2017 Fantasy Football Rankings: Fantasy Football RB Rankings- Updated: Friday, May 12th
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
Even more dominant than usual down the stretch, Bell had five 100-yard rushing games with a total of 1,091 scrimmage yards and seven touchdowns over his final six games in 2016. And despite sitting out four games last season, Bell had a total of 75 receptions and eight-plus catches in four of those games. The only concern with the 25-year-old Bell is that he has missed three-plus games in three of four seasons.
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). A Week 17 knee injury gave fantasy owners a scare, but Johnson is already training "full throttle." When it comes to the top-three fantasy running backs in 2017, you could easily argue that it's more a 1(a)-1(b)-1(c) as opposed to a "1-2-3" in the rankings.
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.
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. 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.
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. Going into last season as the 'backup' running back, Ajayi clearly enters the 2017 season as the team's workhorse and as a top-10 fantasy running back.
7. 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.
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 behind another rookie 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 to 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. 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.
11. Lamar Miller, Houston Texans
In his first season with the Texans, Miller set or tied career lows in efficiency -- 4.0 YPC and 6.1 Y/R. Miller gained 1,261 yards and scored six touchdowns on 299 touches in 14 games. The team used its third-round pick on D'Onta Foreman so they shouldn't overuse Miller and perhaps that leads to a bounce-back in efficiency.
12. Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars
With the Jaguars using a top-four selection on Fournette, a back with an impressive blend of size, power and speed, I'd expect the rookie to become a workhorse sooner rather than later and potentially see north of 20 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.
13. Spencer Ware, Kansas City Chiefs
Ware averaged 17.6 touches and 97.7 scrimmage yards per game last season. Even though the team drafted Toledo's Kareem Hunt and Jamaal Charles missed nearly all of last season, I think Ware could come close to those numbers once again in 2017.
14. 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.
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, there are worries about the lack of talent elsewhere on the roster impacting Hyde's outlook, but we've seen how productive running backs can be in Kyle Shanahan's offense.
16. 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 favorite to lead the backfield in touches.
17. Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints
The good news is that Ingram played a full 16-game slate for only 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.
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. 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. With improvements along their offensive line, Crowell could (or should) have even more success (and hopefully more week-to-week consistency) in 2017.
20. Adrian Peterson, New Orleans Saints
Even if coach Payton says that Peterson and Ingram "will blend well," that may be easier said than done. While Ingram may have a higher salary, it wouldn't be much of a surprise if Peterson emerged as the leader in terms of workload split (and production) in that duo. Even so, Tim Hightower averaged nearly 10 touches per game (9.7/G) last year with Ingram playing a full 16-game season for only the second time in his career.
21. 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.
22. Bilal Powell, New York Jets
Finishing as the RB23 (RB16 in PPR) in 2016, Powell set career highs in yards from scrimmage (1,110), receptions (58) and touchdowns (five). With Matt Forte either out or limited down the stretch, Powell had 82/411/2 rushing (5.01 YPC) and 21/141/1 receiving over the final four games of the season. Giving his thoughts on how he expects the workload to be split in New York's backfield, ESPN beat writer Rich Cimini recently wrote, "I think ... Powell will become the lead back."
23. 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 value 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. ..."
24. 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.
25. Ameer Abdullah, Detroit Lions
After missing all but two games last season, Abdullah goes into the 2017 season as the Lions starting running back even though free-agent LeGarrette Blount has been linked to the Lions (and a few other teams) as a potential landing spot. 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.
26. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals
Purely from a football standpoint, Mixon had the talent to be a first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. 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. If not to start the season, Mixon could be the team's lead back by the end of it.
27. 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.
28. Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts
In his age-33 season, Gore reached the 1,000-yard milestone, but he once again posted a sub-4.0 YPC average. With the addition of Marlon Mack in the fourth round, it's likely that Gore sees less, perhaps much less, than the 301 touches that he saw in 2016.
29. Robert Kelley, Washington Redskins
When given an opportunity, Kelley made the most of it as the team's primary back on early downs. With the team using its fourth-round pick on Samaje Perine, a similar back to Kelley in terms of style, Kelley could lose his role as lead back and Matt Jones could lose his roster spot.
30. Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers
The Panthers used their top-two picks on weapons to help Cam Newton -- and likely hurt the fantasy outlook for Jonathan Stewart. Both Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel are different types of backs than Stewart, but both are extremely versatile and dynamic weapons that should make significant contributions early. Turning 30 this spring, Stewart has missed at least three games in five consecutive seasons and he has averaged less than 4.0 yards per carry in three of those five seasons including last year (3.8 YPC).
31. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
The (nearly) 250-pound back averaged 4.5 yards per carry with five rushing scores last season. Even though Murray remains the team's lead back heading into 2017, Henry should see an expanded share of the workload in his second season. Last year's split was 74-26 in Murray's favor, but I'd expect Henry to get at least 30-35 percent of the duo's touches in 2017.
