2024 Fantasy Football Rankings Breakdown: Running Backs

May 15, 2024
2024 Fantasy Football Rankings Breakdown: Running Backs

Our 2024 projections have been released, so it’s time to go position-by-position and briefly explain what I’m seeing as the draft season starts to take shape. This is the second of a four-part series providing an early look at our early 2024 projections.

More Rankings Breakdowns: QB | WR | TE


Here’s my annual reminder to follow the touches.

In 2022, of the 21 running backs who averaged at least 16.1 touches per game, only Brian Robinson failed to crack the top 23 in per-game scoring. There were eight backs who averaged at least 19.0 touches per game. Five of the eight finished in the top six and another (Joe Mixon) finished RB9.

Last year, seven backs averaged at least 19.0 touches: Kyren Williams (21.7), Christian McCaffrey (21.2), Josh Jacobs (20.8), Saquon Barkley (20.6), Rachaad White (19.6), Alvin Kamara (19.6), and Travis Etienne (19.0). Only Jacobs (RB19) failed to finish in the top 11 in per-game scoring, and four of those seven backs finished in the top six.

Nine of the 14 backs who averaged 16.0 to 18.9 touches per game finished inside the top 18 in per-game scoring. Only four backs–Bijan Robinson (15.9, RB20), Jahmyr Gibbs (15.8, RB7), Raheem Mostert (15.6, RB3), and De'Von Achane (11.9, RB4)–averaged fewer than 16.0 touches per game but managed to finish in the top 20 in per-game scoring.

As always, we should follow the touches when approaching the position, unless the player is highly efficient (Mostert, Achane) and/or catches a lot of passes (Gibbs, Bijan Robinson).

The Top 16 (Half-PPR)

There are 15 running backs (along with the highly efficient De’Von Achane) who should have rock-solid workloads: McCaffrey, Breece Hall, Robinson, Williams, Barkley, Derrick Henry, Jonathan Taylor, Etienne, Isiah Pacheco, Gibbs, James Cook, White, Jacobs, Kenneth Walker, and Kamara.

The Rams drafted Blake Corum to take some of the load off of Kyren Williams, but Williams is still a good bet for a top-five season. He was the RB2 on a per-game basis while handling an average of 21.7 of the team’s 28.0 backfield touches in his 12 games played. Even if his touches fall to the 18.0-19.0 range–64% to 68% of the team’s backfield touches–he’s looking at 16.5-17.5 (half-PPR) per game. Last season, that still would have been good enough to remain the RB2 behind McCaffrey.

It should surprise no one that I’m higher than consensus/ADP on Derrick Henry as he joins the Ravens, whose running backs have averaged 15.0 rushing touchdowns per season since 2020. Henry finished as the RB8 in his age-29 season running behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league. Tennessee running backs averaged 2.2 yards before contact per attempt last season, while the Ravens were second (3.2) in the league, so he should have more space to run. Henry posted the No. 6 rushing grade at PFF, was 11th in yards after contact per attempt, and 16th in broken tackles per attempt.

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