After going over the top dynasty league quarterbacks for 2019, it’s time to move to dynasty running back rankings. Again, please note these are for those in year-round dynasty leagues, not for the standard redraft leagues most people participate in. Our redraft rankings will be available via Fantasy Consigliere later this summer. These rankings are for the half PPR scoring format, and the ages in parenthesis are for the start of this season.
1. Saquon Barkley, NYG (22)
Running backs typically have shorter careers than wide receivers, but Saquon Barkley should be the top player to own in dynasty leagues. The superstar running back is a generational talent that could have a legendary career, so you can potentially get several seasons of having the top overall fantasy player if Barkley is on your dynasty roster. Barkley can dominate either on the ground as a runner or through the air as a receiver, which alleviates worries about him having to carry the Giants offense.
2. Christian McCaffrey, CAR (23)
It’s hilarious to look back at supposed experts claiming Christian McCaffrey wouldn’t be able to carry the load in the NFL, as he’s quickly become a true workhorse running back that welcomes the challenge of rarely leaving the field and doing everything he can to help his team on offense. No matter the scoring format, McCaffrey is a beast; but he’s best in half or full PPR after he caught a running-back-record 107 passes in 2018. For the half PPR format we’re using here, McCaffrey possesses both an extremely high floor and massive upside every season.
3. Alvin Kamara, NO (24)
Alvin Kamara has a case for the No. 2 ranking among dynasty running backs, but it’s unclear how much longer Drew Brees will play for the Saints, and that could impact his fantasy value. But Kamara has entered the league as a consistent star, with 81 receptions in each of his first two seasons and 31 total touchdowns (13 as a rookie and 18 last season). After 194 carries last season, Kamara has the potential to do more on the ground, and he’ll likely eventually be a 1,000/1,000 rusher/receiver for New Orleans.
4. Ezekiel Elliott, DAL (24)
Arguably the best bet to lead the league in rushing every season, Ezekiel Elliott is a safe option whenever he’s on the field for the Cowboys. However, he’s a pretty easy choice to be down at No. 4 for a couple of reasons. One, his workload (1,003 touches in three seasons, with 868 coming on the ground) could lead to him breaking down quicker than the top three. And two, he’s already served a six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy, and another violation could lead to a lengthy absence, which dynasty league owners have less control over than redraft players.
5. Melvin Gordon, LAC (26)
With touchdown totals of 12, 12, and 14 the last three seasons, Melvin Gordon has proven to be one of the NFL’s best drive finishers after naysayers quickly jumped on the former Wisconsin star for having no touchdowns as a rookie in 2015. Gordon is one of the top all-around backs in football, and he should be good for at least 50 receptions every season; he’s gotten better as a runner every year and averaged 5.1 yards per carry last season; and he’ll continue getting scoring opportunities for at least four-to-five years in a potent Chargers offense, assuming he’s given a contract extension after this season.
6. Nick Chubb, CLE (23)
The presence of Kareem Hunt shouldn’t be a huge concern after the way Nick Chubb played as a rookie for the Browns last season, and any concern about Chubb’s role could allow him to be a steal in dynasty leagues. The Georgia product is an old-school runner that knows how to pick up positive yardage to keep the offense in favorable positions, and he has the ability to be a perennial 1,200-yard back along with underrated receiving skills that could lead to 50+ receptions per season. We do not have Hunt ranked among the top dynasty running backs, but you can throw him in the mid-round mix for startups.
7. Joe Mixon, CIN (23)
Bengals running back Joe Mixon led the AFC in rushing last season, and his best football might be ahead of him with new head coach Zac Taylor arriving from the Rams. If Mixon is utilized similarly to Todd Gurley in LA, this No. 7 dynasty-league ranking could prove to be too low. Mixon is immensely talented, and he easily could have been a top-ten pick in the 2017 NFL Draft; he should certainly be in the mix for a top-ten pick in dynasty league drafts starting now.
8. Josh Jacobs, OAK (21)
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden has told first-round rookie running back Josh Jacobs to be ready for a heavy workload, and you know eventually the Raiders are going to get a return on the draft capital they spent. There’s a chance Jacobs doesn’t pay huge dividends for fantasy owners in 2019, but he is just 21 years old and should have plenty of touches left in him after he was used as a situational player at Alabama. Jacobs eventually has 350-touch upside for an offense that should be on the rise.
9. Todd Gurley, LAR (25)
Given the uncertainty about his knees, this feels like a good spot for Todd Gurley among running backs for dynasty fantasy football leagues. If the knee issues have been overblown, he’d be a massive value in both dynasty and redraft leagues. But if the former Offensive Player of the Year is forced to miss a lot of time or is never the same, you could miss on top talent in the subsequent picks.
