When it comes to fantasy football, there are few things more valuable than productive running backs. They’re often the first players to be picked and arguably suffer the most significant drop off from the good to the bad. With more and more teams opting for the dreaded running back by committee (RBBC), it can be difficult to pinpoint which situations you want to target, so with that in mind, let’s look at the best dynasty landing spots for running backs.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There are RBBC backfields like the New England Patriots, where you know who fits into which role, and then there are some like the Bucs. Ronald Jones and Peyton Barber have been splitting work all season with little indication of who would be the lead back. Jones has twice had 20 touches in a game but has also had six or fewer touches on four separate occasions. Barber, on the other hand, had had a game with 24 touches, a game with four touches, and a game with just two touches. Throw in Dare Ogunbowale, and you have a team desperately needing an identity.
Head coach Bruce Arians has previously shown a willingness to utilize a workhorse back, with David Johnson averaging over 23 touches per game in 2016. The team invested a second-round draft pick in Ronald Jones in the hope that he would be that player, but it hasn’t worked out. If they bring in somebody new in the offseason, then they should be allowed to earn a role as the feature back. The Bucs should continue to score points and, if they do, their starting running back could be very valuable.
Kansas City Chiefs
Few NFL coaches can get consistent production from running backs the way that Andy Reid is. We’ve seen league-leading performances from Jamaal Charles and dominant displays from LeSean McCoy in the past, while Kareem Hunt was on pace for a second consecutive top 5 finish last year before suspension cut his season short. Even in injury-riddled seasons, players such as Knile Davis, Charcandrick West, and Spencer Ware have stepped in and performed.
The Chiefs are currently relying on a backfield made up of an aging LeSean McCoy and Damien Williams to spearhead the running game. McCoy is a free agent, while Williams has been sidelined by injury for much of the year. Whoever ends up in Kansas City should find instant value and could be one of your dynasty running backs for a long time.
The Atlanta Falcons could well be looking to make a move at running back. Due to a combination of injuries, poor performance, and a lack of help from the offensive line, Devonta Freeman has struggled to live up to the significant contract extension that he signed following his rookie deal. With a new general manager and coaching staff expected, he could find himself out of a job.
The Falcons have had a few attempts at integrating new blood into their running back room, using mid-round draft picks on Brian Hill, Ito Smith and Qadree Ollison in consecutive years. All have found themselves struggling for touches behind Devonta Freeman and, previously, Tevin Coleman. The Falcons remain unconvinced that any of them are the future, and that’s a good sign for dynasty running backs.
Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter has struggled to establish a running game. He hasn’t had a 1000 yard rusher since Doug Martin in 2015. With Koetter looking as if he will be one-and-done in his second spell in Atlanta, the Falcons rushing attack should see an improvement. Running backs in high-scoring offenses are always valuable, and new coaching staff should be able to get good results from Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Austin Hooper.
I know that we think this every year, but this could be it. Lamar Miller will be a 29-year-old free agent coming off a torn ACL. This season’s lead back, Carlos Hyde, is on track for a 1000 yard rushing season but will also be a 29-year-old free agent. The Texans could opt to bring one of them back, but their long-term future is uncertain.
The Texans are one of the better offenses in the league, and their primary playmakers should be in place for a long time. Any team with Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, and Will Fuller will be productive. Plugging a running back into the offense could bear fruit immediately, depending on the backfield competition. If not, the opportunities should come in time.
Andy Gallagher is a writer for the Pro Football Network covering Fantasy Football. You can follow him @AndySGallagher on Twitter.