2018 Fantasy Football Draft Guide: Running Backs

2018 Fantasy Football Running Back preview

We have reached the time of year where the majority of fantasy football leagues are now drafting as there are just over two weeks left until Week 1 of the NFL season.

Chances are, you’re going to target a running back in the first or second round hoping to land a player that takes you to the title game. But believe it or not, there are actually some good value picks in later rounds that can certainly help your team get to the top.

Much like we did for quarterbacks, we broke down the running back position into six different tiers. The best players will be placed in Tier 1, next best in Tier 2 and so on until Tier 6.

For each tier we will give you a brief rundown on it plus offer our best value and sleeper pics. Check it out and good luck drafting!

TIER 1

Le’Veon Bell (Pittsburgh Steelers), Todd Gurley II (Los Angeles Rams), David Johnson (Arizona Cardinals).

Gurley and Bell are the clear 1 and 2 while they could potentially be in a tier of their own. The Rams running back had a breakout rookie season is the second-best running back in the league in terms of total points, capping off a big fantasy season.

With the Rams being on the upslope acquiring new offensive weapons, Gurley should be a top 5 running back in the league for the second year in a row. Bell is perhaps the all-around best player in the NFL.

He runs as good as any back in the league and is a good pass-catching back as well. He’s perhaps the safest player to draft in terms of guaranteed points. As for Johnson, despite being injured after the first game of the 2017 season, he still shows real promise of being a great pickup. These three players will most likely be the first, second and third overall picks in your fantasy draft.

Best in this tier: Todd Gurley II (Los Angeles Rams)

Best value: Le’Veon Bell (Pittsburgh Steelers)

Sleeper: Really no sleeper in this tier. All are perfect options.

TIER 2

Ezekiel Elliot (Dallas Cowboys), Saquon Barkley (New York Giants), Alvin Kamara (New Orleans Saints), Leonard Fournette (Jacksonville Jaguars), Dalvin Cook (Minnesota Vikings), Melvin Gordon (Los Angeles Chargers).

These backs are still great if you were unable to take any from TIER 1. In my opinion, the best player in this pool is Saquon Barkley.

Barkley reminds me of a bigger, faster, stronger, better Ezekiel Elliot. As we saw, Elliot took the league by storm and Saquon has a great opportunity to do that this year in what should be a fun Giants offense. As the featured back, Barkley will get the majority of the touches and even some targets out of the backfield.

Dalvin Cook also has the potential to be a threat in the backfield as we saw from his days as a Seminole and last season. In three-and-a-half games, Cook rushed for 354 yards and two rushing touchdowns before suffering a torn ACL. Don’t expect Minnesota to hold him back either, Cook should be on the field for Week 1 and will likely look like the player he was last season before the injury.

Best in this tier: Saquon Barkley (New York Giants)

Best value: Leonard Fournette (Jacksonville Jaguars)

Sleeper: Dalvin Cook (Minnesota Vikings)

TIER 3

Christian McCaffrey (Carolina Panthers), Devonta Freeman (Atlanta Falcons), Jordan Howard (Chicago Bears), Jerick McKinnon (San Francisco 49ers), LeSean McCoy (Buffalo Bills), Joe Mixon (Cincinnati Bengals), Derrick Henry (Tennessee Titans).

I would not recommend you have any of these names as your primary RB. These are good for swapping out your primary RB or having these guys as your RB2 and/or FLEX.

Best in this tier: Christian McCaffrey (Carolina Panthers)

Best value: Christian McCaffrey (Carolina Panthers)

Sleeper: Derrick Henry (Tennessee Titans)

TIER 4

Kenyan Drake (Miami Dolphins), Jay Ajayi (Philadelphia Eagles), Dion Lewis (Tennessee Titans), Marshawn Lynch (Oakland Raiders), Ronald Jones (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Carlos Hyde (Cleveland Browns), Rashaad Penny (Seattle Seahawks).

My hope is that you have already drafted two solid RBs by the time you reach these players as your best options because these players would guarantee you a losing season if they were your weekly starters.

Best in this tier: Kenyan Drake (Miami Dolphins)

Best value: Jay Ajayi (Philadelphia Eagles)

Sleeper: Ronald Jones (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

TIER 5

Rex Burkhead (New England Patriots), Tevin Coleman (Atlanta Falcons), Kerryon Johnson (Detroit Lions), Sony Michel (New England Patriots), Chris Thompson (Washington Redskins), Tarik Cohen (Chicago Bears), Jamaal Williams (Green Bay Packers), Isaiah Crowell (New York Jets), Duke Johnson (Cleveland Browns), Giovani Bernard (Cincinnati Bengals), Chris Carson (Seattle Seahawks).

Now we get to the low-end of the spectrum. These players really do not have many expectations in terms of helping a fantasy team this season.

Best in this tier: Chris Thompson (Washington Redskins)

Best Value: Tevin Coleman (Atlanta Falcons)

Sleeper: Jamaal Williams (Green Bay Packers)

TIER 6

Marlon Mack (Indianapolis Colts), Nick Chubb (Cleveland Browns), C.J. Anderson (Carolina Panthers), Theo Riddick (Detroit Lions), Devontae Booker (Denver Broncos), Aaron Jones (Green Bay Packers), Ty Montgomery (Green Bay Packers), Nyheim Hines (Indianapolis Colts), Matt Breida (San Francisco 49ers), Corey Clement (Philadelphia Eagles), Robert Kelley (Washington Redskins).

There is some good talent here, but nowhere near enough talent to be starting for your team. These guys really need an injury to their first string to really break out and get noticed.

Best in this tier: C.J. Anderson (Carolina Panthers)

Best value: Theo Riddick (Detroit Lions)

Sleeper: Robert Kelley (Washington Redskins)

I hope this has helped you pick, arguably, the most important position in your fantasy lineup. If you haven’t already, please check my draft guide on QBs and be sure to look out for my guide on Wide Receivers coming out soon.

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