Fantasy football season is nearly upon us. So, if you’re like me, and were focused on other things over the last few months, you probably need a quick refresher before your league holds its draft. That’s what we’re here for, to take you through the projections of the top 10 rankings for each position while also pointing you to where you can find overall projections for all off the players heading into this season.
We already did quarterbacks, now it’s time to focus on the real backbone of any fantasy team: running backs. For as devalued as running backs have become in today’s NFL, at least from a contract perspective, a top-tier guy or breakout star could make your fantasy season. So, as you prepare your draft strategy, here’s a look at who CBS Sports is projecting to be the top guys headed into this season. Once again, we note that this is based on standard scoring projections. For PPR, go here.
1) Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams
Owner of the new highest-paying contract for a running back, Gurley flourished last season under the offensive system of new head coach Sean McVay. CBSSports.com is expecting more of the same this year, as the Rams brought everybody back and added wide receiver Brandin Cooks.
CBSSports.com Projections- 291 Fantasy Points (18.2 FPPG) 1,392 rushing yards 12 TDs & 694 receiving yards with 5 TDs
2) Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
Bell has consistently been one of the most productive backs for fantasy owners over the past several years. Heading into this season, Bell will be even more motivated to produce, as his contract dispute with the Steelers has ended with him playing on the franchise tag once more. To prove he’s worth a big contract, Bell will likely want to put up big numbers and CBSSports.com is projecting him to finish with 20 more fantasy points than he did last season.
CBSSports.com Projections- 260 Fantasy Points (16.25 FPPG) 1,350 rushing yards with 10 TDs & 728 receiving yards with 2 TDs
3) Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
A breakout star in 2017, Kamara proved to be effective both in the running game and in the passing game, exactly the kind of dual-threat back that proves to be the most useful in fantasy football and actual football these days. He won’t get as many carries as the two guys above him, since he’s splitting the backfield with Mark Ingram. But Kamara still promises to be an effective fantasy option regardless.
CBSSports.com Projections- 231 Fantasy Points (14.4 FPPG) 933 rushing yards with 9 TDs & 732 receiving yards with 5 TDs
4) Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
Elliott missed time last year due to the NFL’s suspension for some of his off-field antics, and he couldn’t replicate his dominant rookie campaign because of it. With no suspension looming over him this time around, Elliott should once again be the focal point of the offense. When you consider the unsettled nature of the passing game due to a questionable receiving corps, Elliott should see even more of the ball in 2018.
CBSSports.com Projections- 213 Fantasy Points (13.3 FPPG) 1,348 rushing yards with 8 TDs & 388 receiving yards with 2 TDs
5) Kareem Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs
Hunt, like Kamara, was a middle-round pick who became a star once the season began. He tailed off down the stretch, so did the Chiefs really, but this year he’s likely to be a bit more of a security blanket, as K.C. will trot out first-time starter Patrick Mahomes. After showing dual-threat capability last year, Hunt will look to build on his debut year.
CBSSports.com Projections- 200 Fantasy Points (12.5 FPPG) 1,118 rushing yards with 8 TDs & 402 receiving yards with 3 TDs
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6) David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals
Johnson was the number one overall pick in many leagues last year after proving to be a workhorse running and catching the football in 2016. Then he dislocated his wrist in the opener, ending his season before it got started, much to the frustration of fantasy owners. Because of that, the projection systems aren’t quite as high on him this season. But there’s a pretty good chance that with Sam Bradford at QB and a depleted receiving corps outside of Larry Fitzgerald, Johnson will be asked to pick up the slack on offense.
CBSSports.com Projections- 197 Fantasy Points (12.3 FPPG) 818 rushing yards with 6 TDs & 883 receiving yards with 3 TDs
7) Saquon Barkley, New York Giants
The rookie running back out of Penn State may be the most hyped RB we’ve seen since Adrian Peterson coming out of Oklahoma. However, Barkley is hyped for a different reason. Barkley is in the same mold as most of the guys on this list, outside of Zeke Elliott. He can catch out of the backfield and also provides a dominant presence in the ground game. People are expecting big things from Barkley, CBSSports.com’s projection system included.
CBSSports.com Projections- 192 Fantasy Points (12 FPPG) 1,123 rushing yards with 8 TDs & 425 receiving yards with 2 TDs
8) Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers
Did you know Gordon ended last season as the running back with the fifth-most fantasy points? I certainly didn’t. He was productive for the Chargers, but purely by playing for the Chargers, the ‘other’ team in L.A., he didn’t get much notoriety. But he’s a solid fantasy option, and CBSSports.com expects more of the same this season.
CBSSports.com Projections- 188 Fantasy Points (11.7 FPPG) 1,030 rushing yards with 8 TDs & 406 receiving yards with 3 TDs
9) Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars battering ram of a running back had a solid rookie season, as Jacksonville tried to beat their opponents into the ground with the running game and a ferocious defense. This year is likely to be more of the same, as Blake Bortles is still the QB for the Jags, and he lost receivers Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson. While Bortles finds chemistry with the new guys, Fournette will chug along on the ground.
CBSSports.com Projections- 183 Fantasy Points (11.4 FPPG) 1,148 rushing yards with 9 TDs & 290 receiving yards with 1 TD
10) Jerick McKinnon, San Francisco 49ers
This is the biggest surprise of the projection system to me. McKinnon has never started more than seven games in his career, so it’s unclear what he’ll do with a full-time role. But, based on his part-time stats, it’s understandable to see this kind of projection with a full 16-game load.
CBS Sports Projection- 176 Fantasy Points (11 FPPG) 885 rushing yards with 7 TDs & 552 receiving yards with 2 TDs