Fantasy Football Rankings 2024: Running back tiers

2T0RA1K New York Jets running back Breece Hall runs against the Denver Broncos during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

• No surprise at the top: Christian McCaffrey leads the way, but others could push for the RB1 crown this season.

• Utilizing tiers for different draft strategies: Whether fantasy managers are looking for high-end options, safe picks, a zero-RB approach or handcuffs, these tiers provide something for everyone.

• Get a head start on fantasy football: Use PFF's fantasy football mock draft simulator to create real live mock draft simulations to get ready for your live draft!

Estimated Reading Time: 13 minutes

Breaking fantasy football rankings down into tiers helps fantasy managers better understand what separates each group and how to value each player for the upcoming season.

Tier 1: CMC and Friends

Rank Player Team
1 Christian McCaffrey SF
2 Breece Hall NYJ
3 Bijan Robinson ATL
4 Jahmyr Gibbs DET
5 Jonathan Taylor IND

Realistically, Christian McCaffrey is in a tier of his own. But we understand the variance of the NFL year-to-year, so we can be a bit more inclusive here in this first tier. All of these backs have overall RB1 potential this season, considering their ability to make the most out of their touches while also being among the best bets in the league to see high-end volume in their prime.

Breece Hall gets the slight edge over Bijan Robinson for the RB2 spot this season, coming off a year where he finished as the PPR RB4 on an offense that provided him just one rushing attempt inside the five-yard line (which he converted). A healthy Aaron Rodgers is a significant upgrade for the Jets' offense, and Hall has shown an ability to handle a heavy workload, averaging double-digit carries per game and ranking second in targets per game (5.5) this past season. His opportunity for touches should continue, and with an improved offense, those touches become more valuable.

Bijan Robinson dealt with playing time variance last season under Arthur Smith but still finished the year as a top-12 fantasy running back despite finding the endzone only four times as a runner and getting three carries inside the five-yard line. The Falcons' offense should be much more effective with Kirk Cousins under center in 2024, allowing for more stability and prime opportunities for Robinson under new head coach Raheem Morris. If that holds true, then Robinson is talented enough behind a high-end run-blocking offensive line to pay off his top-three ADP this season.

Jahmyr Gibbs would be ranked even higher within this top tier if not for how the Lions split his 2023 touches with David Montgomery. Montgomery averaged 16.1 carries per game last season when he was in the lineup, which is a significant number, even in a run-heavy offense. As a result, Montgomery also took away some of the high-value scoring touches from Gibbs and limited his ceiling. Expect Gibbs to win back some of those touches over Montgomery this season, but not completely. Montgomery was also very good, which keeps Gibbs from cracking the top three here.

Jonathan Taylor missed a chunk of time last season, appearing in just nine games during the fantasy season. When active, he still managed almost 18 opportunities (carries plus targets) per game and delivered 0.38 PPR points per snap. Taylor is locked in as the Colts’ workhorse running back this season, and while his primary competition for runs will be his quarterback, he should still bounce back to his 2021 form with a full season under his belt.

Tier 2: Locked-in RB1 weekly starters

Rank Player Team
6 Saquon Barkley PHI
7 Kyren Williams LAR
8 Derrick Henry BLT
9 Travis Etienne JAX
10 De’Von Achane MIA

Saquon Barkley and Kyren Williams were two of just five running backs to average more than 20 opportunities (carries plus targets) per game last season, but there is an expectation that those opportunities will dip slightly in 2024.

Barkley joins a loaded Philadelphia Eagles offense where there is more competition for touches than in New York, and he also has to contend with a rushing quarterback in Jalen Hurts who had more goal-to-go carries (26) than any other player at his position, eating into some high-value touches for the 2018 No. 2 overall pick. Barkley is still the clear lead running back on the team and will provide both rushing and receiving upside, but we project him for slightly fewer opportunities this year and he ranks just outside the top tier.

Williams may have to share more of the rushing workload this season after dominating touches in 2023. The Rams spent a Day 2 draft pick on Blake Corum — one the highest-graded running backs in the PFF college era (96.7). Williams was incredibly effective last season on top of his high-end workload, so there is no expectation that he will lose too many touches to the rookie, but it could be just enough to keep him from repeating as a top-five running back this season.

