2017 Fantasy Football Rankings: Fantasy Football RB Rankings- Updated: Sunday, July 16th
Scoring: These rankings are based on standard-scoring formats -- one point per 10 rushing yards, six points per rushing touchdown plus one point per 10 receiving yards and six points per receiving touchdown.
Here are our 2017 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings from Kevin Hanson:
1. Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
Missing the first four games of the 2016 season, Bell has now missed three-plus games (suspension and/or injury) in three of his four seasons as a pro. When on the field last season, however, the (now) 25-year-old back was better than ever as he was on a 16-game pace of 2,512 yards from scrimmage, 100 receptions and 12 touchdowns. (The single-season YFS record is 2,509 by CJ2K in 2009.)
2. David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals
In his breakout sophomore campaign, Johnson led the NFL in yards from scrimmage (2,118) and total touchdowns (20) and led running backs in receptions (80) and fantasy points scored (in both standard and PPR-scoring formats). Listed 1-2 in my rankings, Bell and Johnson are more like 1(a) and 1(b) or even both T-1st.
3. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
Leading the NFL in rushing attempts (322) and rushing yards (1,631) as a rookie, Elliott had a minimum of 80 rushing yards in every game from Weeks 2 to 16. Finishing second to Johnson in fantasy points scored, Elliott had a minimum of 10.7 fantasy points (standard scoring) in all 15 games played. Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, however, Elliott is "bracing for a short suspension." Considering that Le'Veon Bell was suspended the first four games of the season and still finished as fantasy's RB4 in 2016, I'll keep Elliott as my RB3 but I wouldn't take him third overall in fantasy drafts pending clarity on the NFL's investigation.
4. LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills
In standard-scoring formats, only two running backs -- Johnson and Elliott -- scored more fantasy points than McCoy in 2016. In 15 games, McCoy had 1,267 rushing yards (a career-high 5.4 YPC), 50 catches for 356 yards and scored 14 total touchdowns. The return of Tyrod Taylor is a positive for McCoy's 2017 fantasy outlook.
5. Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons
Despite getting 57 fewer touches year-over-year, Freeman finished as a top-six fantasy running back in both standard- and PPR-scoring formats in 2016. Setting career highs in efficiency (4.8 YPC and 8.6 Y/R), Freeman now has back-to-back seasons with 1,000-plus rushing yards, 1,500-plus YFS, 50-plus receptions and 13-plus touchdowns.
6. Jay Ajayi, Miami Dolphins
There were four 200-yard rushing games last season and Ajayi had three of them. (Le'Veon Bell had the other.) As great as he was in the 200-yard performances, Ajayi averaged less than 3.0 YPC in four of the team's final seven games counting their playoff loss. Getting double-digit carries every week starting in Week 5, only Bell (243) had more carries than Ajayi (242) from Weeks 5 to 17 last season. Only Ezekiel Elliott (1,219) rushed for more yards than Ajayi (1,197) during that span. Entering 2017 as the team's bellcow back, Ajayi could challenge for the league lead in carries in 2017.
7. Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers
Lacking efficiency as a runner (3.9 YPC), Gordon made huge strides in his sophomore campaign as he was only three yards shy of the 1,000-yard rushing mark, averaged 10.2 Y/R and scored 12 touchdowns in 13 games. If MG3 is able to stay healthy for a full season, new coach Anthony Lynn should help Gordon improve his efficiency and overall production in 2017.
8. Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears
The Bears did not have much on offense last year, but Howard was the clear exception as the rookie finished second in rushing (1,313 yards on 252 carries). Along with Matt Forte (1,339 in 2013), it was just the second 1,300-yard season for the Bears in the past decade. Howard may not finish second in rushing once again, but he should see an even larger workload in his second season.
9. DeMarco Murray, Tennessee Titans
Once again, expectations will be for Derrick Henry to cut into Murray's workload, but Coach Mularkey has called Murray "the guy." As "the guy" last season, Murray touched the ball 346 times for a total of 1,664 yards and 12 touchdowns.
10. Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars
Using a top-four selection on Fournette, the Jags should make him a workhorse sooner rather than later with the possibility of seeing 20-plus touches per game. Given their strong defense, the Jags are likely to shift to a run-heavy approach after calling a run on only 37.26% of their plays (seventh-fewest) in 2016.
11. Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams
A disappointment to those that took him in the first round last year, Gurley's numbers were consistently bad throughout his sophomore campaign. Averaging only 3.2 yards per carry on the season, Gurley averaged more than 4.0 YPC only once and never exceeded 85 rushing yards in any game in 2016. Some of the same concerns remain -- lack of elite weapons to keep defenses honest, shaky quarterback play and poor offensive line.
12. Lamar Miller, Houston Texans
Inefficient -- 4.0 YPC and 6.1 Y/R -- in his first season with the Texans, Miller gained 1,261 yards and scored six touchdowns on 299 touches in 14 games. With the team using its third-round pick on D'Onta Foreman, perhaps that keeps Miller fresh(er) and leads to a bounce-back in efficiency.
