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Updating each running back depth chart around the NFL

We track running back depth charts across the NFL for the 2020 season.

Christian McCaffrey — Carolina Panthers v Cleveland Browns

We now have a pretty good idea of what 90-man rosters are going to look like heading into training camp. Plenty of end-of-roster transactions are going to happen, but for most teams, we know what the roster looks like.

With that in mind, we’re going to track team depth charts by positions critical to fantasy football success. Below is a look at the running back position for each team. There have been some big changes for quite a few teams. The Falcons added Todd Gurley, Texans traded away the farm for David Johnson, Melvin Gordon headed to Denver and plenty of rookies could make an impact.

Fantasy football, especially for running backs, is all about opportunity. Keeping on top of playing time and touches is one of the most important aspects of our game. We’ll keep you updated of any changes in the pecking order as they come in this season.

AFC East

Buffalo Bills

Starter: Devin Singletary
Backup: T.J. Yeldon, Zack Moss
Depth: Taiwan Jones, Christian Wade

Singletary is poised to lead this backfield in 2020, but rookie Zack Moss will likely get work, as the Bills are comfortable splitting work between two backs.

Miami Dolphins

Starter: Jordan Howard, Matt Breida
Backup: Kalen Ballage, Patrick Laird
Depth: Malcolm Perry, Myles Gaskin
Others: De’Lance Turner

At first blush, this looks like a situation where Howard will get work between the tackles while Breida is used more in space as a receiver on third downs.

New England Patriots

Starter: Sony Michel, James White
Backup: Rex Burkhead, Brandon Bolden
Depth: Damien Harris, Dan Vitale

Damien Harris is the wildcard, but unless he takes a big step this season, Michel should continue to be the workhorse while White continues to work as a primary receiver.

New York Jets

Starter: Le’Veon Bell
Backup: Frank Gore
Depth: Josh Adams, Lamical Perine, Trenton Cannon, Kenneth Dixon

Adam Gase could play Gore more than we would like for fantasy purposes, but this is Bell’s job.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens

Starter: Mark Ingram
Backup: JK Dobbins, Gus Edwards, Justice Hill

The Ravens running back situation isn’t set in stone, as all of Ingram, Edwards, Dobbins and Hill are worth getting touches, but until we see differently, Ingram remains the lead back.

Cincinnati Bengals

Starter: Joe Mixon
Backup: Gio Bernard
Depth: Trayveon Williams, Samaje Perine
Others: Rodney Anderson, Jacques Patrick, Devwah Whaley

Mixon is the lead back with Bernard spelling him and seeing some receiving work.

Cleveland Browns

Starter: Nick Chubb
Backup: Kareem Hunt
Depth: Dontrell Hilliard
Others: D’Ernest Johnson, Johnny Stanton

Chubb is the lead back and a strong one at that, but Hunt should continue to see enough work as a runner and receiver to have standalone fantasy value.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Starter: James Conner
Backup: Jaylen Samuels, Benny Snell, Anthony McFarland
Depth: Ralph Webb, Kerrith Whyte, Jr.

The Steelers drafted Anthony McFarland, but he shouldn’t cut into Conner’s lead back work as long as he can stay healthy.

AFC South

Houston Texans

Starter: David Johnson
Backup: Duke Johnson
Depth: Buddy Howell, Karan Higdon

Johnson will need a strong resurgence after a couple of down seasons, but he is the lead back and will get every chance to remain the lead back.

Indianapolis Colts

Starters: Marlon Mack, Jonathan Taylor
Backup: Nyheim Hines
Depth: Jordan Wilkins
Others: Darius Jackson, Bruce Anderson III

This is a situation to closely monitor. Mack is the incumbent but Taylor is the rookie who is in line to take over at some point. Playing time could be split to start, but Taylor is likely to take over at some point in the season.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Starter: Leonard Fournette
Backup: Ryquell Armstead, Chris Thompson
Depth: Devine Ozigbo, Jeremy McNichols
Others: James Robinson, Tavien Feaster, Nathan Cottrell

Fournette will remain the starter, but could lose some of the receiving work he saw in 2019.

Tennessee Titans

Starter: Derrick Henry
Backup: Darrynton EVans
Depth: David Fluellen, Dalyn Dawkins
Others: Khari Blasingame, Senorise Perry, Shaun Wilson

Henry has the lead job locked up but will continue to be lacking in receptions, which should go toward rookie Evans.

AFC West

Denver Broncos

Starter: Melvin Gordon
Backup: Phillip Lindsay, Royce Freeman
Depth: Khalfani Muhammad, LeVante Bellamy

Gordon has three-down ability and will be the lead back. Lindsay should still be a part of the offense, but he’ll need Gordon to miss time to truly have value.

Kansas City Chiefs

Starter: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Damien Williams
Backup: Darwin Thompson
Depth: Darrel Williams, DeAndre Washington
Others: Elijah McGuire, Mike Weber

Edwards-Helaire was drafted in the first round and should quickly have a role in the offense, but Damien Williams is the incumbent and Super Bowl hero and Andy Reid likes his veterans. Hopefully we’ll have more clarity before the season starts.

Las Vegas Raiders

Starter: Josh Jacobs
Backup: Lynn Bowden Jr.
Depth: Jalen Richard, Rod Smith
Others: William Stanback

Jacobs is one of the safest backs when it comes to touches. If he were to go down, we would see a committee of backs replace him.