10. James Conner, PIT (24)
James Conner is just 24 years old, and he’s coming off a season with 973 rushing yards, 12 rushing touchdowns, 55 receptions, 497 receiving yards, and one receiving touchdown in 13 games. He’s shown that he can handle a Le’Veon Bell-like role as the clear No. 1 running back for the Steelers, but there’s at least some vagueness about Pittsburgh’s plans at running back for 2019 and beyond. If more of a committee breaks out, Conner might struggle to return value as the RB10 in dynasty leagues; but if the Pitt product gets 20+ touches per week with the Steelers for the long haul, he’d arguably be a top-five dynasty running back.
11. Derrick Henry, TEN (25)
Most of these running backs in the 10-25 range have questions about workload, durability, or lack of experience, and Derrick Henry falls squarely under the workload category. The Titans didn’t give Henry consistent opportunities until the end of the season, and the former Heisman Trophy winner then had one of the best months in NFL history. We expect Henry will be the unquestioned starter and a guy that should get at least 15 carries per week, but it’s certainly no lock. It’s possible this is Henry’s last season in Tennessee as he enters a contract year, and perhaps for whatever reason the league won’t see him as a bonafide starter on the open market next offseason.
12. David Johnson, ARI (27)
The main concern for David Johnson is Arizona’s shift to a pass-happy Air Raid offense under new head coach Kliff Kingsbury, as we don’t know how it’s going to work out. Right now, the expectation is that Johnson will be heavily involved as a receiver, but if the offense is unsuccessful, Johnson could be adjusting to a new offense in a year or two. DJ will already be 28 years old in December, so the uncertainty about his offense paired with the age of running backs ahead of him has him down at No. 12 among dynasty league running backs.
13. Kerryon Johnson, DET (22)
Kerryon Johnson falls under the workload/committee category, as the Lions are poised to utilize a running-back-by-committee approach on offense. Johnson should be the undoubted No. 1 option in the committee, but he could provide some frustrating weeks and could even face more competition in the future from future rookies if Detroit wants to go with a young, two-headed monster in the backfield at some point. From a pure talent standpoint, Johnson would probably be in the top ten, so that’s something to bank on when building your dynasty roster.
14. Marlon Mack, IND (23)
A major positive for Marlon Mack’s status in Indianapolis is that high-level people within the organization have come out and said how much potential they believe the third-year back has, and that he’s definitely the top member of their committee. But it still is a RBBC for the Colts, and Mack’s big-play ability could end up being a curse if the Colts want to find a power complement to take more touches on the ground in the next year or two. Mack also has plus ability as a pass-catcher, but Nyheim Hines is the primary receiving back for the Colts.
15. Dalvin Cook, MIN (24)
The opportunity is there, and Dalvin Cook has played at a high level when fully healthy; but durability has derailed the early part of the third-year running back’s career. There are legitimate questions about Cook being able to stay healthy over the course of a 16-game season, and another lengthy absence in 2019 could lead to Minnesota looking elsewhere for a lead runner. However, the long-term upside is astronomical for the 24-year-old Cook in what should be a run-heavy offense moving forward.
16. Sony Michel, NE (24)
If not for knee issues with Sony Michel, he’d likely be an easy top-ten dynasty league running back. The Patriots are shifting to more of a power-run attack with Michel as a pillar of the offense, but New England was compelled to add Alabama running back Damien Harris in the third-round of this year’s draft, and Michel’s workload might have to be managed even if he’s able to stay on the field every week.
17. Le’Veon Bell, NYJ (27)
There are a few key things going against Le’Veon Bell, particularly for those in dynasty formats to consider. First, he’s almost certainly going to be rusty after sitting out all of last season, so dynasty league owners might be able to buy low with a draft pick after a slow start this season. Also, the Jets offense isn’t likely to be as running-back-friendly as the Steelers offense was. And overall, dynasty league players might simply want to see him back on the field before committing a high startup draft pick to get him.
18. David Montgomery, CHI (22)
Rookie running back David Montgomery has already gotten rave reviews after offseason training, and he has a case for being closer to the top-ten like fellow rookie Josh Jacobs. However, third-year running back Tarik Cohen is in Chicago and figures to be for a while, which will likely limit Montgomery’s receiving upside. Meanwhile, Jacobs eventually figures to become a legit three-down back, which might never happen for Montgomery.
19. Damien Williams, KC (27)
Despite not getting many touches in his first four seasons in Miami, Damien Williams had shown can’t-miss flashes as a big back that moves like a sub-200-pounder. Finally given a prime opportunity with the Chiefs last season, Williams seized the starting running back role and got a nice contract extension in the process. Williams is still just 27 and has just 291 career touches on offense, so five years of top-level play in Andy Reid’s offense is possible. However, Kansas City is likely to target an early-to-mid-round running back they like some point soon, and perhaps Williams is best suited in a great change-of-pace role—we’ll see this season.
20. Miles Sanders, PHI (22)
Because he’s missed most of offseason training unlike David Montgomery, Miles Sanders’ rave review came more immediately after the draft; but the Eagles are very high on the Penn State product. Philadelphia has stuck with a committee backfield under head coach Doug Pederson, but it won’t be surprising if Sanders works his way into a three-down role given his ability as a balanced player—obviously, that would be an incredibly valuable role for one of the league’s better offenses.
