Fantasy Football

Fantasy Football Running Back Depth Chart


Earlier in this decade, the running back position in Fantasy Football saw a fairly sharp decline in importance. The following factors contributed to this decline:

  • The steep rise in popularity of PPR and Half-PPR scoring formats, which also bred the Zero-RB Theory draft strategy
  • An increase in season-ending injuries and/or lengthy contract negotiations/holdouts by top running backs
  • The NFL’s overall transition to more backfields implementing a Running Back by Committee approach to the game

PPR and Half-PPR scoring really leveled the fantasy playing field between wide receivers/tight ends and running backs. It forced managers to take much harder looks at the top receivers and tight ends earlier in drafts. The higher point output for wide receivers/tight ends also led to managers implementing the Zero-RB theory draft strategy. For those not familiar with this theory, it simply means managers wait numerous rounds before drafting their first running back.

Alas, PPR and Half-PPR scoring eventually allowed pass-catching running backs to gain more value in fantasy leagues. This, again, widened the gap in scoring between running backs and wide receivers/tight ends. Fortunately, this return-to-glory for running backs has conversely led to less use of the zero-RB theory draft strategy. Although, this strategy has not completely disappeared…yet.

The second and third factors listed above actually go hand-and-hand with each other. More-frequent injuries to lead-backs and contract holdouts during the preseason necessitated running back committees to become the new norm. However, the emergence of more workhorse running backs in recent years has helped buck that trend. If anything, running back committees are typically only implemented during the season when major injuries occur to starters.

So, where does that leave us for 2019? Well, even with the apparent shift back to prominence, the running back position still carries a level of volatility. Because of this, fantasy football managers need to be more in-tune with running back depth charts. These charts track the starters and handcuffs to own for each NFL team. They also provide insight on specific teams that have transitioned into a committee. This is beneficial for both drafting, as well as in-season roster adjustments.

To remain up-to-date throughout the season, we are bringing you the 2019 Fantasy Six Pack Fantasy Football Running Back Depth Chart! Here is the explanation of our chart:

  • Starter: These are the running backs who are most likely to start each game for their team. Please note that this does not always mean that running back will get the most touches.
  • Handcuff(s): These are players who are likely to take over if the starter comes out of the game for any reason. They are especially valuable to target if a starter suffers a major injury.
  • Passing-Down Back(s): These are the players who are likely to get the bulk of the work in the passing game. These backs are good to stash in PPR/Half-PPR leagues.
  • Goal Line Back(s): These players are likely to get the bulk of the carries near the goal line.
  • RBBC: If the touches will be split between multiple running backs, we will mark the Running Back by Committee box.

2019 Fantasy Football Running Back Depth Chart

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TeamStarterHandcuff(s)Passing-Down Back(s)Goal Line Back(s)RBBCNotes
Arizona CardinalsDavid JohnsonChase EdmondsDavid JohnsonDavid JohnsonThis is David Johnson's backfield. Chase Edmonds is the handcuff here, but he holds almost no standalone value.
Atlanta FalconsDevonta FreemanIto Smith- Ito Smith
- Kenjon Barner
Devonta FreemanDevonta Freeman returns to the feature role in Atlanta, and should see the bulk of the work with Tevin Coleman now in San Francisco.
Baltimore RavensMark Ingram- Gus Edwards
- Kenneth Dixon
Kenneth Dixon
- Mark Ingram
- Gus Edwards
Between Lamar Jackson and newly-acquired Mark Ingram, Baltimore is going to be a run-heavy offense in 2019.
Buffalo BillsLeSean McCoy Frank Gore
T.J. YeldonLeSean McCoy This backfield still belongs to McCoy, but Buffalo brought in veterans Frank Gore and T.J. Yeldon in the offseason.
Carolina PanthersChristian McCaffreyCameron Artis-PayneChristian McCaffreyChristian McCaffreyCMC was a beast in 2018, finishing as the third overall running back in standard scoring. I see more of the same in 2019.
Chicago BearsDavid Montgomery
- Tarik Cohen
- Mike Davis
Tarik CohenDavid MontgomeryThe Bears drafted David Montgomery out of Iowa in 2019, and brought in Mike Davis from Seattle, after losing Jordan Howard to the Eagles. I think Cohen is still the best back to own, but this could turn into a committee early in 2019.
Cincinatti BengalsJoe MixonGiovani Bernard

