Fantasy football running back rankings: Elliott, Gordon lead top 100

July 11 (UPI) — Dallas Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott leads my top 100 fantasy football running back rankings for the 2019 season.

The 2018 NFL rushing champion is primed to post another stellar season behind the Cowboys’ stout offensive line. Elliott ranked fifth among running backs in fantasy points last season, but should be even better this year as the Cowboys enter the season with improved offensive firepower and one of the most-loaded rosters in the league.

He is one of the safest bets in fantasy football at the running back position and should be selected in the top three of nearly every draft.

Behind Elliott, I have Los Angeles Chargers star Melvin Gordon and New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley. Alvin Kamara and Le’Veon Bell round out the top five spots in my running back rankings.

I split my top targets into five tiers: Hall of Fame, All-Pro, Pro Bowl, Just Napping (early to mid-round targets) and Deep Sleepers (mid- to late-round sleepers).

Hall of Fame

1. Ezekiel Elliott, 2. Melvin Gordon, 3. Saquon Barkley

Melvin Gordon finished just behind Ezekiel Elliott in fantasy points last season while scoring a career-high 14 touchdowns in 12 starts, while missing four games due to injury. I expect the Los Angeles Chargers to keep feeding him in 2019 while fighting for an AFC West division title. Gordon is one of the most versatile running backs in the game and is a lock for 1,000-plus rushing yards, 450 receiving yards and double-digit touchdowns if he stays healthy for a full season.

Saquon Barkley will be the first player off of the board in many fantasy football drafts, but I see him on the same level as Elliott and Gordon. Barkley exploded for a league-best 2,028 yards from scrimmage and 15 touchdowns in 16 starts during his rookie campaign in 2018. While I do expect Barkley to get a huge workload, I am also concerned about the Giants’ lack of offensive firepower surrounding the young running back. I also expect the Giants to be trailing in many of their games this year, limiting Barkley’s carries. Still, he deserves to be considered as a top pick in your fantasy football draft based on talent alone.

All-Pro

4. Alvin Kamara, 5. Le’Veon bell, 6. Todd Gurley

Le’Veon Bell has a new team after sitting out for a full season. But the New York Jets running back is in uncharted territory as football fans have no idea what he will look like after taking his 2018 hiatus from the game. The last time Bell was on the field, he posted the second All-Pro campaign of his career, piling up 1,946 yards and 11 scores in 15 starts for the Pittsburgh Steelers. I can see Bell slipping in fantasy football drafts, but I believe he still has RB1 talent. I also think he will eventually garner a huge workload in the Jets backfield. His skillset is perfect for a young quarterback like the Jets’ Sam Darnold. This could be a perfect storm in fantasy football if Bell is anything close to the player he was in 2017.

Todd Gurley was hampered by his arthritic knee last season, but still managed to be named an All-Pro for the second consecutive season. While it is important to monitor his health before you fantasy football draft, I think downgrading him too much at this point is a huge mistake. Gurley remains super talented and is the focal point of one of the best offenses in football. I expect the Los Angeles Rams to use Gurley more efficiently in 2019. His numbers should still be elite, making Gurley a top-level RB1 for the 2019 season. Gurley also has a somewhat favorable schedule in 2019, when it comes to fantasy football. The Rams have four matchups this season against defenses that ranked inside the top five for allowing the most fantasy points to opposing running backs in 2018.

Pro Bowl

7. Joe Mixon, 8. Christian McCaffrey, 9. James Conner

Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon is one of my favorite options at his position this season. Mixon finished No. 4 in rushing yards last season while piling up 237 carries in 14 games. The Bengals brought in an offensive-minded head coach this off-season in Zac Taylor and should lean on Mixon even more in 2019. I have him ranked as my No. 7 option in my fantasy football running back rankings. Mixon has just two matchups in 2019 against teams that ranked inside the top five for fewest fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs in 2018. I’m expecting him to surpass 1,300 rushing yards and 10 scores if he stays healthy for 16 games.

Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon (28) is poised for a huge 2019 campaign after averaging 4.9 yards per carry in 2018. File Photo by John Sommers II/UPI

Christian McCaffrey absolutely exploded in 2018. The Carolina Panthers star set the record for most catches by a running back last season, hauling in 107 receptions for 867 yards and six scores in 16 starts. He also had 1,098 yards and seven scores on the ground. This year McCaffrey might not reach the 107-catch mark, but he should still provide elite fantasy football production due to his dynamic skill set. I have McCaffrey ranked as an RB1 in standard leagues, but he is an even more elite option in point per reception (PPR) formats.

