Sometimes fantasy experts’ rankings can be flat out wrong and most often should be taken with a grain of salt. Case in point, last year’s expectations for the best running backs. Before the 2015 NFL season, experts far and wide projected the Green Bay Packers Eddie Lacy and the Kansas City Chiefs Jamaal Charles to be the best running backs in all of fantasy.

What happened? After five games, Charles tore up the ACL in his right knee, and an out-of-shape and injured Lacy trudged through the worst year of his young career while the Packers offense sputtered.

Given both Lacy and Charles’ histories, no expert can be truly faulted for ranking them so high but this serves as a reminder that the fantasy football season is always one play away from complete and utter ruin.

Fantasy owners should turn to the experts and expect quality perspective and insight along with helpful advice, but you shouldn’t solely rely on the projections of others. Instead, parse and take all the rankings under consideration before forming your own sound reasoning for each pick. That reasoning should include a player’s previous seasons as well as the personnel additions or subtractions their respective teams made in the offseason.

In an effort to help fantasy owners practice and hone this tried and true technique, let’s breakdown the top 10 running back rankings from NumberFire, Yahoo, and CBS Sports’ Jamey Eisenberg.


1.Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

2.Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers

3.Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs

4.David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals

5.Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams

6.Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons

7.Lamar Miller, Houston Texans

8.Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

9.Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys

10.Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers

Since Lacy is reportedly much slimmer, and he’s entering a contract year, he might be a little too low and the rookie Elliott too high, but otherwise this is a solid top 10 and could be how the first round of your drafts shakes out. Peterson was some to all running backs fantasy scoring last year, while Freeman was first due to his 14 total touchdowns and 73 receptions for 578 yards. It’s quite possible Freeman belongs in the top three and he may eventually get there since Bell faces a potential four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Elliott’s ranking could also slip since he’s been accused of domestic assault.

Including the other two lists, Miller is ranked no lower than seventh but that seems a tad too high. The Texans have Brock Osweiler under center, and defenses will likely key on Miller to make Osweiler throw.


1.David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals

2.Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams

3.Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys

4.Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

5.Lamar Miller, Houston Texans

6.Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs

7.Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers

8.Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints

9.Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

10.Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons

Hard to argue with the first two backs since Johnson and Gurley were the breakout rookie sensations in 2015, especially Gurley since he hustling for a Rams offense that had no other weapons and was 29 th in points scored. But placing Elliott as high as No. 3 means Yahoo’s experts believe him to be just as dominant as Gurley and Johnson, which is too much of a gamble even if Dallas’ offensive line helped Darren McFadden rejuvenate his career. Placing Peterson at No. 4 means owners should balk at consistency and bank on upside, and that’s a play only for risk-taking owners. Again, Miller’s too high and should probably switch places with Charles, who bounced back his first major knee injury in 2012 to post 1,509 yards. Freeman should also be in the top six at least, since he’s the best pass-catching back in the league other than Charles. Notice Lacy is nowhere to be seen, a big mistake in 2016.

CBS Sports

1.Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams

2.David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals

3.Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys

4.Lamar Miller, Houston Texans

5.Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

6.Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers

7.Jamaal Charles, Kanas City Chiefs

8.Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers

9.Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints

10.Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

CBS Sports’ top five almost exactly mirrors Yahoo’s, so the same criticism can be applied. However, Lacy’s actually slotted correctly since all indications point to a bounce back year as he also battles for a new contract before hitting free agency in 2017 (just like DeMarco Murray in 2014). And the Packers’ offense as a whole should return to form with receiver Jordy Nelson coming back. Meanwhile, Ingram stays in the back-half of the top 10, and rightly so. He made a career-high 50 receptions off 60 targets last season (making up for C.J. Spiller’s disappointing and injured run), but the Saints are expected work rookie receiver Michael Thomas into the offense and that takes targets away from Ingram. Furthermore, Ingram’s never played a full 16-game season and thus has only one 200-plus carry season in his career.