2017 Standard Ranking Analysis - Running Back

Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:

NFL    NBA    MLB

Already have an account? Log in here.

[X]

Forgot Password


[X]

The 2017 season is finally almost here! You've probably drafted your team by now and are looking at your roster while either thinking about how great it looks or thinking about how you really, really messed up. Don't worry! Rotoballer is here to help you figure out what to do with your present mess.

Our experts have ranked the running backs and broken those rankings down into tiers to help you think about who on your team you should be playing, who might slip into waivers that you need to go grab soon, and--for those of you who are waiting until the last possible second to draft because your entire league is waiting for the Ezekiel Elliott appeal to happen--to figure out how to pick.

I'm also going to tell you when our experts are wrong, which is very rare but sometimes I have to be a contrarian! More often than not, though, they know exactly what they are doing and I'll provide you some analysis of why they are smart football people. Alright, let's do this.

Editor's note: Purchase an NFL Premium Pass (including 150 days of DFS), and get MLB Premium for free! Whoa. Check out our NFL and MLB Premium tools, and crush your leagues. Sign Up Now!

 

2017 Running Back Tiered Rankings (Standard)

Tier One

1) David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals
2) Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
3) LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills
4) Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears
5) Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons

This is one tier where the order really matters. David Johnson and Le'Veon Bell both have the right mix of rushing skills, receiving skills, vision, and speed to put up monster seasons--we're talking 1000 yards rushing and 1000 yards receiving if they stay healthy. Johnson has the best chance of accomplishing that because he's shown himself to be healthy in the past (yeah, past injury avoidance does not predict future injury chances I KNOW THIS) and doesn't have a player like Antonio Brown there to take away targets.

LeSean McCoy's stock just rose because Buffalo cut Jonathan Williams. There are, as always, durability concerns, but if that works out then McCoy is a lock to put up huge numbers. Howard and Freeman round out the tier. As someone who owns multiple shares of Howard, I should be telling you how great a pick he is, but I'm not 100% sold on him above Freeman. The Bears will be very bad this season and Howard is going to be running against stacked boxes a whole, whole lot.

 

Tier 2

1) DeMarco Murray, Tennessee Titans
2) Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers
3) Jay Ajayi, Miami Dolphins
4) Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams
5) Lamar Miller, Houston Texans

Murray is almost in the first tier, but he's not quite as safe a pick as those two. Age concerns. A strong backup, though I don't expect Derrick Henry will take over this backfield yet. Gordon and Ajayi both had strong 2016 but there are concerns. Gordon showed a lot of improvement last year as he took full control of the Chargers backfield, but he might not be the most physically talented running back available. Ajayi put up big numbers, but a lot of his production came in his pair of 200 yard games. Which, okay, complaining about two games of 200+ yards is probably a dumb thing to complain about. But regression is possible.

Todd Gurley already did the regression thing last season. He should bounce back in 2017, though there are still real concerns about him playing for a Rams team that isn't going to be very strong. As someone who has watched a lot of Texans games, I can tell you that Lamar Miller will disappoint you.

 

Tier 3

1) Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars

Fournette is all by himself here because he has A) a tremendous upside and B) we don't know how effective he can be on the Jaguars. I think he's a bet worth taking--do we expect T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory to cut into his playing time? No!

 

Tier 4

1) Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
2) Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns
3) Marshawn Lynch, Oakland Raiders

Three players who find themselves here for very different reasons. We know the story with Elliott--he's been suspended via the league's domestic violence policy for six games but is currently appealing. If he wins the appeal, he has immediate value. If he doesn't, you choose a player you won't have for six games. Crowell has risen in value because he is a pretty solid back and the Browns will need to run the ball plenty. Marshawn Lynch missed all of last year after retiring. He's back, but that year off could bite him. Or Lynch has a vintage Lynch season. Your guess is as good as mine here, so I think this value he's been attributed works.

