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Dynasty RB Rankings Analysis (June)

As we draw ever-closer to NFL training camps, dynasty owners are gearing up for drafts already. Many rookie drafts have already begun, but the best is the dynasty startup where you get to create a new franchise from scratch. Dynasty is a different beast than redraft, so you need to know how to value each position accordingly.

RotoBaller has unveiled our most recent dynasty rankings and we've already broken down wide receivers in part one and two. Today, I’ll be looking at our running back tiered rankings.

Running backs ruled supreme in 2017, but they are typically less valued in dynasty due to a shorter shelf life. That's turning around lately with the influx of talent at the RB position. While you don't need to reach quite as high for a premier back, you'll see a logjam of talented RBs in the upper echelon of our dynasty ranks. Let's see where they fall on the big board..

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Dynasty Tiered Rankings - Running Back

Position Tier Position Rank Overall Rank Player Name
1 1 3 Todd Gurley
1 2 4 Ezekiel Elliott
1 3 8 Le'Veon Bell
1 4 9 Saquon Barkley
2 5 10 David Johnson
2 6 11 Alvin Kamara
2 7 12 Dalvin Cook
2 8 17 Leonard Fournette
2 9 18 Kareem Hunt
3 10 21 Melvin Gordon
3 11 23 Devonta Freeman
3 12 25 Christian McCaffrey
3 13 30 Joe Mixon
3 14 31 Jerick McKinnon
4 15 37 Derrius Guice
4 16 39 Jordan Howard
4 17 44 Rashaad Penny
4 18 46 Derrick Henry
4 19 52 Sony Michel
4 20 53 Mark Ingram
4 21 55 Nick Chubb
5 22 59 LeSean McCoy
5 23 61 Dion Lewis
5 24 67 Tevin Coleman
5 25 68 Kenyan Drake
5 26 74 Royce Freeman
5 27 75 Jamaal Williams
6 28 81 Jay Ajayi
6 29 83 Alex Collins
6 30 86 Ronald Jones II
6 31 87 Duke Johnson
6 32 88 Chris Thompson
6 33 89 Lamar Miller
6 34 90 Kerryon Johnson
6 35 96 Isaiah Crowell
6 36 100 Aaron Jones
7 37 111 D'Onta Foreman
7 38 112 Carlos Hyde
7 39 115 Tarik Cohen
7 40 118 Marlon Mack
7 41 124 Rex Burkhead
7 42 125 C.J. Anderson
7 43 126 Theo Riddick
7 44 135 Giovani Bernard
8 45 143 Kalen Ballage
8 46 147 Mark Walton
8 47 148 Devontae Booker
8 48 153 Nyheim Hines
8 49 154 Bilal Powell
8 50 157 Latavius Murray
8 51 158 Ty Montgomery
8 52 160 James White
8 53 166 Samaje Perine
8 54 168 Matt Breida
8 55 169 Chris Carson
9 56 175 C.J. Prosise
9 57 176 Doug Martin
9 58 184 Corey Clement
9 59 190 Ameer Abdullah
9 60 191 Javorius Allen
9 61 192 T.J. Yeldon
10 62 202 Marshawn Lynch
10 63 205 DeMarco Murray
10 64 206 Jeremy Hill
10 65 209 Peyton Barber
10 66 211 John Kelly
10 67 215 Deandre Washington
10 68 216 Justin Jackson
10 69 222 Wayne Gallman
10 70 223 Jalen Richard
10 71 226 Frank Gore
10 72 227 Charles Sims
10 73 229 Jonathan Stewart
10 74 231 Adrian Peterson
11 75 233 Chris Ivory
11 76 235 James Conner
11 77 238 Rod Smith
11 78 239 Robert Kelley
11 79 241 Chase Edmonds
11 80 247 Orleans Darkwa
11 81 251 Elijah McGuire
11 82 253 Akrum Wadley
11 83 255 LeGarrette Blount
11 84 256 Mike Davis
11 85 264 Ito Smith
11 86 266 Jonathan Williams
11 87 267 Jeremy McNichols
11 88 268 Mike Gillislee
11 89 273 J.D. McKissic
12 90 278 Alfred Morris
12 91 283 De'Angelo Henderson
12 92 289 Thomas Rawls
12 93 297 Damien Williams
12 94 298 Elijah Hood

Tier 1

The top three names are no surprise, but you'll notice that neither Gurley, Elliott, or Bell are in possession of the top overall ranking. Star wideouts will still take precedent in dynasty, but Gurley comes in as the first running back at number three. Elliott has the age advantage, as he's not even 23 years old yet, but off-field issues and lesser team situation places him just below Gurley.

Does Saquon Barkley deserve to be in the top tier before he's taken an NFL snap? Based on what we know, absolutely yes. He wasn't just a stud at the NFL Combine, he was electric on the field at Penn State and was selected #2 in the draft for a reason. Just as we saw early picks like Zeke and Fournette immediately dominate, we can rightfully expect similar production from Barkley.

Tier 2

David Johnson narrowly misses the cutoff for our first tier, but that's somewhat inconsequential on draft day, as you'll only get to choose the player who is available to you. Our staff downgraded Johnson slightly due to the fact that he is already 26 years old despite playing only three years in the league. Arizona as an offense is trending downward and transitioning to a new coaching staff, so don't expect a repeat of his mammoth 2016 numbers again. He's still a first-round value, just on the lower end.

