The first month of NFL football is behind us and there are some minor shifts among the fantasy football running back rankings. Week 5 is here and with that, the dreaded bye week rears its ugly head for the first time this season. Four teams are on a bye this week; the Browns, Buccaneers, Chargers, and Seahawks. The position just got a little thinner with some of the top plays out this week, so you’ll have to pivot to some other options. These are your week 5 fantasy football running back rankings.
Read More: Week 5 Waiver Wire Claims
Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings: Week 5
Tier 1: The Elite Duo
1. Bijan Robinson
2. Christian McCaffrey
These two are in an elite tier by themselves and will remain atop the running back rankings. On any given Sunday they could lead their team in all-purpose yards. They’re simply the best offensive playmakers on their respective teams and are involved in both the run and passing games. This week Bijan Robinson has a juicy matchup against the Houston Texans. He’s the focal point of the offense and should be in your lineups each and every week. Christian McCaffrey just dropped a 40-burger on the Arizona Cardinals and continued his touchdown streak to 13 games. He shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Bijan Robinson leads ATL in rushing attempts (53) AND targets (22) through WK4.
Quite literally operating as their RB1 AND WR1.
— David J. Gautieri (@GuruFantasyWrld) October 1, 2023
Tier 2: High-Volume RB1
3. Tony Pollard
4. Travis Etienne
5. Josh Jacobs
6. Alvin Kamara
7. D’Andre Swift
Tony Pollard is outside the “elite” ranking category this week with a tough matchup on the horizon against the San Francisco 49ers. He had a sub-10-point fantasy game and a season-low 14 touches last week versus the New England Patriots and this week doesn’t get any easier. Travis Etienne had a down week from his standards, but is dominating the running back touches for the Jaguars. This could be a high-scoring game against Buffalo this week and Etienne should be in all lineups. Don’t look now, but Josh Jacobs is starting to get hot. Next up on the schedule is the Green Bay Packers‘ swiss-cheese run defense that just allowed a three-touchdown performance to David Montgomery.
It was his first game back from suspension, but Alvin Kamara opened up with a bang on his way to 21.4 PPR fantasy points. Kamara led the team in rush attempts and receptions. He even had more receptions (13) than rush attempts (11) in the game. That’s unlikely to happen every week, but his receiving chops are what gives him a safe floor in fantasy. D’Andre Swift RB1 is officially here. He’s played over 50% of the snaps since Week 2 and leads the running back touches as well. Behind the Eagles offensive line, he has huge running lanes to swiftly navigate through for large gains. Swift is currently second in rush yards on the season and I don’t foresee that changing as long as he and the Eagles stay healthy. He’ll remain a staple in the RB1 tier within the running back rankings moving forward.
Tier 3: Back-End RB1
8. Aaron Jones
9. James Conner
10. Joe Mixon
11. Derrick Henry
12. James Cook
In his first game back from injury, Aaron Jones was limited to 2.4 fantasy points. It doesn’t help that he was on a pitch count and played 35% of the snaps. However, Jones is in for a bounce-back week when he travels to Las Vegas to take on the Raiders. If there is one bad thing about James Conner playing in Arizona, it’s that he is tasked to run into a San Francisco brick wall twice a year. Don’t fault him for last week, not many running backs do well against the 49ers defensive front. His opposing running back, Joe Mixon, also struggled in his previous game, but both should get back on track this week.
“The King” was back last week on his way to 133 total yards. Derrick Henry rumbled through the Bengal’s defense and will look to keep the momentum in Indianapolis. James Cook didn’t have his best game, but the silver lining, he found the endzone for the first time this season. Cook had double-digit PPR fantasy points every game this season and should be considered a borderline RB1 each week in the running back rankings.