Just Napping

11. David Johnson, 12. Marlon Mack, 14. Aaron Jones, 15. Devonta Freeman, 18. Chris Carson

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones missed the first two weeks of last season due to a suspension. He still managed to score nine touchdowns in his 12 appearances. Jones is a high-end RB2 for me this season, unless you choose to draft wide receivers early. In that case, he could be a solid matchup-based RB1. I expect the Packers to incorporate Jones heavily in the offense from the get-go. Green Bay also has just two matchups in 2019 against defenses that ranked inside the top five for fewest points allowed to opposing running backs. Jones might not be an exciting pick, but he does appear to have a stranglehold on the starting job in Green Bay.

Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson won a lot of leagues for fantasy football team owners last season. Carson averaged 4.7 yards per carry and piled up 1,151 yards and nine scores on 247 totes in 14 starts for the Seahawks. He also provided RB1 value down the stretch, rushing for at least 90 yards and a touchdown in his last four games. Carson scored seven of his nine touchdowns in his final seven games last season. While I do expect some sort of backfield split between Carson and Rashaad Penny in 2019, I still rank Carson as an RB2 entering this fantasy football campaign. You should see another 1,000 yard season from Carson in 2019, with an outside shot of double digit touchdowns.

Deep Sleepers

28. Jordan Howard, 31. Ronald Jones, 33. Latavius Murray, 44. Carlos Hyde

The Philadelphia Eagles added some serious weapons to their offensive arsenal this off-season, trading for Jordan Howard, drafting Miles Sanders and signing DeSean Jackson, among other moves. Sanders and Howard are poised to battle for the starting job in training camp, but I give the early edge to Howard, who has more experience and has been on the field more this off-season as Sanders has dealt with a hamstring issue. Being the Eagles’ leader in carries should provide a lot of value in 2019. I expect Carson Wentz to have a stellar season as he attempts to stay healthy for 16 games. Jackson should improve the deep passing game and Howard should have plenty of room to make plays underneath. Howard is a solid matchup-based RB2 target in fantasy football drafts.

If you are looking for a dart throw and you have already drafted the bulk of your running backs, take a look at Kansas City Chiefs running back Carlos Hyde. Hyde did not have much production last season with the Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars, but those offenses didn’t have the firepower of the Chiefs. I expect a rebound year for the six-year veteran. He could be the steal of you fantasy football draft if you scoop him up late. If Hyde manages to find a consistent role in this offense, I would not be shocked to see career-highs in rushing touchdowns and rushing yards. He is the definition of a low-risk, high-reward pick in your draft.

