Fantasy: Backup running back rankings
Hannah Foslien / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Get ready for your season with theScore's 2020 Fantasy Football Draft Kit and subscribe to push notifications in the NFL Fantasy News section.

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 backups are created equal, and though the league-winning potential of players like Kareem Hunt and Latavius Murray may be obvious, many second-string ball carriers aren't getting the respect they deserve in fantasy drafts.

Here's how we're ranking the top backup running backs, broken down into tiers:

More than a backup

Rk Backup Team
1 Kareem Hunt CLE
  • Top-five upside if Nick Chubb is injured
  • Proven RB1 during time with Chiefs
  • Could still provide RB2 production without starting

Elite options

Rk Backup Team
2 Latavius Murray NO
3 Alexander Mattison MIN
4 Tony Pollard DAL
5 J.K. Dobbins BAL
6 Chase Edmonds ARI
  • RB1 upside if starter is injured
  • Stuck behind an established talent
  • Will flirt with flex value some weeks, even as a backup

Don't give up on them yet

Rk Backup Team
7 Marlon Mack IND
8 Kerryon Johnson DET
9 Phillip Lindsay DEN
10 Matt Breida MIA
11 Tevin Coleman SF
  • Top-15 upside if starter is injured
  • Currently in a committee with a more qualified teammate
  • Can provide flex value most weeks, even as a backup

Underrated upside

Rk Backup Team
12 Zack Moss BUF
13 Boston Scott PHI
14 Darrel Williams KC
15 Darrell Henderson LAR
  • Top-20 upside if starter is injured
  • Should have notable role behind a young lead back
  • Can provide flex value some weeks, even as a backup

Wild cards

Rk Backup Team
16 Antonio Gibson WAS
17 Damien Harris NE
  • Top-30 upside if starting at any point
  • 2020 role yet to be determined
  • Workload questions due to crowded backfield and/or limited college usage

PPR specialists

Rk Backup Team
18 Duke Johnson HOU
19 Tarik Cohen CHI
  • Limited upside as a fantasy insurance policy
  • Unlikely to serve as workhorse if starter is injured
  • Can offer flex value in PPR formats, even as a backup

Unclear situations

Rk Backup Team
20 Anthony McFarland Jr./Benny Snell PIT
21 LeSean McCoy/Ke'Shawn Vaughn TB
22 Justin Jackson/Joshua Kelley LAC
23 Jamaal Williams/AJ Dillon GB
  • Major upside in quality offenses if clear backup emerges and starter is injured
  • Value limited by possibility of committee replacement scenario
  • When in doubt, choose the younger backup option here

Half-season split

Rk Backup Team
24 Carlos Hyde/Rashaad Penny SEA
  • RB1 upside if Chris Carson is injured
  • Likely to be a half-season split with Hyde opening as the backup and Penny taking over upon return to the lineup
  • Hyde worth a late-round pick in re-draft; Penny a mid-season waiver pickup

Deep targets

Rk Backup Team
25 Giovani Bernard CIN
26 Darrynton Evans TEN
27 Ryquell Armstead JAX
28 Brian Hill ATL
29 Mike Davis CAR
30 Jalen Richard/Lynn Bowden LV
  • Risky options with intriguing upside if starter is injured
  • Doubts surrounding hold on backup job or ability to produce if called upon
  • Players to draft as bench stashes in final rounds

Not worth rostering

Rk Backup Team
31 Wayne Gallman/Dion Lewis NYG
32 Frank Gore NYJ
  • Very little upside if starter is injured
  • Unlikely to handle large workload due to presence of other backs
  • Not worth a fantasy roster spot
Fantasy: Backup running back rankings
  Got something to say? Leave a comment below!
Daily Newsletter
Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox