Get ready for your season with theScore's 2018 Fantasy Football Draft Kit.
Identifying rushing attacks that will succeed regardless of who's lined up in the backfield can give fantasy owners an early advantage.
Below are five offenses whose ground games are guaranteed to generate production, accompanied by a list of the running backs on those teams you should consider drafting.
2017 rushing attempts: 527 (1st in NFL)
2017 rushing yards: 2,262 (1st)
Players to target: Leonard Fournette
Watch list: T.J. Yeldon, Corey Grant
The Jaguars were very clear about their intentions to become a run-dominant team in 2017, and they backed it up. Fielding one of the league's best defenses helped them control games, allowing Jacksonville to pound the ball on offense en route to a 10-win season.
Fournette finished with the eighth-most fantasy points, despite missing three games with the same ankle issues that plagued him in college. Had he played a full slate, his on-pace fantasy stats would have pushed him into the top four at the position. With another easy schedule, especially after their Week 9 bye, Fournette is poised to lead owners to fantasy titles in 2018, making him well worth his first-round fantasy price tag.
The Jags' offensive line was much improved last season, but its biggest weakness was the interior, according to Football Outsiders' adjusted line yards. All-Pro guard Andrew Norwell will provide an instant fix in that area, raising the ceiling of Fournette and the entire running game.
If Fournette's ankle woes force him to the sidelines again, Yeldon and Grant would immediately become fantasy relevant. Yeldon excels as a receiver but has yet to show he can be a sustaining ball carrier in the pros.
Grant is a much more dynamic offensive weapon. He averaged 8.3 yards per carry on 30 rushes, and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett has identified him as a playmaker the team needs to get on the field more.
Both players are worth stashing, but Grant's explosiveness gives him higher upside if Fournette goes down.
2017 rushing attempts: 454 (9th)
2017 rushing yards: 1,953 (8th)
Players to target: Todd Gurley
Watch list: John Kelly, Malcolm Brown
With Le'Veon Bell's contract situation creating the possibility of a holdout, Gurley will almost unanimously be the first overall pick in fantasy drafts, and for good reason.
Gurley's career was revived by the arrival of innovative head coach Sean McVay and upgrades to the offensive line. The results were 2,093 total yards, 19 touchdowns, and an MVP-caliber season.
Heading into 2018, the club stocked up on defensive stars like Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters, and Ndamukong Suh, turning the Rams into one of the favorites to play for the Lombardi Trophy in February. Their Pro Bowler-infused defense will put the offense in position to close out games with the run, boosting Gurley's fantasy stats.
Los Angeles also added a new deep threat in Brandin Cooks, who has three straight 1,000-yard campaigns on his resume. His presence will keep defenses honest while insulating the running game from loaded boxes.
It's hard to conceive of a situation where the Rams won't accumulate numbers on the ground, which makes Gurley's backup more important. Incumbent Malcolm Brown and rookie John Kelly are in a wide-open competition for the role.
Brown posted a pedestrian 3.9 yards per carry, nearly a full yard less than Gurley had behind the same set of blockers. Kelly profiled as a future lead back, bringing an intriguing combination of pass-catching chops and tackle-breaking ability, but NFL decision-makers did not agree as he fell to the sixth round in April. It will take a Gurley injury for Kelly to prove scouts wrong, but he has sneaky league-winning potential if he gets a chance to start on this stacked L.A. squad.
2017 rushing attempts: 448 (11th)
2017 rushing yards: 1,889 (10th)
Players to target: Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead
Watch list: James White, Jeremy Hill, Mike Gillislee
Michel was an exciting prospect, but being selected by the Patriots in the first round turned him into a must-have fantasy piece.
New England has been inside the top 10 in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns each of the last two seasons while producing a pair of fantasy RB1s in LeGarrette Blount and Dion Lewis. Everything is in place for Michel to take over Lewis' role, with Burkhead spelling him on certain passing downs and occasionally near the goal line.
Unlike the previous two backfields, the Patriots could conceivably gift the fantasy world with two startable backs every week. Anyone concerned that James White might complicate that outcome need only look back at last season when Burkhead was healthy to realize the Pats deployed him ahead of White as a receiving option. Meanwhile, Hill and Gillislee are closer to the roster bubble than they are to making a notable impact.
Fantasy owners who can get Michel at his current ADP in the fifth round are committing outright robbery. A player with his ceiling deserves to go off the board in the late third or early fourth round, at the latest. Burkhead's upside is also coming at a discount between the seventh and ninth rounds, depending on where you're drafting.
Forget the foolish narrative that the Patriots' backfield is impossible to predict, and capitalize on the draft-day value.
2017 rushing attempts: 444 (13th)
2017 rushing yards: 2,070 (5th)
Players to target: Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram
Watch list: Jonathan Williams, Boston Scott, Trey Edmunds
At this time last year, we were trying to make sense of a Saints depth chart that featured Adrian Peterson, Ingram, and Kamara.
Entering the 2018 campaign, AP is unemployed, Ingram is serving a four-game suspension, and the path is clear for Kamara to join the NFL's elite rushers.
Kamara's first-year breakout was one of the best fantasy storylines of 2017 and Ingram wasn't far behind - both players finished among the top-six fantasy backs. Ingram's early-season ban solidifies Kamara as a first-rounder while casting copious doubts on Ingram's viability as a fantasy asset.
Ingram's ADP has fallen from a likely second-round selection to a late fourth-round pick, but even at the reduced cost, he's someone I'll be avoiding. Sean Payton has always been hard on Ingram, and one has to wonder if his role will be intact when he returns in Week 5. We saw a similar scenario play out in New Orleans with Willie Snead, whose volume was never the same.
Savvy fantasy owners will want to cast a late-round dart throw on Williams. He's the favorite to see a portion of Ingram's touches over the first month and has an outside chance to remain in the mix if Payton decides to move on from Ingram, who's an unrestricted free agent after the season.
2017 rushing attempts: 408 (22nd)
2017 rushing yards: 1,662 (21st)
Players to target: Jerick McKinnon
Watch list: Matt Breida, Joe Williams
Every team on this list was in the top half of the NFL in rushing yards and attempts in 2017 - except the 49ers. Turns out it's difficult to build a successful running game when you lose 10 of your first 11 outings.
Miraculously, not long after Jimmy Garoppolo arrived, San Francisco rattled off five straight wins, kick-starting its rushing attack in the process. Kyle Shanahan's crew topped 100 yards as a team four times in those final five contests after exceeding the century mark the same number of times during their previous 11 games.
Shanahan was also able to handpick a running back in free agency, signing Jerick McKinnon to a lucrative contract. Though he's a capable receiver, McKinnon is unproven as a feature back, with a career-high 202 touches in 2016. However, his head coach has a long history of turning rushers into fantasy stars, and even in a small sample size with Garoppolo, we got a glimpse of what the future could hold for the 49ers' offense.
McKinnon is a gamble in the second round, but one I'd be willing to take given the drop-off at running back in that range and the RB1 upside he presents. I'm even more bullish on SPARQ freak Breida, who should be considered a must-own in 2018. Whether McKinnon breaks out or breaks down, the Niners will get a second back involved, and Breida flashed game-breaking skills as a rookie.
Williams, a 2017 fourth-rounder, is the forgotten man in this equation following a debut campaign spent on IR. He'll likely need McKinnon or Breida to be sidelined in order to see the field, but he's worth keeping on your watch list after Shanahan pushed to draft him a year ago.