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2020 Fantasy football rankings: Top 25 running backs to draft

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No position is more important in fantasy football than running back.

One of the worst spots to be in during the middle of the season is not having enough quality running backs to play each week. Finding starting running backs on the waiver wire can be really tough. A good way to prevent this situation from happening is nailing your draft, and that includes being smart about which running backs you target.

It's not a bad idea to take multiple running backs with your first couple draft picks. Plenty of excellent wide receivers and quarterbacks can be had in the middle to late rounds, but the same isn't often true about running backs. 

With that said, let's take a look at our ranking of the top 25 running backs for the 2020 fantasy football season.

More fantasy content: Sleepers | Bust candidates | Rookies to target

Tier 1

1. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers (Bye Week: 13)

The Panthers committed to McCaffrey with a huge contract extension in March, and fantasy owners should show him that same faith. McCaffrey is dependable in terms of durability (never missed a game in his 3-year career), and he's coming off an incredible 2019 season during which he tallied 2,402 total yards and 19 total touchdowns. We can't expect him to post those same stats in 2020, but anything close would be phenomenal.

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2. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (Bye Week: 11)

Barkley missed three games in 2019 but still managed to tally 1,400-plus total yards and eight total touchdowns. He's healthy again entering 2020, and with Daniel Jones establishing himself as a quality starting QB, the Giants offense could be sneaky good in 2020. Barkley is the engine that drives this offense, and he's going to get between 20-25 touches every game. 

 

3. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys (Bye Week: 10)

With back-to-back seasons of 300-plus carries and 50-plus receptions, Elliott is a safe pick in any fantasy league's scoring format. Elliott is a near-lock for 1,500-plus total yards and double-digit touchdowns. The Cowboys offense could be among the most explosive in the league next season, and Elliott is the player who should benefit the most. 

4. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints (Bye Week: 6)

Kamara wasn't as productive in 2019 as fantasy owners would've liked, but he still posted 4.7 yards per carry and caught 81 passes. He also missed two games due to injury. Kamara remains one of the best dual-threat running backs in the league and an important part of a high-scoring Saints offense led by elite quarterback Drew Brees. Expect his total touchdown number to climb back up to double digits in 2020, especially if New Orleans keeps consistently feeding him the ball in the red zone.

5. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans (Bye Week: 7)

Henry led the league in rushing yards (1,540) and tied for the lead in rushing touchdowns (16) last season. He also carried the ball a career-high 303 times, which was 88 more than his previous high for a single season. It'll be interesting to see how he handles another season with a massive workload, but the Titans roster is still constructed as a run-first team. Henry will be the focal point of the offense and continue to receive loads of red-zone looks.

6. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings (Bye Week: 7)

Cook finally played close to a full season and showed how effective he can be in both the passing and rushing attacks for the Vikings. He also was pretty consistent with rushing touchdowns in 11 of his 14 games played in 2019. A 16-game season from Cook could result in nearly 2,000 total yards and 10-plus touchdowns.

7. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns (Bye Week: 9)

Chubb was one of the few players on the Browns offense who met or exceeded expectations in 2019. He enjoyed a breakout season with a career-high 1,494 rushing yards (5.0 per carry) and eight touchdowns. He's also improved as a pass-catcher, and it wouldn't be surprising if he tallied 50-plus receptions in 2020.

Tier 2

8. Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers (Bye Week: 5)

Jones had a breakout 2019 campaign with his first 1,000-yard season as a rusher, in addition to tying for the league lead with 16 rushing touchdowns. Jones also emerged as a quality pass-catcher for Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers with a career-high 49 receptions. Will Jones approach the 20-touchdown mark again in 2020? He might not, but he's still among the safest running backs for fantasy owners to target in their drafts.

9. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals (Bye Week: 9)

Mixon's 2019 season was one told in two halves. He was a much better player over the final eight games, during which he averaged 102 rushing yards per contest. All five of his rushing touchdowns came in the second half of the year, too. Mixon should be able to carry that success into 2020, especially after the Bengals upgraded at quarterback by selecting Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow with the No. 1 pick.

 

10. Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders (Bye Week: 6)

Jacobs had a fantastic rookie year with 1,150 yards (4.8 per carry) and seven touchdows on the ground in 13 games for the Raiders, and we should expect his workload to be even higher in 2020. One area where Jacobs could set career highs next season is catching passes. He didn't get enough looks in the passing game as a rookie, evidenced by his 20 receptions on 27 targets. Jacobs has the ability to be a quality pass-catching running back, and the Raiders coaching staff would be wise to involve him in more of those plays.

11. Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers (Bye Week: 10)

Ekeler took advantage of Melvin Gordon's holdout and enjoyed a breakout 2019 season. He was especially productive as a receiver, tallying 92 receptions for 993 yards and eight touchdowns. Ekeler is a great player to draft in all PPR leagues. Without a reliable starting quarterback, expect the Chargers to again lean heavily on Ekeler.

Tier 3

12. Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles (Bye Week: 9)

Sanders is another 2019 rookie who should see an increased workload in his second season. He totaled 1,327 yards and six touchdowns from scrimmage last year, and he'll again be the focal point in the Eagles offense. Philly doesn't have great depth at running back (Jordan Howard left in free agency), so we should expect Sanders to receive the bulk of the carries everywhere on the field and be used on all three downs.

13. Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks (Bye Week: 6)

Carson's injury history is a bit of a concern, but when healthy, he's a reliable fantasy running back. He's posted consecutive 1,000-yard seasons with 16 touchdowns over that span, and he also set career highs with 37 receptions and 47 targets in the passing game last year. Let's not forget that only two teams ran the ball more than Seattle in 2019, so Carson will get his opportunities.

14. Melvin Gordon, Denver Broncos (Bye Week: 8)

Gordon is getting a fresh start with the Broncos, and his arrival in Denver is among the reasons why expectations are high for the team's offense entering 2020. The 27-year-old veteran scores touchdowns consistenetly -- nine rushing TDs per season over the last four years. He's also a quality receiver with 40-plus receptions in each of the last four seasons. Second-year quarterback Drew Lock shows a lot of promise, but he only has five games of starter experience. Gordon is the best player in this Broncos offense, and his workload should be substantial.

15. Kenyan Drake, Arizona Cardinals (Bye Week: 8)

The hype surrounding the Cardinals offense is huge right now, and with good reason. The Cardinals acquired an elite wide receiver in DeAndre Hopkins from the Houston Texans via trade in March. Hopkins' arrival gives star quarterback and 2019 No. 1 overall draft pick Kyler Murray another quality wideout to target, in addition to the always reliable veteran Larry Fitzgerald. Drake also is an important part of the Arizona offense. He proved to be a great fit for the Cardinals after they acquired him from the Dolphins in a midseason trade last year. Drake ran for 643 yards (5.2 yards per carry) with eight touchdowns, while posting 28 receptions for 171 receiving yards in eight games for Arizona. His usage should be high in 2020, and he's a good bet to tally 100-plus total yards per game.

 

16. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City Chiefs (Bye Week: 10)

The LSU star was the last pick in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, and he's a perfect fit in the Chiefs offense. He could be especially useful as a pass-catcher for elite quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Edwards-Helaire tallied 55 receptions for the Tigers last season, in addition to 1,414 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground. After Damien Williams' opt-out, Edwards-Helaire should get enough touches to be a productive fantasy running back in what's expected to be a top-three scoring offense in KC.

