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6 Must-Have Running Backs (2024 Fantasy Football)

6 Must-Have Running Backs (2024 Fantasy Football)

There’s value to be had at running back across your entire fantasy draft in 2024. Let’s take an early look at some of my must-have running backs.

Must-Have Running Backs

Early-Round RB Targets

*Note: I’m excluding the top three backs because your ability to draft them is 100% dependent on your draft position.

Kyren Williams (RB – LAR) 

Imagine playing just 12 games and finishing as the overall RB7. Now, imagine said running back having a current ranking of RB6 in FantasyPros’ expert consensus ranking (ECR). Kyren Williams averaged 21.3 fantasy points per game in PPR behind only Christian McCaffrey. Despite his astounding rise to the upper echelon of running backs, he’s still a second-round pick and will likely remain in that position throughout the offseason.

Fantasy managers’ skepticism around Williams is understandable. Cam Akers has twice burned us and the Rams’ lack of loyalty around the position makes Williams a risky pick. Williams still needs to make it through the draft unscathed but the Rams are unlikely to spend significant capital on a running back. Health is always a concern with smaller running backs but Williams’ role is secure for 2024. If he plays the majority of the season, expect a top-five production repeat.

Josh Jacobs (RB – GB) 

Josh Jacobs is primed for a bounce-back season. After finishing as the overall RB3 in 2022, Jacobs had a career-low finish of RB28 with lows in rushing yards, yards per carry and touchdowns. The downturn in production was painful but not shocking. In 2022, Jacobs had 340 total carries. Running backs who see that type of workload often have underwhelming performances the next season due to injuries or inefficiencies. It’s easy to write them off but Jacobs is still in the prime of his career and got a significant upgrade in team situation. With the Packers, Jacobs retains his lead-back role and finds himself on a team with a strong offense that will yield ample goal-line opportunities and receiving work.

Mid-Round RB Targets

Raheem Mostert (RB – MIA) 

There’s little mystery as to why Raheem Mostert is a must-have running back in 2024. With De’Von Achane shooting up draft boards as a top-10 back, Mostert once again falls to the middle rounds as a strong value pick. Despite Achane’s emergence, Mostert remained a top back throughout the entire 2023 season. Achane should continue to assert himself within Miami’s offense, but Mostert will retain a committee role in an offense that can legitimately produce two top-12 backs weekly, and he comes at an RB3 value.

Zamir White (RB – LV) 

Zamir White still must make it through the draft without any significant addition to the Raiders’ backfield. But, White is set to take on a lead back role for the Raiders and has RB1 potential with his three-down back skillset. The draft is looming but the Raiders signed Alexander Mattison in free agency — who will likely fill a backup role — and retained Ameer Abdullah. They don’t need to make a significant investment at running back. Our sample size with White is limited but in Weeks 15 through 18, White was the PPR RB12 in average points per game. White’s average draft position (ADP) will likely rise if the Raiders don’t make a major addition but he’ll still be a strong zero-RB target for fantasy managers.

Late-Round RB Targets

Gus Edwards (RB – BAL) 

The Chargers will make an addition at running back during the draft. Jim Harbaugh has been adamant Gus Edwards will play a significant role in their offense. Given Harbaugh’s tendencies with the run game, they’ll need to make an addition to what should be a run-heavy offense. Despite the likely addition of a running back, Edwards is still a strong value pick if he’s used in a role similar to his role in Baltimore.

Jaleel McLaughlin (RB – DEN) 

Predicting anything for the Broncos is a tall order. They have major holes to fill on offense but their running back room is stable with three backs under contract in Javonte Williams, Jaleel McLaughlin and Samaje Perine. McLaughlin was the highest-graded back between the three, according to Pro Football Focus (PFF). McLaughlin led the Broncos’ backs in yards per carry and yards after contact per attempt with the highest elusive rating. Williams still has first rights to the lead back but the Broncos utilized all three in rotation. If McLaughlin continues to outperform Williams he could bully his way into a starting position similar to Chuba Hubbard in 2023.

Honorable Mention

Whoever the Cowboys Draft

In what was set to be an underwhelming draft class with such a strong free agency class, the Cowboys did the unthinkable and failed to sign a running back as Tony Pollard exited in free agency. Heading into the season with just Rico Dowdle and Deuce Vaughn would be ill-advised. There are several strong options for the Cowboys, including Trey Benson, Jonathon Brooks, Blake Corum and Jaylen Wright. Each back would have the opportunity to become the RB1 of one of the league’s most productive offenses.

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