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Scott Engel's Early Rankings and Analysis - Running Backs


I am proud to say that RotoBaller is the new home for my 2019 Fantasy Football Rankings. Thanks for finding me here, as I am entering my 23rd season of providing professional Fantasy Football rankings and analysis.

Last season I played in 10 leagues, made the playoffs in seven, the Super Bowl in five and won four championships, including back-to-back titles in my big money leagues. Yet it’s even more important to me when you, the reader, wins a championship. I could not be here for a 23rd season without you, and I am humbly grateful to every one of you who asks for or takes my advice.

This year’s early rankings analysis started with a look at the quarterback position. Running back is another beast altogether.

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Early Redraft Running Back Rankings - May

Position ranking Overall ranking Player Name
1 1 Saquon Barkley
2 2 Ezekiel Elliott
3 3 Christian McCaffrey
4 4 Alvin Kamara
5 5 Melvin Gordon
6 8 James Conner
7 10 Le'Veon Bell
8 11 Joe Mixon
9 20 David Johnson
10 21 Todd Gurley
11 23 Nick Chubb
12 24 Damien Williams
13 27 Leonard Fournette
14 28 Dalvin Cook
15 30 Kerryon Johnson
16 31 Marlon Mack
17 32 Josh Jacobs
18 36 Aaron Jones
19 43 Derrick Henry
20 44 Sony Michel
21 46 Mark Ingram
22 50 Kenyan Drake
23 51 Phillip Lindsay
24 55 Tarik Cohen
25 56 James White
26 59 Devonta Freeman
27 64 Chris Carson
28 70 Lamar Miller
29 80 LeSean McCoy
30 81 Jordan Howard
31 87 Jerick McKinnon
32 88 Tevin Coleman
33 91 Latavius Murray
34 92 Ronald Jones II
35 97 Miles Sanders
36 103 Adrian Peterson
37 104 Rashaad Penny
38 107 Ito Smith
39 110 D'Onta Foreman
40 115 Mike Davis
41 116 Kalen Ballage
42 117 Austin Ekeler
43 122 Nyheim Hines
44 125 Dion Lewis
45 128 David Montgomery
46 133 Royce Freeman
47 135 Matt Breida
48 136 Jamaal Williams
49 147 Derrius Guice
50 149 Peyton Barber
51 150 Alexander Mattison
52 154 Darrell Henderson
53 156 Chris Thompson
54 160 Kareem Hunt
55 175 Duke Johnson
56 182 Carlos Hyde
57 187 Frank Gore
58 193 Trayveon Williams
59 194 Devin Singletary
60 214 Rex Burkhead
61 221 Elijah McGuire
62 231 C.J. Anderson
63 234 Jalen Richard
64 247 Ryquell Armstead
65 248 Gus Edwards
66 252 Jaylen Samuels
67 257 Theo Riddick
68 258 Chase Edmonds
69 260 Spencer Ware
70 262 Doug Martin
71 264 Justin Jackson
72 265 Darren Sproles
73 271 Giovani Bernard
74 272 Wayne Gallman
75 273 Alfred Blue
76 277 Brian Hill
77 280 Jordan Scarlett
78 283 Mike Weber
79 285 Bryce Love
80 295 T.J. Yeldon
81 299 Qadree Ollison
82 300 Malcolm Brown
83 301 Ameer Abdullah

 

RB Rankings Analysis - Top Tiers

As we delve into my first set of PPR RB rankings for the 2019 season, there are no real major surprises at the top spots. The trade of Odell Beckham Jr. and the drafting of Daniel Jones confirms to me the Giants want to build their offense around their all-around superstar RB. Ezekiel Elliott’s career-high 77 receptions last year made him more valuable than ever and will ensure he gets a heavy overall amount of touches in 2019. Christian McCaffrey proved he can handle a very significant workload last season and Alvin Kamara has run Mark Ingram out of town to fully erase any minor doubts about his supremacy. Knee problems ruined the end of Melvin Gordon’s 2019 Fantasy season, but he was Top 5 at the position after 12 weeks and should stay in that range if he can play during most of the upcoming campaign.

