After the great feedback we received on our composite devy quarterback rankings, the BREAKOUT FINDER team is back again. This time, we are diving in on the fantasy money makers- Running backs. These ball-carriers continue to be one of the most polarizing positions in fantasy. Whether you believe in loading up early or taking a chance on the “Zero RB” strategy, productive play from the running back position is essential to achieve your championship dreams.
The devy landscape at the running back position spreads far and wide. The list of players can feel overwhelming at times, but we’re here to try to help you sort out the madness. We’re coming at you with our teams top ten overall devy running backs. So sit back, relax, and read up on some of the guys who should be on your radar heading into 2020.
The Honorable Mentions
Although they didnt receive enough votes to land inside our teams composite rankings, these are the backs that made enough of an impact to earn a place amongst a few of our teams personal top ten list. That alone, deserves your attention. With another good season under their belts, a few of these names could find themselves in the top ten sooner then later.
These honorable mentions are listed in no specific order.
Bijan Robinson, Texas (2023; Freshman)
The 5 star prospect and number 1 ranked back in the 2020 recruiting class has been making waves on his journey to Texas. He sits atop many devy anaysts rankings as the #1 freshman running back and his level of undeniable talent almost earned him a spot inside our top 10 overall without playing a down of college ball. Crazy you say? We prefer the term “Bold.”
Devy, as my good friend Mr. Noah Hills outlined for us recently, is lawless. These players are still so raw (even when they’re highly-touted), that their path forward can be muddied up very quickly. Ranking these prospects is a tricky business, given those unknowns. You’re going off of pure conviction most of the time; many flourish, even more fizzle out. Bijan Robinson looks like a pretty healthy, safe bet, to me. Hailing from Salpoint Cathlotic in Tuscon, he had offers from the who’s who of D1 college ball, of course.
Standing at 6-0, 200 pounds, he looks like he can play Sunday ball right now. 247Sports ranks him as the RB1 for the 2020 cycle and even throws out an Alvin Kamara-comparison in the process. While I don’t think he has Kamara hands (quite yet), there’s a good base to work from. Overall, his profile is exactly what you want to see coming out of the high school ranks. Look for him to be inserted in a three-down, workhorse role sooner than later at Texas.
Zamir White, Georgia (Junior; 2021)
As a bit of a surprise omission to some, former #1 overall running back recruit Zamir “Zeus” White falls out of our top ten. The concerns are obvious – two ACL tears in the past two years, if you weren’t aware- but so is the level of talent. He landed at RB9 for me, but our guy D.G continues to sing the praises of White, locking him it at 6 overall on his personal list.
Another beast of a back here, Zamir White is 6’1″, 220lbs and one of the big names to watch this season. He will have to share some carries with James Cook at Georgia but he should handle the bulk of them. All Zamir has to do is STAY HEALTHY. He showed a glimpse of what he can do in the Sugar Bowl when he carried the rock 18 times for 92 yards. This a player who ran for 2000+ yards in high school twice and has shown speed, vision, power and elusiveness. If Zamir can stay healthy, he could easily contend for the RB1 overall this year in college football. @thedraftgenius
Eric Gray, Tennessee (Sophmore; 2022)
Our guy Doug continues to pound the table for Gray, receiving his lone vote in the top ten. After finishing the 2019 on a high-note, the rising sophomore has a legitimate chance to see meaningful playing time this year and make some noise. His days as an under the radar devy asset could be over fairly quickly in 2020.
“Gray continues to be a player i’m higher on than consensus. He matured as the season wore on and his confidence grew, showing out his last 2 games with 39/332/4 including a TaxSlayers Gator Bowl MVP. Gray has good vision, speed, and elusiveness. He continues to inch up my rankings, but I’d like to see him play with more strength and aggressiveness in 2020.
Jerrion Ealy, Ole Miss (Sophomore; 2022)
Although hes a bit of a smaller running back (5’9, 180 lbs), Jerrion Ealy’s dynamic play as a freshman at Ole Miss earned him SEC All-Freshman honors at three different positions. He averaged almost 7 yards per carry en route to 894 scrimmage yards and 13 touchdowns. Our guy Noah is a big believer in Ealy, showcasing his big play potential and electric talent in his “Noah Knows” series.
