2017 Fantasy Football RB Rankings Analysis – June
Yesterday, we put out our first edition of our 2017 Fantasy Football Rankings for Quarterbacks. It is part of our NFL Position Rankings that we will be updating over the course of the next ten days or so. The running backs were far more difficult to go through, as there are far more. I am fully expecting for version two of this in the next month will be dramatically different than it sits now, but I feel pretty good about it at this point.
Just like 99.9% of rankings for running backs you’ll find out there, the top three come down to David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell and Ezekiel Elliott. Is it possible that one of those three aren’t there at the end of the year rankings? Absolutely. This is football, and tons of crazy things happen all the time. They are just the safest options. For me, I think there is a decent gap between Johnson/Bell and Elliott, even though this is based off standard rankings.
I really believe the rest of the top ten behind them are really a toss up. Add in my number 11, as well. LeSean McCoy and Melvin Gordon are not facing any competition behind them, so they should still be high carry backs, and both are active enough [in McCoy’s case, a lot] in the passing game. Jordan Howard is a guy I could see falling out of here, because it’s almost assured that he won’t be out there for 3rd downs, unless at the goal line, but he should still see volume. Devonta Freeman could be the beneficiary of Kyle Shanahan’s exit, as he could be more of a focal point with less time share. DeMarco Murray is still one of my favorites, and I like the fact that he’s falling down other’s lists. Jay Ajayi, Leonard Fournette and Isaiah Crowell all have the upside of top three backs if everything falls into place. Adam Gase mentioned his willingness to let Ajayi have a monster amount of carries, Fournette should be the top dog in Jacksonville and the Browns offensive line is dramatically improved.
With Andrew Whitworth now in LA, I could see things turning around for Todd Gurley, and am happy I bought into him in my dynasty leagues as he was struggling last year. Bilal Powell is someone I could see making a big leap this year, and could be very potent in PPR leagues. I don’t necessarily want to write Matt Forte off, but it’s silly to assume his skill set isn’t declining. Another guy I am bullish on is Mike Gillislee, who is expected to take the LeGarrette Blount role of years past. He is currently behind drafted in the last rounds, so he’s a worthwhile punt option. Doug Martin is another guy who is being virtually undrafted in 12 team leagues. If he is this low on draft day, there is no question that I will go overweight on him.
I’ve heard the Raiders are committed to Marshawn Lynch, so there is a chance I may have been too hard on him, but for now this is where I feel comfortable taking him. Joe Mixon is another guy I might be a bit lower on than others. I loved him in college, and I do think his game translates positively into the NFL, but I’m not going to be willing to overpay on him – yet.
I really like the upside for Derrick Henry this year. The Tennessee offensive line is amazing, and one would think that his carry total year one to year two will be increased. He won’t see the involvement in the passing game that Murray does, but he’s not just an handcuff. Philadelphia also has a very good offensive line, and I think I may be moving LeGarrette Blount up the board sooner than later. Maybe he doesn’t put up New England numbers, but on an improved offense, he could manage to put together an under the radar season.
The last thing I really want to touch on is three rookies that could have solid seasons. They are Samaje Perine, Jamaal Williams and Marlon Mack. We will have to see in the preseason how these guys pan out, but I think they are all poised to see significant carries in their rookie campaign. Perine has basically only Robert Kelley in front of him, Williams doesn’t really have anyone and even though the Colts just signed Christine Michael, Mack should see some activity for the Colts.
Next time we revisit this, we’ll mostly discuss how we are moving the players up or down. Don’t hesitate to give your thoughts!