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Fantasy football rankings 2016: Running backs in standard leagues

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Running backs aren’t the first-round juggernaut they used to be, but the position is still important for fantasy owners to consider. Here are SB Nation’s running back rankings for standard leagues.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Running back was once the top position of fantasy football, the alpha and omega. They scored all the touchdowns, they got all the important touches. Occasionally there was an otherworldly quarterback or wide receiver who sneaked into the first-round conversation, but for the most part you drafted a running back and that was that. Often you would draft two in a row. Running back used to be a big deal, is what I’m saying.

But in 2016? The pendulum has completely shifted toward wide receivers. The NFL’s evolution toward the passing game has finally trickled down into fantasy football, to the point where the first-round running back is starting to be a thing of the past.

In addition to the receivers breaking out, the three-down running back is in further decline these days. Only a handful of backs in the league can be truly described as a "workhorse" anymore, and nearly all of them come with question marks for the 2016 season. Let’s go over the six players currently going in the first round in standard leagues, per Fantasy Football Calculator.

Todd Gurley. On paper, probably the most talented RB in football already, but he has an injury history and plays in an anemic Rams offense. Still, he has the fewest red flags among the elite tier.

Adrian Peterson. 30 years old. We know Peterson isn’t actually human, but are you comfortable investing a top-five pick into a 30-year-old running back?

David Johnson. Was a phenomenal playmaker in limited action last year, but Chris Johnson still lurks as a potential threat to early-down touches.

Ezekiel Elliott. Everybody’s favorite rookie this year, but let’s pump the brakes on this hype train — you really shouldn’t be spending a first-round pick on a running back who has as many NFL carries as you do. Also he’s been dealing with hamstring problems in camp.

Lamar Miller. Criminally underutilized in Miami, Miller should finally be unleashed in the Texans’ ball-control offense. "Should" is the operative word here, but I’m far more comfortable drafting Miller over Elliott.

Le’Veon Bell. Suspended for the first four games. Knee ligament injuries continue to pile up.

When you get to the second round, you see names like Devonta Freeman, Jamaal Charles, Eddie Lacy, Doug Martin and LeSean McCoy, all of whom are far more reasonable investments at that round. It’s easy to see why receivers are getting all the first-round love this year.

This is not to say that running back is a worthless position now — you still have to start two every week in most formats, and they’re still an important part of fantasy teams. In fact, the sheer depth of this position means you can find starting-quality backs anywhere in the middle rounds. But gone are the days when you had to draft one first or you’re doomed.

Rank Consensus Team DC AW SK MG DG
1 Todd Gurley LA 1 1 1 1 1
2 David Johnson ARI 2 2 2 2 6
3 Adrian Peterson MIN 3 4 3 3 3
4 Ezekiel Elliott DAL 4 5 4 6 5
5 Lamar Miller HOU 5 3 5 4 8
6 Jamaal Charles KC 6 6 6 7 4
7 Doug Martin TB 8 8 10 9 2
8 Mark Ingram NO 9 7 8 5 11
9 Le'Veon Bell PIT 7 11 7 11 12
10 Eddie Lacy GB 13 10 11 8 9
11 Devonta Freeman ATL 11 9 9 14 14
12 LeSean McCoy BUF 12 13 12 15 10
13 C.J. Anderson DEN 10 12 13 10 21
14 Latavius Murray OAK 15 15 16 12 13
15 Thomas Rawls SEA 14 14 15 13 17
16 Matt Forte NYJ 19 16 17 17 15
17 Jonathan Stewart SF 16 19 19 23 7
18 Carlos Hyde CAR 20 17 14 16 18
19 Jeremy Hill CIN 18 20 18 22 19
20 Ryan Mathews WAS 22 18 21 18 24
21 Matt Jones PHI 21 23 23 28 16
22 DeMarco Murray NE 17 21 20 19 34
23 Melvin Gordon TEN 26 31 26 20 20
24 Jeremy Langford CHI 28 24 24 27 22
25 Frank Gore IND 24 25 22 31 26
26 Giovani Bernard CIN 25 28 25 30 27
27 Ameer Abdullah DET 27 26 31 29 29
28 Duke Johnson CLE 23 27 27 26 39
29 Chris Ivory JAC
29 30 32 25 32
30 Rashad Jennings NYG 31 29 30 24 37
31 Arian Foster MIA 38 33 28 33 28
32 Danny Woodhead SD 30 32 29 32 38
33 Justin Forsett BAL 32 35 38 34 35
34 DeAngelo Williams PIT 34 38 35 35 33
35 T.J. Yeldon JAC 44 36 34 39 23
36 Jay Ajayi MIA 41 34 36 47 25
37 LeGarrette Blount NE 39 41 40 41 31
38 Isaiah Crowell CLE 33 40 39 37 --
39 Charles Sims TB 40 39 37 36 --
40 Derrick Henry TEN 43 42 41 38 42
41 Tevin Coleman ATL 37 37 42 40 --
42 Javorius Allen BAL 42 43 47 42 36
43 Bilal Powell NYJ 47 45 43 43 49
44 Theo Riddick DET 35 50 44 -- 50
45 James White NE 48 44 -- 46 48
46 Chris Johnson ARI -- 46 -- 48 44
47 C.J. Prosise SEA 50 49 -- 44 47
48 Devontae Booker DEN 49 -- -- 45 46
49 Spencer Ware KC -- 47 45 50 --
50 Kenneth Dixon BAL -- 45 48 40 35
-- Dion Lewis NE -- -- -- -- 40
-- Alfred Morris DAL 50 -- -- -- 41
-- Darren McFadden DAL 46 -- 48 -- --
-- Jerick McKinnon MIN -- 48 49 49 --
-- Jordan Howard CHI -- -- -- -- 45
-- Charcandrick West KC -- -- 46 -- --
-- Christine Michael SEA -- -- 50 -- --
-- DeAndre Washington OAK -- 49 -- -- --