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2019 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running backs

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Does David Johnson return to the Top 5 in 2019?

NFL: Arizona Cardinals-Training Camp Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Like 2019’s quarterbacks, this season’s running back class is outrageously deep. Currently RB3s, both Latavius Murray and Royce Freeman have real shots at finishing the year as rock solid RB2s. Rookies like Miles Sanders and David Montgomery are primed for monster seasons and should immediately cement themselves as household names. Will the big-name bell cows like Le’Veon Bell and Joe Mixon be able to hang with the up and comers? Load up on running backs this year — it’s gonna be a fun one.

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Rank Player Team Elite High Floor/High Ceiling RB1s
Rank Player Team Elite High Floor/High Ceiling RB1s
1 Christian McCaffrey CAR 2019's LaDainian Tomlinson is ready for a big year.
2 Ezekiel Elliott DAL His 2018 uptick in passing game usage firmly cements him in the Top 3.
3 Saquon Barkley NYG Barkley could push for 400 touches as he tries to keep the Giants' offense afloat.
4 Alvin Kamara NO Kamara's target count should again clear the century mark again and he could see double that on the ground. His scoring upside is as high as anyone's.
5 Davin Johnson ARI Kliff Kingsbury is going to make David Johnson the focal point of his high-octane offense. He could finish 2019 as the RB1.
High Floor/High Ceiling RB1s
6 Nick Chubb CLE Update: The Duke Johnson Jr. trade brings Chubb to the brink of the Top 5 tier. Although seldom used through the air, all reports indicate he is a proficient pass catcher. His touch total just received a serious increase. Evan Silva recently alerted us to the fact that although Kareem Hunt will be eligible to return in Week 10, the Haslam's were non-committal on whether that meant he would be fully reinstated by the league. Chubb will be a touchdown machine in the revamped Todd Monken offense.
7 James Conner PIT Conner surpassed Le'veon Bell's career averages in numerous metrics last season. He's a dual threat bellcow in a high scoring offense.
8 Melvin Gordon LAC Barring a holdout, Gordon is a surefire RB1 in a contract year.
9 Dalvin Cook MIN Extensive injury history is the only worry here. Minnesota signed Gary Kubiak as as Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Advisor this offseason. Cook is set to be the focal point of Kubiak's famous zone blocking scheme.
10 Damien Williams KC Williams looked explosive, closing out the 2018 season with a flurry of potent box scores. He's set to be the bellcow in the NFL's highest scoring offense.
11 Leonard Fournette JAX Many will not have Fournette this high. If we're trusting others with more extensive injury histories though, that shouldn't be the case. Fournette is has a strong chance to be Top 5 in carries this season. Trust the bellcow.
12 Le'Veon Bell NYJ We need to keep an eye on camp and the preseason. Head Coach Adam Gase refused to commit to a bellcow in Miami. Will that be the case in New York, or will Bell get the multifaceted workload he deserves?
High Floor/High Ceiling RB2s
13 Joe Mixon CIN Workload and talent keep Mixon here despite the injury bug ravaging the players around him. He will frequently battle 8-man boxes and will be moved down if more offensive injuries occur.
14 Aaron Jones GB Theoretically, this is going to be Jones' backfield. He should see a high volume of work through the air and on the ground. Jones has injured both MCLs in the past and is currently dealing with a pulled hamstring. It's a situation to monitor.
15 Devonta Freeman ATL Free of Tevin Coleman, Devonta Freeman is in line for the biggest workload of his career. However, the nature of his formerly hyperextended MCL is cause for concern -- this injury never fully heals and often leads to compensatory injuries like the ones he suffered to his foot and groin last year. The latter required surgery.
16 Derrick Henry TEN Should Derrick Henry have a mostly-healthy 2018, he's a candidate to lead the league in carries.
17 Marlon Mack IND Mack will operate as Indy's grinder and should always have a stable floor, however, his ceiling games may not come as often as others in this area given his lack of work in the passing game.
18 Toddy Gurley LAR Potentially 2019's biggest difference maker. Gurley could still post a Top 5 season in an Alvin Kamara-type role.
19 Chris Carson SEA As Evan Silva pointed out on a recent episode of Ross Tucker's Fantasy Feast, the departure of Mike Davis frees up 154 carries & targets from 2018. Carson is set to operate as a 20-touch running back in 2019.
20 Josh Jacobs OAK Jacobs should see a large 2019 workload, however, Warren Sharp projects Oakland to play a very difficult schedule -- that makes things tough on the young back. Doug Martin still has Gruden's eye as well.
21 Kerryon Johnson DEN The release of Theo Riddick signals a significant increase in Johnson's passing game workload.
22 David Montgomery BAL Montgomery is primed to takeover this backfield to the tune of 18+ touches per game. His dual threat ability is exactly why HC Matt Nagy traded up to get him.
23 Mark Ingram DET On the same episode that we refernced for Chris Carson, Silva also pointed out the threat that Justice Hill poses as a lightweight version of 2017 Alvin Kamara. Ingram should have a rock solid floor though.
24 Philip Lindsay CHI Lindsay has slipped down this list during its construction. Royce Freeman has operated as the team's lead back under new OC Rich Scangarello's watch, this offseason. However, Lindsay should still produce efficiently while taking snaps both as a runner and receiver.
High Floor/High Ceiling RB3s
25 Latavius Murray NO People are sleeping on Latavius. As Silva also mentioned, multiple coaching staffs have noticed how adept he is near the goal line and have routinely fed him inside the 10. Couple this with Sean Payton's drunken admission to Silva during NFL Draft weekend that "Alvin's soft", we can expect a 12+ touch per game workload for Murray in 2019.
26 Miles Sanders PHI Check back daily because Miles Sanders is flying up this list. For the first time, this devastating Eagles' offense has a true dual threat bellcow. As Sanders masters the playbook and pass blocking, Doug Pederson will pile more and more onto his plate.
27 Tevin Coleman SF Coleman is currently in line to operate as the lead back in Shanahan's offense. His ceiling is high in such a potent system. There are multiple threats to his workload though.
28 Sony Michel NE Michel is in free fall and will be until we get some positive news about his status fending off rookie RB Damien Harris. His TD upside remains high.
High Floor/Capped Ceiling RB3s
29 Duke Johnson CLE The odds-on favorite to takeover as Houston's bellcow, giving Deshaun Watson a passing game weapons the likes of which he's never had.
30 Royce Freeman DEN Freeman will likely hop into the RB2 range as he continues to excel in the new offensive scheme.
31 Rashaad Penny SEA There will be plenty of rushing work to go around in Seattle, making Penny a fine weekly flex.
32 James White NE The King of PPR scoring, White's passing game role remains secure. In 2018, he was the second most targeted running back in the NFL at 123 total targets.
33 Austin Ekeler LAC Ekeler carries standalone value as the rotational 1B back in the Chargers offense. Should Gordon holdout, he passing game role keeps him elevated over the rushing-oriented Justin Jackson.
34 Darrell Henderson LAR Henderson looks to be the Ekeler for the other Los Angeles team.
35 Tarik Cohen CHI Cohen's passing game role should remain intact as an Offensive Weapon, more than a running back. He and David Montgomery can comfortably coexist.
36 Kalen Ballage MIA Ballage has been running as the 1A over Kenyan Drake, however, it's likely they split season-long work 50/50. Ballage remains the value pick, coming off the board as the RB49 to Drake's RB26.
37 Kenyan Drake MIA Perhaps more talented than Ballage, he's just too expensive.
38 Matt Breida SF Breida should be universally owned. 2018 showed us that he's closest thing to a real-life Wolverine. Both Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon have extensive injury histories.
High Floor/Low Ceiling RB4s
39 Jordan Howard PHI Philadelphia's battering ram will get rotational usage but nothing to write home about.
40 Adrian Peterson WAS Peterson should operate as the lead back in WAS but overall it's a situation to avoid, outside of their biannual games against the Giants
41 Damien Harris NE With both Sony Michel and James White coming off the board as backend RB2s, Harris is the clear value pick at RB47.
42 LeSean McCoy BUF McCoy's geriatric body should collapse at some point this year, making room for Devin Singletary to takeover as Buffalo's lead back.
43 Peyton Barber TB Whoever wins the starting job as TB's running back needs to be owned. The early money is on the steady, if underwhelming Peyton Barber.
Low Floor/High Ceiling RB4s
44 Kareem Hunt KC Hunt is draftable in league's with exceptionally deep benches. It's not guaranteed that he is reinstated upon the completion of his suspension though, so his situation must carefully be monitored.
45 Justice Hill BAL A candidate to eventually see 10 or so touches per game in what could be in the NFL's run-heaviest offense is worth a flyer, late in drafts.
46 Jaylen Samuels PIT Samuels will likely see single digit touches per game but would carry supreme value should Conner go down.
47 Ito Smith ATL If Smith wins the RB2 job in Atlanta over Brian Hill, he should be drafted late. As discussed earlier, the spectre of Devonta Freeman's stretched MCL looms large.
48 Chase Edmonds ARI Edmonds will rise up this list by preseason's end. This offense should support two startable RBs if Kliff Kingsbury successfully gets this team running 70+ plays per game.
49 Ronald Jones II TB It's do or die time for Jones. If he wins the job, his ceiling is up there as an RB2.
50 Alexander Mattison MIN The run game-oriented Kubiak offense requires a 20+ touch back. Should Cook go down, Mattison steps into a monster role.
51 Derrius Guice WAS 3 surgeries were required to clean up Guice's surgically repaired ACL.
The High Floor/Low Ceiling RB4
52 Lamar Miller HOU Miller likely moves into an 8-10 touch workload with the acquisition of Duke Johnson Jr.
Low Floor/High Ceiling RB5s
53 Devin Singletary BUF Absolutely worth a late round flyer as he should takeover this backfield at some point this year.
54 Tony Pollard DAL Should the unexpected occur and Elliott holds out, Pollard might be Dallas's starter.
55 Justin Jackson LAC The 1B RB should Gordon holdout.
56 Darwin Thompson KC The battle for the KC RB2 spot is on. Damien Williams has never had a full season's workload.
57 Carlos Hyde KC The vet may be the safer player to gamble on.
58 Jerick McKinnon SF How the Preseason Mighty have fallen. If McKinnon can pull off the upset, he's a league-changer.
59 Brian Hill ATL The Darkhorse to takeover should Freeman miss time.
60 Rex Burkhead NE The do-it-all vet is on the bubble.