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Top Fantasy Running Backs – What Makes Them Elite

Top Fantasy Running Backs

Top Fantasy Football Rb's

Top Fantasy Running Backs

Top Fantasy Football Rb’s

Top Fantasy Running Backs and what makes them Elite.

Here is a list of the top fantasy running backs and the attributes of what makes an Elite RB. The Fantasy Football Counselor breaks it down for you as you start to prepare for 2020 fantasy early on.

Today we are talking about top fantasy running backs going into the 2020 fantasy football season. To a lot of people, it’s offseason. To the Fantasy Football Counselor podcast and Counsel Nation, we’re just getting ramped up. 2020 is going to be a huge season. We want to set this decade off on the right foot. We want everybody to dominate. That’s what I’m here for you guys. I’m here to help you guys dominate and crush 2020 football and beyond. Now, I want to talk about the top fantasy running backs. This is going into the 2020 season. I want to have an open discussion about the running back position because there’s so much volatility when you’re looking at fantasy football running backs. I’m telling you, this is a position that fluctuates and goes up and down, and every single year, if you look at the fantasy football rankings, consensus rankings, if you’re looking at that you’re going to see literally every single year copy and paste rankings from last year.

Don’t Believe the Mainstream Consensus Rankings

So the top running backs from the year before are pasted onto the current year, and everybody tells you, the so-called fantasy football experts tell you, “Hey, these were the finishers from last year. Let’s go ahead and draft them again.” That’s what everybody tells you except for The Fantasy Football Counselor. Now, I want to go on record here by saying that the consheepsus suck. Let’s be honest. The mainstream consensus rankings are not going to help you win your league. So let’s go back here. I’m going to give you an example, okay? Going back into the 2018 season, if you look at the top PPR RB fantasy finishers, I’m going to read these off to you:

  • Saquon Barkley
  • Christian McCaffery
  • Todd Gurley
  • Alvin Kamara
  • Ezekiel Elliott
  • James Conner
  • James White
  • Melvin Gordon
  • David Johnson
  • Joe Mixon

Followed up by Tarik Cohen and Kareem Hunt. Those were your top finishers.

Looking at it in 2019, totally different. You have some similar names in there. You’ve got:

  • Christian McCaffery
  • Aaron Jones
  • Ezekiel Elliott
  • Austin Eckler
  • Derrick Henry
  • Dalvin Cook
  • Leonard Fournette
  • Nick Chubb
  • Alvin Kamara
  • Saquon Barkley

So what happens is, everybody, is that things change, and they change significantly.

So if I had told you at the beginning of the year, which I did, and I said, “Derrick Henry’s a top-five running back, top five to seven.” I had him in the top 10 either way. You would have looked at me funny and said, “Joe, you are absolutely crazy. There’s no way I would put Derrick Henry in my top 10 running backs. There’s no way.”Now, everybody’s saying, “Oh, Derrick Henry’s a top 10,” but you got to understand guys, this was a contract year. Things are going to change, right? Is Derrick Henry going to finish top 10? Very possible, and I love him. I was the guy that was all over Derrick Henry, right? Things change. Now, in regards to David Johnson, I was wrong about that. I’ll take full ownership. David Johnson was easily a top-five running back going into the 2019 season, and look what happened. The guy was benched for Kenyan Drake. I don’t know what to tell you. It was completely unpredictable.

Fantasy Football Draft Strategy for Rb’s

So when I’m talking about top fantasy running backs, you really got to try to look for volume. So this is what I want to emphasize to you guys when you are looking at drafting a fantasy football running back. Because you need to load up on them. So let’s start off with a fantasy football draft strategy with running backs.

Fantasy football draft strategy when it comes to running backs, what you need to do is you need to load up on them in the first three rounds. Do not be shy to go running backs because there’s only a handful of running backs that are going to get that workload. So I want to emphasize that, I want to stress that out. I want people to understand that when you are looking at drafting these guys, you got to look at workhorses because now there’s just so many committees and so much volatility with this position.

So let’s start off with the fantasy football draft strategy. Yes, load up, go robust RB, don’t be shy. Because there’s a ton of depth at wide receiver. You do not need a wide receiver early. We saw guys like Odell Beckham, Davante Adams bust and guys like DJ Chark, DJ Moore step up, right? Even Deebo Samuel knew at the end of this season, there’s a lot of depth at wide receiver, guys that you’re even undrafted that end up being top wide receivers that you can pick up late in rounds that are going to give you a ton of value on your fantasy football team. So when you look at a fantasy football draft strategy to running backs, you have to look at loading up on running backs.

