What's the state of the fantasy football running back in 2019?
Consider this: Excluding quarterbacks, the top five overall performers in fantasy last season were all running backs. The next six were all wide receivers.
The point is that running backs remain crucial to fantasy success, but there's a steep drop-off between the elite and the rest of the pack -- and the elite is shrinking.
That makes it imperative to either grab the right RB1 or wait until the later rounds to find a productive RB2 at the right price.
Fortunately, we're here to help. Here are the top 30 running backs we're targeting in standard leagues.
1. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (Bye Week: 11)
Only Todd Gurley tallied more fantasy points in 2018 than Barkley, who amassed 352 touches as the focal point of the Giants' offense. With Odell Beckham Jr. out of the picture, Barkley again should be New York's workhorse.
2. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints (Week 9)
Mark Ingram's offseason departure should translate to even more fantasy opportunity for Kamara, who caught exactly 81 passes in each of his first two seasons with the Saints and will remain heavily involved as long as Drew Brees stays healthy.
3. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers (Week 7)
McCaffrey officially is in his fantasy prime after playing 91 percent of the Panthers' snaps last season. Expect him to be Carolina's No. 1 option once again, with another 1,000 rushing yards and 100 catches in the cards.
4. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys (Week 8)
A sign of the times: The once-one-dimensional Elliott caught 57 passes for 567 yards and three touchdowns last season. But the 300-plus carries are Elliott's primary appeal, even if his ongoing holdout is cause for concern.
5. David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals (Week 12)
Don't sleep on David Johnson, folks. The 27-year-old got somewhat overlooked last season on an awful Cardinals squad, but he should be in peak form under new head coach Kliff Kingsbury and No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray.
6. James Conner, Pittsburgh Steelers (Week 7)
Conner is the clear No. 1 back behind one of the best offensive lines in football. Even if Jaylen Samuels takes some of his touches, he's still a safe bet for 10-plus touchdowns as Pittsburgh's goal-line back.
7. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals (Week 9)
Mixon rewarded fantasy owners who gambled on him last season by producing the ninth-most fantasy points among all running backs. The Bengals should lean on Mixon heavily, especially if A.J. Green misses significant time.
8. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns (Week 7)
The Browns cleared their backfield of Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson Jr. for a reason: They believe in Chubb. With a revamped offense and the promise of a heavy workload, you should, too.
9. Le'Veon Bell, New York Jets (Week 4)
The good news: Bell is fully rested after holding out in 2018. The bad news: he goes from one of the league's top offensive lines to one of its worst. The Jets should use him a ton, but don't expect him to push 2,000 yards from scrimmage.
10. Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams (Week 9)
Why is the top-scoring running back in fantasy last year ranked ninth on this list? Because knee injuries are not to be trifled with, and the concern over his arthritis is notable if you're considering taking him in the first two rounds.
11. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings (Week 12)
12. Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions (Week 5)
13. Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers (Week 12)
14. Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars (Week 10)
15. Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers (Week 11)
16. Damien Williams, Kansas City Chiefs (Week 12)
17. Marlon Mack, Indianapolis Colts (Week 6)
18. Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons (Week 9)
19. Josh Jacobs, Oakland Raiders (Week 6)
20. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans (Week 11)
21. Sony Michel, New England Patriots (Week 10)
22. Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks (Week 11)
23. Mark Ingram, Baltimore Ravens (Week 8)
24. James White, Patriots (Week 10)
25. Phillip Lindsay, Denver Broncos (Week 10)
26. Tevin Coleman, San Francisco 49ers (Week 4)
27. Kenyan Drake, Miami Dolphins (Week 5)
28. David Montgomery, Bears (Week 6)
29. Tarik Cohen, Bears (Week 6)
30. Ronald Jones, Buccaneers (7)
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