Football Team

Fantasy Football: Week 1 Running Back Rankings

Football Team

The 2020 season is finally underway after the Kansas City Chiefs ran away with a 34-20 win over the Houston Texans on Thursday night.

It was a contest that featured two top-20 fantasy running backs in Clyde Edwards-Helaire and David Johnson and neither disappointed. Edwards-Helaire rushed for 138 yards and touchdown while Johnson picked up 77 yards on the ground with a score and three catches as well.

With the first full Sunday slate only a day away, here are the top 20 rushers that can be trusted in Week 1 lineups.

Editor’s Note: Dominate your draft with Rotoworld Premium's 450+ player profiles, rankings, projections, mock drafts, exclusive columns and more. Subscribe to one of our premium packages for as low as $3.99/month! Click Here.


1. Christian McCaffrey (Panthers) vs. Raiders

  • 2019 rushing stats: 287 attempts, 1,387 yards, 15 TDs
  • 2019 receiving stats: 116 catches, 1,005 yards, 4 TDs

As Teddy Bridgewater gets acclimated in his first game with the Panthers, Christian McCaffrey should be the focal point of the Carolina offense both as a rusher and pass catcher. There are few matchups that would knock McCaffrey down from the top spot of these rankings and a young Raiders defense isn’t enough to do that just yet.

2. Dalvin Cook (Vikings) vs. Packers

  • 2019 rushing stats: 250 attempts, 1,135 yards, 8 TDs
  • 2019 receiving stats: 53 catches, 519 yards, 2 TDs

Dalvin Cook doesn’t crack the top five in most fantasy drafts because of his injury history, but in any individual matchup he’s right up there as one of the best options available. The Packers didn’t do much to improve their defense over the offseason and Cook torched them for 154 rushing yards in his lone game against them last year.


3. Ezekiel Elliott (Cowboys) at Rams

  • 2019 rushing stats: 301 attempts, 1,357 yards, 12 TDs
  • 2019 receiving stats: 54 catches, 420 yards, 2 TDs

No one has maintained the kind of volume out of the backfield that Ezekiel Elliott has over the last three seasons, and that should continue Sunday against the Rams. Los Angeles has a dangerous front seven anchored by Aaron Donald, but the Cowboys’ offensive line should be able to do enough for Elliott have a big afternoon.

4. Derrick Henry (Titans) at Broncos

  • 2019 rushing stats: 303 attempts, 1,540 yards, 16 TDs
  • 2019 receiving stats: 18 catches, 206 yards, 2 TDs

The Broncos spent significant assets rebuilding their secondary over the offseason, but that shouldn’t stop Derrick Henry from putting in his usual work as the linchpin of the Titans’ offense. After leading the NFL in rushing last season, Henry will have his first chance at showing Tennessee it was right to sign him to a four-year, $50 million extension.

5. Josh Jacobs (Raiders) at Panthers

  • 2019 rushing stats: 242 attempts, 1,150 yards, 7 TDs
  • 2019 receiving stats: 20 catches, 166 yards, 1 TD

It may be surprising to see Jacobs this high, but the Panthers ranked 29th in rushing yards allowed per game last season and they’ve since lost both Luke Kuechly and Gerald McCoy. Jacobs is coming off a strong rookie season and should have more room to work with in the box after the Raiders added rookie wide receivers Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards to the mix.

6. Saquon Barkley (Giants) vs. Steelers

  • 2019 rushing stats: 217 attempts, 1,003 yards, 6 TDs
  • 2019 receiving stats: 52 catches, 438 yards, 2 TDs

The matchup isn’t great for Saquon Barkley’s fantasy stock, as the Steelers’ defense is projected to be among the best of the league this season. But the Giants running back has a shaky enough quarterback situation behind him that he should have plenty of chances to rack up 15-20 carries on Monday night.

7. Miles Sanders (Eagles) vs. Washington

  • 2019 rushing stats: 179 attempts, 818 yards, 3 TDs
  • 2019 receiving stats: 50 catches, 509 yards, 3 TDs

Washington is going into the 2020 season expecting to have one of the best front sevens in football after selecting Chase Young No. 2 overall, but the unit still has a lot of catching up to after allowing 146.2 rushing yards per game last year — good for the second-worst in the NFL. Miles Sanders should get plenty of work out of the Eagles’ backfield especially if Philadelphia pulls ahead early.