Giovani BernardJoe MixonMixon is really all you care about here. He is a trendy break-out pick for 2019, too, after finishing 2018 as the ninth overall running back in standard scoring.
Cleveland BrownsNick Chubb- Duke Johnson
- Kareem Hunt (NA)
Duke JohnsonNick ChubbNick Chubb really hit his stride in the second half of 2018, and he enters 2019 as the lead back for a revamped Browns offense that also has Kareem Hunt on the roster.
Dallas CowboysEzekiel Elliott- Tony Pollard
- Darius Jackson
Ezekiel ElliottEzekiel ElliottThis one is easy. Zeke, Zeke, and more Zeke.
Denver BroncosPhillip Lindsay- Royce Freeman
- Devontae Booker
Phillip Lindsay- Phillip Lindsay
- Royce Freeman
Lindsay is the clear front-runner from the Denver backfield, but he could lose some goal line looks to Royce Freeman.
Detroit LionsKerryon Johnson- C.J. Anderson
- Theo Riddick
Theo Riddick- Kerryon Johnson
- C.J. Anderson
Kerryon Johnson looks to pick-up where he left off prior to suffering a season-ending injury in Week 11.
Green Bay PackersAaron JonesJamaal WilliamsJamaal WilliamsAaron JonesAaron Jones is set to return from a sprained MCL injury he suffered in Week 15 to lead the Packers backfield in 2019.
Houston TexansLamar MillerD'Onta Foreman Lamar Miller- Lamar Miller
- D'Onta Foreman
Lamar Miller has proclaimed he wants to work more on his pass-catching abilities this offseason to enhance his value as an all-around back.
Indianapolis ColtsMarlon Mack- Nyheim Hines
- Jordan Wilkins
- Spencer Ware
Nyheim HinesMarlon MackAfter playing in only one of Indy's first five games in 2018, Mack is looking to build upon his Top-20 scoring performance from last year.
Jacksonville JaguarsLeonard Fournette- Alfred Blue
- Ryquell Armstead
Alfred BlueLeonard FournetteFournette needs to prove he can stay healthy in 2019. Otherwise, newly-acquired, Alfred Blue, and rookie, Ryquell Armstead, could get more opportunities early.
Kansas City ChiefsDamien WilliamsCarlos HydeDamien WilliamsDamien WilliamsDamien Williams is the go-to guy for K.C. to start 2019, with Kareem Hunt now in Cleveland, and Spencer Ware with Indianapolis.
Los Angeles ChargersMelvin Gordon- Austin Ekeler
- Justin Jackson
- Melvin Gordon
- Austin Ekeler
Melvin GordonGordon will reprise his role as the lead running back for San Diego this season. But, don't sleep on Austin Ekeler or Justin Jackson.
Los Angeles RamsTodd GurleyMalcolm BrownTodd GurleyTodd GurleyGurley had his issues in the NFL Playoffs last season, but he he still finished the Fantasy season as the top-scoring running back, even while missing Weeks 16 and 17.
Miami DolphinsKenyan DrakeKalen BallageKenyan DrakeKalen BallageFrank Gore left for division rival, Buffalo, so this backfield is Drake's to lose.
Minnesota VikingsDalvin CookAlexander MattisonDalvin CookDalvin CookDalvin Cook had a very up-and-down 2018, missing five games, and only scoring in double-digits in standard scoring in six games. He no longer has Latavius Murry lurking behind him, so he should see a heavy workload in 2019, assuming he stays healthy.
New England PatriotsSony Michel- James White
- Damien Harris
- Rex Burkhead
James White
- Sony Michel
- James White
- Rex Burkhead
Sony Michel is the lead-back on paper, but we all know how New England likes to rotate backs on a near-weekly basis.
New Orleans SaintsAlvin KamaraLatavius Murray
- Alvin Kamara
- Latavius Murray
