Last week featured an array of answers to fantasy questions that have remained unanswered. David Montgomery and Jonathan Taylor are clearly RB1s, Austin Ekeler remains a stud, and Salvon Ahmed looks like a legitimately strong fantasy running back. Entering this week, the biggest question mark will be on Chrstian McCaffrey. Will the star running back return to his high scoring? Is he fully healthy? Will he play at all? To discuss the answers for every question you might have entering week 16, read my Week 16 Fantasy Running Back Rankings.
|20||4||Darrell Henderson Jr.||Rams|
|21||4||Melvin Gordon III||Broncos|
|27||5||Jeff Wilson Jr.||49ers|
|42||7||Lynn Bowden Jr.||Dolphins|
Tier 1 Running Backs
There is a new player on the top of my rankings for just the third time since I started them. Alvin Kamara torched Kansas City last weekend with 94 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown reception. The 18.4 point performance was his third consecutive 15+ point outing. In that timespan he’s averaging an incredible 19.5 fantasy points, somehow below his season average (23 per game). This week Kamara and the Saints stay at home to face the Vikings. Minnesota ranks 17th against running backs in fantasy. With Drew Brees back in the lineup, Kamara is set to have yet another strong performance. He’s my RB1 in week 16.
Dalvin Cook remains as an elite player this season, despite his drop from the top of my rankings. Last week he continued his dominance with yet another monster game. The pro bowler tallied 132 yards and a touchdown alongside 5 catches with 27 added receiving yards for his 6th game this season with at least 25 fantasy points. Cook amazingly averages 24.7 fantasy points per game, one of the highest marks in years. The Vikings travel to New Orleans this weekend to play a very tough rush defense, however. The Saints rank first against opposing running backs in fantasy. If there was a game Cook would be held back, it would be this one. But Cook remains a must-start given his incredible season. His matchup, however, places him just below Kamara for 2nd in my rankings.
Derrick Henry continued his epic 2020 season last weekend by putting up another huge game. His 147 rushing yards and a touchdown contributed to his 25.2 fantasy points, his 2nd consecutive game with at least 25 points and 5th for the season. The Titans travel to Green Bay for a Sunday night matchup against one of the worst rushing defenses in the league. They allow the 5th most points to opposing running backs in fantasy. Look for another big game from Henry. He comes in at my number 3 overall running back.
David Montgomery has suddenly turned into one of the best fantasy running backs in the league. After a somewhat expected season of scoring in the mid-to-low 10s, Montgomery returned from a minor injury in week 12 for his best fantasy game of the season (25.3 points). Three weeks later and the 23 year old has 4 consecutive games with at least 24 fantasy points PPR (longest active streak). Montgomery has a huge opportunity to continue this success against a poor Jacksonville rushing defense that allows the 3rd most points to opposing running backs in fantasy. He sits comfortably as my RB4 entering week 16.
Similar to Montgomery, Jonathan Taylor has shot up my rankings recently to also become a top running back. In his last 4 games, the Wisconsin alum is averaging almost 22 fantasy points. He’s also dominating the Colts’ backfield. In the last 3 weeks Taylor has tallied 49 carries to teammate Nyheim Hines’ 18. The Colts play a Steelers’ defense that has been tough all season, but recently let Giovani Bernard score 2 touchdowns and rush for over 80 yards. Taylor should remain started in all leagues. He places 5th in my rankings entering week 16.
Christian McCaffrey’s season is defined by injury and false promises of returns. Just a couple of weeks ago he was expected to return, only to continue missing time. The number one fantasy running back of 2019 has played in just 3 games this season, but had 24+ fantasy outings in each. McCaffrey has already proven to managers that he is matchup proof, so as soon as he’s healthy he should be started. There is a chance he plays this weekend against Washington, in which case he becomes a must-start.
High-Tier (Not 1) Running Backs
Austin Ekeler has played lights out football since returning from a hamstring injury that sidelined him for 7 weeks. In his 4 games back, he is averaging 17.55 fantasy points per game. Last week he ran for 60 yards, and caught 4 passes for 19 more yards. It combined for a fantasy game of 11.9 points. This weekend he will look to do better against a Denver defense that ranks in the bottom 10 against running backs in fantasy. He’s a high RB2, or low RB1 for week 16.
Some may have considered Nick Chubb’s game against last Sunday disappointing, but the Giants quietly have one of the best rush defenses in the league. Chubb still managed to tally 14.6 fantasy points against them. Over the last 6 weeks, the 24 year old is averaging 18.85 fantasy points. He is benefiting from the Browns run heavy offense, with 16.5 attempts per game (7th). This weekend they play a disastrous Jets team that punts more than any other team in the league. He should be able to put up yet another strong game.
Antonio Gibson may be back after going down with an injury in week 13. The rookie running back was averaging 21.6 fantasy points in the 5 games leading up to the toe sprain, so he is clear RB1 when fully healthy. It’s ambiguous, however, if Gibson will even play at all in Washington’s week 16 matchup against the 49ers. If he does suit up, he remains a must-start in all leagues. Managers must remember he may see less playing time while nursing his toe. He is my 10th ranked running back for week 16.
Mid-Tier Running Backs
Giovani Bernard had one of the biggest week-to-week comebacks we’ve seen by any player all season. One week after being benched for fumbling one his first carry, Bernard rushed for 83 yards and had total touchdowns against the Steelers. Keep in mind Pittsburgh was statistically the 3rd ranked total defense (in yards allowed per game) entering the matchup. Bernard will look to repeat his strong performance this weekend a horrendous Texans rushing defense. They give up the 2nd most points to running backs in fantasy, only trailing the Lions. Bernard is an RB2 or flex option for week 16.
Salvon Ahmed returned last week for a huge fantasy game. After being sidelined 3 weeks with a shoulder injury, the rookie running back ran for 122 yards and a touchdown against New England. His team leading 23 attempts is more than enough proof that he is the workhorse back going forward for this team. Ahmed still needs to prove that he can consistently score big fantasy games, but there are enough reasons to be optimistic about him. He has a chance to earn another strong outing against a very poor Raiders rushing defense that allows the 4th most points to fantasy running backs. Ahmed is a great option at the flex spot.
Wayne Gallman’s streak of strong performances broke last week against the Cardinals. The 26 year old could only muster 29 total yards in the loss. It was notably, however, his first game without at least 10 carries since week 6. The Giants play a Baltimore team that is not bad against the run, so keeping Gallman high in my rankings would be unreasonable. He’s my RB26 for week 16.
Low-Tier Running Backs
Lynn Bowden Jr. did not score quite as many points as his teammate, Salvon Ahmed, did last Sunday, but he is worth a mention for these rankings. The 23 year old is now averaging 11.7 fantasy points over the last 3 weeks. His strength has largely been in the receiving game, where Bowden has reeled in at least 4 catches in all of his last 3 games. Salvon Ahmed is likely to continue earning the bulk of carries, but Bowden can make a name for himself by continuing to hall in targets.
Darrynton Evans actually put up a strong performance last week against the Lions. Evans had previously been battling a hamstring injury that sidelined him since week 5. Being on a team with Derrick Henry, Evans will not see a bulk of the carries. He may, however, take advantage of opportunities when his pro bowl team gets tired to earn fantasy points like he did last week by catching a touchdown pass. Keep him on your fantasy radar.
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