“If you believe that a precocious two-sport athlete who has yet to hit his 20th birthday can put on some muscle while building upon his already quality production in the best college football conference in the country, then Ealy is a very intriguing devy prospect. I do believe, and at his current price, I am all over a shot at the next CJ Spiller.” @noahmoreparties
D.J Williams, Auburn (Sophomore; 2022)
With Auburns 2019 leading rusher Jartavious Whitlow suprisingly entering the transfer portal, sophomore running back D.J Williams becomes the next man up for the Tigers.
The former 4-star prospect brings NFL-ready size (5-11, 216 lbs) and an electric skill-set that made Williams a favorite amongst Tigers fans early. During a 4-game stretch that saw Whitlow sidelined by injury, Williams gave fans a glimpse of what he was capable of, including an 133-yard effort vs LSU. Although he didnt crack my top ten, I wrote a piece about D.J and his opportunity back in april. He remains under the radar across most devy circles and could crack this list by this time next year
Re’Mahn Davis, Temple (sophomore; 2022)
Mr. Hills is back at it again, this time highlighting one of my personal favorites in Temple running back Re’Mahn Davis. The impressive freshman earned a spot in Noah’s top ten and continues to be criminally underrated across devy leagues.
“Temple’s Re’Mahn Davis ran for nearly 1000 yards and caught 15 balls as a true freshman in 2019 and, with size and ability as a ball-carrier that hint at workhorse potential, is a guy who is underappreciated in the devy-land. Of the 318 true freshman running back seasons in my database, Davis’ composite Production Score of 69.3 (out of 100) ranks in the 81st percentile as the 59th best among them. The 24.8% Dominator Rating he posted is an 87th-percentile mark, coming in in the top 40 among all true freshmen and as the 12th-best mark among true freshmen at non-Power 5 schools.” @noahmoreparties
Kylin Hill, Mississippi State (Senior; 2021)
With the additions of Head Coach Mike Leach and QB K.J Costello this offseason, running back Kylin Hill is set to improve on an impressive junior season that saw him rush for over 1300 yards. Although some were surprised with his return to school, the idea of linking up with Leach and showcasing his versatile skill-set was all too alluring. Hill will have a chance to almost double his 44 career receptions and build on his 2800 scrimmage yards in 2020.
“Kylin Hill received an uptick in volume this past year and turned it into over 1,300 yards on the ground. His rushing efficiency dropped a bit between 2018 and 2019, but I expect a bounce back season this year, especially as a receiver out of the backfield with Mike Leach coming to town. Hill is a name to keep on your watch list as he enters a make-or-break senior season.” @Lanemitchell96
Chris Tyree, Notre Dame (Freshman; 2023)
“Chris Tyree is an incoming freshman for Notre Dame this year, and was ranked as the 30th overall prospect in his class by ESPN. He has been consistently listed as a four-star prospect and ran an eye-popping 4.23 forty yard dash per ESPN Recruiting. The all purpose back out of Thomas Dale High School stands 5 foot 10 and weighs 179 pounds, so if he can put on some weight once he gets on campus, he could be a star at the next level.” @LaneMitchell96
Another sub-190 pound back almost makes our list here, with freakish athletic ability and blazing speed. Sometimes, you just know talent when you see it. Although Tyree is small, the talent is undeniable. With youth on his side and a D1 strength and training program at his disposal, his opportunity to pack on a few pounds could go a long way for his future placement on this list.
What you came here for: The Top 10
These are the big guns. The types of running backs we believe you can build your rosters around. The type of cornerstone piece that will help lead your team to a championship. Whether its efficiency, 3-down ability, or versatility – these backs have that special level of talent your looking for.
RB10 KEAONTAY INGRAM, Texas (Junior; 2021)
Another one of my personal favorites, Keaontay Ingram (6’0, 220 lbs) landed at RB6 in my personal rankings. That may be bold, but Ingram has the type of build and skill-set that NFL teams are looking for. In his search for “The next Alvin Kamara,” Noah Hills references the Longhorns ball carrier – highlighting his efficiency and versatility as a weapon out of the backfield.
“While Ingram’s efficiency numbers are not quite on the level of Kamara, they do land in at least the 64th percentile. Ingram flashes on tape as well, showing natural smoothness in adjusting to downfield throws. As a runner, Ingram’s similarities to Kamara are striking. They are both great at consistently avoiding negative plays and are excellent at navigating through the first level of the defense.” @noahmoreparties
RB9 Journey Brown, Penn State (Junior; 2021)
In 2019, Journey Brown’s late season breakout made devy owners pay attention. After barely recieving 6 touches a game over the first 8 games, Brown averaged 15 touches over the final 6 games. He racked up four 100+ yard games, including one 200+ yard effort in the Cotton bowl game. In a 2021 running back class that is searching for answers past the top 3, Brown may have the best chance to break into the top tier.
