akers land inside the top 24. Plus, a rookie is responsible for Jones' slide, along with new concerns about Devin Singletary and Mark Ingram thanks to some fresh competition.

Jamey Eisenberg, Dave Richard, Heath Cummings, Ben Gretch and Adam Aizer have all updated and expanded their rankings in the aftermath of the draft, this time showing you their top-24 running backs. You can see the consensus rank below, along with where each member of the team ranked each player, and I've provided a breakdown of some of the biggest disagreements and most notable ranks below that.

Here's where the running back position stands as of late April: 

Player

Jamey

Dave

Heath

Ben

Aizer

Christian McCaffrey

1

1

1

1

1

Saquon Barkley

2

3

2

2

2

Ezekiel Elliott

3

2

5

5

3

Dalvin Cook

4

4

4

4

4

Alvin Kamara

5

5

3

3

5

Miles Sanders

6

6

7

6

6

Austin Ekeler

9

8

6

8

10

Kenyan Drake

10

10

11

10

7

Joe Mixon

8

7

14

11

9

Nick Chubb

11

11

13

7

8

Derrick Henry

12

9

8

12

11

Josh Jacobs

13

12

15

9

12

Aaron Jones

14

17

9

15

13

Clyde Edwards-Helaire

7

15

18

14

16

Le'Veon Bell

15

13

10

20

18

Melvin Gordon

16

14

16

21

14

Todd Gurley

17

18

17

17

17

Chris Carson

20

16

12

22

19

Leonard Fournette

18

19

21

16

15

James Conner

21

20

20

23

20

Jonathan Taylor

19

23

-

13

-

David Johnson

-

-

19

18

21

Cam Akers

23

22

-

19

-

D'Andre Swift

24

21

-

-

23

Devin Singletary

22

-

23

-

-

Mark Ingram

-

24

-

-

22

Kareem Hunt

-

-

22

-

-

David Montgomery

-

-

-

-

24

Biggest disagreements

Austin Ekeler – Heath vs. Adam

Heath is The Austin Ekeler Guy this season, ranking him as a first-round pick and a borderline elite running back, and the draft only confirmed that. Ekeler is arguably the best pass-catching running back in the NFL and has been effective on the ground as well, rushing for at least 550 yards in each of the past two seasons. There are real questions, however: Will the Chargers ever trust him to be the main guy in the running game, and will they still throw the ball to their running backs as much with Philip Rivers gone. If the answer to both is "yes," Heath is going to look like a genius.

Joe Mixon – Heath and Ben vs. everyone

Mixon has no concerns about how much work he's going to get; it's going to be a lot. The question is how valuable will that work be? He has averaged right around 17 carries per game each of the past two seasons, but saw a significant reduction in his usage in the passing game even though the Bengals threw 60 more times. Was that a conscious decision by new coach Zac Taylor, or will the arrival of Joe Burrow change that? This offense should be better in 2020, but it's got a long way to go to become good, which likely puts a ceiling on his upside. I'm with Heath on this one.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire — Jamey vs. everyone

Ultimately, this goes one of two ways: If Edwards-Helaire emerges as the starter for the Chiefs in training camp or very early on in the season, even Jamey might be too low on him. If he's Andy Reid's No. 1 back — and especially if he gets the Kareem Hunt role — that's just about the best place a running back can be. And, given that it was the most Reid has ever invested in a running back in the draft, Edwards-Helaire could be a league-winner even if you take him in the second round. On the other hand, the Chiefs aren't short on bodies at the position, and if anything goes wrong in camp for Edwards-Helaire, it's probably the Damien Williams show to start the season.

Le'Veon Bell — Ben vs. everyone

Ben is not a believer in Adam Gase as a head coach, and frankly, neither am I. Make whatever excuses you want for him about personnel, but we just don't have much evidence that Gase can elevate an offense — and the emergence of Ryan Tannehill, DeVante Parker, and Kenyan Drake almost immediately upon leaving his offense isn't a great sign. Bell is pretty much assured a heavy workload, and the Jets offensive line should be more effective than it was last season, but the offense as a whole could continue to be an anchor on Bell's value.

Jonathan Taylor — Ben vs. everyone

If the path to 15-plus touches was clearer, we might talk about Taylor as a Fantasy prospect on the level of Leonard Fournette, Josh Jacobs or even Saquon Barkley when they entered the NFL. He was historically productive at Wisconsin and the Colts might have the best offensive line in the NFL to run behind — plus, we know Rivers loves to use those running backs in the passing game. Ben is betting on talent winning out, and with Marlon Mack working on an expiring contract, the Colts clearly aren't committed. It might be a slow start, but Taylor could be a rocket ship for your roster.

Other notable rankings

Leonard Fournette — Adam has him 15th

The thing about doing rankings in late April is a lot can happen between now and September. The Jaguars have struggled to find a trade partner for Fournette thus far, most recently at the draft. So, they trudge ahead with him on the roster. If that is the case by the time we get close to the season, you're probably going to have to rank Fournette as a top-12 running back coming off his most effective season as a rusher and receiver. He was the No. 7 RB in 2019 despite an impossibly low three touchdowns on 341 touches.

Chris Carson — Heath has him No. 12

Here's another one where Heath is just getting ahead of the curve. At least, that's what he hopes. If we get to training camp and Carson's hip looks fine and Rashaad Penny appears headed for the PUP list, he's another back you'll almost have to find a place for in your top 12. Of course, if Carson suffers a setback, all bets are off — and rookie CeeJay Dallas could vault into Fantasy relevance.

