Fantasy football rankings are incredibly important to study prior to heading into your draft, as even the average NFL aficionado is ripe with knowledge nowadays.
You simply mustn’t allow your bozo buddies to out-research you because you just know they will never let you hear the end of it if you have a terrible fantasy season.
With that in mind, here’s a look at some fantasy football rankings for the top-10 running backs in 2016.
1. Todd Gurley – Los Angeles Rams
Todd Gurley set NFL gridirons on fire during his 2015 rookie campaign, tallying 1,106 rushing yards and 10 TDs in 13 games. Gurley instantly became a darling in the fantasy football community, and is expected to put forth a sensational effort once again for the Los Angeles Rams.
Todd hasn’t shown an overwhelming prowess for catching passes out of the backfield in his young career, which admittedly somewhat diminishes his value in PPR leagues. But he’s clearly the RB1 in standard settings and is the guy to target at No. 1 overall if you elect to select a running back instead of a wide receiver.
2. David Johnson – Arizona Cardinals
David Johnson took over as Arizona’s starting running back late last season, but still managed to finish the campaign with 581 rushing yards, eight rushing TDs, 457 receiving yards and four receiving TDs, despite only starting five regular season games.
I wouldn’t worry too much about Andre Ellington and Chris Johnson breathing down his neck for touches, as the Cardinals would have to be out of their minds not to feature David early and often after the upside he showcased in 2015.
3. Lamar Miller – Houston Texans
Lamar Miller might seem like a stretch ranked as the RB3 in fantasy, but keep in mind he projects to receive as many as 300 total touches with the Houston Texans as they ease Brock Osweiler in under center.
Miller never reached his fantasy potential with the Miami Dolphins, and has a chance to finally do so in an offense that is tailored to his skill set in Houston.
4. Ezekiel Elliott – Dallas Cowboys
Ezekiel Elliott carries an abundance of hype into his rookie campaign and fantasy football aficionados simply can’t wait to see what he can do behind the NFL’s premier offensive line in Dallas.
But drafting a player who hasn’t played a single NFL down as the No. 1 overall pick is not an incredibly wise strategy, despite whispers to the contrary from many in the industry. Draft Elliott as a top-five running back, but not as the first player off the board.
5. Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings
Adrian Peterson’s been a model of consistency throughout his entire career, and has more often than not landed in the top-three of most fantasy football rankings over the years. And despite playing his first full season in his 30s in 2015, Peterson still managed to finish as the RB2. He tallied a spectacular 1,485 rushing yards and 11 TDs on the ground, and essentially carried Minnesota’s offense to an NFC North title.
However, Peterson is 31-years-old and will inevitably be taking a small step backward this year as the Vikings look to get quarterback Teddy Bridgewater more involved. Thus, Peterson barely stays in the top-five.
6. Jamaal Charles – Kansas City Chiefs
If healthy, Jamaal Charles should be back to being Jamaal Charles in 2016. He’s still Kansas City’s offensive catalyst and will receive a gargantuan amount of touches.
If taking Charles so early in your draft scares you since he’s coming off an injury, keep in mind he rushed for a career-high 1,509 yards in 2012 after missing most of the 2011 campaign. Whether it ends up being Charcandrick West or Spencer Ware, make sure to target one of Charles’ fantasy handcuffs and you should be fine.
"He proceeded to score more fantasy points over the next 4 weeks than all but 24 other RBs scored all season." https://t.co/uOGvgYCv8i— Fantasy Footballers (@TheFFBallers) August 12, 2016
7. Devonta Freeman – Atlanta Falcons
Fantasy football rankings can be cruel. Devonta Freeman shocked the masses and finished as the RB1 last season (1,634 total yards, 14 total TDs), yet only comes in at No. 7 as we approach the new campaign.
This is mainly due to the fact that Tevin Coleman is expected to be healthy and receive a fair share of touches. And as Jared Smola of Draft Sharks noted, Freeman feasted on a cakewalk schedule for fantasy purposes last season, which won’t be the case in 2016.
I wouldn’t expect Freeman to crack the top-five again in 2016, but it would be absolutely shocking if he falls outside the top 10.
8. Le’Veon Bell – Pittsburgh Steelers
Le’Veon Bell would obviously be in the top-three if he wasn’t facing a four-game suspension for skipping a drug test during the offseason. While he could still miraculously win his appeal, it isn’t likely to happen. Thus, the longtime marijuana enthusiast falls to No. 8.
Even if Bell is only available for 12 games, he has an excellent chance to finish in the top 10 statistically and can’t be ignored, especially in PPR leagues.
Smaller Eddie Lacy shows up big in brief stint in Packers' preseason opener https://t.co/idGItsqsLL— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) August 13, 2016
9. Eddie Lacy – Green Bay Packers
Eddie Lacy devastated fantasy football owners last season, tallying just 758 rushing yards and three rushing TDs (career lows). After taking a plethora of criticism from his head coach and fans alike, Lacy committed to getting into the best shape of his life, and appears to be primed to finish with around 1,300 total yards and over 10 total TDs in 2016.
Keep in mind that almost all members of the Green Bay Packers offense struggled last season. Jordy Nelson’s injury disrupted the unit worse than anyone could have imagined, and it suffered as a result. With Nelson back and Aaron Rodgers raring to go, expect Lacy to take advantage of seven-man boxes all season.
10. LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills
LeSean McCoy’s first season in Buffalo maddened fantasy football owners as he was only able to start 12 games. However, despite missing a quarter of the season, McCoy finished with 1,187 total yards (895 rushing, 292 receiving) and five total TDs (three rushing, two receiving).
In 2016, backup running back Karlos Williams, who received many goal-line carries that otherwise would have went to McCoy last season, will be suspended for the first four games. Thus, if LeSean stays healthy, he should flourish as the bell cow back on a team with a run-first mentality.
[Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images]