Fantasy Football RB Rankings Week 15: Who to start, best sleepers at running back

Cue the old Jim Mora highlights because we’ve reached the playoffs! Fantasy football owners who got into their league’s postseason will be very alert from here on out, as it’s either win or go virtual fishing at this point. Our Week 15 RB rankings for standard leagues will help you optimize your lineup, weigh out the pros and cons of this upcoming weekend’s sleepers and busts, and keep you apprised of the noteworthy injuries at the position. 

You probably didn’t make it this far without some solid contributions at the running back position. That said, things can change in a week at every position in the NFL, as we saw last week with three big RB injuries (more on those later). We put in overtime every week analyzing RBs, in part because we love it and get paid to do it and in part because we succeed when you succeed.

So, let’s get some much-needed victories and keep our championship hopes alive. Here’s our Week 15 RB rankings for standard leagues. Good luck, have fun, and happy holidays!

Who are the best fantasy RBs in Week 15?

There’s nothing we can say about Christian McCaffrey (@ Cardinals in Week 15) that hasn’t already been said. If any running back was going to win MVP in the 2020s, it would be this guy. He just scored 15.3 standard fantasy points despite failing to get in the end zone, as Jorrdan Mason and Deebo Samuel both ran in one-yard TDs. We’ll take 153 all-purpose yards any day, and we think we’ll get at least that out of CMC against the Cardinals, who had served up the most standard fantasy points to RBs as of Week 14.

QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | D/STs | Kickers

Veteran Lions back David Montgomery (vs. Broncos) remains the standard-league man in Motown, although we can’t possibly rank rookie Jahmyr Gibbs outside the top 10 in this juicy matchup. Denver has cleaned itself up defensively over the past month, but it still ranks worst in the NFL in fantasy points per game (FPPG) allowed to RBs (23.7). We’re similarly confident in Miami backs Raheem Mostert and De’Von Achane (vs. Jets), as Gang Green has surrendered 146.5 scrimmage yards per week to RBs. The 49ers, Lions, and ‘Fins feel like the league-winning backs of the season.

QBs | WRs | TEs | D/STs | Kickers

Don’t forget about Breece Hall (@ Dolphins), who reminded us of his brilliance in a huge Week 14 victory over the Texans. The second-year back had 40 yards on the ground, 86 through the air, and a TD, and he will be heavily utilized again in what should be a pass-heavy game script against Mike McDaniel’s sizzling Fish. Similarly, Travis Etienne has become pretty close to matchup-proof. He just put up 72 Week 14 yards and found the end zone against the elite D of the Browns.

Give Arthur Smith some rare kudos because the Falcons have actually been using stud rookie Bijan Robinson (@ Panthers). The Rookie of the Year candidate has 396 total yards and four TDs over the past month, and he might go for 150 yards and two scores against a feeble Carolina run D.

We might also see excellence from Austin Ekeler (@ Raiders), but we also could very well see another underwhelming performance (at least by his standards). Ek hit 100 all-purpose yards and found the end zone last week against Denver, but let’s remember that the Broncos have served up fantasy points like sushi bars serve up raw tuna. If he finishes in the mid-to-high teens again this week, we’ll bump him back up. 

Who are the best fantasy RB sleepers, waiver pickups in Week 15?

We’re expecting big weeks from Steelers backs Jaylen Warren and Najee Harris (@ Colts), as Indy has quietly surrendered 150 rushing yards per game over its past four contests. We also love Rachaad White (@ Packers), so don’t get scared by any of the big D/ST points the Colts or Pack have put up over the past month. Fantasy points don’t translate to lock-down run Ds.

In the same spirit, crap offenses don’t necessarily translate to horrendous fantasy RBs, so keep firing up the Patriots’ Ezekiel Elliott (vs. Chiefs) as long as running mate Rhamondre Stevenson remains sidelined with his ankle injury. Zeke put in a vintage performance against the Steelers in Pittsburgh, totaling 140 yards and a TD. People have scoffed at my colleagues and I for saying it, but Elliott might be a dark-horse league-winning asset in standard formats.