Now again, I talk about this all in my 16 round draft solution, and it’s catered particularly to that year as we get closer to the season. Preorders start on that in April of 2020. I mean, it is available now. You could preorder it now, but I’m not really promoting it and pushing it right now because I usually get my first video on it in April, but you can get it now. I mean, the best price is right now. You can get it at

Summary of the Rb Draft Strategy:

  • Load up on Rb’s early (Robust Rb)
  • Make sure they get a lot of volume (Rushing Attempts)
  • Study the fantasy football depth charts and avoid those committee’s

Again, that’s the draft strategy when it comes to running backs. Now, who are the top fantasy running backs? Let’s go over this. One thing I look at is attempts. Now, going back the past year the guy that had the most attempts is

Rb’s with the most Attempts in 2019:

  • Derrick Henry
  • Ezekiel Elliott
  • Nick Chubb
  • Christian McCaffery
  • Chris Carson
  • Joe Mixon
  • Leonard Fournette

And so on and so forth.

So when I’m looking at a running back for next year, I look at volume. This is crucial, and what makes a top fantasy running back is the amount of volume he gets. That’s a big factor in that. Number two, you got to look at depth charts. Depth charts play a huge part when you look at a solid, top running back. Because you want that guy to be the leader of the depth chart, and I highly recommend you definitely do study fantasy football depth charts because you never know when some guy’s going to come in and be a vulture and hoard that volume away from your workhorse RB. You don’t want that. So I implore you, look at the depth chart, okay? And take a look at how much volume they got the year before, and try to project out how much volume they’re going to get this year.

Now Ezekiel Elliott had 301 attempts and he’s been pretty consistent throughout the years. That’s why I love Zeke. If you look at him year in and year out, he’s always going to get that volume. In 2018, 304 attempts. So I’m looking for patterns. I’m looking for durability, right? I always look for that with my running backs. Okay? That’s very, very important. So Zeke Elliott is a top fantasy running back. I know it sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised. A lot of people, man. They look at stuff, and they’re like, “Oh, well that guy’s a top  but really he’s stuck in a committee or whatever the situation may be.

Is Dalvin Cook a Top Tier Running Back?

Now, you may think Dalvin Cook is a top running back. I’m going to go ahead on the record and tell you he is not. This guy gets injured every year. He doesn’t finish top 10. Since he’s been playing, he has not finished top 10 minus this year, and I literally think that he just pulled it completely out of his ass. This was just a fluke year. I mean he did great, but he barely finished a season. He was injured near the end of the season. His shoulder was bothering him. He knew he wants to get this big contract. He had to prove himself. When you look at him, I do not consider him a top fantasy football running back. I do not. Dalvin Cook does not fall under the criteria because he had one good year, and I have not seen more out of Dalvin Cook. I need to see more out of him for him to be considered a top tier running back.

So Who is Top Tier?

  • Christian McCaffery
  • Derrick Henry
  • Saquon Barkley
  • Ezekiel Elliott
  • Alvin Kamara
  • Leonard Fournette

Christian McCaffrey, this guy he has proven he’s a top fantasy football running back because he’s got the volume, he’s got the attempts. Two years in a row, he’s been producing on a high level. Now, there’s going to be coaching changes, there’s going to be different offense coming up in 2020. There’s going to be different things happening. So you have to take a look at that and adjust. Are they going to throw the ball more? Who’s going to be the quarterback there? You got to look at so many variables when you are drafting an RB, and make sure that they are still going to remain that workhorse running back. You got to take a look at the NFL draft as well. Are they bringing in someone else? But Christian McCaffrey, Zeke Elliott, those are two top fantasy running backs that I love right now.

Derrick Henry, now he had one good year, like a really good year, and this was his past year. I definitely see that momentum carrying forward depending on what the Titans want to do with him, how much they’re going to pay him. Now, he wants to get paid big dollars. Sometimes when players get paid big dollars they lose incentive, and that’s what I’m afraid of. Sometimes you want that player that’s playing hungry for that contract. This was the year with Henry. I’m going to need another year out of him to see if he’s elite talent running back. I say yes, right now he is.