“I am a lot higher on Brown than the consensus. I have him in my second tier with Najee Harris and Max Borghi. I’m currently comfortable taking him the second round of (devy) drafts due to his upside. If Brown can further strengthen his frame(5’11, 206 lbs), handle a bigger load and contribute more in the passing game I can easily see him becoming one the most valuable backs in the 2021 class and ascending into a first-round dynasty rookie pick.” @jamescheeeyne
RB8 Zach Charbonnet, Michigan (Sophomore; 2022)
After an impressive freshman season that saw the former 4-star prospect rush for a Michigan freshman record 11 touchdowns, Zach Charbonnet is rising up devy boards. Standing at 6’1, 220 pounds, Charbonnet already has NFL-ready size. His powerful downhill running style abuses defenders and punishes would-be tacklers. The Michigan Wolvering has become somewhat of a favorite for Ryan Lopes, ranking him the highest on his personal list at RB4.
I was able to blurb about (Bijan) Robinson above, and my brother Cory was nice enough to lay out Charbonnet’s hieght-weight above as we lead in here: While I don’t think I have a “type” at running back, looking at these two players (Robinson, and now Charbonnet), you must be thinking size matters (insert your Michael Scott line here). Going back to the 247Sports’ comparison well, coming out of high school, they tabbed Charbonnet as a David Johnson-type player. Given the build and what would appear to be athletic prowess, something to monitor going forward.
Michigan has had struggles and consistency issues offensively, but Charbonnet still saw himself with double-digit scores last season. Hoping the program takes a step forward, we could easily see his production pile up during his sophomore campaign; I’d like to see his 8 receptions at least double. We know he’s capable, we know the talent is there, just need Michigan to feed him.
RB7 Kenneth Gainwell, Memphis (Junior; 2021)
Kenny Gainwell’s numbers speak for themselves: Over 1400 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground. Over 50 receptions for 600 plus yards and 3 touchdowns through the air. The dynamic dual-threat running back was a staple for the Memphis offense and is hopefully next in line to continue the trend of Memphis ball-carriers making the transition to the NFL. Although the explosive Memphis Tiger is a smaller back at 5’11, 191 pounds – our guy Noah has little worry and continues to pound the table for Gainwell.
“Gainwell racked up his 2,069 yards from scrimmage on incredible efficiency, both on the ground and through the air. He outgained his teammates by 2.10 yards per carry while outpacing them in Chunk Rate and Breakaway Rate by 4.60% and 3.80%, respectively. His performance in each of those three metrics lands him in the 80th percentile. Gainwell was equally impressive as a receiver, hauling in 51 passes at a 90th-percentile clip of 10 yards per target. His composite receiving score of 85.3, even adjusted for level of competition, is the 7th-highest mark in my database.” @noahmoreparties
RB6 Isaiah Spiller, Texas A&M (Sophomore; 2022)
“Showcasing great vision, balance, burst, and strength, Spiller is the complete package. He proved to be a weapon out of the backfield, displaying good receiving skills and a soft pair of hands. My only knock on him is top end speed but Spiller is primed for a huge sophomore season with the Aggies.” @DegenIndy
After taking over due to injury, Isaiah Spiller got his chance to showcase his abilities as a true freshman, and he didn’t disappoint. The former 4 star prospect ran for almost 1000 yards and 10 touchdowns, adding 29 catches for 203 yards through the air. He displayed tremendous vision and footwork, while carrying an NFL-ready build at 6’1, 220 pounds. Although he may not have blazing speed, the Aggies running back profiles as a true 3-down workhorse at the next level and has already began his college career with a bang.
RB5 Breece Hall, Iowa State (Sophomore; 2022)
When former Iowa State running back David Montgomery departed for the NFL in 2019, he left a gaping hole at the position for the Cyclones with no real answers. As a relative unknown, freshman running back Breece Hall caught my attention with one of best high school tapes I watched in recent memory. His dynamic ability was on display as a runner and reciever, dominating against high school competition.
