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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. 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.

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. Devonta Freeman (ATL)

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

Where Kyle Shanahan goes, fantasy owners eagerly follow. They know how good he's been for No. 1 receivers and running games. And last year, he was damn good to Freeman. Let's not get caught up in revisionist history, however. Last summer, rookie Tevin Coleman was considered the more interesting back, not Freeman. Coleman wound up getting the Week 1 start (despite an August hamstring injury), but a rib injury opened the door for Freeman, who had an inconsequential second game before spreading his wings. From Weeks 3-7, he piled up an absurd 825 total yards and nine TDs. He snagged 27 of 32 targets in the passing game, and had 5.3 YPC on his 109 attempts. A star was born. And just when we bought in fully on Freeman, the wave crashed a bit. Over his last eight starts he was limited to 3.25 YPC, and he had a modest four overall TDs. PPR owners weren't that sad — he still caught 39 passes over that period, staying on the field in all packages — but he didn't look like the explosive difference-maker we saw during Octoberfest. The team will probably lean on Freeman in the scoring area again — he was first in red-zone carries last year, and second among backs in red-zone targets. TDs can be fluky at times, but they sure pay the fantasy bills. Ten of Freeman's 14 scores came from the 7-yard line and in.

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2016 PPR Position Rankings

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Running Back Rankings

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