Alvin Kamara has seen his stock catapult more than anyone but resist the temptation to select him over our top five RBs. He will be hard-pressed to put up the same level of efficiency, especially early on when teams will be game-planning for him alone, rather than Mark Ingram. Kamara is a great dynasty asset, but he hasn't yet proven he can be a workhorse back like DJ, Zeke, or Bell.

Kareem Hunt led the league in rushing, averaged nearly five yards per carry and is just 22. Yet, he's our ninth-ranked RB. The concerns with Hunt have more to do with context than ability, as he may not be given 300+ touches again. The return of Spencer Ware and the fickle nature of Andy Reid's playcalling make him a bit riskier than someone like Fournette who will continue to carry the offense on his back week in and week out.

Tier 3

Christian McCaffrey is an elite athlete but may continue to be underutilized in Carolina's offense. He saw almost as many pass targets (113) as rush attempts (117), proving far more useful in the passing game. The team jettisoned vet Jonathan Stewart and brought in clone C.J. Anderson to take his place, so C-Mac will probably not see much of an uptick in carries. As long as Cam Newton is around to steal goal-line carries, McCaffrey's ceiling will remain a low-end RB1 in PPR leagues.

Before there was Barkley, there was Jerick McKinnon and his 100% percentile SPARQ score. McKinnon sneaks into this tier now that he will be taking handoffs from promising young QB and most handsome man alive, Jimmy Garoppolo. Given the opportunity on a quality offense (Minnesota's offensive line was horrible in 2016, you may recall), this could be the true breakout we've been waiting for.

Tier 4

Here we find the rookies not named Barkley. Derrius Guice logically ranks as the highest of this bunch, as he was drafted earliest and will automatically inherit an early-down role in Washington. Rashaad Penny could be the better value, however, as he has a legitimate chance to get three-down work with little resistance in Seattle. Penny put up an impressive 4.46 40-yard dash with a speed score in the 92nd percentile to complement a 50.1% college dominator ranking. Coming out of San Diego State, he didn't face SEC competition like Guice, but that doesn't matter any more. Penny's stock could get a huge boost in training camp if he proves capable of handling pass-blocking and doesn't get pushed too hard by Chris Carson. He finished second in the NCAA with 54 missed tackles forced, 20 more than Royce Freeman and 22 more than Barkley.

Georgia teammates Michel and Chubb will see the biggest variation in value from now until Week 1, depending on their perceived usage. It's assumed that Chubb will have a chance to win the starting job over Carlos Hyde right away, but will he be involved in the passing game now that Duke Johnson is re-signed? Michel has the higher ceiling in PPR leagues, especially in a perpetual top offense, but he could easily land in the doghouse if fumbling issues from college crop up again, making him the biggest risk of all these rookies as well. Michel is best viewed as a flex/RB3 for now, although he will have to be drafted as a top-20 back in dynasty startups.

Tier 5

If RB22 seems way too low for LeSean McCoy, it isn't. In redraft leagues, Shady is potentially a top-10 RB, but this is a player with over 2,000 carries on his resume that will be on the wrong side of 30 once training camp breaks. Add in the fact that the Bills could be rebuilding for a while, he may have one more season before he settles into a committee role elsewhere.

Speaking of committees, a player like Kenyan Drake who is entering his third season and experienced great success in his first shot as the starter could be tempting earlier, but there are questions in Miami (too many to list here, so we'll stick with the running backs for now). Drake was propelled into the workhorse role after Jay Ajayi was jettisoned and Damien Williams suffered an injury. The signing of Frank Gore may be for more than veteran depth, as Drake is unlikely to see 15+ carries a game and shouldn't necessarily be viewed as a long-term asset.

Tier 6

Upon further review, it's a little curious that Ronald Jones, who has a clear path to playing time, falls to tier 6 when some of his fellow rookies are nearly 50 spots in our overall ranks. We didn't get a full picture of Jones at the Combine, but speed won't be an issue. Hitching your wagon to any rookie is a risky proposition, but if a player like Jones or Michel falls far enough, you shouldn't hesitate to pounce. Personally, I'm skeptical of the situation in Tampa, but things change quickly in the NFL and Jones doesn't seem to require a heavy investment at the moment.

Kerryon Johnson has a golden opportunity, but might also have "bust" written all over him. Johnson was heavily used at Auburn, logging 285 carries in his junior year, and has good burst but is not adept at breaking tackles. Detroit doesn't exactly have a positive history of developing running backs over the past 20 years, so you're betting against history at this point. A lot of people were high on Ameer Abdullah three years ago too.

Tier 7

We're probably too low on Tarik Cohen and Marlon Mack, even though there's a chance neither one is the primary ball-carrier this year for non-playoff teams. Mack will have first crack to win the starting tailback job, unless the Colts opt to sign a veteran like DeMarco Murray, whose 205 ranking won't jump up too much even if he does sign. Mack has speed, but not necessarily size or strength to be a feature back. Still, a starting RB has to carry value, even if just for one year.

Cohen won't get early-down work, but he should bring a Duke Johnson-like floor in an offense that should prove more creative under coach Matt Nagy. His 35.9% snap share could creep up closer to 45% this season.

Tier 8 and higher

While it might pay off to take a chance on a rookie who needs to work his way up the depth chart like Kalen Ballage or Mark Walton, there is something to be said for a player who is the RB2 on a playoff team and one possible re-injury away from being a top-10 fantasy back. That player would be Latavius Murray, who no longer has Jerick McKinnon to contend with and is behind Cook, who is coming off of ACL surgery. Other vets that shouldn't be outright dismissed in dynasty include Buck Allen and LeGarrette Blount.


Updated Tiered Rankings and Analysis

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

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