James Conner missed three games last season, but still finished sixth in PPR scoring at the position. The Steelers smartly drafted him with an eye on Le’Veon Bell eventually possibly leaving, and he proved he could handle the significant role. Pittsburgh may ride him hard in 2019 with both Bell and Antonio Brown gone, and he should push to be a Top 5 Fantasy RB. In his first season with the Jets, Bell does have some question marks surrounding him, so he is out of my Top 5. How will he respond after a year off, and with a new team? But his gifts are undeniable, so he should stay inside the Top 10.

Joe Mixon shined despite everything crumbling around him in Cincinnati last year, and should be very consistently reliable with some of his key offensive teammates returning to stabilize the offense this season. After Mixon, I do not have any other RB ranked inside my Top 12 overall PPR players. But it’s not a far drop to the next group.

David Johnson will be the drive finisher for a retooled Cardinals offense, and should benefit from RPO work with Kyler Murray. Todd Gurley finished first at the position last year, but the knee worries have been well documented and could push him out of RB1 status heading into the new season. Nick Chubb was starting as a rookie by Week 7, and rushed for nearly 1,000 yards and eight TDs, He will play at last half a season without Kareem Hunt behind him, and may never be supplanted as a starter. Concerns about Hunt cutting into his workload later in the year could actually make Chubb more of a value play. By the time Hunt possibly returns, Chubb may be well established as a starter for 2019 and the former Chief will just be starting to get into a game rhythm. Chubb can at least get you to the Fantasy postseason, and Hunt will be scratching just to be a change of pace guy until late in the schedule.

Damien Williams is my last PPR RB in the overall Top 25. He was terrific down the stretch and in the playoffs for Kansas City last year, but has never shown he can be a true featured guy over a very extensive stretch yet. He still has to prove that to earn a Top 10 RB ranking.

Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook have obvious health concerns that prevent them from earning RB1 tags, but if they somehow manage to play a full schedule, both could challenge for lofty status at the position. Kerryon Johnson teased us with three 80-yard rushing outings and a trio of outings with five catches or more last year before his season ended after Week 11. He could emerge as an all-around force starting from the outset in 2019. Marlon Mack broke out in 2018 and had nine rushing TDs. He will be the finisher for one of the league’s best offenses this season.

 

RB Rankings Analysis - Middle Tiers

I obviously like Raiders rookie Josh Jacobs more than many other analysts, as he is just outside my Top 30 overall. He will be the sole TD force for an improved offense and his versatility as a runner and receiver will ensure he gets a ton of reps. Aaron Jones could finish higher than I give him credit for if Green Bay establishes more offensive balance this year, but I am still skeptical about that happening.

I have yet to see Derrick Henry look dominant over a full season, and I would rank Sony Michel higher if he caught more passes and did not worry me about missed games due to injuries. Mark Ingram gets a deserved chance to be a featured guy in Baltimore, and should be a quality RB2. Kenyan Drake was misused by Adam Gase, and can score from anywhere on the field. I may be ranking Phillip Lindsay too low. I am not overly concerned about the wrist.

Tarik Cohen could see reduced rushing touches this season, which tempers my enthusiasm about him. I really believe Devonta Freeman is damaged goods, and would not draft him as a RB2. Chris Carson can really look good when he is in a rhythm, but I believe Rashaad Penny could work in a time share with him this season and may even take over the starting job for good if Carson misses an extensive period of time. Carson does tend to get banged up because of his all-out running style.

Lamar Miller could still be overtaken by D’Onta Foreman at some point, and LeSean McCoy can no longer be regarded as anything more than a RB3, and a shaky one for sure. I see Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders sharing time in Philadelphia, and the 49ers situation is totally clouded right now.

 

RB Rankings Analysis - Lower Tiers

Much to the chagrin of my co-host RealTalk Raph on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio, I believe Ronald Jones has value potential. A new regime in Tampa Bay did not make any moves to bring in anyone to challenge him during the offseason. He could get a second chance to prove himself in 2019. I think he has the abilities to break off big plays and look dynamic if he regains his confidence.

Ito Smith could lead the Atlanta backfield if Freeman cannot stay healthy. Mike Davis could surprisingly ( to most) lead the Bears backfield as a runner.

As the preseason progresses, you will certainly see my ranks change and be altered for many reasons. Plus, I will be bringing you deeper analysis and tiers in the near future.

More Fantasy Football Analysis


Check out all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings. Staff rankings are updated regularly for all positions and include standard formats, PPR scoring, tiered rankings and dynasty leagues.




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