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Week 16 Fantasy RB Rankings: Must starts, sleepers, potential busts at running back



For most fantasy football owners, this is it. The fantasy playoffs are coming to an end, and those still alive are playing for some money, be it third place or a championship. At this point, start ’em, sit ’em decisions have never been more important, and discerning between sleepers and potential busts isn’t always easy. Our Week 16 fantasy RB rankings can help owners navigate through all the injuries, handcuffs, and workload concerns.

One of the problems entering Week 16 is that there are numerous RBs dealing with health issues that could impact their respective availability. At this point, counting on Christian McCaffrey (thigh) to return seems like a fruitless endeavor, so we’re not including him in our rankings. However, other backs who have dealt with injuries recently and been either “questionable” or “out,” such as Ronald Jones (finger/COVID), Antonio Gibson (toe), Ezekiel Elliott (calf), Damien Harris (ankle), Clyde Edwards-Helaire (leg), Myles Gaskin (COVID), James Conner (quad), and Joe Mixon (foot), will all have a massive impact on the depth of these rankings. If they all play, there will be a lot of top-tier depth in strong matchups. If not, some other streamers and sleepers will rise. In the case of the Dolphins, both Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed could be trusted as flexes if they’re both active.

WEEK 16 PPR RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker

Right now, we have Jones, Conner, and Gaskin included in the rankings, but McCaffrey, Edwards-Helaire, Gibson, Elliott, Harris, and Mixon are excluded. Jones’s status will be the one to watch most closely. The Bucs are taking on a Lions defense that had allowed the most fantasy points to RBs ahead of Week 15, so if Jones plays, he will be an RB1. If not, Leonard Fournette and LeSean McCoy could end up being good RB2/flex plays, as they’ll likely split the workload in a favorable matchup.

WEEK 16 STANDARD RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker

The Bucs aren’t the only team in a good matchup that could create some streaming options this week. The Bengals are taking on the Texans, a defense that has allowed the most rushing yards to RBs this season, so Giovani Bernard should be an RB2 if he’s the one getting volume for Cincinnati. If not, look out for Trayveon Williams or Samaje Perine to emerge as a worthwhile flex option in a solid matchup. We’ll know more about that situation after Monday night. 

Speaking of flex options, there are plenty of good ones on the slate this week. J.D. McKissic (vs. Panthers) stands out as an excellent sleeper against a weak Panthers defense if Gibson can’t play. McKissic would be even better in PPR leagues, while Peyton Barber has some TD-or-bust upside in standard leagues. Whoever starts for the Cowboys (vs. Eagles), Conner (@ Colts), and D’Andre Swift (vs. Bucs) are all in tough matchups, but their volume will make them solid starts, though they may be riskier plays than normal.

Don’t be afraid to sit a back who got you to a championship game if he is in a bad matchup this week. That doesn’t mean you start Devin Singletary (@ Patriots) over Dalvin Cook (@ Saints), of course, but if talent and workload are close, trust the matchup.

Reminder: As always, we expect to make plenty of changes to these RB rankings throughout the week, so check back for updates.

Week 16 Fantasy RB Rankings (Standard)

These rankings are for non-PPR leagues.