So McCaffrey, Zeke, Derrick Henry 100%. Those are guys that you want to consider as those running backs that are top tier right off the bat. A couple of other guys. Saquon Barkley, I’m going to say he is a top tier guy. Why is that? Very simple. If you go back, I mean this year wasn’t the best year for him, but if you look at 2018, a ton of attempts, 261. Not in the range of Zeke Elliott but still solid. 1,307 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns on the ground, 91 receptions for 721 yards and 4 touchdowns in 2018.

Looking at this past year, he was a little banged up, but still, can you believe this still finished a top 10 running back, Saquon Barkley. The talent is there, but he did miss around three games. That really affected his numbers. Still rushed over 1,000 yards, had 217 attempts, 6 touchdowns. That is with a terrible O line that the Giants have and a suspect quarterback in his first year. You can only imagine no way but up for Saquon Barkley and the New York Giants. I imagine they’re going to beef up that O line, they’re going to get Daniel Jones into his groove, and that is going to keep Saquon Barkley at the top of his game to be a top running back.

Alvin Kamara is Elite but can be a bigger part of a Rb Committee.

Factors that really make a TOP Fantasy Running back

So there’s a lot of things when you are looking at top running backs. Again, factors are depth charts, volume, attempts, talent, and you look at a history of their fantasy points and production. Very, very imperative what you are looking at these running backs.

Now, there is other guys that people say, “Okay, well are they elites? Todd Gurley is a good example. Le’Veon Bell, right? Another great example. Now, a lot of these running backs do well because of their situation. I think Todd Gurley is elite. I think now with the injury, you got to imagine that he’s going to decline, he’s going to continue to decline. You’ve seen that the Rams have limited him. We don’t know where he’s going to end up next year. Is he going to get traded? We don’t know. By the time I’m doing this article, we have no idea, this podcast.

So Todd Gurley, is he elite? Yes. But for fantasy right now, no I don’t trust him at all. I do consider Le’Veon Bell elite predicated on the situation that he’s in. Now, he was on the Jets, he didn’t prove that he was elite. When he was on the Steelers, he was because he was in that O line. So he is one of those guys that is elite totally dependent on a situation.

Now Saquon still performed on a top 10 level even after missing three games, okay? Still finished top 10 whereas Le’Veon Bell had two more games in him, more attempts, and didn’t put up as many fantasy points. Le’Veon Bell is simply a product of the team that he’s on. He had a great O line on the Steelers, and I was saying this. Everyone was drafting Le’Veon Bell in the first round of their fantasy football draft. I said, “Hey, be careful. Le’Veon Bell was good because of the Steelers.” We saw the same type of production with James Conner. We saw the same type of production out of DeAngelo Williams. When they had the opportunity in Pittsburgh to play, Le’Veon Bell had the opportunity, things were easy for him. We had Antonio Brown spread the field. It was such a great situation. And now you saw him on the Jets. You know, just above average slightly was Le’Veon Bell. So I don’t consider him a top fantasy running back at all.

Now, a lot of players are in situations where coaching has affected them and has hindered them from becoming a top 10 running back. A perfect example of that would be David Montgomery. I mean, this guy is talented, but he falls out of the top running back status right now because of Nagy using Tarik Cohen and not really leveraging the ability of David Montgomery. He needs more attempts, needs more volume, needs to be in a better offense.

So going into 2020, who are the top fantasy football running backs? I’m going to tell you guys right now, and again this may change, but the way it sits right now, based on their talent, based on the volume they’re going to get, based on the opportunity, predicated that they stay healthy, there’s only a handful of guys that I trust going into 2020. There is players that have upside, and that … We’re talking fantasy football sleepers. I just did an article on that. Make sure you guys check that out at, an article on some sleepers.

But as of right now, there’s only a handful of running backs that are top. Number one, and again no particular order. I’m just going to name off running backs that I like that are elite talent.

The trust worth guys at Rb in fantasy:

Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliott, Derrick Henry, Leonard Fournette, Alvin Kamara, Saquon Barkley. Those are your guys that are elite that produce year in year out that I can trust.

Now, a lot of people are saying, “Well Dalvin Cook.” Well, I went back and I said, “Listen, Dalvin Cook had one good year. Didn’t even finish a season because his shoulder was injured. Can’t be trusted. They’ve got Madison there.” That’s out of contention for me for an elite guy. I don’t trust him. I just don’t.