Top 100 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings for 2019

1. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys, Bye Week 8

2. Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers, Bye Week 12

3. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants, Bye Week 11

4. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints, Bye Week 9

5. Le’Veon Bell, New York Jets, Bye Week 4

6. Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams, Bye Week 9

7. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals, Bye Week 9

8. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers, Bye Week 7

9. James Conner, Pittsburgh Steelers, Bye Week 7

10. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns, Bye Week 7

11. David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals, Bye Week 12

12. Marlon Mack, Indianapolis Colts, Bye Week 6

13. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings, Bye Week 12

14. Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers, Bye Week 11

15. Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons, Bye Week 9

16. Phillip Lindsay, Denver Broncos, Bye Week 11

17. Mark Ingram, Baltimore Ravens, Bye Week 8

18. Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks, Bye Week 11

19. Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars, Bye Week 10

20. Damien Williams, Kansas City Chiefs, Bye Week 12

21. Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions, Bye Week 5

22. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans, Bye Week 11

23. Kenyan Drake, Miami Dolphins, Bye Week 5

24. Tarik Cohen, Chicago Bears, Bye Week 6

25. Sony Michel, New England Patriots, Bye Week 10

26. Lamar Miller, Houston Texans, Bye Week 10

27. Tevin Coleman, San Francisco 49ers, Bye Week 4

28. Jordan Howard, Philadelphia Eagles, Bye Week 10

29. Josh Jacobs, Oakland Raiders, Bye Week 6

30. LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills, Bye Week 6

31. Ronald Jones, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Bye Week 7

32. David Montgomery, Chicago Bears, Bye Week 6

33. Latavius Murray, New Orleans Saints, Bye Week 9

34. James White, New England Patriots, Bye Week 10

35. Adrian Peterson, Washington Redskins, Bye Week 10

36. Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks, Bye Week 11

37. Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers, Bye Week 12

38. Derrius Guice, Washington Redskins, Bye Week 10

39. Darrell Henderson, Los Angeles Rams, Bye Week 9

40. Royce Freeman, Denver Broncos, Bye Week 10

41. D’Onta Foreman, Houston Texans, Bye Week 10

42. Ito Smith, Atlanta Falcons, Bye Week 9

43. Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles, Bye Week 10

44. Carlos Hyde, Kansas City Chiefs, Bye Week 12

45. Jerick McKinnon, San Francisco 49ers, Bye Week 4

46. Dion Lewis, Tennessee Titans, Bye Week 11

47. Kareem Hunt, Cleveland Browns, Bye Week 7

48. C.J. Anderson, Detroit Lions, Bye Week 5

49. Kalen Ballage, Miami Dolphins, Bye Week 5

50. Chris Thompson, Washington Redskins, Bye Week 10

51. Jaylen Samuels, Pittsburgh Steelers, Bye Week 7

52. Matt Breida, San Francisco 49ers, Bye Week 4

53. Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts, Bye Week 6

54. Peyton Barber, Kansas City Chiefs, Bye Week 7

55. Jamaal Williams, Green Bay Packers, Bye Week 11

56. Jalen Richard, Oakland Raiders, Bye Week 6

57. Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals, Bye Week 9

58. Frank Gore, Buffalo Bills, Bye Week 6

59. Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns, Bye Week 7

60. Damien Harris, New England Patriots, Bye Week 10

61. Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens, Bye Week 8

62. Elijah McGuire, New York Jets, Bye Week 4

63. Mike Davis, Chicago Bears, Bye Week 6

64. Malcolm Brown, Los Angeles Chargers, Bye Week 9

65. Rex Burkhead, New England Patriots, Bye Week 10

66. Justice Hill, Baltimore, Ravens, Bye Week 8

67. Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals, Bye Week 12

68. Benny Snell Jr., Pittsburgh Steelers, Bye Week 7

69. Theo Riddick, Detroit Lions, Bye Week 5

70. Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings, Bye Week 12

71. Justin Jackson, Los Angeles Chargers, Bye Week 12

72. Devin Singletary, Buffalo Bills, Bye Week 6

73. Kenneth Dixon, Baltimore Ravens, Bye Week 8

74. Corey Clement, Philadelphia Eagles, Bye Week 10

75. Jordan Wilkins, Indianapolis Colts, Bye Week 6

76. Spencer Ware, Kansas City Chiefs, Bye Week 6

77. Ty Montgomery, New York Jets, Bye Week 4

78. Cameron Artis-Payne, Carolina Panthers, Bye Week 7

79. T.J. Yeldon, Buffalo Bills, Bye Week 6

80. Doug Martin, Oakland Raiders, Bye Week 6

81. Ryquell Armstead, Jacksonville Jaguars, Bye Week 10

82. Alfred Blue, Jacksonville Jaguars, Bye Week 10

83. Devontae Booker, Denver Broncos, Bye Week 10

84. Mike Weber, Dallas Cowboys, Bye Week 8

85. Josh Adams, Philadelphia Eagles, Bye Week 10

86. Wayne Gallman, New York Giants, Bye Week 11

87. Wendell Smallwood, Philadelphia Eagles, Bye Week 10

88. Zach Zenner, Detroit Lions, Bye Week 5

89. Rod Smith, New York Giants, Bye Week 11

90. Darwin Thompson, Kansas City Chiefs, Bye Week 12

91. Jeff Wilson, San Francisco 49ers, Bye Week 4

92. Dexter Williams, Green Bay Packers, Bye Week 11

93. Bryce Love, Washington Redskins, Bye Week 10

94. Bilal Powell, New York Jets, Bye Week 4

95. John Kelly, Los Angeles Rams, Bye Week 9

96. Myles Gaskin, Miami Dolphins, Bye Week 5

97. Trayveon Williams, Cincinnati Bengals, Bye Week 9

98. Mark Walton, Miami Dolphins, Bye Week 5

99. Trenton Cannon, New York Jets, Bye Week 4

100. Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys, Bye Week 8

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