It didnt take long for Breece to adjust to the college game and start displaying the traits that made him so exciting as a prospect. After touching the ball less then 20 times through his first 4 games, Breece exploded for almost 900 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground, catching 23 balls for 252 yards and an additional score. At 6’1, 215 pounds, Hall displays legit athleticism and big play potential. His versatility gave him the ability to play out wide and he continued to earn the coaching staffs trust with dependable pass pro. As my personal 2022 RB1 and RB4 overall, I think Breece has the potential to be the complete package and could find himself at the very top of this list by 2021.
RB4 Max Borghi, Washington State (Junior; 2021)
The Max Borghi comparisons to Christian McCaffrey have been difficult to ignore. The dynamic dual-threat running back has notched 139 receptions and over 2,154 scrimmage yards to go with 28 TDs through two seasons. Borghi (5’10”, 197 pounds) has also been deemed a “freak” of sorts. He reportedly runs a 4.35 forty yard dash and can bench press over 330 pounds. As highlighted in Noah’s piece about Borghi, his skill-set is perfect for todays NFL.
“Anyone paying any attention to college football or playing in a devy league should be very familiar with the name Max Borghi by now. His production through two seasons at Washington State, particularly through the air, is no joke. Borghi is a rare weapon out of the backfield and should immediately become one of the league’s best receiving threats at running back when he turns pro. ” @noahmoreparties
THE TOP 3
The former 5-star prospect and #1 RB recruit finally got his opportunity to lead the Alabama backfield in 2019, and he didnt dissapoint. It’s possible that Najee Harris could be the most well-rounded back of the top 3 – displaying elite running intangibles, a great pair of hands down the field and a sturdy presence in pass protection. The 27 catches in 2019 might not jump off the page, but it was the quality of those catches. He showed a soft pair of hands catching the ball down the field and displayed a natural ability to adjust to the ball in the air. With almost 2800 yards from scrimmage, Najee enters 2020 as the Crimson Tides unquestioned Rb1 and has a big opportunity to build on an already impressive resume.
“A 6’2″, 230lb tank that is a nightmare for linebackers is what you get in Najee Harris. He is not just a tank, he has the patience to make sure he follows his blocks and gets yards because of this. He has not been asked to do much as a receiver but he has shown good hands when needed. His balance is incredible which helps him look like a pinball at times when shedding off hits. He has all of the intangibles that you look for in a running back and the upside. He is always falling forward and gaining the extra yard needed. Take him everywhere you can if given the chance.” @thedraftgenius
Chuba Hubbard burst onto the scene this year after impressing in a limited role in 2018. The Canadian-born Cowboy may have been the best back in college football this year, flashing big-play potential and elite athleticism on his way to one of the most impressive seasons in college history. He was named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year and was a finalist for the Doak Walker award. Chuba has as good a chance as any in the top 3 to be considered Rb1.
“Chuba Hubbard is my number one overall devy running back. As a redshirt sophomore, he rushed for over 2,000 yards and topped 20 touchdowns on the ground while averaging 6.4 yards per carry. He also surpassed 20 receptions in both 2018 and 2019. At 6’1″ 207, I fully expect him to test extremly well at the NFL Combine considering he is a track star and is on the Oklahoma State Track & Field team. He’s a burner that runs with a purpose and if he had come out in 2020, I would have had him in my top tier of running backs.” @LaneMitchell96
“Travis Etienne checks boxes like few backs in recent memory. With requisite size, obvious athleticism, top-end production at an elite program, efficiency, and now a season of quality receiving contributions on his resume, Etienne is a no-doubter. He’s the complete package.” @noahmoreparties
Early last offseason, Travis put a scare into devy owners by claiming he wasnt comfortable catching the ball. He put those worries to rest, catching almost 40 balls for 432 yards and 4 touchdowns. It was arguably the last piece needed to complete a resume that includes elite acceleration, top-end speed, impressive contact-balance and superior vision. Entering college as a sub-200 pound back, Etienne was able to pack on 10+ pounds through his years in college, and was able to keep the same level of athleticism. All these signs point to a running back who worked hard to progress in areas he needed to, and profiles of a true RB1 at the next level.
That wraps up our running back rankings, stay tuned as we continue to make our way through every skill position. Next up, wide recievers.
DEVY RANKINGS: QB | RB
Cory Pereira/@FF_Guitarist & The Breakout Finder Team