Sometimes, fantasy point totals can deceive.
Case in point. David Johnson finished ninth in points among running backs this past season. That seems pretty good, right? Well, he was a top-10 fantasy back in just 56.3 percent of his 16 starts. What’s more, he scored 30 percent of his points in just four games. That’s a much bigger statistical factoid than his overall finish. So while he did put up respectable numbers overall, D.J.’s lack of consistent production might have cost you a shot at getting into the fantasy postseason.
So, who were the best players when it came to putting up solid totals on a regular basis, and who was more name than numbers?
Here’s a look at the 10 running backs who finished in the top 20 for fantasy points scored the most often last season (minimum eight games).
1. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys (93.3 percent):
No running back was more consistent than Elliott, who failed to reach the top 20 backs in just two of his 16 games. He also ranked sixth in terms of top-10 finishes (53.3 percent), so more than half of his top-20 finishes were also top-10 finishes. The lone back with 300-plus carries in 2018, Zeke will be considered a top-three overall selection in 2019.
2. Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams (92.9 percent): The fantasy MVP for most of the season among backs, Gurley opened with eight straight performances of 23-plus points. That included five games with over 30 points, which helped him lead all runners in top-10 finishes (78.6 percent). Gurley did deal with a knee injury and lost carries late in the season, but he’s still a surefire top-three pick in 2019.
3. Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers (91.7 percent):
One of the more underappreciated backs in fantasy land, Gordon had another solid season. He actually ranked second at the position in top-10 finishes (66.7 percent), and was a top-20 runner more than 91 percent of the time. Gordon has now put up a combined 38 total touchdowns over the last three seasons. Only Gurley has scored more in that time.
T-4. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (87.5 percent):
Barkley’s rookie campaign was historic, as he scored more PPR points than any other first-year player at the position. The Penn State product was also the first rookie with 200-plus carries and 100-plus targets, which helped him finish as a top-10 back in 62.5 percent of his games. Barkley was also second in top-five finishes (56.3 percent).
T-4. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers (87.5 percent):
McCaffrey proved that he could be an NFL workhorse, ranking third in touches among runners behind only Elliott and Barkley. Not only did he finish in the top four in top-20 finishes, but he has ranked fourth in top-10s and was a top-five back in 43.8 percent of his games. The Stanford product will be a top-five PPR pick in 2019 drafts.
6. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints (86.7 percent):
One of the top young running backs in the league, Kamara backed up his solid rookie campaign with a top-four finish at the position. The versatile back has caught 162 passes in his first two seasons, which ranks second all-time behind McCaffrey, and his skill set helped him finish sixth in top-10 finishes and fourth in top-five ranks among runners.
7. Kareem Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs (81.8 percent):
Hunt missed five games after being cut by the Chiefs due to an off-field incident, but he was a reliable option when he was on the gridiron. In fact, he ranked eighth in top-10 finishes and produced five 20-plus point performances in PPR leagues. Now with the Cleveland Browns, Hunt’s value is very much up in the air ahead of 2019 fantasy drafts.
8. James Conner, Pittsburgh Steelers (69.2 percent):
One of the best draft bargains in fantasy football, Conner took over for Le’Veon Bell and didn’t miss a beat. He finished sixth among backs in PPR leagues despite missing three games, and Conner also finished as a top-10 back seven times. Assuming he is once again the lead back in Pittsburgh next season, Conner looks like a cinch top-15 pick in drafts.
9. James White, New England Patriots (62.5 percent): White was also a tremendous draft bargain, as he finished just behind Conner in PPR leagues and was a top-10 fantasy back in 43.8 percent of his games. White did see his numbers tail off hard at the end of the season, however, as Sony Michel worked into a greater role in the offense. Looking ahead, White figures to be drafted as a No. 2 PPR back.
10. Phillip Lindsay, Denver Broncos (60 percent): The Broncos did feature a breakout running back in 2018, but it wasn’t Royce Freeman. Instead, Lindsay took and ran with the role. He finished 13th in points at the position and was relatively consistent in the stat sheets. He was rarely and “elite” option though, as Lindsay was a top-10 fantasy runner in just 13.3 percent of his 2018 games.