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Fantasy: Backup running back rankings for 2024

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Given the rate at which injuries strike the running back position, knowing who's next in line for carries is critical for fantasy owners.

Not all backup rushers are created equal. And though the league-winning potential of a player like Zach Charbonnet appears obvious, many second-string ball carriers don't get the respect they deserve in fantasy drafts.

Here's how we rank the top reserve tailbacks, broken down into tiers and based on their fantasy value:

Co-starter/Overqualified backup

Rk Backup Team
1 David Montgomery DET
2 Raheem Mostert MIA
  • Top-10 fantasy upside if the starter is sidelined
  • Shares backfield with a more talented back
  • Will offer RB2 value/flex value while splitting touches

High-end backup options

Rk Backup Team
3 Jaylen Warren PIT
4 Tyjae Spears TEN
5 Trey Benson ARI
6 Zach Charbonnet SEA
7 Austin Ekeler WAS
8 Ty Chandler MIN
  • Top-20 fantasy upside if the starter is sidelined
  • Talent level is comparable to the current lead-back
  • Will offer RB2/flex value some weeks, even as a backup

Early-season injury replacement

Rk Backup Team
9 Jerome Ford CLE
  • Top-25 fantasy upside while the starter is sidelined
  • Unclear when starter will be healthy
  • Will offer flex production when lead back returns

Chance to carve out significant role

Rk Backup Team
10 MarShawn Lloyd GB
11 Kendre Miller NO
  • Top-25 fantasy upside if the starter is sidelined
  • Stuck behind an older talented back
  • Will offer flex value in a complementary role

Unproven but enticing

Rk Backup Team
12 Blake Corum LAR
13 Ray Davis BUF
14 Roschon Johnson CHI
  • 2024 role yet to be determined
  • Top-25 fantasy upside if the path to volume clears
  • Unlikely to offer enough production unless lead back gets injured

Proven short-term starters when needed

Rk Backup Team
15 Antonio Gibson NE
16 Tyler Allgeier ATL
17 Chuba Hubbard CAR
18 Elijah Mitchell SF
  • Top-25 fantasy upside if the starter is sidelined
  • Stuck behind a more talented back
  • Unlikely to offer enough production unless lead back gets injured

Explosive complementary backs

Rk Backup Team
19 Chase Brown CIN
20 Jaleel McLaughlin DEN
21 Rico Dowdle DAL
  • Will offer flex value in a complementary role
  • Top-30 fantasy upside if the starter is sidelined
  • Workload questions due to their profile and crowded backfields

Upside late-round rookies

Rk Backup Team
22 Jaylen Wright MIA
23 Kimani Vidal LAC
24 Tyrone Tracy Jr. NYG
  • Stuck behind a veteran RB who isn't a long-term starter
  • Top-30 fantasy upside if the path to volume clears
  • Still has a lot to prove due to Day 3 draft capital

Volume-dependent veterans

Rk Backup Team
25 Khalil Herbert CHI
26 D'Onta Foreman CLE
27 Alexander Mattison LV
28 Clyde Edwards-Helaire KC
29 Dameon Pierce HOU
  • Veteran backup
  • Value limited by the possibility of a committee replacement scenario
  • Would need the majority of touches to be a fantasy starter

Rookie backups

Rk Backup Team
30 Braelon Allen NYJ
31 Will Shipley PHI
32 Bucky Irving TB
33 Audric Estime DEN
  • Will likely require an injury to starter to have value
  • Top-30 fantasy upside if the path to volume clears
  • Still has a lot to prove due to Day 3 draft capital

Unclear situations

Rk Backup Team
34 Tank Bigsby/D'Ernest Johnson JAX
35 Keaton Mitchell/Rasheen Ali/Justice Hill BAL
36 Evan Hull/Trey Sermon/Tyler Goodson IND
37 Michael Carter/Emari Demercado/DeeJay Dallas ARI
  • Upside if a clear backup emerges and the starter is injured
  • Value limited by the possibility of a committee replacement scenario
  • Players to draft as bench stashes in final rounds

Deep-league stashes

Backup Team
Isaac Guerendo SF
Dylan Laube LV
Chris Rodriguez Jr. WAS
Eric Gray NYG
Jordan Mason SF
Isaiah Spiller LAC
Sean Tucker TB
Blake Watson DEN
Cody Schrader SF
Jawhar Jordan HOU
  • Long shots with intriguing upside if injuries hit their backfield
  • Have the skills to produce over short stretches
  • Watchlist candidates who could turn into key waiver-wire pickups

Free agents who could still be a factor

Backup
Dalvin Cook
Jerick McKinnon
Kareem Hunt

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