David Montgomery — Only Aizer has him inside the top 24

Montgomery makes for a perfect post-hype breakout candidate, after a rookie season that seemed to leave every Fantasy analyst with a bad taste in their mouth. Montgomery got plenty of work as a rookie but couldn't find much success in a Bears offense that looked all out of sorts. If things go better for the offense as a whole, Montgomery will be the primary beneficiary, because they didn't bring in any competition for his role.

David Johnson — Dave and Jamey have him outside the top 24

Johnson looked pretty close to cooked a year ago, and was outshined by both Chase Edmonds and Kenyan Drake in the Cardinals offense. That's the bad news. The good news is, the perpetually cooked Carlos Hyde finished as the No. 23 RB in non-PPR leagues and No. 28 in PPR despite a basically non-existent role in the passing game. For all the criticism Johnson took last season, he was still really effective as a pass catcher, averaging 10.3 yards per reception and 7.9 per target. The Texans don't use their running backs much in the passing game, but if he gets to even 35 catches and matches Hyde's work on the ground, that would've been enough to be a top-15 back last season. I think he gets there.  

Mark Ingram – Only Dave and Adam have him ranked in the top 24

J.K. Dobbins was a hugely productive back in college, and many argued he was the most talented in the class, so the combination of his skills with the ultra-productive Ravens rushing offense could be a very potent one. Of course, it was plenty potent with Ingram last season, so there's no guarantee the Ravens make a move right away. I can certainly see a scenario where Dobbins gets 150-ish carries for the Ravens and Ingram is still a must-start Fantasy option because, well, it happened last year with Gus Edwards (technically 133, but let me have this one). Barring injury, I don't think this is Dobbins' job until 2021. 

Jamey Eisenberg's top-24 RBs

1. Christian McCaffrey
2. Saquon Barkley
3. Ezekiel Elliott
4. Dalvin Cook
5. Alvin Kamara
6. Miles Sanders
7. Clyde Edwards-Helaire
8. Joe Mixon
9. Austin Ekeler
10. Kenyan Drake
11. Nick Chubb
12. Derrick Henry
13. Josh Jacobs
14. Aaron Jones
15. Le'Veon Bell
16. Melvin Gordon
17. Todd Gurley
18. Leonard Fournette
19. Jonathan Taylor
20. Chris Carson
21. James Conner
22. Devin Singletary
23. Cam Akers
24. D'Andre Swift

Dave Richard's top-24 RBs

1. Christian McCaffrey
2. Ezekiel Elliott
3. Saquon Barkley
4. Dalvin Cook
5. Alvin Kamara
6. Miles Sanders
7. Joe Mixon
8. Austin Ekeler
9. Derrick Henry
10. Kenyan Drake
11. Nick Chubb
12. Josh Jacobs
13. Le'Veon Bell
14. Melvin Gordon
15. Clyde Edwards-Helaire
16. Chris Carson
17. Aaron Jones
18. Todd Gurley
19. Leonard Fournette
20. James Conner
21. D'Andre Swift
22. Cam Akers
23. Jonathan Taylor
24. Mark Ingram

Heath Cummings' top-24 RBs

1. Christian McCaffrey
2. Saquon Barkley
3. Alvin Kamara
4. Dalvin Cook
5. Ezekiel Elliott
6. Austin Ekeler
7. Miles Sanders
8. Derrick Henry
9. Aaron Jones
10. Le'Veon Bell
11. Kenyan Drake
12. Chris Carson
13. Nick Chubb
14. Joe Mixon
15. Josh Jacobs
16. Melvin Gordon
17. Todd Gurley
18. Clyde Edwards-Helaire
19. David Johnson
20. James Conner
21. Leonard Fournette
22. Kareem Hunt
23. Devin Singletary
24. James White

Ben Gretch's top-24 RBs

1. Christian McCaffrey
2. Saquon Barkley
3. Alvin Kamara
4. Dalvin Cook
5. Ezekiel Elliott
6. Miles Sanders
7. Joe Mixon
8. Nick Chubb
9. Kenyan Drake
10. Austin Ekeler
11. Josh Jacobs
12. Derrick Henry
13. Jonathan Taylor
14. Clyde Edwards-Helaire
15. Aaron Jones
16. Leonard Fournette
17. Todd Gurley
18. David Johnson
19. Cam Akers
20. Le'Veon Bell
21. Melvin Gordon
22. Chris Carson
23. James Conner
24. D'Andre Swift

Adam Aizer's top-24 RBs

1. Christian McCaffrey 
2. Saquon Barkley
3. Ezekiel Elliott
4. Dalvin Cook 
5. Alvin Kamara
6. Miles Sanders
7. Kenyan Drake
8. Nick Chubb
9. Joe Mixon
10. Austin Ekeler
11. Derrick Henry
12. Josh Jacobs
13. Aaron Jones
14. Melvin Gordon
15. Leonard Fournette
16. Clyde Edwards-Helaire
17. Todd Gurley
18. Le'Veon Bell
19. Chris Carson
20. James Conner
21. David Johnson
22. Mark Ingram
23. D'Andre Swift
24. David Montgomery

Which players are poised for breakouts, which sleepers do you need to jump on, and which busts should you avoid at all costs in your Fantasy football league? Visit SportsLine now to get early rankings, plus see which WR is going to come out of nowhere to crack the top 10, all from the model that out-performed experts big time last season.

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