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2016 Positional Rankings: Running Backs - Standard Leagues

Ranking the top 50 running backs in standard scoring leagues heading into the 2016 season.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The 2016 NFL season is slowly approaching and I'm not ashamed to admit that I've barely done any mock drafts this offseason. Some of that can be attributed to the headaches that the running back position gave me last year, both in ranking them every week for the site and deciding who to start every week on my teams. Another year, another attempt at deciphering the quandary that is the running back position in fantasy football.

(note: all previous year rankings and stats are in standard scoring format)

Rank Player Team Analysis
1 Todd Gurley Los Angeles Rams 1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns in just 13 games for a rookie coming off a torn ACL last year? Yes, please, and thank you.
2 Ezekiel Elliott Dallas Cowboys Darren McFadden was the 13th-best RB in standard scoring last year. Zeke is an incredible talent and will be able to showcase it constantly behind this offensive line.
3 Lamar Miller Houston Texans I was all aboard the hype train last year and he delivered with a top-6 season despite being underutilized once again by an incompetent coaching staff. His Houston coaches will use him as they've used Arian Foster the past half-decade, which bodes very well for Miller to live up to his otherworldly potential.
4 Jamaal Charles Kansas City Chiefs It's a legitimate concern that Charles tore his ACL last year, but the last time he tore an ACL he went on to rush for 1,500 yards the next season. He really isn't normal like the rest of us, and the all-time leader in yards per carry (5.5 average) will show us once again that he walks among us.
5 Adrian Peterson Minnesota Vikings Getting up there in age but still going strong, he led the league in rushing last year and is sure to get 300 carries once again. His lack of receiving production makes him a better pick in standard leagues than PPR.
6 Doug Martin Tampa Bay Buccaneers Doug E. Fresh isn't getting much love this offseason and I really don't know why. Everyone is fawning over Charles Sims (who is a solid backup RB and I'll get to him later), kind of glossing over the fact that a resurgent Martin ran for 1,400 yards last year and was the 3rd-best RB.
7 David Johnson Arizona Cardinals DJ exploded over the course of about three weeks near the end of the season and was able to score in nine games, but we might be hyping him up a bit too much. Bruce Arians still has a weird love affair with Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington will be involved. The offense is still pass-first, so DJ would be higher up in PPR ranks.
8 Devonta Freeman Atlanta Falcons People might be scared off because most of his production came in a few-weeks span when Tevin Coleman got injured, but he was great in his role while the rest of the offense crumbled. He's an underrated goal-line back and is fantastic in the passing game.
9 LeSean McCoy Buffalo Bills Still uber-talented and only 28 years old, Shady had a pretty good year last year (17th-best finish) despite missing four games. His main threat in the backfield, Karlos Williams, showed up to camp well overweight and is also suspended for the first four games. Rex Ryan is going to rely on the running game as he always does, and McCoy will be the key cog in that machine.
10 Latavius Murray Oakland Raiders All I've read about Murray this offseason is how he stumbled towards the end of the season and that 5th-round rookie DeAndre Washington will be a major threat to his workload (just like Roy Helu was going to be last year). Murray averaged 4.0 yards per carry, topped 1,000 yards, and was a top-10 RB in 2015. Sign me up again.
11 Matt Forte New York Jets Just when people think the demise of Forte is imminent, he delivers a top-10 season once again (in only 13 games). Now in New York, in a Forte-friendly spread offense, he will finish near the top-10 once again.
12 C.J. Anderson Denver Broncos CJA might only be good in the winter, but that's a risk you have to take given his impressive performances towards the end of last season. He's much more talented than Ronnie Hillman, and their commitment to giving CJA the bulk of the carries in the playoffs (and him severely outperforming Hillman) should bode well for 2016.
13 Eddie Lacy Green Bay Packers A picture came out recently where Eddie looked ripped and not overweight as he constantly was last season. Last year was an absolute travesty for those who drafted him in the first round, but good Eddie looks to be on the horizon for 2016.
14 Le'Veon Bell Pittsburgh Steelers I'll admit I have no idea where to rank him/where I'll feel comfortable drafting him. A 4-week suspension is looming, he's coming off a knee injury, and DeAngelo Williams was fantastic as his replacement last year. Whenever he plays, though, he is dynamite in this offense.
15 Frank Gore Indianapolis Colts I don't think people realize Frank The Tank was the 12th-best RB last year, and that was with Andrew Luck missing nine games while the offense stagnated heavily. This guy is ageless and should have a good shot at another top-12 season with a fully healthy Andrew Luck quarterbacking the offense.
16 Mark Ingram New Orleans Saints Surprisingly, Ingram kept his floor relatively high with receiving production last season. While we shouldn't expect that production to continue, and we can't count on him being healthy for all 16 games, he's still a solid RB2 in this offense.
17 DeMarco Murray Tennessee Titans Last year in Philly was catastrophic, yet he finished as the 18th-best RB. His offensive line in Tennessee won't be much better, but their offensive scheme suits Murray's strengths unlike Chip Kelly's last year.
18 Jeremy Hill Cincinnati Bengals I was surprised to see that Hill finished as the 14th-best RB last year. The offense might be due for some regression with Hue Jackson gone, but Hill is still a candidate for 10 touchdowns again.
19 Ryan Mathews Philadelphia Eagles The story with Mathews has never been about talent, but rather staying on the field. He was fantastic in a part-time role last year. He can be great in a full-time one, but he has to stay healthy (the perennial "if").