Regardless of format, we like Baltimore rookie Keaton Mitchell (@ Jaguars) and Chiefs veteran Jerick McKinnon (@ Patriots). Both have road matchups with strong defenses that can be beat by pass-catching backs. Entering Week 14, Jacksonville had surrendered the second-most receiving yards to RBs while New England had given up the 11th-most. These backs both have blazing-fast speed and above-average QBs, so they have top-20 upside.

After seeing what Elliott did to the Steelers last Thursday, I’m not giving up on Indy’s Zack Moss (vs. Steelers). It’s also clear at this point that we can go back to trusting Houston’s Devin Singletary (@ Titans) over Dameon Pierce. Finally, both Minnesota’s Ty Chandler (@ Bengals) and the Raiders’ Zamir White (vs. Chargers) have decent ceilings for as long as Alexander Mattison (ankle) and Josh Jacobs (knee) miss time. 

Who are the biggest potential RB busts in Week 15?

Assuming he’s over the hamstring injury that knocked him out of his last game, we’re tempering our expectations a bit with the Commanders’ Brian Robinson Jr. (@ Rams) — not because he stinks but because the offense around him stinks. If Washington gets blown out this week against the Rams as it did in Week 13 against Miami, B-Rob will be lucky if he doesn’t get fazed out of the game script for pass-catching back Antonio Gibson.

We also can’t fully trust Seattle’s Kenneth Walker III (vs. Eagles). He’s talented as all get-out, able to make something out of nothing at the drop of a hat when his o-line completely collapses into the pocket. However, he ceded a lot of snaps and opportunities to rookie Zach Charbonnet in his return from injury last week against the Niners, and there’s no rest for the weary with a tough matchup against Philly’s nasty front-seven this week. 

Another dude we probably can’t stay away from in any format but should temper our expectations with is Buffalo’s James Cook (vs. Cowboys). There’s a reason we didn’t hear D’Andre Swift’s name called much during the Dallas-Philly Sunday Night Football game — the Cowboys are elite.

We touched on it before, but Houston’s Dameon Pierce (@ Titans) seems to have fallen out of favor with DeMeco Ryans. The second-year back had just four carries for nine yards in the Texans’ stomping at the hands of the Jets. Keep him benched.

What are the biggest RB injuries in Week 15?

Week 15 unfortunately added some girth to the RB injury report, something we always hate to see but particularly loathe at this time of the year. Reigning rushing champ Josh Jacobs hurt his knee and limped off the field to the locker room in the Raiders’ tug-of-war with Minnesota, so don’t be surprised if the veteran back misses Thursday’s game for a 5-8 Vegas squad down on its luck. Zamir White and Ameer Abdullah will likely split duties in his stead against the Chargers, with White probably the primary shareholder. We’ll keep you posted.

The Vikings’ Alexander Mattison suffered an ankle sprain in that same game, and it did not look good at all. Ty Chandler immediately jumped back into a high-usage role, although with Minnesota playing as poorly as it has been over the past two weeks, that only means so much against the Bengals next week.

The Patriots’ Rhamondre Stevenson remains sidelined with an ankle injury suffered in Week 13 after a hip-drop tackle. Bill Belichick will have no reason to rush back his star RB during a three-win season, so expect to continue seeing Ezekiel Elliott in a starting role for the foreseeable future. 

The Chiefs’ Isiah Pacheco suffered a shoulder injury in Week 13, and Andy Reid and company noted that it’s the same shoulder he had surgery on in the offseason. While the Chiefs said he will probably avoid an IR stint, we also don’t expect him back until the fantasy semifinals at the earliest. Jerick McKinnon and Clyde Edwards-Helaire are 1a and 1b in KC until then. 

Brian Robinson Jr. exited Washington’s last game early because of a hamstring injury. With the Commanders on bye, there’s been no word on his status, so be sure to monitor the practice reports ahead of Washington’s game against the Rams. Antonio Gibson would be the primary back if Robinson is out, but Chris Rodriguez Jr. would also be involved.

