The 2016 fantasy football season is closing in, and just as I have done since 2014, I will bring out my positional rankings leading up to the 2016 NFL regular season. Having already done my Top 30 QB’s, we are now onto the running back position which has decreased in value not only in the NFL but fantasy football as well. There are some young backs who could provide a spark to the position, but overall, running backs in fantasy are a dime a dozen once you get past the few that are elite.

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(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

1. Todd Gurley- LAR

  • Todd Gurley will be the focal point of the Rams offense that will feature a rookie QB. He will see the ball early and often for LA’s newest team and has the skills to put up massive numbers.

2. David Johnson- ARZ

  • I don’t want to say ‘I told you so’ but I touted David Johnson as the best rookie RB in the 2015 NFL Draft and told many of you readers to not sleep on him in fantasy football last season. Well, take everything I said and multiply it by 1,000 because David Johnson is a force to be reckoned with—not only in the running game but in the passing game as well.

3. Ezekiel Elliott- DAL

  • I wasn’t a fan of the Cowboys spending the 4th overall selection on Elliott, but now that he is a member of Big D, I expect great things. He is running behind the best offensive line in football, and will be given a steady dose of touches every week. As stated on last week’s podcast I expect nothing less than 350 total touches (rushes+receptions) for Elliott as a rookie.

4. Adrian Peterson- MIN

  • Even at age 31, Peterson doesn’t seem like he’s lost a step. He’s going to get his touches and if Teddy Bridgewater continues his ascension as a solid quarterback, it will only help Peterson’s value. He’s arguably the most trustworthy running back in fantasy football.

5. Le’Veon Bell- PIT

  • If Le’Veon Bell can show that he can actually stay on the field for an entire season, he could be higher on this list. With a potential 4-game ban in the works, it hurts Bell’s early season value, but shouldn’t knock him out of the 1st round in most drafts.

6. Doug Martin- TB

  • Martin finally bounced back to have a stellar 2015 campaign after struggling the previous two seasons. He is capable of putting up more touchdown’s than he did in 2015 (only scored 6), but having another 1,400+ yard season will be difficult with Charles Sims seemingly cutting into his touches this season. He is the featured back without a doubt, though.

7. Eddie Lacy- GB

  • P90X does the body right, and Eddie Lacy looks like he’s in the best shape since his Alabama days. Will it help? Future owners sure hope so, and I will lean towards a much better season from Lacy in 2016.
(AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

8. Demarco Murray- TEN

  • Love the trade that brought Murray to Tennessee. He brings them stability behind an improving offensive line, and when you have one of the great young quarterback’s in the game today, having a solid running game is a priority. He won’t duplicate what he did his last season in Dallas, but he’ll give you more than 1,000 yards and close to double-digit touchdowns.

9. Carlos Hyde- SF

  • The 49ers don’t have a lot of weapons on offense, but Hyde is their best bet every week. In Chip Kelly’s system, running backs can flourish and I think we’ll see that with Hyde in 2016. The lone bright spot in SF.

10. CJ Anderson- DEN

  • Anderson was one of the most frustrating backs of 2015, and I am shaking putting him in my Top 10, but with the question marks at the QB position, Denver will be committed to running the ball every game. Anderson will be first in line for those touches and for his career he has averaged just shy of five yards per carry (4.8).

11. Lamar Miller- HOU

  • Miller was one of Houston’s top off-season acquisitions and will be heavily involved in their offense. He’s caused many owners frustrations while in Miami, but could finally be given a true shot as a featured back. Don’t overdraft Miller, as many will.

12. Thomas Rawls- SEA

  • With Marshawn Lynch off enjoying retirement, there will be a new starting running back in Seattle. Rawls will get the first crack at the job after breaking out last season with 830 rushing yards, good ofr a 5.6 YPC. A committee approach might happen in Seattle, but Rawls still deserves RB2 consideration.

13. Devonta Freeman- ATL

  • Freeman burst onto the scene in 2015, rushing for over 1,000 yards, 73 receptions and 14 total TD’s. So why is he outside out Top 10? Freeman wouldn’t have been the Falcons starting RB last year if Tevin Coleman wouldn’t have gotten hurt in Training Camp, so in 2016 with a healthy Coleman I expect a more even split for the two backs hurting Freeman’s value.

14. Jamaal Charles- KC

  • Coming off of an ACL injury that limited to five games in 2015, can Charles rebound and be the top-flight fantasy running back he once was? That will be one of the biggest questions marks heading into the 2016 season, and with competition from Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware, I would expect Charles touches to be more limited than they ever were.

15. LeSean McCoy- BUF

  • McCoy had a year to forget in his first season in Buffalo, missing four games and failing to record 1,000 yards rushing. If Karlos Williams wasn’t suspended the first four games, McCoy would be lower on this list, but due to sheer need the run-heavy Bills will try to get their top back going.

16. Melvin Gordon- SD

  • Gordon had a forgettable rookie season, failing to score a single touchdown, but I can assure you that won’t be the case in 2016. I like Gordon to bounce back nicely for the Chargers and become more of a focal point in their offensive attack.

17. Latavius Murray- OAK

  • Murray hit the thousand yard mark in rushing last year with little fan-fare, as Derek Carr and Amari Cooper took most of the headlines. I would expect a similar season, 1,000+ yards with close to 10 TD’s but watch out for rookie DeAndre Washington who is the talk of the Raiders coaching staff. He could cut into Murray’s touches and drastically hurt his value later into the 2016 season.

18. Mark Ingram- NO

  • Ingram’s career has improved since he was a 1st round pick in 2011, but he has yet to crack 1,000 yards rushing and double-digit touchdowns in one season. Being on the pass-first Saints doesn’t help his value either.

19. Jeremy Hill- CIN

  • Hill disappointed many fantasy owners in 2015, failing to record 1,000 rushing yards dropping his YPC from 5.1 to 3.6. He did score 12 total TD’s (11 rushing) but I would chalk last season up to a  ‘sophomore slump’. With Gio Bernard in the backfield with him, Hill’s value can only be so high.
(NY Post)
(NY Post)

20. Matt Forte- NYJ

  • It will be weird seeing Forte in anything other than a Bears uniform, but he should fit in the Jets system nicely. At soon-to-be 31 years old, his best days are behind him but he can still be a valuable contributor to your fantasy team.

No. 21-50

21. Jonathan Stewart- CAR

22. Jeremy Langford- CHI

23. Jay Ajayi- MIA

24. Ryan Mathews- PHI

25. Matt Jones- WAS

26. Duke Johnson- CLE

27. Gio Bernard- CIN

28. Chris Ivory- JAC 

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Charles Sims is one of the most valuable handcuffs in fantasy football. (USA TODAY Sports)

29. Ameer Abdullah- DET

30. Tevin Coleman- ATL

31. Dion Lewis- NE

32. Charles Sims- TB

33. Kenneth Dixon- BAL

34. TJ Yeldon- JAC

35. DeAngelo Williams- PIT

36. Frank Gore- IND

37. Danny Woodhead- SD

38. Isaiah Crowell- CLE

39. Rashad Jennings- NYG

40. Justin Forsett- BAL

41. Arian Foster- MIA

42. Jerick McKinnon- MIN

43. Alfred Morris- DAL

44. Theo Riddick- DET

45. Derrick Henry- TEN

46. Chris Johnson- ARZ

47. Darren Sproles- PHI

48. Ronnie Hillman- DEN

49. Charcandrick West- KC 

50. DeAndre Washington- OAK

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