I want to state this as clearly as possible: David Johnson is the best running back in the NFL right now. A dual-threat out of the backfield of an improved Arizona team playing against the likes of a division featuring a significantly weaker Seattle team and an over-hyped San Francisco team.
Do you want to win your league? I would hope so. Take it from me that the bragging rights alone are worth it ten-fold. Sadly, there isn’t a chance that you find David Johnson in the anywhere past the first five picks of the draft. Even after missing last season, he is still well-known by big-time and amateur fantasy fans alike.
“So, what do I do then?”
Simple. If your pick is on the clock and David Johnson is there, take him. Take him and have no regrets. That’s my plan. If you happen to be one of the GM’s that watches lucky number 31 fly by, have no fear. Running Back Rankings are right here.
- David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals: You’ve heard enough about the greatness that is DJ. Let’s move on.
- Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams: Last season’s fantasy darling is going to be explosive. Brandin Cooks is a strong downfield threat and that might scare some people into the idea that Jared Goff will take over what was a run-first offense. However, this offense will run through Gurley until the wheels fall off. The additions on defense this offseason give the Rams the power to control opposing offenses and to beat them down with Gurley’s diverse skill set.
- Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys: Zeke the Freak has got a mean streak. (If the rhyming is annoying, I can stop. I won’t. I just figured I would acknowledge I could.) On a serious note, Elliot lost six games last season. He will punish the league this season. Without the diversion that was the talented Jason Witten and Dez Bryant combo, teams will be able to key in on Elliot slightly more as Prescott’s underwhelming receiving core reveals his underlying flaws. (No hate to Allen Hurns but one receiver does not make a receiving core when your quarterback is average or worse.)
- Saquon Barkley, New York Giants: The first rookie on the list has earned his spot with just his draft pedigree and the moves made by New York to bolster the wet napkin they called an offensive line. Ereck Flowers should be picking flowers; and yet, there he was starting at left tackle. New additions Nate Solder and Will Hernandez look to make Eli Manning’s life and Barkley’s potential higher than fantasy owners could have hoped.
- Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers: Having number 26 this low on the rankings will have some people ringing warning bells that I can’t be trusted or that I must be a Pittsburgh hater. Try and keep calm. Bell is still a great asset to your fantasy team. He is clearly supremely talented and only has James Conner backing him up. Bell is a statistical beast. This small fall is simply due to the introduction of Barkley to the league and the return of David Johnson.
- Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons: I’ll admit that Calvin Ridley wasn’t my favorite receiver in the draft. Now that he’s paired with Julio Jones, I am most definitely singing a different tune. With that trio, the newly signed Matt Ryan, and Tevin Coleman being the tightest pair of handcuffs ever worn, everyone is set to forget about Freeman. I refuse to forget about a sneakily quick back that consistently beats the pursuit of opposing linebackers.
- Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers: I’m a fan of consistency. I love a good fifty-point week but not when it’s flanked by less than three-1point affairs. This is the point of the rankings where my trust begins to slowly fade away. Gordon is a good back. Very solid as a runner/receiver last year and, with new additions to the Chargers offensive line, his ceiling will rise.
- Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints: Young, hungry, and with a stranglehold on the starting job due to Mark Ingram’s suspension, Kamara is a great bet for the upcoming season. It is distressing to consider that this will be his first time being the one and only featured back. Have faith in New Orleans’ newly found reliance on the run.
- Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings: Remember when the best rookie running back wore purple? No? He didn’t break over 75 carries last season. His play jumps off the tape though. He is strong, agile, and a needed crutch for a quarterback as limited as Kirk Cousins. He is not a strong enough quarterback to lead a team without a run game. (See: Washington last season).
- Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars: His absence in multiple games last season did not seem to change the Jacksonville offense much. However, with Andrew Norwell now joining an already strong line, there is potential for a rather large boom out of the second-year back. Don’t be surprised if Fournette is in the lead for Fantasy value pick of the year.
- Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears: The Bears are making strides in all aspect of their offense this offseason. However, there are a big couple of ‘if’s with Howard. First things first, Mitch Trubisky needs to be the franchise quarterback the Bears traded up for. Second, Coach Nagy’s usage level of Tarik Cohen. If you’re drafting Howard, draft Cohen too. They both have standalone potential.
- Ronald Jones, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The new rookie back is taking over for one of my favorite hot or cold players. (Yeah. I’m a Doug Martin fan too. He was on my first ever championship team and that earns a guy loyalty.) Jones has a lot of potential to blow up with a strong team in Tampa around him. I’m very excited for Jones this season.
- LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills: With the loss of Richie Incognito, the Bills line is much less imposing and, as McCoy starts to slow down, beware a down season from the once surefire RB1. He’s firmly in second round territory for me this upcoming season.
- Kareem Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs: This is the Patrick Mahomes show. Hunt shocked the league last year but I worry about him being attached to the Mahomes wagon. While Kansas City is in love with their new QB’s potential, I have yet to see anything definitive that makes me scream, “Let’s trade our incredibly solid Quarterback, Alex Smith! This new kid will do great!” That’s right. I’m an Alex Smith fan. Until further notice, I’m not a Mahomes fan just yet.
- Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals: He’s young. He’s quick. The three-headed beast in Cincinnati is gone as Jeremy Hill has moved on. A duo of Mixon and Giovani Bernard is nice. Can this Cincinnati team get over their line issues? Can Andy Dalton do a solid job? I prefer my running backs to have solid defenses backing them up.
- Alex Collins, Baltimore Ravens: He did good last season. Surprising and good. If he gets the chance, expect a top fifteen season for the back. The risk factor here? He could get yanked from that starting role by any of the new rookie backs on the team. Although, Lamar Jackson could be so electric that the rest of the team could just spark. Be prepared.
- Kenyan Drake, Miami Dolphins: He’s fresh. He was a beast last season at breaking the big runs. With Ryan Tannehill returning and some new weapons, there is a lot to like about Drake’s potential this season. The main reason he’s so low is that there is the potential that Frank Gore turns back the clock and becomes a hammer into the end zone this season.
- This isn’t a ranking. This is just the dead man’s line. If you don’t have at least one back above this line, I recommend you start planning for 2019.