Rank Player
1 Derrick Henry, TEN @ GB
2 Aaron Jones, GB vs. TEN
3 Nick Chubb, CLE @ NYJ. The Jets just slowed down Cam Akers and the Rams. They won’t have the same luck with Nick Chubb, who is averaging 112.8 yards per game during his four-game TD streak.
4 David Montgomery, CHI @ JAX
5 Alvin Kamara, NO vs. MIN
6 Dalvin Cook, MIN @ NO
7 Austin Ekeler, LAC vs. DEN
8 Ronald Jones, TB @ DET. Jones (finger/COVID) will need to be monitored closely this week, but if he can play and is 100 percent, he can be trusted as a top-10 play against the Lions’ bottom-ranked defense against RBs.
9 Miles Sanders, PHI @ DAL
10 Josh Jacobs, LV vs. MIA
11 Melvin Gordon, DEN @ LAC
12 James Robinson, JAX vs. CHI
13 David Johnson, HOU vs. CIN
14 Cam Akers, LAR @ SEA
15 Tony Pollard, DAL vs. PHI. Pollard started in place of an injured Ezekiel Elliott against the 49ers and managed to put up 132 scrimmage yards and two TDs in that game. The Eagles haven’t allowed a lot of rushing yards to RBs this year, but they have allowed 13 rushing TDs, which is good for the fifth-most in the NFL. Pollard should be able to punch one home as a result.
16 Raheem Mostert, SF @ ARI
17 Myles Gaskin, MIA @ LV. Gaskin will have a chance to return from the COVID list this week in a favorable matchup. He’ll split carries with Salvon Ahmed if he does, but the Raiders have given up the third-most fantasy points to RBs this season as well as 17 rushing TDs, tied for the most in the league. Even if Gaskin only gets half a workload, he’ll be a strong RB2.
18 J.D. McKissic, WAS vs. CAR. In the two games that Washington has played without Antonio Gibson, McKissic has put up 17.5 touches per game for 96.5 yards and has scored once in that span. Gibson (toe) will need to be watched this week, but if he can’t play, McKissic is certainly an RB2 and has high PPR upside. The Panthers have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to RBs this season including the fifth-most receptions to the position (82), so this is a good matchup for McKissic.
19 Sony Michel, NE vs. BUF. With the Patriots eliminated from playoff contentions, it’s unclear whether or not they’ll bring back Damien Harris (ankle) to play in the final two games for the team. If not, Michel will have a chance to serve as the team’s lead back after totaled 74 yards on 10 carries against the Dolphins. The Bills have allowed 12 rushing TDs on the year, good for the eighth-most in the league, so Michel could break through for a 100-yard day and a score in a solid matchup.
20 Jonathan Taylor, IND @ PIT
21 Mike Davis, CAR @ WAS. At this point, it’s hard to imagine that Christian McCaffrey (thigh) will return to the Panthers this season. Thus, Mike Davis is included in our rankings as the lead back for the Panthers. Davis has averaged 76 yards per game since Week 3 and has scored seven total TDs this year, but while the volume is there, the matchup with Washington’s solid run defense isn’t a great one to exploit. They have allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to RBs, so Davis will have a low floor in this matchup.
22 Kareem Hunt, CLE @ NYJ. Nick Chubb has been seeing far more touches than Kareem Hunt in recent weeks, but Hunt had a two-TD game against the Ravens a couple of weeks ago and if the Browns can handle the Jets well enough on offense, they’ll be sure to mix up their backs plenty in this one. The Jets have actually been surprisingly solid at preventing RB touchdowns, but they have allowed the fourth-most receptions to the position (83). That’ll make Hunt a big-time PPR threat and a must-start in all formats.
23 Chris Carson, SEA vs. LAR. Carson totaled 69 yards on 17 touches against Washington. He may have similar numbers against a Rams defense that has allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to RBs this season and the second-fewest overall rushing yards on a league-wide scale, so that’ll make him a low-end, TD-dependent RB2.
24 Le’Veon Bell, KC vs. ATL. Clyde Edwards-Helaire (hip/ankle) looks like he’s going to be out for the rest of the regular season. That will open the door for Bell to serve as the lead back in his stead. Bell will have a chance to produce against the Falcons, but he’ll likely have to do most of his damage in the air. Atlanta has allowed the second-fewest rushing yards to RBs this season but the fifth-most receiving TDs (4). Bell is a good pass-catcher, but he’ll be a flex in standard formats given the uncertainty surrounding his role.
25 Kenyan Drake, ARI vs. SF
26 Salvon Ahmed, MIA @ LV. Last week, Ahmed served as the primary back for the Dolphins and was able to run for 122 yards on 23 carries and found the end-zone. It was a breakout performance from Ahmed, and it seems likely that he will continue to be a key producer in the Dolphins’ offense. His ceiling will depend on whether or not Gaskin returns and what type of role he has, but Ahmed can be counted on as a high-end flex at the very least against a Raiders defense that has allowed the third-most fantasy points to RBs this season.
27 JK Dobbins, BAL vs. NYG. Dobbins has scored in four consecutive games and during the span, he has averaged 72.5 total yards per game. Since the Giants have allowed the third-most receiving yards to RBs this season (676), there could be a chance for him to emerge and showcase his pass-catching skills in this contest. The only concern is that Lamar Jackson and Gus Edwards may vulture TDs from him near the goal-line.
28 D’Andre Swift, DET vs. TB. Swift has scored three times since returning from a concussion and illness in Week 14. He may find it hard to do that against a Buccaneers team that has allowed the fewest rushing yards to RBs this season. However, the Bucs have allowed the most receiving yards to the position, so Swift may be able to take advantage of that aspect of the defense.
29 Wayne Gallman, NYG @ BAL
30 Giovani Bernard, CIN @ HOU
31 James Conner, PIT vs. IND
32 Devin Singletary, BUF @ NE
33 Zack Moss, BUF @ NE
34 Jamaal Williams, GB vs. TEN
35 Leonard Fournette, TB @ DET
36 Frank Gore, NYJ vs. CLE
37 Lynn Bowden, MIA @ LV
38 Gus Edwards, BAL vs. NYG
39 Jeff Wilson Jr., SF @ ARI
40 Phillip Lindsay, DEN @ LAC
41 Latavius Murray, NO vs. MIN
42 Peyton Barber, WAS vs. CAR
43 Nyheim Hines, IND @ PIT
44 Trayveon Wiliams, CIN @ HOU
45 Ito Smith, ATL @ KC
46 Ty Johnson, NYJ vs. CLE
47 Kalen Ballage, LAC vs. DEN
48 Todd Gurley, ATL @ KC
49 Samaje Perine, CIN @ HOU
50 Duke Johnson, HOU vs. CIN
51 Adrian Peterson, DET vs. TB
52 Carlos Hyde, SEA vs. LAR
53 Chase Edmonds, ARI vs. SF
54 James White, NE vs. BUF
55 Darrel Williams, KC vs. TB
56 Darrell Henderson, LAR @ SEA
57 Devontae Booker, LV vs. MIA
58 Rico Dowdle, DAL vs. PHI
59 Justin Jackson, LAC vs. DEN
60 Boston Scott, PHI @ DAL
61 Alexander Mattison, MIN @ NO
62 Darrynton Evans, TEN @ GB
63 Benny Snell, PIT vs. IND
64 Rodney Smith, CAR @ WAS
65 LeSean McCoy, TB @ DET
66 Malcolm Brown, LAR @ SEA
67 Jalen Richard, LV vs. MIA
68 Matt Breida, MIA @ LV
69 Dion Lewis, NYG @ BAL
70 Brian Hill, ATL @ KC
71 Kerryon Johnson, DET vs. TB
72 Royce Freeman, DEN @ LAC





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