That’s a perfect Bernie right there, folks. He hit it once, hesitated, then went to the next level before celebrating with his teammates in the end zone. Ok, wait…are we talking about Le’Veon Bell doing the Bernie or actually running a football? This dude’s more elusive in the backfield, slipping through the line and blowing past the second level than anyone else in the NFL. Sure, you can take the injury he suffered a year and a half ago (he was totally fine once coming back), and the fact that he parties like he’s trying to be in ‘Weekend at Bernie’s,’ into account. Me? Nah…I’ll just take the best player in the fantasy game when he’s running full steam.

Now, that may be a hot take on Le’Veon over David Johnson and Ezekiel Elliott, but while I talked about shelf life and a long window of patience with the previous two rankings, running backs are a little different. 25 years old isn’t that much different than 22 years old. Actually it’s better. The difference is that the tires on the truck start to fall off with much fewer miles than other positions. 30 for running backs is 40 for quarterbacks. Wide receivers aren’t much better, but they stretch a little further. What does this do to the running backs in dynasty leagues? Shortens their window and increases the intrigue of the younger guys.

Now, all that to say, the biggest difficulty with drafting and selecting running backs in dynasty leagues is whether to go with situation or talent. Which do you choose? For me, give me talent every day. Talent typically trumps the turn over time. Sure, Spencer Ware may have the job, but is the talent of Kareem Hunt enough to really push him by the end of this year, let alone 3 years from now? Adrian Peterson and Mark Ingram could split the load in New Orleans, but have you seen Alvin Kamara operate in space? It’s decisions like these that define the running back position. Combined with the tight window of their elite production and this just may be the most difficult position to accurately valuate in the whole game.

So, here’s how I’d rank those Bernie-dancing, tote-carrying, touchdown-scoring, ankle-breaking difficulties…the Top 50 Dynasty Running Backs!

Since we’re approaching the dynasty draft season, now’s the time for some RANKINGS! Overall ranks, positional ranks and, in the previous article, rookie ranks will hopefully give you all the ammunition needed to compete not just this year, but for years and years. You’ve heard, “If you build it, they will come.” And what’s the “they” in our context? Belts. Belts on belts on belts. (Or trophies. Or money. Whatever. Just freaking win). So…here’s how you ‘build’ your team.

Note: I’ll touch on strategy after the ranks come out, but as a general marker I try to view dynasty football value through a three-year window.

Top 50 Dynasty Running Backs

Rank  Name Team Position
1 Le’Veon Bell PIT RB
2 David Johnson ARI RB
3 Ezekiel Elliott DAL RB
4 Todd Gurley LAR RB
5 Devonta Freeman ATL RB
6 Melvin Gordon LAC RB
7 Lamar Miller HOU RB
8 Jordan Howard CHI RB
9 LeSean McCoy BUF RB
10 Leonard Fournette JAC RB
11 Jay Ajayi MIA RB
12 Tevin Coleman ATL RB
13 Derrick Henry TEN RB
14 Christian McCaffrey CAR RB
15 Joe Mixon CIN RB
16 Dalvin Cook MIN RB
17 DeMarco Murray TEN RB
18 Carlos Hyde SF RB
19 Spencer Ware KC RB
20 C.J. Anderson DEN RB
21 Ameer Abdullah DET RB
22 Bilal Powell NYJ RB
23 Isaiah Crowell CLE RB
24 Robert Kelley WAS RB
25 Ty Montgomery GB RB
26 Paul Perkins NYG RB
27 Samaje Perine WAS RB
28 Kenneth Dixon BAL RB
29 Alvin Kamara NO RB
30 Eddie Lacy SEA RB
31 Latavius Murray MIN RB
32 Charles Sims TB RB
33 Jamaal Williams GB RB
34 C.J. Prosise SEA RB
35 Jeremy Hill CIN RB
36 Giovani Bernard CIN RB
37 Joe Williams SF RB
38 Kareem Hunt KC RB
39 Thomas Rawls SEA RB
40 Duke Johnson CLE RB
41 James White NE RB
42 Wendell Smallwood PHI RB
43 Kenyan Drake MIA RB
44 Doug Martin TB RB
45 D’Onta Foreman HOU RB
46 Mike Gillislee NE RB
47 Devontae Booker DEN RB
48 T.J. Yeldon JAC RB
49 Chris Thompson WAS RB
50 Marlon Mack IND RB
51 Jeremy McNichols TB RB
52 James Conner PIT RB
53 Jamaal Charles DEN RB
54 Adrian Peterson NO RB
55 LeGarrette Blount NE RB
56 Marshawn Lynch OAK RB
57 Wayne Gallman NYG RB
58 Mark Ingram NO RB
59 Jonathan Williams BUF RB
60 Jalen Richard OAK RB
61 DeAndre Washington OAK RB
62 Dion Lewis NE RB
63 Dwayne Washington DET RB
64 Matt Forte NYJ RB
65 Matt Jones WAS RB
66 Danny Woodhead BAL RB
67 Tim Hightower SF RB
68 Brian Hill ATL RB
69 Aaron Jones GB RB
70 Rex Burkhead NE RB
71 Theo Riddick DET RB
72 Ka’Deem Carey CHI RB
73 Jeremy Langford CHI RB
74 Terrance West BAL RB
75 Jerick McKinnon MIN RB
76 Charcandrick West KC RB
77 Tyler Ervin HOU RB
78 Kapri Bibbs SF RB
79 Ryan Mathews PHI RB
80 Zach Zenner DET RB
81 Keith Marshall WAS RB
82 Jacquizz Rodgers TB RB
83 Alex Collins SEA RB
84 Jonathan Stewart CAR RB
85 DeAngelo Williams PIT RB
86 Frank Gore IND RB
87 Josh Ferguson IND RB
88 Javorius Allen BAL RB
89 Mike Davis SF RB
90 Karlos Williams FA RB
91 Cameron Artis-Payne CAR RB
92 Chris Ivory JAC RB
93 Kenneth Farrow LAC RB
94 Damien Williams MIA RB
95 D.J. Foster NE RB
96 Christine Michael GB RB
97 Ronnie Hillman LAC RB
98 Andre Ellington ARI RB
99 Shane Vereen NYG RB
100 Alfred Morris DAL RB

