Best Backup Running Backs

  • When it comes to fantasy football, the term “backup running back” often conjures images of contingency plans and injury speculations. However, this article isn’t about handcuffs—those backups you stash on your bench hoping for an injury to the starter. Instead, we’re focusing on the best backup running backs poised to provide standalone value despite being second on the depth chart.

    These running backs might not be the primary option in their respective offenses, but they are talented enough to carve out significant roles and make an impact in fantasy football even if the starters remain healthy all season. Would these players have insane value if the starter goes down? Absolutely. But here, we’re assuming every running back stays healthy for the entirety of the year. This leaves these backups to compete for scraps and still deliver fantasy points by making the most of their limited opportunities.

    Some of the names on this list could see close to a 50-50 split in carries, yet they remain the backup by definition. For managers in deep leagues, these running backs are worth noting. They offer potential flex appeal and can be critical additions to your roster, ensuring you have depth and upside without banking on someone else’s misfortune. So, let’s dive into the best backup running backs who can shine in their roles this season.

    Before we get into it, let’s look at some historical comparisons to give you a clear idea of what we’re aiming to accomplish here:

    • Tony Pollard in 2021 – Despite being the No. 2 option behind Ezekiel Elliott, the Memphis product produced 719 yards on 130 carries and two touchdowns along with 337 receiving yards on 39 receptions. Those are reliable flex numbers in most leagues.
    • Jaylen Warren in 2023 – Last season, Warren accumulated 784 rushing yards on 149 carries (5.3 yards per attempt) and four touchdowns adding 370 receiving yards on 61 catches. He was a weekly FLEX option in all leagues.

    A few running backs who are technically backups that won’t make this list are: Jahmyr Gibbs/David Montgomery, De’Von Achane/Raheem Mostert, Jonothan Brooks/Chuba Hubbard, and Brian Robinson Jr./Austin Ekeler. The reason being – none of these rooms boast a clear-cut RB1, so the workload is guaranteed to be split, or they already have sky-high ADPs with guaranteed standalone value. We wanted to focus on running backs with potential and a sensible path to significant touches this year due to their talent and situation.

    Without further ado, let’s dive into the top backup running backs to target in your fantasy drafts!


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