Tier 4: Potential RB1, but Likely RB2
13. Brian Robinson
14. David Montgomery
15. Jahmyr Gibbs
16. Saquon Barkley*
17. Jonathan Taylor
Everyone will highlight how Jonathan Taylor will be activated from the PUP list and will practice this week. This is exciting and fans should celebrate after the drama-filled offseason, but from a fantasy perspective, it’s not great. Not only are the Tennessee Titans a tough matchup for him, but Jonathan Taylor averages 10.78 PPG against his AFC South rival. On top of that, he was placed on the PUP for an injury and it’s to be seen how that’ll affect his play. Rejoice, Jonathan Taylor will actually play football this year. His weekly upside is a top-5 fantasy finish, but his first week back will likely be a dud.
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) October 2, 2023
Brian Robinson and David Montgomery benefit from earning a high number of rush attempts and this week they both have favorable matchups. The game script should be on their side while each receives north of 20 carries again. The goal-line work is a nice boost as well. Jahmyr Gibbs’ workload has been less than desirable to start the season, but it’s a marathon, not a sprint. I’d like to think he’s playing closer to his floor right now and is always one explosive play away from breaking a long touchdown. For now, his teammate will stay ahead in the running back rankings.
Tier 5: Middling to Low-End RB2
18. Kyren Williams
19. Rhamondre Stevenson
20. Isiah Pacheco
21. Miles Sanders
22. De’Von Achane
23. Dameon Pierce
24. Zack Moss*
Kyren Williams once again dominated the running back touches, but with Cooper Kupp potentially suiting his target share could drop. A showdown against the Philadelphia Eagles’ top-3 run defense isn’t ideal either. The New England Patriots offense has not looked up to par and it’s wrinkling down to fantasy performances. Rhamondre Stevenson has back-to-back sub-10-point games and now faces a good New Orleans Saints defense. Could three straight be looming?
Isiah Pacheco had his best fantasy performances of the year and appears to have recovered from his hamstring injury. The three-headed rotation in the Kansas City backfield can be a headache at times, but Pacheco is the leader of the pack. Miles Sanders is dealing with his own injury as well and even saw his snap percentage dip. His involvement on offense makes him a safe RB2 among the running back rankings, but his injury is something to monitor throughout the week.
De’Von Achane needs to get a boost in touches consistently in order to be a trusted weekly starter. However, over the last two weeks, he’s the RB1 overall with 78.3 PPR points. He’ll continue climbing the running back rankings if he continues gaining steam. On the flip side, Dameon Pierce has the workload to be a relevant fantasy contributor. Although, he doesn’t get the receptions needed or score touchdowns at a high rate to be among the best.
Zack Moss’s owners cannot be happy right now. Although, someone tried to warn you this could potentially happen. If Taylor ends up active, Moss gets pushed down the rankings going into the low RB3 range until we know how the Colts utilize him. However, if the All-Pro running back is out another game, Moss just slides into the low-end RB2 conversation. High volume or not, the Titans have been rough on starting running backs this season giving up an average of 9.7 PPG. If you have a better option, roll with them.
Tier 6: Maybe High Ceiling, But Also Low Floor
25. Breece Hall
26. Alexander Mattison
27. Raheem Mostert
28. Javonte Williams/Jaleel McLaughlin
29. Jaylen Warren
30. Najee Harris
Zach Wilson played out of his mind last Sunday night almost beating Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. Despite the offensive improvement, Breece Hall still failed to reach 10 fantasy points. The Broncos have been absolutely horrendous against fantasy running backs, so this is the type of “get-right” game Hall needs. Alexander Mattison was able to fend off Cam Akers this week, but despite the heavier workload, only outscored him 10.8 to 7.1 points. The Vikings backfield is quickly going to turn into a near 50/50 split and they’ll cancel each other out. Until then, Mattison still offers an RB3 floor in the running back rankings.
Jaylen Warren has outscored teammate Najee Harris every week this season. Facing a tough divisional opponent, the guy with the guaranteed receiving work gets the nod over the 1A option.
Tier 7: Help Me, I Need a Bye Week Filler!
31. Gus Edwards
32. Tyler Allgeier
33. Chuba Hubbard
34. Tyjae Spears
35. Khalil Herbert
36. AJ Dillon
If you’re in need of a running back this week with four of the top players out with a bye, you can do much worse than these six guys. Each one has a secure role within their offense and can easily produce a double-digit fantasy performance this week for your team.
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