Photo: Ross D. Franklin-AP
Running back is one of the two most important positions when building a fantasy football team. It’s highly likely that most of the good running backs are gone throughout the first two rounds, making it crucial to know which running backs are best. Here are the top five, along with a few sleepers for the later rounds:
- David Johnson: Johnson, the third year player out of the University of Northern Iowa, has made a huge impact in just 32 career games. Last season he totaled 1,239 rushing yards to go along with 16 TD’s. Johnson, after being drafted in the third round of the 2015 draft, came into the league as an underdog to even get playing time. Instead, he rushed for 581 yards with 8 touchdowns in his rookie season. Johnson had the most fantasy points out of any running back last season, and expect him to continue that this year.
- Leveon Bell: Bell played great last year, totaling the third most fantasy points out of all running backs with 317.4 points in PPR. One thing that makes Bell so good, is having Antonio Brown taking up all of the defense’s attention. With Brown being the main focus, and the Steelers strong offensive line, it opens up the field for Bell to do his magic. Expect him to have a better season than last, and maybe even pass Johnson.
3. Ezekiel Elliot: The fourth overall pick in last year’s draft had a terrific season, leading the Cowboys to a 13-3 record. Part of his success was due to how well fellow rookie Dak Prescott played at QB. Had Prescott not done so well, teams would’ve focused on Elliott more. But the biggest reason for Elliott’s success has been the Cowboys strong offensive line. Last season alone, the Cowboys had three offensive linemen on the First Team All-Pro. If everyone stays healthy, and Elliott avoids a suspension, expect an even better year for Ezekiel Elliott.
4. LeSean McCoy: McCoy had a great season last year, totaling 1267 rush yards and 13 touchdowns in 15 games. McCoy had the fourth most fantasy points out of any running back last season. “Shady” is going into his third season with Buffalo, after spending his first six seasons in Philly. His best season came in 2013 when he rushed for 1,607 yards and 9 touchdowns, and also brought in 539 receiving yards. Expect McCoy to have a great season, and maybe creep into the top three.
5. Devonta Freeman: The fourth round pick in 2014 has been a great surprise since coming into the league, and has made the pro bowl twice in his three seasons. He has the dream scenario for any running back, in having a top 5 QB (Matt Ryan), and Top 5 WR (Julio Jones). Having both Jones, and Ryan on the offensive side forces the defense to take their attention away from Freeman. As shown last season, where he rushed for 1,079 yards and 11 touchdowns. Freeman has the chance to be a real steal, and taking him in the first or second round is definitely worth it.
Sleepers (guys to take in later rounds): LeGarrette Blount, Ameer Abdullah, Isaiah Crowell, James White