Fantasy football: Early 2019 running back PPR rankings

Fantasy Football, NFL

An early look at how the running backs stack up early in the 2019 preseason, since it’s never too soon to hammer out rankings in preparation for the fantasy season.

We continue our series taking a look at early 2019 positional rankings for fantasy football. As with our quarterback rankings, we will focus on redraft rankings — how players should be ranked when considering 2019 only. However, they can easily be recast for dynasty purposes by moving up players who are young with big upside, while moving down players who are aging or beginning to decline in value.

The rankings will be done in tiers, which is an optimal way to prepare for drafts because it assists in making an easier choice when on the clock. If a player is the final one left in a tier, while there might be three players left in a tier at another position, that may help highlight which player one should choose. These rankings are based on PPR (point-per-reception) leagues, which is quickly overtaking “standard” scoring as the new standard. Let’s jump in.

Tier 1

Saquon Barkley, New York Giants

Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints

Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys

Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers

These players should be the first four players chosen, in some order, in nearly every draft this year. They will all play the vast majority of the snaps for their respective teams this year, and all have elite or near elite pass-catching ability. All are also used in the red zone. Christian McCaffrey might have climbed to the second spot here if we knew Cam Newton would be 100 percent healthy. And an argument can be made for Alvin Kamara over Saquon Barkley since he’s on such a better offensive team, but that didn’t bother Barkley last season.

Tier 2

Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers

David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals

Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals

Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams

Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns

The second tier of backs all have huge upside, but most come with some downside potential. For example, David Johnson could return to being a top scorer, but the Cardinals still are not a good team, even with Kyler Murray. The same goes for the Bengals and Joe Mixon. And Todd Gurley has been dealing with knee issues, which pushed him out of the top tier. Still, any of these players could end up as a top-three running back in scoring and it would be a surprise.

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