UPDATE: The Eagles have ruled out Miles Sanders from Sunday's game against Washington. Running backs Boston Scott and Corey Clement are expected to split Sanders' carries in his stead.

8. Clyde Edwards-Helaire (Chiefs) vs. Texans

  • 2019 rushing stats: Rookie
  • 2019 receiving stats: Rookie

Clyde Edwards-Helaire was inserted into the Chiefs’ offense right out of the gate and played a big role setting the tone on early downs. If there’s an area he could improve on moving forward, it would be pushing for the extra few yards in goal-to-go situations. He had multiple opportunities to reach the end zone for a second time Thursday but was stuffed in every attempt.

9. Joe Mixon (Bengals) vs. Chargers

  • 2019 rushing stats: 278 attempts, 1,137 yards, 5 TDs
  • 2019 receiving stats: 35 catches, 287 yards, 3 TDs

All attention will be on Joe Burrow in his NFL debut, but Joe Mixon very well could steal the show against a Chargers defense that lost its leading tackler in MLB Thomas Davis and went all in on trading up for rookie Kenneth Murray to play outside. Look for Cincinnati to lean on its recently extended top rusher as Burrow gets his first taste of the pros.

10. Aaron Jones (Packers) at Vikings

  • 2019 rushing stats: 236 attempts, 1,084 yards, 16 TDs
  • 2019 receiving stats: 49 catches, 474 yards, 3 TDs

The Vikings spent much of their offseason retooling their defense by getting younger. The only question that remains: Is the unit still a work in progress? With no preseason games to feel things out as a group, it’s a safe bet to assume the Packers will be able to put up some points on Sunday. Aaron Jones and his league-leading 16 rushing touchdowns from a year ago should be a big part of that.

11. Alvin Kamara (Saints) vs. Buccaneers

  • 2019 rushing stats: 171 attempts, 797 yards, 5 TDs
  • 2019 receiving stats: 81 catches, 533 yards, 1 TD

12. Austin Ekeler (Chargers) at Bengals

  • 2019 rushing stats: 132 attempts, 557 yards, 3 TDs
  • 2019 receiving stats: 92 catches, 993 yards 8 TDs

13. James Conner (Steelers) at Giants

  • 2019 rushing stats: 116 attempts, 464 yards, 4 TDs
  • 2019 receiving stats: 34 catches, 251 yards, 3 TDs

14. Nick Chubb (Browns) at Ravens

  • 2019 rushing stats: 298 attempts, 1,494 yards, 8 TDs
  • 2019 receiving stats: 36 catches, 278 yards, 0 TDs

15. Chris Carson (Seahawks) at Falcons

  • 2019 rushing stats: 278 attempts, 1,230 yards, 7 TDs
  • 2019 receiving stats: 37 catches, 266 yards, 2 TDs

16. David Johnson (Texans) at Chiefs

  • 2019 rushing stats: 94 attempts, 345 yards, 2 TDs
  • 2019 receiving stats: 36 catches, 370 yards, 4 TDs

17. Mark Ingram II (Ravens) vs. Browns

  • 2019 rushing stats: 202 attempts, 1,018 yards, 10 TDs
  • 2019 receiving stats: 26 catches, 247 yards, 5 TDs

18. Marlon Mack (Colts) at Jaguars

  • 2019 rushing stats: 247 attempts, 1,091 yards, 8 TDs
  • 2019 receiving stats: 14 catches, 82 yards, 2 TDs

19. Todd Gurley (Falcons) vs. Seahawks

  • 2019 rushing stats: 223 attempts, 857 yards, 12 TDs
  • 2019 receiving stats: 31 catches, 207 yards, 2 TDs

20. Kenyan Drake (Cardinals) at 49ers

  • 2019 rushing stats: 170 attempts, 817 yards, 8 TDs
  • 2019 receiving stats: 50 catches, 345 yards, 0 TDs