Alvin KamaraKamara is the one to own in New Orleans, but he could still see some vulture action in 2019, this time from Latavius Murray, now that Mark Ingram II is with Baltimore.
New York GiantsSaquon BarkleyWayne Gallman
Saquon BarkleySaquon BarkleyThere is no doubt that Saquon Barkley owns this backfield.
New York JetsLe'Veon Bell- Ty Montgomery
- Elijah McGuire
Le'Veon BellLe'Veon BellLe'Veon Bell brings his talents to the Big Apple for 2019, and should be a near-every-down back for the Jets.
Oakland RaidersJosh Jacobs- Jalen Richard
- Doug Martin
- Jalen RichardJosh JacobsMarshawn Lynch has retired again, so Oakland used its second-of-three draft picks on Josh Jacobs. He figures to be the early-down and goal line back for 2019.
Philadelphia EaglesJordan Howard
- Miles Sanders
- Corey Clement
Corey Clement- Jordan Howard
- Miles Sanders
The Eagles acquired Jordan Howard in a trade with Chicago, and drafted Miles Sanders out of Penn State for 2019. Still unsure of the exact usage for them, but we're giving Howard the nod due to experience.
Pittsburgh SteelersJames ConnerJaylen Samuels
- Jaylen Samuels
- Benny Snell
James ConnerJames Conner returns as the unquestioned lead-back for Pittsburgh in 2019. Expect plenty of touches for Conner.
San Francisco 49ersTevin Coleman- Matt Breida
- Jerick McKinnon
Matt BreidaMatt BreidaAfter signing Jerick McKinnon to a lucrative deal starting in 2018, only to have him lost for the season with an ACL tear during the preseason, San Fran brought in Tevin Coleman this past offseason. All the while, still having a very productive Matt Breida on the roster. I smell committee early.
Seattle SeahawksChris CarsonRashaad Penny
Rashaad PennyChris CarsonCarson is the current lead-back in Seattle, but Rashaad Penny has been gaining momentum as a trendy break-out candidate for 2019.
Tampa Bay BuccaneersPeyton BarberRonald JonesRonald JonesPeyton BarberThis backfield is not one I recommend looking at for your fantasy teams. Hopefully, they can prove me wrong.
Tennessee TitansDerrick HenryDion Lewis- Dion Lewis
- Derrick Henry
- Derrick Henry
- Dion Lewis
Derrick Henry is the better back to own in this two-headed attack, as he was dominant for the Titans in their last five games of 2018.
Washington RedskinsDerrius GuiceAdrian PetersonChris Thompson

- Adrian Peterson
- Derrius Guice
Derrius Guice, who missed all of 2018 after tearing his ACL in the preseason opener, figures to be the lead guy in Washington for 2019. But, if he falters, veteran Adrian Peterson will be there to pick-up the slack.

Visit the F6P Fantasy Football Page for more advice for the 2019 season.

About A.J. Applegarth

A.J. has been in the fantasy sports game for so long, that the first fantasy team he ever managed used football box scores from newspapers to calculate points. Since those days, A.J. has taken home numerous fantasy football and baseball championship titles. He has also taken his talents to a few fantasy basketball leagues and countless DFS games in more recent years. A.J. would openly admit that “luck” has been a factor in his two-plus decade-long success in fantasy sports, but he will also be the first one to tell you, “You can’t teach luck!” Catch A.J.’s witty banter and "Beer of the Week" picks on The Fantasy Six Pack Hour Podcast, and follow him on the Twitter-space @AppleGarthAlgar.

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