Derrick Henry has been a mainstay among the top fantasy running backs for years, finishing as a top-12 PPR running back in four of the past five seasons. He should have enough usage to do so at least one more time with the Baltimore Ravens in 2024. The Ravens' offense cedes a high percentage of rushing attempts to quarterback Lamar Jackson, which allows the team’s running backs to be more effective with their touches as opponents focus on Jackson as the top threat.

Since Jackson became a full-time starter (2019), the Ravens’ running backs have averaged a league-leading 4.8 yards per carry, with 1.8 coming before contact (also a league-leading mark). This is great news for Henry, as he’s never averaged fewer than 4.2 yards per carry in a season, even behind average offensive lines. Jackson did take 10 carries in goal-to-go situations last season, but his running backs also had plenty of opportunities, ranking tied for third in goal-to-go carries (39). Henry should easily absorb that role to help keep him among the top fantasy options this season.

De’Von Achane was by far the most efficient running back in the league last season, averaging 7.9 yards per carry, 0.67 PPR points per snap, 1.51 PPR points per touch and 5.14 yards after contact per attempt — all top marks at the position. He did that on just 12.8 opportunities per game, which ranked 39th at the position. Achane should see an increase in workload this season, but those efficiency numbers aren’t likely to remain stable, and they did decrease coming off his injury last season. It’s also expected that he won’t be fully embraced as a workhorse back since Miami still has 2023 fantasy RB2 Raheem Mostert and they drafted Jaylen Wright in the third round.

However, if healthy, there may not be a higher upside option in fantasy drafts this year than Achane. He just comes with significant risk if those typically unstable metrics regress and his workload is only slightly increased.

Tier 3: Volume backs with weekly RB1 potential

Rank Player Team
11 Josh Jacobs GB
12 Rachaad White TB
13 Isiah Pacheco KC
14 James Cook BUF
15 Joe Mixon HST
16 James Conner ARZ
17 Alvin Kamara NO
18 Kenneth Walker III SEA
19 Aaron Jones MIN

There is no guarantee that these running backs will handle a dominant share of touches for an entire season, but they are in the best position at the moment to be the clear lead backs on their respective teams with minimal fear of competition on their depth charts.

James Conner has dealt with injuries throughout his career, including last season, but he is among the better players at his position when healthy. The Cardinals drafted Trey Benson in the third round, which makes him a great handcuff option, but Conner is still the clear favorite to lead this backfield. Conner is coming off a career year during which he posted an 88.4 rushing grade, 1,039 rushing yards, 5.0 yards per carry, 3.93 yards after contact per attempt and 0.29 missed tackles forced per attempt — all top-six numbers at his position. He did this behind the 26th-ranked run-blocking unit in the league, making his performance all the more impressive and providing confidence that he’ll continue to be a force for fantasy in 2024.

Alvin Kamara has become less effective as a runner in recent years, and he averaged only 13.8 carries per game last season, the second fewest among those in this tier (ahead of only Aaron Jones). However, his involvement in the passing game provides him a strong production floor, especially in PPR leagues, having averaged a league-leading 6.6 targets per game in 2023. He may begin to cede more of his rushing opportunities this season, but that isn’t likely to eat into his receiving-down work, which keeps him among the top 20 fantasy running back options.

Tier 4: The start of zero-RB strategy options

Rank Player Team
20 Tony Pollard TEN
21 David Montgomery DET
22 D’Andre Swift CHI
23 Rhamondre Stevenson NE
24 Raheem Mostert MIA
25 Zamir White LV
26 Zack Moss CIN
27 Nick Chubb CLV

Pollard leads this tier but could easily be in the previous tier while being the favorite to lead his backfield in touches. However, coming off a disappointing season where he was given his first true workhorse opportunity, he lands here as RB20. Pollard is a good bounce-back candidate this season, as his play near the back half of last year was significantly better than it was at the start. Pollard isn’t expected to take on 18.7 opportunities per game like he did last season, but he should still be the favorite for carries and touches around the goal line, which will help keep his fantasy stock afloat.

