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2016 Fantasy Football PPR Rankings – Running Backs

A list of the top running backs to draft for the 2016 fantasy football season in PPR leagues.

1. Le'Veon Bell (PIT)

  Rushing Stats Receiving Stats
Year Att Yds TD Avg Rec Yds TD Avg
2016 Projections View Le'Veon Bell's 2016 projected stats.

There's no question about Bell's ability— he was the top RB in fantasy two years ago, and the No.4 back in per-game PPR scoring last year. But how many Bell games are you paying for? Where is his body at after tearing his MCL in the eighth week of the 2015 season? As we approached press time, Bell was whistling a happy tune, saying he would be 100 percent for the start of training camp (he's also been playing pick-up basketball; we suppose that's an encouraging sign). That's what virtually every player is conditioned to say, be it from overconfidence, their superhero histories, or wanting to protect their turf and livelihood. We'd love to see Bell at full speed, because at his best he's the most talented back in the NFL today. He offers a terrific blend of speed and power; probably the best sense of patience and timing at the position; and the ability to play on all downs and packages. When the Steelers have their Triplets of Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Bell on the field, it's probably the league's best offense, with no proper way to defend. Your summer assignment is to watch Bell like a bloodhound, monitor his every move. If he looks close to peak health, you can consider him at any point of the first round — even, theoretically, the No. 1 pick. But consider an insurance policy with DeAngelo Williams.

2. David Johnson (ARZ)

  Rushing Stats Receiving Stats
Year Att Yds TD Avg Rec Yds TD Avg
2016 Projections View David Johnson's 2016 projected stats.

After a splashy combine and a third-round selection in the spring draft, Johnson's rookie year stumbled from the gate. A balky hamstring held him down in August, and two ball-security issues from Johnson in Week 4 (one fumble, one dropped touchdown pass) sparked a stunning Rams victory in Arizona. Johnson resided in the Bruce Arians doghouse for the next seven games, limited to 30 inconsequential touches, but when the Cardinals needed the rookie for the stretch run, everything exploded. Johnson racked up 599 total yards and five TDs over the next four weeks, averaging 5.3 yards a carry and securing 14 of 20 targets. His signature performance came in front of a national TV audience — a 187-yard, three-touchdown trampling at Philadelphia. Arians confirmed in spring Johnson will be the team's No. 1 back entering camp, with veterans Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington clearly in the background. Johnson is the rare combination of a home-run hitter and a grinder—someone who can score from anywhere on the field, but also a physical back who finishes runs. He's capable of being an electric receiver. The Cardinals finished the season with a stinker, but they had one of the NFL's best offenses. This is a team you want to invest in, and you need to consider Johnson at any point of the first round.

3. Todd Gurley (LA)

  Rushing Stats Receiving Stats
Year Att Yds TD Avg Rec Yds TD Avg
2016 Projections View Todd Gurley's 2016 projected stats.

Gurley was a wait-and-see pick for fantasy last year, but the patient were rewarded — if you grade all the running backs in PPR value for the segment of games Gurley played, he finishes as the No. 3 player. A splashy comeback from someone who tore his ACL as recently as November 2014. In-game, patience was often the key to Gurley, as he went for a modest 3.5 YPC in the first half of games, then spiked it up to 6.2 YPC in the second half. Given the style of coach Jeff Fisher, it's not surprising the Rams remained committed to the running game consistently. Gurley went for 100 total yards or a TD in 10 of his 13 games, the type of consistency we pray for at this position. We'd like to see more work as a receiver, though — Gurley had 16 receptions in his first six games, but just five catches in his last six. While Gurley doesn't have the same outside-the-numbers wiggle as some of the other pass-catching backs, there's something to be said for unleashing him on a defense in different ways. And just getting him away from the mass of humanity between the tackles is a good thing; it's a sneaky way to protect wear and tear on your bell cow. And ring the bell the Rams will, over and over. They're in a new city, but the blueprint is the same — plus defense, rookie quarterback, so-so offensive line.

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