Los Angeles Chargers

Starter: Austin Ekeler
Backup: Justin Jackson, Joshua Kelly
Depth: Darius Bradwell, Bobby Holly, Gabe Nabers

With Melvin Gordon out of town, Austin Ekeler gets the lead back duties. Either Jackson or Kelly should carve out a decent amount of touches alongside Ekeler, but it remains to be seen who wins the backup job.

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys

Starter: Ezekiel Elliott
Backup: Tony Pollard
Depth: Jordan Chunn

Tony Pollard is one of the top handcuffs in the league, but Elliott is the lead back and a top fantasy play as usual.

New York Giants

Starter: Saquon Barkley
Backup: Dion Lewis, Wayne Gallman
Depth: Jonathan Hilliman
Others: Javon Leake

Barkley is the lead back with three-down duties. If he were to get injured, we would see a committee.

Philadelphia Eagles

Starter: Miles Sanders
Backup: Boston Scott, Corey Clement
Depth: Elijah Holyfield, Michael Warren, Adrian Killins Jr.

With Jordan Howard gone, Sanders is the lead back going into the season. His backup will see work, but we aren’t sure who that will be yet. Boston Scott appears like the best bet at this point, but likely won’t have fantasy value with Sanders in front of him.


Starter: Derrius Guice, Adrian Peterson
Backup: Antonio Gibson, Bryce Love
Depth: Peyton Barber, Josh Ferguson, JD McKissic

Washington’s backfield is a mess to predict. Antonio Gibson is the upside play of the group coming into his rookie year, but Guice and Peterson aren’t going away.

NFC North

Chicago Bears

Starter: David Montgomery
Backup: Tarik Cohen
Depth: Ryan Nall

Montgomery is the lead back while Cohen will be involved more in the passing game, much like last season.

Detroit Lions

Starter: Kerryon Johnson
Backup: D’Andre Swift
Depth: Bo Scarbrough, Ty Johnson, Jason Huntley
Others: Wes Hills

The addition of De’Andre Swift in the second round of the draft puts pressure on Johnson and his usage. Johnson will remain the lead back, but Swift will cut into his work.

Green Bay Packers

Starter: Aaron Jones
Backup: A.J. Dillon, Jamaal Williams
Depth: Dexter Williams
Others: Patrick Taylor, Tyler Ervin, Damarea Crockett

Jones is the lead back coming off a big 2019, but the addition of A.J. Dillon in the draft is a bad sign for a repeat season.

Minnesota Vikings

Starter: Dalvin Cook
Backup: Alexander Mattison
Depth: Ameer Abdullah, Michael Boone
Others: Tony Brooks-Hames, Jake Bargas

Dalvin Cook is a threat to hold out, but is still the lead back on a good run-oriented team. Keep an eye on his status, but he remains a top target in fantasy while Mattison is a great handcuff.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons

Starter: Todd Gurley
Backup: Brian Hill, Ito Smith
Depth: Qadree Ollison
Others: Craig Reynolds, Mikey Daniel

Gurley is slated to be the lead back and we know what his upside looks like, but we also must take into account his knee issues. If he loses time this season, we’ll likely see a committee between Hill and Smith.

Carolina Panthers

Starter: Christian McCaffrey
Backup: Reggie Bonnafon
Depth: Jordan Scarlett, Mike Davis
Others: Marcus Murphy, Rodney Smith

The Panthers might want to scale back McCaffrey’s touches, but they have little depth at the position. As long as he’s healthy, McCaffrey should remain a ball hog.

New Orleans Saints

Starter: Alvin Kamara
Backup: Latavius Murray
Depth: Dwayne Washington
Others: Rocky Ortiz, Taquan Mizzell, Tony Jones Jr.

Kamara is the lead back while Murray is a strong handcuff if Kamar were to lose time due to injury.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Starter: Ronald Jones
Backup: Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Dare Ogunbowale
Depth: Raymond Calais
Others: T.J. Logan, Ace’Cedrick Ware

Last season we saw a split in touches between Ronald Jones and Peyton Barber. There’s a good chance we see a similar split this season between Jones and Vaughn, but playing time remains up for grabs.

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals

Starter: Kenyan Drake
Backup: Chase Edmonds
Depth: Eno Benjamin, D.J. Foster, Jonathan Ward

With David Johnson in Houston, Drake will get the lead role much like he had in the second half of last season.

Los Angeles Rams

Starter: Cam Akers
Backup: Darrell Henderson, Malcolm Brown
Depth: John Kelly, James Gilbert

The Rams let Todd Gurley go and replaced him with Cam Akers in the draft. It might not be that easy to slot Akers in as the every down back, but he should get the first shot due to his skill set.

San Francisco 49ers

Starter: Raheem Mostert or Tevin Coleman
Backup: Jerick McKinnon
Depth: Jeff Wilson
Others: JaMycal Hasty, Josh Hokit, Salvon Ahmed

As usual, the 49ers backfield isn’t set in stone. Matt Breida was shipped off to Miami but Jerick McKinnon could be back to take his place this season. Mostert was the best of the group last season, so should get a shot to lead the group, but Coleman isn’t going away.

Seattle Seahawks

Starter: Chris Carson
Backup: Carlos Hyde, Rashaad Penny
Depth: Travis Homer, DeeJay Dallas, Adam Choice

Carson and Penny were the 1-2 attack last season but both were injured near the end of the season. Carson appears to be poised to be ready for Week 1, but Penny could start the season on PUP. Seattle grabbed Carlos Hyde as insurance for Penny and Carson.