Johnson won a lot of people fantasy championships with his performance over the final few weeks of the season. He was basically unstoppable running the ball and saw plenty of opportunities catching passes out of the backfield as well.
Heading into 2016, there really isn’t anything in Johnson’s way of becoming the Cardinals lead running back. Chris Johnson is a 30-year-old free agent heading into next season and Andre Ellington simply can’t stay on the field.
Some may think Todd Gurley should be the number one running back in 2016, but Johnson has much more going for him. The Cardinals have a solid offensive line with one of the best, albeit aging, quarterbacks in the NFL.
Right now, the Cardinals have one of the best offenses in the NFL and Johnson should be getting all he can handle in 2016.
2. Todd Gurley
In his first four games, Gurley turned out to be the running back everyone thought he was. Coming off an ACL injury, he looked as powerful and as fast as he did when he was tearing up college defenses at Georgia.
In four of his first five games, Gurley rushed for at least 128 yards and compiled three total touchdowns. After those first five games, it wasn’t so pretty for Gurley.
Over his last eight games, Gurley only surpassed 80 rushing yards three times and only had 11 catches.
Not exactly what everyone was expecting from Gurley after his first five games, but a lot of factors went into his struggles. First and foremost, the Rams are horrible and so is their quarterback situation. It doesn’t matter if it’s Nick Foles or Case Keenum, his quarterbacks wasn’t doing him any favors.
Looking ahead, Gurley is as talented as they make em,’ but right now he’s a great running back on a bad team. That means there could be a few times during the 2016 season where the Rams are forced to go away from running the ball. There were two games in 2015 where Gurley only had nine carries in blowout games.
Considering it doesn’t look like he’s going to be a factor catching the ball, it’s going to bring his fantasy value down quite a bit.
Gurley is a safe option but David Johnson offers a better all-around fantasy game.
Freeman really fell off quite a bit after his ridiculous early-season run, but he’s still the Falcons do-it-all running back and is basically Matt Ryan‘s number two receiver. On the season, he caught 73 passes on 97 targets for 578 yards.
Even though Tevin Coleman lurks in the background, Freeman has done more than enough to assert himself as the Falcons running back of the future. Potential owners should expect more of the same from Freeman in 2016, a lot of touches and plenty of yards.
This could be considered way too high, but unless Matt Forte returns, Langford should be in for a Forte type workload in 2016.
In limited work, Langford made his presence known both running and catching the ball. At 6’0,” 208 pounds with 4.42 speed, Langford has the complete package to be a lead running back in the NFL.
Again, if Forte doesn’t re-sign, Langford is going to be a very popular pick.
5. Le’Veon Bell
We all know that when Le’Veon Bell is playing, he is the number one running back in fantasy football. No question. However, he’s coming off MCL and PCL injuries that could limit his availability for the start of the season.
With the running back position being as insanely unpredictable as it was in 2015, the last thing I would want to do in 2016 is spend a first round pick on a running back coming off a pretty severe injury.
Peterson has been as good as any running back in the league this year even at the age of 30. He’s shown no signs of slowing down, but owners have to at least consider that he won’t be able to keep up his current pace as he gets older.
Though he might be as good as any other back on the ground, unlike the other backs listed higher than him, Peterson doesn’t offer much as a receiving threat.
Also, Teddy Bridgewater hasn’t shown the progress heading into year two as many had expected, and his growth in 2016 is going to be vital to AP’s success.
So, Peterson still looks to be at the top of his game, but drafters should considering go with a younger back that has more receiving potential.
7. Doug Martin
Doug Martin had a great return to prominence season in 2015, but right now, he’s a bit one-dimensional. Unlike some players ranked higher on this list, Martin isn’t too much of a factor in the passing games. Due to Charles Sims, Martin gets taken out on passing downs, and only caught 33 passes in 2015.
Even though Lovie Smith has been fired, it looks like Dirk Koetter is going to be their new head coach. If that’s the case, the Bucs offense likely won’t change much in 2016.
Doug Martin should be good for another 300 touches, but more touchdowns and receptions would be nice.
8. LeSean McCoy
I thought McCoy was going to have a much bigger year in 2015, and while he was good, a few injuries along the way held him back.
When he was on the field, McCoy looked really good at times, but his potential was capped by his lack of touchdowns. He only had three rushing and two receiving touchdowns on the season. The surprising emergence of Tyrod Taylor and Karlos Williams allowed the Bills to not have to force the ball in McCoy’s hands.
For 2016, owners should expect more of the same from McCoy. If he can stay on the field for 16 games, the potential is there for 1500 total yards, 8 touchdowns and 50 catches, but he has to stay on the field. Also, the Bills have a stud in Karlos Williams backing him up, so McCoy may not sniff 20 touches per game too often in 2016.
9. Mark Ingram
Ingram and most of the Saints offense has been an interesting case study in 2015. To the surprise of many, Ingram came out of nowhere as the Saints pass-catching running back in 2015 and also put together a solid season running the ball. However, due to the Saints being so horrible, sometimes the team went away from running the ball.
I like Ingram, but I don’t think he’ll see as heavy a workload as he saw in 2015.
10. T.J. Yeldon
Yeldon was a hot name early in fantasy drafts, but an injury-riddled season forced Yeldon to become a disappointment.
The numbers and amount of touches were nice, but he only averaged 4.1 yards per carry and just under 85 total yards per game.
In addition to the low yardage totals, Yeldon only scored three times in 12 games. The Jaguars also had a tendency later in the year to use Denard Robinson at the goal line, even when Yeldon was healthy. On the year, Yeldon saw 27 touches in the red zone and nine touches in goal-to-go situations.
All that being said, I like Yeldon quite a bit in 2016 and would even consider him over Doug Martin. The Jaguars offense is only getting better, and that should create better running lanes for Yeldon.
Also, Yeldon sees his fair share of looks in the passing game and could be a candidate for 50 plus catches. Some may be down on Yeldon in 2016, but he could improve a lot in 2016.