 

Tier 5

1) Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers
2) C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos
3) Ty Montgomery, Green Bay Packers
4) Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings
5) Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers
6) Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts

Does anyone else remember that Jonathan Stewart is still in Carolina and is going to get his share of carries because the Panthers love Jonathan Stewart? I get the upside with McCaffrey, but he makes me nervous. C.J. Anderson could be very solid or he could lose playing time to Jamaal Charles. Honestly, this depends more on how Charles looks than on how Anderson looks.

Ty Montgomery is an exciting player--a converted wide receiver who brings a dimension to the Packers that the parade of rookies the team brought in don't. But the team did bring in a bunch of youngsters. That seems to imply that Montgomery doesn't have the long leash that fantasy owners would like to see. Cook is a very good running back. My one concern with him is the potential for Latavius Murray to steal red zone looks. Carlos Hyde will outperform his draft rank if he stays healthy. This is a player that I'd definitely be willing to take a risk on earlier than these other names, but it's impossible to ignore that he's never played 16 games. Frank Gore will drop off at some point. This is a fine spot to take him if you're betting that drop off happens next year, but I'm not sold. Marlon Mack could challenge Gore for playing time earlier than we think.

 

Tier 6

1) Ameer Abdullah, Detroit Lions
2) Kareem Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs
3) Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals
4) Mike Gillislee, New England Patriots
5) Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints
6) Rob Kelley, Washington Redskins
7) Eddie Lacy, Seattle Seahawks
8) Tevin Coleman, Atlanta Falcons
9) Bilal Powell, New York Jets

With two exceptions, this tier is not exciting. Abdullah doesn't have much upside. Mixon likely won't get enough playing time early on. Gillislee and Ingram are likely to find themselves sharing too many snaps with the other backs on their teams. Kelley and Lacy will be mediocre. Coleman has limited value because he's playing behind Devonta Freeman.

Kareem Hunt, though, is worth a shot. Even if he doesn't put up the numbers that have led to people grabbing him round two or three, he's still a high potential running back who should see the majority of the snaps in the Chiefs backfield. He's a risk, but all of the players on this tier are risks and Hunt has the highest ceiling. Bilal Powell could see the ball a lot on a very bad team that is basically trying to lose games. Sneaky play.

 

Tier 7

1) Danny Woodhead, Baltimore Ravens
2) Terrance West, Baltimore Ravens

Woodhead is obviously a better PPR player than he is a Standard player. I'm avoiding both of these players, but someone is bound to control the Ravens backfield in the absence of Kenneth Dixon. If I had to bet on one of them, I'd go West.

 

Tier 8

1) Darren McFadden, Dallas Cowboys
2) Paul Perkins, New York Giants
3) Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
4) Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
5) Adrian Peterson, New Orleans Saints
6) LeGarrette Blount, Philadelphia Eagles
7) Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers

McFadden gets you through the Elliott suspension. Perkins is an intriguing player if he takes control of the Giants backfield. Henry is good insurance for DeMarco Murray but doesn't have enough value on his own. Doug Martin could be a good choice after his suspension ends. Peterson is not Adrian Peterson any more, but he likely cuts into Mark Ingram's value and neither helps you win a league. Blount is part of a committee-style approach in Philadelphia that should be avoided. Stewart will likely see his share of the ball fall on a weekly basis.

 

Notables Below Tier 8

Just a few players we have ranked below that eighth tier who could be worth keeping an eye on:

Jacquizz Rodgers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Tier 9) is a good candidate to put up solid numbers until Doug Martin returns.

Samaje Perine, Washington Redskins (Tier 9) didn't look great in the preseason, but Washington's backfield isn't super strong and he could see playing time.

Marlon Mack, Indianapolis Colts (Tier 11) could unseat Frank Gore at some point.

D'Onta Foreman, Houston Texans (Tier 12) has a crowd in front of him, but the upside is there if Lamar Miller goes down.

 

Updated Tiered Rankings and Analysis


Check out all of RotoBaller's 2017 fantasy football rankings. Staff rankings are updated regularly for all positions and include standard formats, PPR scoring, tiered rankings and dynasty leagues.