Running back is widely regarded as the most important position in Fantasy Football. Drafting one talented rusher isn’t enough to win your league. You need at least two quality options if you really want to emerge victorious.
One of those running backs should absolutely be selected with one of your top two selections. This piece isn’t focusing on how productive Saquon Barkley is going to be in 2019. Instead, we’re talking about five guys who should slip outside of the first two rounds. Several of our selections can be had much later in your draft. We start with a former first round pick who could be poised for a bounce back campaign.
5. Leonard Fournette
Owners who drafted Fournette with a high pick last season may still be suffering from PTSD in regards to his weak 2018 performance. There are significant reasons for optimism this year though. Nick Foles may be overpaid, but he should give the Jaguars more offensive balance.
There are also strong reports emanating from Jacksonville about Fournette’s conditioning in the preseason. A slimmer, more motivated Fournette could power the former LSU star back into the top echelon of fantasy running backs this year. Don’t reach for him in one of the first two rounds, but he’s a high upside play in the third round of your draft.
4. Marlon Mack
Andrew Luck deservedly gets all the headlines for the Colts offense, but Frank Reich wants to build a powerful running attack to support his star quarterback. Mack may not be the perfect running back to execute Reich’s plan, but he is the best option available.
The Colts also happen to have a really good offensive line. Any rusher who gets the chance to grind out yards behind Quenton Nelson and company should be in for a good year. Mack is a running back with a really high floor and a reasonably high ceiling in 2019. Don’t be surprised if he finds a way to become a top-five player at his position.
3. Darrell Henderson
Spending a high draft pick on a second string running back isn’t a recipe for fantasy success. However, spending a middle round pick on the right backup rusher could power you to a league title this season.
Darrell Henderson is the right backup to target. Todd Gurley has looked reasonably healthy in the preseason, but he’s trying to play through arthritis in his knees. At the very least, that’s going to force Sean McVay to significantly reduce his workload.
Henderson has the talent to really make the most of his opportunities. His big play style may make him a bit inconsistent week-to-week, but he should pay off big in the end. At worst Henderson will end up being a really good flex option for you. At best, he’ll blossom into a RB1.
2. Jaylen Samuels
Last season James Conner shouldered a massive workload for the Steelers in place of Le’Veon Bell. Mike Tomlin and his staff are smart enough to understand that isn’t a sustainable model moving forward. Samuels is the back who is best positioned to pick up a healthy portion of touches in 2019.
In particular, the former NC State standout is a superior pass catcher. That means he’ll see a ton of snaps on third down. His ability to run more intricate routes than the average running back will allow him to become one of Ben Roethlisberger’s most trusted targets.
The Browns may be the betting favorites in the NFC North, but the Steelers offense is going to put up a ton of fantasy points this year. Those offensive fireworks will make Samuels a very valuable player down the stretch.
1. Peyton Barber
If you’re looking for a real longshot who can help you win your league, Barber is your guy. He isn’t an overly dynamic player on his own, but he’s well-positioned to score big points because of the offense he will play for.
The Buccaneers might not win many games in 2019, but Bruce Arians is going to guide their offense to another explosive season. Jameis Winston and his group of talented receivers are going to do most of the heavy lifting, but Arians will work to mix in the running game a healthy amount. That leaves Barber and Ronald Jones to battle it out for carries.
As a reminder, Jones was so bad in his rookie season that he was frequently inactive on Sundays. Barber at least has a history of productivity in the league. He won’t rush for 2,000 yards this season, but he could rack up double-digit touchdowns. That’s enough production to make him a potential RB1 that you can grab really late in your draft. Spend a late round pick on Barber and reap the rewards all season long.