Running backs always have been important for fantasy football players, but as the position has evolved, they’ve become even more critical for your lineup.
Seemingly all of today’s top backs are dual threats, which often translates into a boatload of points for your fantasy team. So, upon your league’s draft, you’d be wise to corral at least a handful of RBs who could wind up being difference-makers.
Here are our rankings of the top 30 running backs for the upcoming fantasy football season.
1. Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams (Bye Week: 12)
2017 stats: 279 carries, 1,305 yards, 13 touchdowns — 64 catches, 788 yards, 6 touchdowns
Do we even need to sell you on Gurley? The Rams star finished second in MVP voting last season and very well could be the No. 1 overall pick in most fantasy drafts.
2. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys (Bye Week: 8)
2017 stats: 242 carries, 983 yards, 7 touchdowns — 26 catches, 269 yards, 2 touchdowns
The upcoming campaign will be a redemption season for Elliott, who was suspended for six games in 2017. Expect Zeke to be hungry as ever, and given the Cowboys’ weak receiving corps, he should receive plenty of looks on a week-to-week basis.
3. Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers (Bye Week: 7)*
2017 stats: 321 carries, 1,291 yards, 9 touchdowns — 85 catches, 655 yards, 2 touchdowns
One could make the argument that Bell is the best two-way running back in the league. With a monster payday awaiting the 26-year-old next offseason, Bell will be vying for a career season.
*UPDATE: It appears Bell’s holdout could cause him to miss the Steelers’ season opener. Draft at your own peril.
4. David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals (Bye Week: 9)
2017 stats: 11 carries, 23 yards, 0 touchdowns — 1 catch, 6 yards, 0 touchdowns
Johnson kickstarted the slew of noteworthy injuries in 2017. Now healthy, the Cardinals star should be a favorite target for either Sam Bradford or Josh Rosen.
5. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints (Bye Week: 6)
2017 stats: 120 carries, 728 yards, 8 touchdowns — 81 catches, 826 yards, 5 touchdowns
Kamara came out of nowhere in the 2017 season, but he quickly made a name for himself. Expect the second-year back to be the focal point of the Saints’ offense in 2018, especially with Mark Ingram Jr. suspended the first four games.
6. Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers (Bye Week: 8)
2017 stats: 284 carries, 1,105 yards, 8 touchdowns — 58 catches, 476 yards, 4 touchdowns
Gordon has been a machine the past two seasons after an underwhelming rookie campaign. His powerful downhill running especially comes in handy in goalline situations.
7. Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears (Bye Week: 5)
2017 stats: 276 carries, 1,122 yards, 9 touchdowns — 23 catches, 125 yards, 0 touchdowns
Howard has rushed for nearly 2,500 yards in his first two NFL seasons. The Bears should rely on him as second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky continues to develop.
8. Kareem Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs (Bye Week: 12)
2017 stats: 272 carries, 1,327 yards, 8 touchdowns — 53 catches, 455 yards, 3 touchdowns
It’s doubtful anyone predicted Hunt to lead the league in rushing last season. With Patrick Mahomes entering his first season as the starter under center, Hunt should be a workhorse.
9. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (Bye Week: 9)
2017 stats (College): 217 carries, 1,271 yards, 18 touchdowns — 54 catches, 632 yards, 3 touchdowns
The Giants have been searching for their next franchise back since Tiki Barber left town. Barkley has all the makings to fill the void with his impressive combination of strength and skill.
10. Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars (Bye Week: 9)
2017 stats: 268 carries, 1,040 yards, 9 touchdowns — 36 catches, 302 yards, 1 touchdown
Fournette isn’t a lethal pass threat, but he’s an absolute freight train on the ground. After losing Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns in the offseason, the Jags could focus on the run game in 2018.
11. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers (Bye Week: 4)
2017 stats: 117 carries, 435 yards, 2 touchdowns — 80 catches, 651 yards, 5 touchdowns
It’s almost unfair to label McCaffrey as a running back. The second-year pro is far more dangerous as a pass catcher, which we should see plenty of in the upcoming season.
12. Alex Collins, Baltimore Ravens (Bye Week: 10)
2017 stats: 212 carries, 973 yards, 6 touchdowns — 23 catches, 187 yards, 0 touchdowns
Collins really came into his own near the halfway point of the 2017 season. Now the clear-cut starter, the Ravens should turn to him plenty, especially in the red zone.
13. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings (Bye Week: 10)
2017 stats: 74 carries, 354 yards, 2 touchdowns — 11 catches, 90 yards, 0 touchdowns
Cook got off to a screaming start before tearing his ACL in Week 4 last season. Expect a big rebound campaign from the Florida State product in Year 2.
14. LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills (Bye Week: 11)
2017 stats: 287 carries, 1,138 yards, 6 touchdowns — 59 catches, 448 yards, 2 touchdowns
McCoy recently turned the vaunted age of 30, which typically is when skill-position players tend to decline. He might no longer be a top-five back, but his versatility still should translate into a bevy of points.
15. Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons (Bye Week: 8)
2017 stats: 196 carries, 865 yards, 7 touchdowns — 36 catches, 317 yards, 1 touchdown
Don’t let the Falcons’ running back tandem scare you from drafting Freeman. After an underwhelming season in 2017, look for him to bounce back in 2018.
16. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans (Bye Week: 8)
2017 stats: 176 carries, 744 yards, 5 touchdowns — 11 catches, 136 yards, 1 touchdown
Now that DeMarco Murray has retired, Henry is the man in Tennessee. Good luck trying to tackle the 24-year-old, who stands at 6-foot-3 and 247 pounds.
17. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals (Bye Week: 9)
2017 stats: 178 carries, 626 yards, 4 touchdowns — 30 catches, 287 yards, 0 touchdowns
Mixon longed for touches last season, and he finally started to get them toward the end of the campaign. Now that Jeremy Hill has left town, expect the second-year back to have his coming-out party in 2018.
18. Kenyan Drake, Miami Dolphins (Bye Week: 11)
2017 stats: 133 carries, 644 yards, 3 touchdowns — 32 catches, 239 yards, 1 touchdown
Drake was one of the best running backs in the league the last five weeks of the 2017 season. Look for him to continue to produce similar numbers now that he’s the Dolphins’ starter.
19. Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints (Bye Week: 6)
2017 stats: 230 carries, 1,124 yards, 12 touchdowns — 58 catches, 416 yards, 0 touchdowns
Ingram’s four-game suspension certainly will affect his draft stock, but you shouldn’t bet on him falling too far. He’ll likely pick up right where he left off upon his return.
20. Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks (Bye Week: 7)
2017 stats (College): 289 carries, 2,248 yards, 23 touchdowns — 19 catches, 135 yards, 2 touchdowns
The Seahawks’ backfield has been loaded with question marks ever since Lynch departed. Investing a first-round pick in Penny proves Seattle has big plans for the San Diego State product.
21. Lamar Miller, Houston Texans (Bye Week: 10)
2017 stats: 238 yards, 888 yards, 3 touchdowns — 36 catches, 327 yards, 3 touchdowns
Arguably Miller’s most valuable asset is his durability. He’s played a full 16-game slate in four of his six NFL seasons. Being able to depend on a consistent point-producer is invaluable in fantasy football.
22. Sony Michel, New England Patriots (Bye Week: 11)
2017 stats (College): 156 carries, 1,227 yards, 16 touchdowns — 9 catches, 96 yards, 1 touchdown
It had been 12 years since the Patriots invested a first-round pick in a running back. New England has a loaded backfield, and a knee injury has prevented Michel from playing in the preseason. But once he gets healthy, his ceiling and versatility should separate him from the bunch.
23. Isaiah Crowell, New York Jets (Bye Week: 11)
2017 stats: 206 carries, 853 yards, 2 touchdowns — 28 catches, 182 yards, 0 touchdowns
Running backs often are security blankets for rookie quarterbacks. The Jets often should turn to Crowell as Sam Darnold goes through the ups and downs as a first-year QB.
24. Tarik Cohen, Chicago Bears (Bye Week: 5)
2017 stats: 87 carries, 370 yards, 2 touchdowns — 53 catches, 353 yards, 1 touchdown
Cohen is one of the most dangerous players in the league with the ball in his hands in open space. Under the direction of new coach Matt Nagy, the speedster could have a breakout year.
25. Tevin Coleman, Atlanta Falcons (Bye Week: 8)
2017 stats: 156 carries, 628 yards, 5 touchdowns — 27 catches, 299 yards, 3 touchdowns
Freeman likely will get more touches than Coleman, but the fourth-year back seems to always make the most of his opportunities. Atlanta loves to turn to Coleman in the red zone, too.
26. Marlon Mack, Indianapolis Colts (Bye Week: 9)
2017 stats: 93 carries, 358 yards, 3 touchdowns — 21 catches, 225 yards, 1 touchdown
It’s anyone’s guess as to how Andrew Luck will perform in the 2018 season, so Mack quickly could become a focal point of the Colts’ offense.
27. Jay Ajayi, Philadelphia Eagles (Bye Week: 9)
2017 stats: 208 carries, 873 yards, 1 touchdown — 14 catches, 67 yards, 0 touchdowns
Ajayi is set to be the feature downhill runner for the defending champions now that LeGarrette Blount has moved on. After being traded from the Dolphins in late October last year, a full preseason with the Eagles should immensely benefit Ajayi.
28. Royce Freeman, Denver Broncos (Bye Week: 10)
2017 stats (College): 244 carries, 1,475 yards, 16 touchdowns — 14 catches, 164 yards, 0 touchdowns
With C.J. Anderson now on the Panthers, it will be a battle between Freeman and Devontae Booker for the Broncos’ starting running back job. Given his size and speed, our money is on Freeman.
29. Marshawn Lynch, Oakland Raiders (Bye Week: 7)
2017 stats: 207 carries, 891 yards, 7 touchdowns — 20 catches, 151 yards, 0 touchdowns
Lynch had a respectable debut season in Oakland, averaging 4.3 yards per carry as the Raiders’ lead back. He should see consistent touches under new head coach Jon Gruden and is a solid high-floor option for the middle rounds.
30. Dion Lewis, Tennessee Titans (Bye Week: 8)
2017 stats: 180 carries, 896 yards, 6 touchdowns — 32 catches, 214 yards, 3 touchdowns
Lewis’ production may take a dip after leaving New England, but expect him to still be heavily involved in Tennessee’s offense as a pass-catching complement to the bruising Henry.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports