Big-Play Ability Points to 2019 Fantasy Football Upside for These 6 Running Backs

Jason Schandl
Oakland Raiders v Cincinnati Bengals
Oakland Raiders v Cincinnati Bengals / Andy Lyons/Getty Images

With NFL offenses evolving to emphasize running backs in the passing game more, the old-school power back is all but extinct. It's rare that you're going to see anyone rack up 20 carries while just running the ball up the middle anymore.

That doesn't mean that RBs can't still have a huge impact on the ground though. It just means that the impact tends to come from their ability to break off big plays.

Ezekiel Elliott led the NFL with 304 carries last year, so it's not exactly a surprise to see his name appear here. His volume isn't the only reason he tops the list though – he ranks second in the group in the percentage of his 2018 carries that went for 15-plus yards (8.2 percent).

The most intriguing name on the list might be Joe Mixon. Barely behind Zeke, he had the second-fewest carries (237) of anyone on the list, and his 9.7 percent rate of 15-plus yard carries blows Zeke out for the highest mark on the list.

That was especially impressive because he did it in a poor offense. He made big improvements in his sophomore season, and if he makes strides again he could prove to be the only valuable fantasy asset in the Bengals' offense.

The only rookie on the list, it's a tall order for Saquon Barkley to repeat in 2019. The New York Giants' offense doesn't seem like it can get much worse than it was in 2018 though, so a year of pro experience under his belt should keep Barkley as a top producer. The rest of the list isn't quite as exciting.

Todd Gurley saw the NFL's fourth-most carries (256), and his 6.6 percent rate of 15-plus yards is the lowest among these six players. That's despite the fact that he also played in the best offense among them. Factor in his health concerns and his 2019 isn't looking promising.

Chris Carson is the only one that doesn't get serious involvement as a receiver, receiving fewer than half the targets (24) of the next-lowest on the list in 2018, so you're really counting on a repeat performance if you're taking him early in drafts.

Conner saw the fewest carries of the group, but his rate (7.4 percent) still only ranked fourth. He was third among them in targets though (71), and isn't especially reliant on breaking long runs to offer plus fantasy upside.

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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 their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.