A lot of people are saying Austin Ekeler. Great, Austin Ekeler is good, had a phenomenal fantasy football season. I mean 309 fantasy points is pretty remarkable, but when you look at his attempts, 132 attempts for 557 yards, not exciting at all. Where he made up and got more points in is in the receptions, and the receiving yards, and the receiving touchdowns. That’s showing me he’s not a true workhorse running back, and I’m wondering, and I’m really wondering, what the Chargers are going to do with him. Is he going to remain the back? Are they going to draft someone else? What’s going to happen with the situation with Gordon? A ton of question marks. So a lot of people are saying, “Okay, Ekeler.” Well, again, I’m saying no.

Now, when you look at another guy here in Nick Chubb, this guy finished 8th amongst running backs, but understand the last six weeks of the season he was competing for volume with Kareem Hunt. They’re pretty much splitting the volume there. So I do not trust Nick Chubb at all. I really don’t trust him going into the next season. I feel that they might throw the ball more. Odell Beckham‘s demanding the ball more next season, and Kareem Hunt’s going to be there. It’s going to be a full split running back by committee. Kareem Hunt is talented. He catches the ball in the backfield. Nick Chubb may get the volume. 290 attempts this past season, which is great, okay. He had a ton of rushing yards, 1,494, phenomenal. But remember, Kareem Hunt didn’t get activated until after week 10. That will affect Nick Chubb, I assure you guys it will.

Tier 2 Guys with Upside:

Now there are other guys. Again, as I said, Le’Veon Bell, Todd Gurley’s of the world, the Melvin Gordons, David Montgomery’s, the Raheem Mostert’s. A lot of these guys have a ton of to break the top 10 next season, but we haven’t seen that yet.

Another guy I do love that could break the top 10 talent-wise is there, finished 21st amongst running backs this past season is Josh Jacobs. Josh Jacobs was a little banged up, played 13 games, still rushed over 1,150 yards, not bad, 7 touchdowns on the ground, 242 attempts for 191.6 PPR fantasy points. I can only see that going up as he now finally gets integrated into the NFL, figures out the speed of the NFL. He’s going to find his groove. The talent is there. As long as he remains the workhorse and gets the volume, Josh Jacobs could be a top fantasy football running back going into the 2020 season.

So again guys, I just want to do kind of a quick overview talk and discussion today and kind of elaborate a little bit on just kind of the thought process of running backs because this is a position that a lot of people get wrong every single year, and a way to combat that is to add that depth. Don’t be shy to go robust RB. I’m going to talk about this in my 16 round draft solution like I said. Make sure you guys … Again, you can go preorder it now. There’s no content on it, but at, but when I really launch it, when I put a video out there onto it, the price may go up by then, but it’s in April. So that’s when the preorder is for the 16 round draft solution. Get rid of draft kits, 16 Rounds will help you.

But again, you want to load up on these running backs because I’m telling you, this is a position where injury is high, where committees are all over the place, where you need that depth. And when these guys produce on a top five-level, you’re going to get a lot of points out of them. Running backs are so crucial in the fantasy football game that you need to be fully aware of it. I’m going to get you guys fully into the groove of drafting and make sure you guys have the optimal team going into 2020 fantasy football. I promise you guys that.

Final Thoughts

All right, guys. This was it, top fantasy running backs. I gave you a list of guys that I really love that are in that elite talent group that I can say I trust, and again some of them, again, you got to be cautious because there is other guys they’re going to breakthrough. Who’s it going to be this year? Maybe Kenyan Drake. Kenyan Drake could breakthrough, right? He’s on the Arizona Cardinals, could be a high octane offense. They’re getting rid of David Johnson. He could be the guy, right? There’s a ton of upside and opportunity there but a lot of risks. Like I said, Josh Jacobs, David Montgomery, Raheem Mostert. Sony Michel could come back and have a great season. James Conner can get into the groove. David Johnson could land on a team and do well. A ton of players could break that top 10, but as of right now the guys that have all of the attributes that make a top fantasy running backs, I’ve listed off to you.

I wanted to conclude this podcast and article by saying that you have to make sure Running backs are a TOP priority in your drafts. You can never have enough of them and depth at this position is crucial to the success of you winning your fantasy leagues.

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Joseph Robert
Joseph Robert
Joseph Robert's outside of the box, LION mentality has created the strongest and most loyal fan base in the fantasy football industry! @fantasyfootballcounselor
16 Rounds