21. Devonta Freeman, ATL (27)
Devonta Freeman has struggled with durability the last couple of seasons, but he’s the clear leader in Atlanta’s backfield with Tevin Coleman now in San Francisco—another role that could be very valuable, especially because the 27-year-old has a history of high-end RB1 seasons. But because Freeman has such a violent, unrelentless playing style, he’s probably at more risk of injury than other running backs.
22. Tevin Coleman, SF (26)
The most crowded backfield in the league is the Niners’ backfield, with Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida, and Jerick McKinnon all in the mix. The early talk is that Coleman will be the team’s lead runner, and while that could vary week-to-week in 2019, Coleman is just 26 years old and has had success in Kyle Shanahan’s offense with the Falcons.
23. Aaron Jones, GB (24)
It’s understandable if you believe Aaron Jones should be ranked much higher than this, as the third-year Packers running back has averaged 5.5 yards per carry in each of his first two seasons. However, Green Bay as a franchise might not see Jones as a feature back, and new Packers head coach Matt LaFleur was just Tennessee’s offensive coordinator last season when the Titans struggled to feature Derrick Henry.
24. Leonard Fournette, JAX (24)
2019 might be Leonard Fournette’s last chance in Jacksonville, and a good season could shoot him up the dynasty league rankings next season. The Jaguars drafted Fournette fourth overall to be the centerpiece of their offense, and they simply haven’t been able to count on him to this point. The former LSU star offers 300-carry upside, but he must stay healthy.
25. Chris Carson, SEA (24)
Chris Carson has shown he’s simply a tank of a running back, but he has 2018 first-round pick Rashaad Penny pushing him on the depth chart, so it’s possible he loses his starting job at any time. The flipside is that Carson has the talent to become a yearly 1,000-yard rusher with double-digit touchdown potential in Seattle’s offense.
26. Derrius Guice, WAS (22)
There’s some risk associated with Derrius Guice, as he’s coming back from a bad knee injury suffered last season and has Adrian Peterson, Chris Thompson, and promising rookie Bryce Love to contend with his Washington’s backfield. But his ceiling is enormous if he plays well enough to seize the clear lead back role for 2020 (it’s unlikely this year because of the presence of Peterson) and beyond.
27. Darrell Henderson, LAR (22)
If the Todd Gurley concerns are real, Darrell Henderson would arguably be a top 10-15 dynasty league running back option. He has great big-play ability should perfectly fit with the Rams offense, but it’s unclear if LA would allow him to be the lead ball-carrier.
28. Phillip Lindsay, DEN (25)
Phillip Lindsay was one of the NFL’s best stories and is coming off a 1,000-yard season as an undrafted rookie last year, but the Broncos might be moving to Royce Freeman as the lead runner. Still, Lindsay is very explosive, and he can be at least a strong FLEX option for years even as a secondary ball-carrier.
29. Tarik Cohen, CHI (24)
“The Human Joystick” Tarik Cohen is already a productive fantasy asset, and his floor could be around 60-70 catches in Chicago. Cohen does also have more potential as a runner if the Bears decide he can handle more there.
30. Royce Freeman, DEN (23)
Phillip Lindsay overshadowed the bigger Royce Freeman last year, but Freeman also had a pretty solid rookie season. Again, Freeman might become Denver’s lead runner in 2019, so he could become an excellent fantasy option for a physical team.
31. Kenyan Drake, MIA (25)
Kenyan Drake is a bit of a wild card, as he’s been a productive player when given opportunities, and maybe the new coaching staff for a Dolphins team that’s not expected to win many games will decide to feed Drake the ball to see what he can do with a heavy workload. Drake turns just 26 in January.
32. Jordan Howard, PHI (24)
Jordan Howard’s 3,370 rushing yards are third in the NFL since he entered the league in 2016, but he was traded for just a sixth-round pick and landed in a spot where a rookie was drafted in the second round. He is a very good player, but he might already be a better real-life player than fantasy asset.
33. Rashaad Penny, SEA (23)
The Seahawks drafted Rashaad Penny in the first round of last year’s draft because they have big plays for him, but Seattle is a team that makes all their players earn their roles, and Chris Carson isn’t just going to give up his starting role. Penny played well as a rookie, though, and he could become more of a 1B option that gives him more consistent fantasy value even if he can’t become the main option.
34. Mark Ingram, BAL (29)
Mark Ingram is the oldest player on this list at 29 years old, and he’d obviously be a lot higher if this was a redraft ranking. Those in dynasty leagues looking to win this year should take a close look at Ingram as a potential 1,000-yard, 10-touchdown rusher.
35. Damien Harris, NE (22)
James White, who is still just 27 years old, is another player in the mix around here; but Damien Harris would have 225-carry potential if Sony Michel’s knees become an issue. White would be higher in full PPR dynasty rankings.