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Fantasy football rankings: Running back tiers

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Giants lack of offensive weapons, benefits Barkley (1:40)

Matthew Berry outlines how the Giants' lack of offensive weapons could benefit Saquon Barkley fantasy managers. (1:40)

Fantasy football managers often ask when they see tiered rankings -- regardless of sport -- how I know a player belongs in a certain place. My answer is always the same: Nobody knows, because there are no guarantees. That is the truth. Call it an intuition or a gut feeling, but all the statistical evidence we use to create rankings -- in a general sense, at least -- is one thing, but grouping players together is another. There are no absolute right answers, but I know that grouping players in tiers, intuitively or not, helps me when there are mere seconds to make an important decision in a draft or auction.

The basis of grouping in tiers: Combine players to determine what you believe signals the depth ranges for the position(s). For example, in a recent draft -- and pretty much in every draft, to be honest, whether we are talking starting pitchers or point guards -- I looked at the available flex-eligible players and noticed quite a few wide receivers I still liked but only one running back I thought I would be able to count on in September. Well, that is all I needed to see! If a group of five or six at one position remains similarly valued, but not at another, therein lies the answer. I eagerly clicked to secure the running back. I do this at each of the four key fantasy football positions.

Without further ado, here are one writer's thoughts on which running backs (for PPR formats) belong tiered together. It is all subjective, and obviously these are my rankings, as of publish date. They will change often during August, and this file will be updated later this month. Also, you might think a certain running back belongs two tiers ahead or behind, and that is precisely why you should do your own tiers!

This is not so much extra work, you know, and the return on investment can be significant. One does not need some big excel file with lists and lists. Just print our cheat sheets, circle some players, draw some arrows here and there, and ... well, perhaps put a bit more time into it. Draft day is, after all, the best day of the season.

Tier 1: Top of Round 1