Though it may seem like everyone has turned to PPR as their format of choice, many fantasy footballers have stayed true to their roots and stuck with Non-PPR, or standard scoring. While Zero-RB has been a thing in recent years, Running Backs are king in standard scoring. Grab an elite one early and the foundation of your team is set. Below you’ll find Non-PPR Running Back Rankings from four of our top analysts. They are ranked by the consensus now, but you can also sort by each analyst.
Meet the Rankers
Below are the analysts that will be pouring over our Non-PPR Running Back Rankings for the next few months. We’ve included their initials so that you know who is who in the rankings table and also their Twitter handles so you can give them a follow and let them know what you think of their rankings.
- MC – Mick Ciallela – @themick23
- CY – Corbin Young – @corbin_young21
- ND – Nathan Dokken – @NathanDokken
- TL – Taylor Lambert – @TaylorSLambert
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2020 Running Back Rankings for Standard Scoring
|31||Ronald Jones II||33||30||34||39|
|64||Benny Snell Jr.||67||71||63||67|
|83||Jeff Wilson Jr.||NR||NR||NR||74|
Breaking Down the Position
Running back is the one position where a fantasy player is a bit hamstrung by his or her draft spot. You can grab a top-five quarterback, wide receiver, or tight end from any draft spot, Hell, you can draft the top quarterback or tight end late in the first round if you wanted to. However, to snag a consensus preseason top-five running back, you would almost certainly have to secure a top-seven first-round pick. If you have a late first-round pick, you have zero chance at drafting Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, or Ezekiel Elliott. In theory, you are already behind the eight-ball at the running back position. The good news is that not all hope is lost. There are still plenty of solid backs out there who can keep you afloat.
Regardless of where I am picking, I want to draft a surplus of running backs. Even if I go Zero-RB, I would still take a bunch of them in the middle rounds. My preference is for well-rounded backs. That is a strategy that is obvious for PPR formats but applies in standard leagues as well. Running backs who can catch the ball out of the backfield are worth their weight in gold. Austin Ekeler finished with the 33rd most rushing yards among running backs in 2019, yet finished seventh in standard scoring. Kareem Hunt finished as a top-19 fantasy back in four of his first five games despite accruing just 153 rushing yards during that span. PPR scoring tilts the playing field even further. Of the 18 running backs who scored at least 200 PPR points last year, 12 caught at least 49 passes. Only 11 surpassed 1,000 rushing yards.
I mentioned above that I look to grab a surplus of running backs. This is where drafting can get tricky. I made the mistake last year of drafting too many handcuffs. I had a team with Darrell Henderson, Justin Jackson, and Darwin Thompson. Those ended up being dead roster spots. Having dead roster spots is unavoidable in fantasy football, but you must know when to hold and when to cut bait. Think of some of the running backs who led teams to fantasy championships in 2019. Players like Raheem Mostert, Boston Scott, DeAndre Washington, and even Mike Boone came from relative obscurity to post big numbers in December. Kenyan Drake and Miles Sanders were top-10 running backs down the stretch after essentially being irrelevant for half a season. If you want to handcuff your primary back, fine. Just do not be afraid to cut bait and hit the waiver wire.
In standard or non-PPR leagues my running back strategy doesn’t change much. I’ll still look at total yardage potential in the rushing and receiving game since it’s hard to project touchdowns. Sure the pass catching running backs take a slight dip. However if they’re highly involved in their offense then I’ll trust the volume.
I still like targeting running backs that can catch passes because outside of the top-10 running backs, most share touches with another back. I do like the rookie running backs in the middle rounds, especially J.K. Dobbins and Jonathan Taylor. Outside of the rookie running backs, some later round running backs to target would be Darrynton Evans, Damien Harris, and Chase Edmonds.
The running back position is enjoying a bit of a Renaissance, at least according to ADP. The first two rounds of most drafts are going to consist of running backs. The reason for that is not because of the sheer volume of touches as is was back in the day, though. It’s because really good backs are hard to find, so you better get ’em early.
Of the true workhorse backs, two already have holdout concerns. We’ll see how that shakes out, but for now, I have no problem going in on them very early. Even once you hit the low-end RB2’s, there are so many holes to poke that you can’t feel very confident in your pick at the position. Even with as good as this year’s rookie crop was, the long-distance offseason works massively against them. I’ll continue to push them down my rankings, as they all face split backfields, to begin with. I’ll be doing my best to go in early on backs to avoid the RB2/FLEX minefield, preferring to take my upside shots later on.
What is it that makes running backs paramount to your roster? Two words: position scarcity. The variable of injury creates a volatility that makes a suspect backfield nearly impossible to overcome. As a principle, I try not to adhere too rigidly to any one specific strategy in drafts, but admittedly, if I can walk out of the first two rounds with a pair of stud running backs, I’m going into the third round with my head held high.
Given the Mariana Trench-like depth at wide receiver, it makes sense to shore up your backfield early and load up on pass-catcher, in the 3-5 round range.
Securing a stable backfield doesn’t end with the players you spend high draft capital on. Continue to stock up on running backs as the draft progresses (all the more reason to wait at QB). As I mentioned above, when the injury bug starts making its rounds through the league, having start-worthy reserves safeguards your team, and in some cases sets you apart. Remember your running back mantra when come draft season: ”draft early and often.”
More 2020 Fantasy Football Rankings:
Standard: QB | RB | WR | TE |
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