17. Le’Veon Bell, New York Jets (Bye Week: 11)

Bell's numbers in his first season with the Jets were disappointing. He failed to run for 1,000-plus yards and totaled only four touchdowns. It wasn't all his fault, though. The Jets offensive line was bad and quarterback Sam Darnold didn't meet expectations. New York made an effort to upgrade its offensive line in the 2020 draft by selecting highly rated Louisville left tackle Mekhi Becton in the first round. Bell, and the Jets offense as a whole should be a bit better in 2020, but the veteran running back is still too much of a risk to take in the first two rounds of your fantasy draft, unless you play in a full PPR league.

Tier 4

18. Todd Gurley, Atlanta Falcons (Bye Week: 10)

Gurley's durability is a concern, but to his credit, he's only missed four games over the last three seasons. Despite not being 100 percent healthy at times in 2019, he still tallied 1,059 total yards and 14 total touchdowns (12 rushing, two receiving). Gurley signed with the Falcons in free agency, where he joins an offense that has a prolific passing attack, which should make things a little easier for the 25-year-old running back. Teams would be foolish to load the box to stop Gurley and let Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan target wide receivers Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley with ease. With little competition in the Atlanta backfield, the only worry about Gurley getting enough touches to be fantasy relevant is whether he can stay healthy for a full season.

19. James Conner, Pittsburgh Steelers (Bye Week: 8)

Knee and shoulder injuries forced Conner to miss six games last season, which significantly hurt his fantasy value. If healthy, Conner can still be an RB2 in most fantasy leagues. Conner is a threat to make plays in both the rushing and passing attacks, and with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger back healthy (he missed most of 2019), Pittsburgh's offense as a whole should be much improved in 2020.

 

20. Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Bye Week: 13)

Fournette rushed for a career-high 1,152 yards last season and joins a potent, Tom Brady-led offense in Tampa Bay. But head coach Bruce Arians still is labeling Ronald Jones as the starter, and with LeSean McCoy and rookie Ke'Shawn Vaughn also in the mix, there's no guarantee Fournette will get the steady workload he enjoyed in Jacksonville. Buyer beware on Fournette until we get more clarity on his role.

21. Devin Singletary, Buffalo Bills (Bye Week: 11)

Singletary enjoyed a very good rookie season with 775 rushing yards (5.1 per carry) and two touchdowns, as well as 29 receptions for 194 yards and two more scores. The touchdown totals were low, but with veteran Frank Gore leaving Buffalo in free agency, Singletary should receive most of the carries in the Bills backfield next season. He's likely to eclipse 200 carries and 40 receptions.

22. Raheem Mostert, San Francisco 49ers (Bye Week: 11)

Mostert played well in the 2019 regular season before breaking out in the postseason with 336 yards and five rushing touchdowns over three games. His workload should increase even more in 2020 after averaging 5.6 yards per carry. Mostert also benefits from a very good 49ers offensive line (including the recent acquisiton of star left tackle Trent Williams) and one of the best blocking tight ends in George Kittle.

23. David Johnson, Houston Texans (Bye Week: 8)

Johnson has yet to recapture the elite form he displayed in 2016, and injuries have played a huge part in that decline in production. That said, Johnson is still a quality starting running back and remains a good pass-catcher out of the backfield. He'll be a reliable target for Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.

24. James White, New England Patriots (Bye Week: 6)

White is among the premier pass-catching running backs in the league and a must-own in any PPR format. He tallied 72 receptions for 645 yards and five touchdowns out of the backfield in 2019, and those numbers could go higher in 2020 considering new quarterback Cam Newton relied heavily on McCaffrey in Carolina. White isn't likely to make much of an impact running the football, although the Patriots aren't afraid to give him carries at the goal line.

25. D’Andre Swift, Detroit Lions (Bye Week: 5)

Swift was a high 2020 second-round pick and likely will make a strong impact for the Lions as a rookie. He probably will be splitting carries with Kerryon Johnson in the Detroit backfield, so Swift most likely will be a flex option for fantasy owners to start the season. He's a great guy to draft in dynasty leagues, and even if Johnson is healthy the whole season, you can bet the Lions will find ways to get Swift involved in the offense.

Click here for our complete 2020 draft kit >>