Zamir White and Zack Moss are the newest running backs to be included among these top four tiers, as their opportunities for season-long touches increased greatly this offseason after their teams didn't bring in significant competition through the draft. White takes over for Josh Jacobs in Las Vegas, while Moss replaces Joe Mixon in Cincinnati. Both of these roles yielded more than 15 carries per game and at least three targets per game for their predecessors, which is ideal volume for any back to emerge as a consistent fantasy asset. White and Moss will have the chance to emerge, assuming they don’t squander their opportunities as unproven backs who may be on shorter leashes if they’re ineffective.

Nick Chubb suffered a significant knee injury early in the 2023 season and is on track to return to the field in 2024, but he comes with much lower expectations. It’s unlikely that Chubb will regain his RB1 form from years prior, knowing that it takes longer for players to recover from these injuries and be as effective as they once were, and the Browns may limit him when he is back. This creates a significant fall in his fantasy value, and so those drafting him may want to also invest in his handcuff (Jerome Ford).

Tier 5: Fantasy depth backs/more potential zero-RB starters

Rank Player Team
28 Jonathon Brooks CAR
29 Javonte Williams DEN
30 Devin Singletary NYG
31 Najee Harris PIT
32 Jaylen Warren PIT
33 Brian Robinson WAS
34 Austin Ekeler WAS
35 Trey Benson ARZ
36 Tyjae Spears TEN
37 Gus Edwards LAC
38 Ezekiel Elliott DAL

Jonathon Brooks is the highest-ranked rookie running back at the moment. He joins a backfield that offers minimal competition for him to be outperformed, even as a rookie. However, expectations for Brooks shouldn’t be much more optimistic than this in drafts, as he’s also recovering from a torn ACL, has just one year of college starting experience and the Panthers' offense isn’t likely to take a huge leap forward after finishing among the bottom three teams in the league last year in touchdown rate (11.1%) and offensive success rate (29.6%). Brooks leads this tier as a great bet for the latter half of the season, but temper expectations for the rookie in 2024.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Washington Commanders backfields won't be easy to sort out each week, as there will likely be shared touches among the duos on both teams, ultimately lowering their ceilings. Jaylen Warren and Najee Harris were already splitting touches last season at a greater rate than most of the league, and with Warren outperforming Harris on a per-touch basis, it’s likely that will continue in 2024. They should also split the high-value fantasy opportunities, with Harris getting more goal-line work and Warren getting more receiving-down work.

In Washington, Austin Ekeler joins the fold after a big fall from grace when he was drafted as the RB2 last offseason. His all-around ineffective season is likely going to limit his role in the Commanders' offense, potentially as more of a passing-down back. Brian Robinson was also one of the more effective backs last season when given an opportunity, ranking in the top 12 at the position in PPR points per snap (0.39) and missed tackles forced per attempt (0.24). Meanwhile, Ekeler ranked outside the top 25 in both categories.

Tier 6: RB handcuffs

Rank Player Team
39 Chuba Hubbard CAR
40 Zach Charbonnet SEA
41 Blake Corum LAR
42 Kendre Miller NO
43 Jerome Ford CLV
44 J.K. Dobbins LAC
45 Chase Brown CIN
46 Khalil Herbert CHI
47 MarShawn Lloyd GB
48 Bucky Irving TB
49 Jaleel McLaughlin DEN
50 Ty Chandler MIN
51 Tank Bigsby JAX
52 Jaylen Wright MIA
53 Elijah Mitchell SF
54 Tyler Allgeier ATL
55 Rico Dowdle DAL

This tier consists of players who are unlikely to finish the year as the leader in touches for their respective backfields, but they are the next men up if the expected leader misses any time. They are ranked with a combination of how involved they’ll be with the RB1 active and how confident I am in how they’ll perform should they take over the lead-back role for any stretch.

Tier 7: RB sleepers

The final group of running backs is quite large and consists of players who could emerge as starters at some point should something happen to the back(s) ahead of them on the depth chart. There could also be fantasy-relevant roles for some of the players in this tier, including Tyrone Tracy and Antonio Gibson, who could both see some steady receiving-down work in 2024.


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