20 Chris Ivory Jacksonville Jaguars He's going to be the early-down back and get all the goal-line looks. He was the 8th-best RB last year and is currently being drafted as the 38th RB. I expect him to finish somewhere in the middle of that variance.
21 Danny Woodhead San Diego Chargers The Chargers offense is at its most efficient with Woodhead in the backfield, mainly because they should be throwing the ball on every down. He was the 11th-best RB last year, and was even higher in PPR.
22 Dion Lewis New England Patriots Explosive and electric, Lewis was perfect for the Pats offense in the 7 games he played before tearing his ACL. He'll return as the starter, but he might be eased in and might not be as quick as he was before.
23 Duke Johnson Cleveland Browns Set up for a break out season. He was a dynamic playmaker at UM and showed a bit of it last year. Hue Jackson will use him accordingly and Duke should florish.
24 Matt Jones Washington Redskins The opportunity and volume looks like it will be there. The question is whether he's good or bad, and to be honest I really don't know.
25 Thomas Rawls Seattle Seahawks Coming off a terrible ankle injury, he was explosive as Marshawn Lynch's injury replacement for most of the year. He isn't quite Beastmode, but he's damn near close when on the field. It's fair to wonder whether he'll be ready for the start of the season, and that could be detrimental to his fantasy stock.
26 Giovani Bernard Cincinnati Bengals A PPR maven, he's the second option to a different type of running back and is not as valuable in standard.
27 Charles Sims Tampa Bay Buccaneers ^See Bernard, Giovani.
28 Ameer Abdullah Detroit Lions Remember when I told you guys that Abdullah was going to win you a championship? I am so sorry. I still believe in his talent, though, and he has the opportunity to be a very intriguing post-hype sleeper.
29 Jonathan Stewart Carolina Panthers Want the least sexy pick that might be a RB2 but might also have the rails come off his injury-riddled body? Draft J-Stew.
30 Carlos Hyde San Francisco 49ers I recently wrote about how Hyde is being overdrafted and that hasn't changed since then (43.89 ADP). He was injured for nearly all of last year and is on a very bad team that is quarterbacked by Blaine Gabbert and will be behind in most games. What's there to like?
31 Isaiah Crowell Cleveland Browns I'm still on the Crowell bandwagon, though it has admittedly been a bumpy ride. While Duke Johnson is set to break out, there is still a chance for Crowell to have a solid season in Hue Jackson's offense (a la Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill in Cincy).
32 Jeremy Langford Chicago Bears I really think Chicago is heading towards a three-way RBBC. PFF ranked Langford as one of the worst RBs in the NFL last year, so if he struggles in fantasy it shouldn't be a surprise. Still, he produced pretty well when Forte was injured last year.
33 Melvin Gordon San Diego Chargers Similar to Abdullah, I still think there's potential for Gordon as a post-hype sleeper. He was nothing short of awful last year, but his skill set is absolutely NFL material. Here's to hoping he can put it together.
34 Arian Foster Miami Dolphins The Dolphins didn't sign him to be a camp body or veteran mentor. I expect him to start Week 1. Assuming that he's healthy of course (*sigh* injuries, man).
35 Justin Forsett Baltimore Ravens Last year couldn't have gone much worse for him and his owners coming off a fantastic 2014 season. I still think he's going to be the starter, but this might be another RBBC.
36 Theo Riddick Detroit Lions A strict passing game RB, he's much better suited for PPR but has value in standard where he finished ranked 38th last year.
37 T.J. Yeldon Jacksonville Jaguars The Jags didn't spend relatively big money for Chris Ivory just to give him goal-line carries. Yeldon will remain the third-down back and should see around 10-12 touches per game, but he is set to lose nearly all of the early-down work.
38 C.J. Prosise Seattle Seahawks With Rawls coming off a gruesome injury last year, Prosise could see the bulk of the work in the early part of the season. Once Rawls returns, Prosise will still see a lot of work in the passing game.
39 Jay Ajayi Miami Dolphins The signing of Foster was not a vote of confidence for Ajayi. Given Foster's injury history, though, Ajayi will surely get more than a handful of games all to himself (and Kenyan Drake)
40 Shane Vereen New York Giants This offense has the look of a RBBC, but they should look to get Vereen more involved as he fits the offense better than a slow RB like Rashad Jennings.
41 LeGarrette Blount New England Patriots Will he be the goal-line back? Probably not. Will he have three-touchdown games and then never be heard again? Of course.
42 James Starks Green Bay Packers He averaged the same yards per carry as Lacy last year and finished one spot ahead of him in fantasy rankings, but this year may be more like 2014 than 2015.
43 Spencer Ware Kansas City Chiefs He was surprisingly great in limited duty last year, and should be the main beneficiary if Charles goes down again. He might still be somewhat useful with Charles healthy.
44 DeAngelo Williams Pittsburgh Steelers He'll be very useful for the first four weeks. The Steelers have barely put him on the field when Bell is healthy, though, so you'd probably have to cut bait once that happens.
45 Chris Johnson Arizona Cardinals Bruce Arians loves him for some reason and will continue to give him some carries every game.
46 Jerick McKinnon Minnesota Vikings A dynamic weapon out of the backfield, the Vikings should (but probably won't) give him a lot more touches than they did last year.
47 Bilal Powell New York Jets His skill set is very similar to newly signed Matt Forte. Will struggle for playing time, but would be a solid RB2 if Forte goes down.
48 Devontae Booker Denver Broncos I think Ronnie Hillman is the odd guy out in the running back "competition". Booker is more in the mold of C.J. Anderson and should end up being his main backup.
49 Derrick Henry Tennessee Titans Many people believe he will pas Murray on the depth chart at some point in the season, but I don't see it happening this year. Murray still has something left in the tank and Henry provides nothing in the passing game.
50 Kenneth Dixon Baltimore Ravens Might be the dark horse to lead the Ravens in carries, but it can also end up being a full-fledge RBBC.