2017 Fantasy Football Rankings - PPR Rankings - Running Backs- Updated: Tuesday, September 5th
Scoring: These rankings are based on point-per-reception (PPR) scoring -- one point per 10 rushing yards, six points per rushing touchdown plus one point per reception, one point per 10 receiving yards and six points per receiving touchdown.
Our 2017 PPR Rankings are from Kevin Hanson:
1. Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
Missing 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 (both standard and PPR-scoring formats). DJ's 2017 goal is to become the third player to record a 1,000-1,000 season. Listed 1-2 in my rankings, Johnson and Le'Veon Bell are more like 1(a) and 1(b) or even both T-1st.
3. LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills
Only two running backs -- Johnson and Elliott -- scored more fantasy points (standard scoring) 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. With the potential suspension for Ezekiel Elliott, the gap between RB3 and RB4 isn't that large.
4. Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons
The only player to rush for 1,000-plus yards in each of the past two seasons, Freeman finished as fantasy's RB6 last season despite 57 fewer touches than he had in 2015. Freeman has 1,500-plus YFS, 50-plus receptions and 13-plus touchdowns in back-to-back seasons.
5. Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers
Despite averaging less than 4.0 YPC and missing the final three games, Gordon made huge strides in terms of fantasy production -- RB8 (RB7 in PPR) -- last season. Just three yards shy of 1,000 rushing yards, MG3 averaged 10.2 Y/R and scored 12 touchdowns. The Chargers plan to use more of a zone-based run scheme, which could help the run game overall and MG3 in particular improve efficiency.
6. DeMarco Murray, Tennessee Titans
Exceeding expectations last season, Murray touched the ball 346 times for a total of 1,664 yards and 12 touchdowns as the clear lead back in the team's "exotic smashmouth" offense. Murray showed remarkable consistency as he finished as a weekly top-20 back in his first 14 games of the season. In fact, he finished as a top-10 weekly back in 10 of those 14 games as he averaged 22.7 touches per game over that span. Even if Derrick Henry's role expands in 2017, Murray remains "the guy" and should be in store for another top-10 fantasy season in Tennessee's run-based offense.
7. 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.) 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.
- Related: 10 Bold Predictions in Fantasy Football for 2017
8. 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. Suspended six games by the NFL, a reduction seems possible/likely and fighting it in court could even potentially delay the suspension until next year. (As noted above, Bell finished as fantasy's RB4 last season despite missing four games.)
9. Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears
One of the few bright spots for the Bears last season, Howard 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.
10. 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 from last season, but a more creative offensive approach should bode well for Gurley.
Fournette is a back with a rare combination of size, power and speed and the Jags should make him their workhorse sooner rather than later. Given their strong defense (and poor quarterback play), the Jags are likely to shift to a run-heavy approach.
12. Kareem Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs
Extremely productive at Toledo with nearly 5,000 career rushing yards, there was speculation that Hunt would eventually emerge as the starter for the Chiefs. Given the season-ending knee injury to Spencer Ware, Hunt enters the season as the featured back and has a real chance to be the top-scoring rookie running back in 2017.
13. 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.
14. Lamar Miller, Houston Texans
One touch shy of 300 in 14 games played, Miller was inefficient in his first season with the Texans as he set or tied career lows in YPC (4.0) and Y/R (6.1). With the team using its third-round pick on D'Onta Foreman, perhaps his addition helps to keep Miller fresh(er) and lead to a bounce-back in efficiency.
15. 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 "starter."
16. 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, Cook looked more explosive on the field as he 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.
17. 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, (now ex) 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 ..."
18. Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers
Through three NFL seasons, Hyde has played 34 of 48 games and missed multiple games each season. Despite concerns earlier in the offseason about how he may fit in Shanahan's offense, Hyde will enter the season as the team's lead back and has plenty of upside, health permitting.
19. Danny Woodhead, Baltimore Ravens
Missing the majority of the 2014 and 2016 seasons, Woodhead has played just 21 games over the past three years. Even more valuable in PPR formats as one of the league's top receiving backs, Woodhead has finished as a top-24 fantasy running back (standard scoring) in each of his past three full seasons. Given the season-ending injury to Kenneth Dixon, it's possible that Woodhead extends that streak if he can stay healthy.
20. Ty Montgomery, Green Bay Packers
Due to injuries, Montgomery moved to running back last season where he play again this season. If he remains the starter all season, Montgomery could finish as a top-24 (or higher) fantasy running back in Green Bay's high-powered offense. That said, Ted Thompson used three draft picks on running backs -- Jamaal Williams (134th overall), Aaron Jones (182nd) and Devante Mays (238) -- and Williams could challenge him to start, perhaps early in the season.
- Continue to PPR Running Backs 21-40
- Continue to PPR Running Backs 41-90
More Rankings from Hanson:
- Fantasy Football QB Rankings
- Fantasy Football RB Rankings
- Fantasy Football WR Rankings
- Fantasy Football TE Rankings
- Fantasy Football Mock Draft Simulator
- Fantasy Football Strength of Schedule
- Fantasy Football Projections
- Fantasy Football Mock Drafts
- Fantasy Football Average Draft Position (ADP)
- Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) Cheat Sheets