5 Running Backs With Huge Touchdown Upside for 2019
Scoring both on the ground and through the air while typically leading their teams in red-zone work, running backs are consistently where you're going to find the biggest touchdown numbers for non-quarterbacks in fantasy football.
This has always been the case, but as the game has evolved, so has the idea of what a high-scoring running back looks like. No longer is it just a power back who is getting the goal-line work. Now scoring through the air is just as viable.
Touchdowns correlate very strongly with fantasy production at the position, so identifying backs that look poised to find the end zone a bunch is a great way to find players who are going to outperform their average draft position (ADP) in 2019.
1. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
Any first-round running back is going to have big upside, but even in that group, Alvin Kamara stands out. He racked up 77 opportunities (51 rush attempts and 26 targets) in the red zone in 2018, which was good for second-most in the NFL. Only Todd Gurley, whose outlook for 2019 is clouded by injury concerns, ranked ahead of Kamara. The Saints ran way more red zone plays than most teams last year, but that's not too concerning. Kamara's market share of the team's red-zone opportunities was elite (37.6 percent), and the Saints could find themselves in scoring range a ton again in 2019.
2. James White, New England Patriots
A true hybrid out of the backfield, James White actually saw more red-zone targets (22) than carries (21) last season. That put him ninth in the NFL in targets inside the 20, while his 43 opportunities ranked eighth. Despite not getting much rushing volume, he was one of only 11 players in the NFL with double-digit red zone touchdowns in 2018. The Patriots' backfield is always messy, but White's role is likely the safest of the group. He also doesn't need to get any more ground work to be valuable, and he put up those 2018 numbers despite Sony Michel finishing sixth in the league in red-zone rush attempts. Like the Saints, the Patriots should also spend plenty of time in scoring range in 2019.
3. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
Derrick Henry is one of the most efficient goal-line backs in the NFL. Over the last five years, only 49 backs have at least 30 carries from inside the 10-yard line, and Henry ranks 13th in the group in touchdown rate (percentage of carries resulting in a score). That rank jumps to eighth if we just look at players currently on an NFL roster. Henry's volume picked up in a big way last year, and he ranked ninth in the NFL in goal-line carries with 22 – nearly doubling his career total. Henry led the Titans with 43 red-zone rush attempts and a 33.3 percent share of their red-zone opportunities.
4. Peyton Barber, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Peyton Barber finished tied for ninth in the NFL with 37 red-zone carries last year. Most of the other backs in the top 10 were the usual first-round players you'd expect to see, so Barber and his low ADP (RB42) really stand out. He only saw five targets, but thanks to his rushing volume he still ranked 10th in the NFL in red-zone opportunities. His market share wasn't quite up there with the elite, at 27.1 percent, but that's still a solid mark on an offense that ranked top 12 in Football Outsiders' Offensive DVOA in 2018 and returns most of their starters this year.
5. Latavius Murray, New Orleans Saints
Joining Alvin Kamara in New Orleans might look like a worrying spot for Murray, but replacing Mark Ingram in that offense puts him in a high-upside role. Ingram finished 25th in the NFL with 29 red-zone opportunities in only 12 games in 2018, and he saw at least 45 in 2017 and 2016. Doing that with Kamara in town in the last two seasons, Ingram proved that the high-powered Saints offense has more than enough scoring potential to elevate two backs to big touchdown numbers in any given season. This is the best offense Murray has ever played in, and he could be in for a career high in touchdowns.
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Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.