In 2000 and 2001, Marshall Faulk showed fantasy editors the touchdown impact of a big three-down back with an explosive ceiling. He scored 47 times in 28 games with the St. Louis Rams while averaging 155 yards and 5.9 catches per game. Over the next five years, LaDainian Tomlinson (31), Shaun Alexander (28) and Priest Holmes (27) set the all-time NFL record for touchdowns, but only one running back (Alvin Kamara – 2020) scored more than 20 times since 2006.
Faulk had an impressive three-game hitting streak in 2001 from Weeks 14 to 16, when he gained 522 yards with seven touchdowns and 18 catches. In that span, Faulk averaged 37.4 fantasy points in PPR formats. Clinton Portis posted two games of difference in the fantasy postseason in 2002 (21/130/3 with three catches for 75 yards and a score) and 2003 (254 combined yards with five touchdowns and two catches).
Here’s a look at the top five running backs over the past 20 seasons in the fantasy postseason (Week 14 through Week 16 – Week 15 through 17 starting in 2021):
1. Todd GurleyLos Angeles Rams (2017)
Whoever was winning an overall championship in 2017 had to have Gurley on their team. Through the first 12 games, he gained 1,502 combined yards with 11 touchdowns and 48 catches. After the success in Week 14 (13/96/2 with three catches for 39 yards), Gurley posted back-to-back games of fantasy scoring dominance (45.00 and 49.60) when he gained 456 combined yards with six touchdowns and 13 catches. His 123.10 fantasy points through three games created a huge advantage in a three-week streak.
2. LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego Chargers (2003)
In his 16 starts in 2003, Tomlinson gained 2,370 combined yards with 17 touchdowns and 100 catches, leading to 439 fantasy points in PPR formats. His play was outstanding from 2002 to 2007 (131 combined yards with 1.25 touchdowns and 4.2 catches per game). He gave fantasy backers a box-to-wire show after three elite weeks in the postseason (530 combined yards with six touchdowns and 26 catches or 115,00 fantasy points). Tomlinson even finished the season with an electric game in Week 17 (31/243/2 with eight catches for 17 yards).
3. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs (2013)
The Chiefs gave Charles only 55 touches from Week 14 to Week 16 in 2013, but he gained an incredible 9.4 yards per play. His top outing came in Week 15 despite the Raiders shutting him down in the run game (8/20/1). Charles caught eight passes for 195 yards with four scores, leading to 59.50 fantasy points in PPR formats and the best single postseason game in 20 years. During his three playoff weeks, he gained 518 combined yards with eight touchdowns and 15 catches.
4. Alvin KamaraNew Orleans Saints (2020)
In the opening weekend of the 2020 high-stakes fantasy playoffs, Kamara found the end zone on six occasions, producing an incredible fantasy day (172 combined yards and three catches). He finished with 56.20 fantasy points, ranking him third over the previous 20 seasons behind Jamaal Charles (59.50) and Clinton Portis (57.40). Kamara posted 28.40 and 22.40 fantasy points over the next two weeks, pushing his three-week stats to 460 combined yards with eight touchdowns and 13 catches (107.00 fantasy points).
5. Larry Johnson, Kansas City Chiefs (2005)
Johnson came in 2005 as the Chiefs RB2 behind Priest Holmes, who played over eight games in 2004 (196/892/14 with 19 catches for 187 yards and a touchdown). Fantasy drafters fought for Johnson in the third and fourth rounds in high-stakes drafts, and he rewarded them with an outstanding season (2,093 combined yards with 21 touchdowns and 33 catches) despite making just nine starts. From Week 14 through Week 16, the Chiefs carried the ball 98 times, leading to 534 combined yards with seven touchdowns and nine catches. Johnson scored over 30.00 fantasy points in every game (38.10, 32.40 and 33.90), making him the most consistently elite late-season running back in 20 years.
Honorable Mention: Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams (2006)
Jackson is the only other running back to score over 100.00 fantasy points since the turn of the century. He gained 2,334 combined yards during the regular season with 16 touchdowns and 90 catches. Jackson helped Rob Benetti win the overall NFFC championship when he gained 518 combined yards with six touchdowns and 16 catches. His best game came in Week 16 (33/150/1 with six catches for 102 yards and a score).
Unsung Back: Domanick Williams, Houston Texans (2004)
In his rookie season in 2003, Williams proved to be 101st in the NFL when he gained 1,382 combined yards with eight touchdowns and 47 catches while making only 10 starts. Mark Srebro (aka Gordon Gekko on the message boards) rode him to an overall title in the NFFC. He finished the year with 1,776 combined yards with 14 touchdowns and 68 catches on 370 carries. Williams scored a touchdown during the fantasy playoffs each week, leading to 507 combined yards and 15 catches (83.70 fantasy points). Unfortunately, he only played one more season in the NFL.
Here’s a look at the running backs who have rushed for over 200 yards in the fantasy postseason since 2001:
- Tiki Barber, New York Giants (2005) – 29/202/2 with five catches for 29 yards (40.10 fantasy points)
- Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings (2012) – 24/212/1
- Jamaal Charles, Kansas City (2012) – 22/226/1 with one catch for four yards
- LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles (2013) – 29/217/2 with one catch for four yards
- Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers (2016) – 38/236/3 with four catches for 62 yards (51.80 fantasy points)
- Jay Ajayi, Miami Dolphins (2016) – 32/206/1 with one catch for three yards
- Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans (2018) – 17/238/4 (47.80 fantasy points)
- Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans (2020) – 26/215/2 with two catches for seven yards