Jonathan Taylor recently underwent surgery for a UCL tear and is likely more doubtful than questionable for Saturday’s game against Pittsburgh. Zack Moss remains the man in Indy. 

We’ll be updating these standard RB rankings all week, so check back for the latest player movement.

Fantasy RB Rankings Week 15: Who to start, sit at running back

Rankings based on standard, non-PPR scoring

Rank    Player
1    Christian McCaffrey, 49ers @ Cardinals
2    David Montgomery, Lions vs. Broncos
3    Raheem Mostert, Dolphins vs. Jets
4    De’Von Achane, Dolphins vs. Jets
5    Breece Hall, Jets @ Dolphins
6    “Travis Etienne, Jaguars vs. Ravens      
7    Alvin Kamara, Saints vs. Giants
8    Jahmyr Gibbs, Lions vs. Broncos
9    Bijan Robinson, Falcons @ Panthers
10    Austin Ekeler, Chargers @ Raiders
11    Derrick Henry, Titans vs. Texans
12    Saquon Barkley, Giants @ Saints
13    Tony Pollard, Cowboys @ Bills
14    Kyren Williams, Rams vs. Commanders
15    Rachaad White, Buccaneers @ Packers
16    Joe Mixon, Bengals vs. Vikings
17    D’Andre Swift, Eagles @ Seahawks
18    Jaylen Warren, Steelers @ Colts
19    Javonte Williams, Broncos @ Lions
20    Brian Robinson Jr., Commanders @ Rams
21    Ezekiel Elliott, Patriots vs. Chiefs
22    Jerome Ford, Browns vs. Bears
23    Najee Harris, Steelers @ Colts
24    Kenneth Walker III, Seahawks vs. Eagles
25    James Conner, Cardinals vs. 49ers
26    Keaton Mitchell, Ravens @ Jaguars
27    Jerick McKinnon, Chiefs @ Patriots
28    Gus Edwards, Ravens @ Jaguars
29    James Cook, Bills vs. Cowboys
30    Devin Singletary, Texans @ Titans
31    Zack Moss, Colts vs. Steelers
32    Ty Chandler, Vikings @ Bengals
33    Zamir White, Raiders vs. Chargers
34    AJ Dillon, Packers vs. Buccaneers
35    Antonio Gibson, Commanders @ Rams
36    Aaron Jones, Packers vs. Buccaneers
37    Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Chiefs @ Patriots
38    D’Onta Foreman, Bears @ Browns
39    Chase Brown, Bengals vs. Vikings
40    Tyjae Spears, Titans vs. Texans
41    Kareem Hunt, Browns vs. Bears
42    Tyler Allgeier, Falcons @ Panthers
43    Chuba Hubbard, Panthers vs. Falcons
44    Dameon Pierce, Texans @ Titans
45    Dalvin Cook, Jets @ Dolphins
46    Zach Charbonnet, Seahawks vs. Eagles
47    Miles Sanders, Panthers vs. Falcons
48    Joshua Kelley, Chargers @ Raiders
49    Ameer Abdullah, Raiders vs. Chargers
50    Samaje Perine, Broncos @ Lions
51    Rico Dowdle, Cowboys @ Bills
52    Chase Edmonds, Buccaneers @ Packers
53    Jeff Wilson Jr., Dolphins vs. Jets
54    D’Ernest Johnson, Jaguars vs. Ravens
55    Jamaal Williams, Saints vs. Giants
56    Khalil Herbert, Bears @ Browns
57    Latavius Murray, Bills vs. Cowboys
58    Cordarrelle Patterson, Falcons @ Panthers
59    Kenneth Gainwell, Eagles @ Seahawks
60    Royce Freeman, Rams vs. Commanders
61    Kene Nwangwu, Vikings @ Bengals
62    Tank Bigsby, Jaguars vs. Ravens
63    Jaleel McLaughlin, Broncos @ Lions
64    Roschon Johnson, Bears @ Browns
65    Matt Breida, Giants @ Saints
66    Boston Scott, Eagles @ Seahawks
67    Justice Hill, Ravens @ Jaguars


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