32. Thomas Rawls, Seattle Seahawks
There is plenty of uncertainty around the role for Rawls going into the season. With the addition of Eddie Lacy, it appears that Rawls will be his backup, but C.J. Prosise should handle the majority of third-down work as well.
33. Theo Riddick, Detroit Lions
One of the league's most dynamic receiving backs, Riddick has averaged 5.12 receptions for 41.08 yards and 0.35 touchdowns per game over the past two years. Missing the final six games and having double wrist surgery this offseason, Riddick will remain at least a vital part of the team's passing offense going forward and a solid RB2 in PPR formats.
34. Danny Woodhead, Baltimore Ravens
It's a somewhat crowded backfield when everyone is healthy or not suspended, but Woodhead joins the Ravens in free agency and should lead the backfield in receptions, at a minimum. Woodhead has missed the majority of two of the past three seasons, but he had a 76/605/6 and 81/756/6 receiving line in each of his past two full seasons.
35. Jamaal Charles, Denver Broncos
Due to knee injuries, Charles has missed the majority of the past two seasons -- eight games played combined. Signing with the division-rival Broncos, Charles gives the team a different element if he can stay healthy. Ranking fourth all-time in yards per carry behind Michael Vick (7.0), Randall Cunningham (6.4) and Marion Motley (5.7), the 30-year-old Charles has averaged 5.5 yards per carry over his career.
36. Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals
After an impressive rookie season (1,124 rushing yards and 5.1 YPC), Hill has failed to reach the 1,000-yard mark and averaged under 4.0 yards per carry in back-to-back seasons. Not only did the Bengals draft Joe Mixon in the second round, a back that would have been a first-rounder if it weren't for character concerns, the team lost two of its best offensive linemen in free agency. If not to begin the season, I expect Mixon to out-touch Hill as the season progresses (as noted earlier).
37. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In his first five NFL seasons, Martin has rushed for 1,400-plus yards twice -- and under 500 yards three times. Playing a full 16-game slate in both 1,400-yard seasons, Martin has played a total of 25 games in his other three seasons combined. At a minimum, Martin will miss three games to start the season as he completes serving his four-game suspension. One thing that bodes well for Martin when he returns from suspension is that the team waited until the fifth round to add a running back (Boise State's Jeremy McNichols).
38. Paul Perkins, New York Giants
For the post-Rashad Jennings New York Giants, Perkins is the starting running back, but it's possible that the Giants add free agent LeGarrette Blount and the team used a fourth-round pick on Wayne Gallman in the draft. The team's offensive line was essentially (and surprisingly) ignored in the draft, which is a concern for the running game as a whole, but Perkins should easily exceed his 127 rookie touches.
39. Samaje Perine, Washington Redskins
A physical runner, Perine is similar in style to incumbent starter Robert Kelley. Per ESPN's John Keim, Perine "becomes an instant challenger to Kelley for the starting job."
40. Latavius Murray, Minnesota Vikings
Slipping to Round 2, rookie Dalvin Cook still figures to be a major part of the team's rushing attack and likely the biggest part of it. That obviously puts a huge dent into the outlook for Murray, who signed a three-year deal with the Vikings in free agency. It doesn't help that Murray will spend much of the offseason recovering from ankle surgery as well.
Best of the rest:
41. C.J. Prosise, Seattle Seahawks
42. Matt Forte, New York Jets
43. Kenneth Dixon, Baltimore Ravens
44. Mike Gillislee, New England Patriots
45. Dion Lewis, New England Patriots
46. James White, New England Patriots
47. Jerick McKinnon, Minnesota Vikings
48. Darren Sproles, Philadelphia Eagles
49. Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals
50. Ryan Mathews, Philadelphia Eagles
51. LeGarrette Blount, Free Agent
52. Marlon Mack, Indianapolis Colts
53. Rex Burkhead, New England Patriots
54. Kareem Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs
55. Terrance West, Baltimore Ravens
56. Wayne Gallman, New York Giants
57. Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns
58. Zach Zenner, Detroit Lions
59. Devontae Booker, Denver Broncos
60. Jacquizz Rodgers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
61. Wendell Smallwood, Philadelphia Eagles
62. Jamaal Williams, Green Bay Packers
63. Charles Sims, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
64. Donnel Pumphrey, Philadelphia Eagles
65. D'Onta Foreman, Houston Texans
66. Chris Ivory, Jacksonville Jaguars
67. T.J. Yeldon, Jacksonville Jaguars
68. Charcandrick West, Kansas City Chiefs
69. DeAndre Washington, Oakland Raiders
70. Joe Williams, San Francisco 49ers
71. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
72. Jeremy McNichols, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
73. Matt Dayes, Cleveland Browns
74. Tim Hightower, San Francisco 49ers
75. Shane Vereen, New York Giants
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