A few notes from the Ranks:

  • Now, in all honesty those top 3 are quite interchangeable, and Gurley is the clear #4 to me. I know Tud (go look that up on Twitter) was incredibly underwhelming last year, likely losing many people their redraft leagues, but he’s a unique talent that I envision news Rams brass will feature in a much better way than the clown HC Jeff Fisher. Given his age and the situations of those just below him, he sits as the best of the rest. If Devonta Freeman re-ups with Atlanta he could easily jump him, which would consequently slide Tevin Coleman back down the board a little.
  • I’m not a believer in Carlos Hyde at 18, but he’s flashed enough potential to prove he’s still worth that spot. Just below him the entire group of 20-somethings become a cluster of I-don’t-fully-knows before giving way to the older veterans with much less upside. Well, outside of…
  • Joe Williams and Kareem Hunt slot into the mid-30’s, and that may be a bit bullish. There’s a story circulating about Peter King in the San Fran draft room seeing Kyle Shanahan put his foot down on targeting Williams when not many others in the organization wanted him. And they got him. Shanahan can really get the most out of his RB, and if Williams supplants the aforementioned yawn-inspiring Carlos Hyde, he could catapult up this list. As for Hunt, a close friend that’s quite the expert in fantasy himself (and I don’t fully claim to be) believes in Ware less than me which rises Hunt on his board. Andy Reid, even more than Shanahan, has a history of creating juggernauts from RBs, especially young ones. He’s a great target for years to come.
  • Rookies pepper the next few names until you get to the 30-year olds in Blount, Lynch, AP, Ingram, Forte and Charles. If you’re going for broke this year, go and get them on the cheap in these leagues, but don’t expect much production beyond 2017 from them. As a result, don’t let someone steal a 1st rounder from you for one of them. Haha, and in your rookie draft, don’t take Lynch in the 1st this year (he’s likely unowned and available to draft).
  • Lastly, Brian Hill and Aaron Jones are both sleepers for me to make an impact if the situation falls right. Let’s say Devonta moves on from the Falcons (very likely). That leaves Hill with a great opportunity to step into the #2 slot beside Coleman. There’s massive value in that offense for the RB2. With Jones you have a fifth-rounder drafted one round behind Jamaal Williams. The Packers are going for youth int he backfield after big questions the past two years. Either could become the bell-cow, so at this point Jones is a great flier heading into training camp. If he emerges the leader there could be Jordan Howard-type impact awaiting this fall. That high? Probably not, but the starting RB in GB is worth great consideration. Yes, Ty Montgomery is currently there (and he’s ranked accordingly in the RB rankings), but Ty’s versatile enough to go all over the place and leave some vacancy in the backfield.

Have thoughts on the rankings? Questions about other players? Well…


Follow M@ on Twitter at @matthayes for far more than just fantasy advice.