13. Marshawn Lynch, Oakland Raiders
Beast Mode is back. Coming out of retirement to play for his hometown Raiders, Lynch was a top-five fantasy running back in each of his past four full seasons. It would be unreasonable to expect that kind of production from him, but he should be viewed as an RB2 with plenty of weekly upside in Oakland's high-powered offense.
14. Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns
Crowell had single-digit carries in five games and less than 30 rushing yards in six of 16 games, but he set career highs in rushing yards (952), yards per carry (4.8) and receptions (40) in 2016. Not only did the Browns improve their offensive line in the offseason, but Hue Jackson expects to run the ball more often and the team added no real threat to Crowell's workload in the offseason.
15. Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers
Through three NFL seasons, Hyde has played 34 of 48 games and missed multiple games each season. Aside from durability concerns, how he fits within Kyle Shanahan's offense could be an issue for Hyde. Beat writer Matt Maiocco wrote of rookie Joe Williams in response to a mailbag question, "So, yes, Williams has a legitimate chance to immediately unseat Hyde as the teamís top running back."
16. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals
With 4.5 speed at 226 pounds, Mixon has the talent and versatility to stay on the field on all three downs and has drawn some comparisons to David Johnson. For the Sooners, Mixon carried the ball 187 times for 1,274 yards (6.8 YPC) and 10 touchdowns and added 37/538/5 (14.5 Y/R) receiving in 2016. Marvis Lewis has talked up Mixon's on-field ability this offseason and he should become the team's lead back by the end of the season, if not sooner.
17. Spencer Ware, Kansas City Chiefs
Ware averaged 17.6 touches and 97.7 scrimmage yards per game last season. Averaging 4.6 YPC and 11.6 Y/R in his two seasons in Kansas City, Ware seemed to wear down at the end of the season in his first year as a starter. Ware averaged 4.86 YPC through first nine games but only 3.41 YPC in his final five regular-season games. Even with the selection of Kareem Hunt in Round 3, Ware is expected to enter the season as the starter.
18. Tevin Coleman, Atlanta Falcons
Once again, Coleman missed multiple games, but he showed his big-play ability when he was on the field. Coleman had 118 carries for 520 yards, 31 catches for 421 yards and scored a total of 11 touchdowns. While Freeman will continue to lead the backfield in usage and production, Coleman had double-digit touches in 11 of his 13 games and finished the year as a top-20 fantasy running back.
19. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings
Cook did not slip to the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft due to his on-field production at Florida State. While he didn't perform well in agility drills at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine and there may be some durability and ball-security concerns, Cook exceeded the 100-yard rushing mark in nine of his final 10 games for the Seminoles with an average of 190.7 YFS per game during that stretch.
20. Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints
The good news is that Ingram played a full 16-game slate for the second time in his career while posting career highs of 1,043 rushing yards, 5.1 yards per carry and 10 total touchdowns. With Ingram taking a back seat at times to Tim Hightower, the threat of losing an even larger share to Adrian Peterson is a real concern even if Ingram is earning more money and going into the season as the nominal starter.
21. C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos
Missing the final nine games due to a meniscus tear, Anderson averaged just 4.0 yards per carry in his seven games played. With Devontae Booker disappointing in an expanded role, CJA should get the largest share of early-down work although the team signed Jamaal Charles in free agency following the NFL Draft.
22. Eddie Lacy, Seattle Seahawks
Lacy signed a one-year prove-it deal with the Seahawks with weight-based contract bonuses. As much of a disappointment as Lacy has been over the past two seasons, he enters the season as the backfield favorite for touches.
23. Ty Montgomery, Green Bay Packers
Due to injuries, Montgomery moved to running back last season and that's the plan for him going into 2017. Ted Thompson used three draft picks on running backs -- Jamaal Williams (134th overall), Aaron Jones (182nd) and Devante Mays (238), but Montgomery could finish as a top-24 fantasy running back in Green Bay's high-powered offense.
24. Ameer Abdullah, Detroit Lions
After missing all but two games last season due to a Lisfranc injury, Abdullah goes into the 2017 season as the Lions starting running back. On a per-touch basis, Abdullah was off to a good start last year -- 18/101 (5.6 YPC) rushing and 5/57/1 (11.4 Y/R) receiving -- and there is definitely some fantasy breakout potential in 2017.
25. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers
Breaking the collegiate record for all-purpose yards previously held by Barry Sanders, McCaffrey's biggest strengths are his versatility and ability to create mismatches in the passing game. More valuable in PPR formats, McCaffrey doesn't seem destined to ever become a bellcow back at only 202 pounds. That said, GM Dave Gettleman made the following comparison ó "The best tackle-box runner Iíve ever seen is Curtis Martin out of Pitt. Christian is right there with him ..."
- Continue to Fantasy Running Backs 26-80
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