Week 16 Rankings (2015): Top 40 Running Backs

by Ray Kuhn

How about we just give up? This is certainly not the time for that, as we have just two weeks left in the regular season and this Championship Week in the majority of leagues, but just forget about nearly everything you thought over the summer. We have players who were on their couches a few weeks ago that could potentially decide the championship. There is no way that anyone could have predicted the 40 players that would appear in these rankings in July, let alone the order the appear in, so let’s dive right into the rankings.

  1. Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings – vs. New York Giants
  2. DeAngelo Williams – Pittsburgh Steelers – at Baltimore
  3. David Johnson – Arizona Cardinals – vs. Green Bay
  4. Charcandrick West – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. Cleveland
  5. Doug Martin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – vs. Chicago
  6. Devonta Freeman – Atlanta Falcons – vs. Carolina
  7. Latavius Murray – Oakland Raiders – vs. San Diego
  8. Matt Forte – Chicago Bears – at Tampa Bay
  9. Denard Robinson – Jacksonville Jaguars – at New Orleans
  10. James White – New England Patriots – at New York Jets
  11. Lamar Miller – Miami Dolphins – vs. Indianapolis
  12. Todd Gurley – St. Louis Rams – at Seattle
  13. Darren McFadden – Dallas Cowboys – at Buffalo
  14. Tim Hightower – New Orleans Saints – vs. Jacksonville
  15. Karlos Williams – Buffalo Bills – vs. Dallas
  16. Chris Ivory – New York Jets – vs. New England
  17. Frank Gore – Indianapolis Colts – at Miami
  18. Christine Michael – Seattle Seahawks – vs. St. Louis
  19. Danny Woodhead – San Diego Chargers – at Oakland
  20. Ryan Mathews – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Washington
  21. Jeremy Hill – Cincinnati Bengals – at Denver
  22. Matt Jones – Washington Redskins – at Philadelphia
  23. Buck Allen – Baltimore Ravens – vs. Pittsburgh
  24. Rashad Jennings – New York Giants – at Minnesota
  25. Eddie Lacy – Green Bay Packers – at Arizona
  26. Alfred Blue – Houston Texans – at Tennessee
  27. Cameron Artis-Payne – Carolina Panthers – at Atlanta
  28. Bilal Powell – New York Jets – vs. New England
  29. Ronnie Hillman – Denver Broncos – vs. Cincinnati
  30. Giovani Bernard – Cincinnati Bengals – at Denver
  31. Ameer Abdullah – Detroit Lions – vs. San Francisco
  32. Shaun Draughn – San Francisco 49ers – at Detroit
  33. Theo Riddick – Detroit Lions – vs. San Francisco
  34. James Starks – Green Bay Packers – at Arizona
  35. Duke Johnson – Cleveland Browns – at Kansas City
  36. Jeremy Langford – Chicago Bears – at Tampa Bay
  37. Mike Gillislee – Buffalo Bills – vs. Dallas
  38. Jay Ajayi – Miami Dolphins – vs. Indianapolis
  39. C.J. Anderson – Denver Broncos – vs. Cincinnati
  40. Spencer Ware – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. Cleveland

Notes:

  • We have been waiting for Christine Michael to have fantasy relevance, but this not exactly the way anyone could have predicted it. After carrying the ball just 52 times in two seasons behind Marshawn Lynch, Michael was shipped to Dallas at the start of the season. While there were times we expected Michael to take the lead in the Cowboys’ backfield, he ended up with just 43 yards on 12 carries prior to being released and finding his way to Washington’s practice squad. Injuries and lack of better options led him back to Seattle and he looked like a different back than we had previously seen. While the Seahawks will continue using multiple players in their backfield, Fred Jackson in the passing game and Bryce Brown as a change of pace, Michael is the one to own. He finally ran the way we expected him to as he gained 84 yards on 16 carries this past week. It seemed that Brown might have gotten the first look as he gained 43 yards on nine carries, mostly early in the game, but it was Michael who emerged as the go to runner. The Rams have allowed the ninth most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season, and you could do worse than Michael this week.
  • There aren’t many people you can count on to be consistent contributors in New England’s offense, let alone their backfield, but that does appear to be the case for James White (at least as a receiving option). He only has 17 carries this season, but that is quite alright as I wouldn’t expect any Patriots running back to move the ball much on the ground against a tough Jets defense. As a receiver he has been targeted at least five times in each of his last four games and he caught seven passes for 71 yards and a touchdown last week. With the addition of Steven Jackson things likely don’t look too good for Brandon Bolden and his 3.2 yards per carry, but White looks to have carved out a consistent role averaging 9.7 yards per reception on 33 catches.
  • Buck Allen likely cost many fantasy owners a victory last week, but I wouldn’t ignore him. After going 131 touches without giving the ball away, the rookie has fumbled in each of his past two games and it was one fumble too many for Gary Kubiak. However, after spending just about the whole game on the bench Allen will be back in action this week against Pittsburgh, but I’m not sure that he is worth the same investment. He is averaging a modest 3.8 yards per carry, but his real value is as a receiving threat. The rookie has caught 34 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns and has some real PPR value. Against Pittsburgh and their 31st ranked fun defense, as far as opposing running backs are concerned, it might be best to look for another option.
  • After beginning the season as a player who seemingly found the end zone every time he touched the ball, David Johnson now is the go-to back for Arizona. Not only is he emerging as a legit threat for the Cardinals, but Johnson has quickly become one of the top running backs in the NFL. The Cardinals’ offensive line has proven to be the best, and at this point I don’t think it really matters when Andre Ellington and potentially Chris Johnson return. David Johnson gained 187 yards on 29 carries while finding the end zone three times and also catching four passes for 42 yards. On a points and yardage basis the Packers have been relatively stingy against opposing running backs, but they have allowed 10 touchdowns on the ground.
  • Thanks to Miami doing weird things with Lamar Miller once again the Chargers no longer allow the most points to opposing running backs, but it is close. That bodes well for Latavius Murray, who started off well last week against the Packers (64 yards on 15 first half carries), but game flow helped limit his value in the second half. At 964 yards for the season he is poised to eclipse the 1,000 yard mark this week against San Diego. With just 32 catches for 169 yards there isn’t much of a PPR boast, but the Chargers have allowed 1,496 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground this season.
  • Maybe Alfred Blue really wasn’t healthy all season, as he appeared to be recovered from a back injury this week and looked like a different player. Blue took the reigns in Houston’s backfield and gained 107 yards on 20 carries for his second 100-plus yard effort of the season. The Texans have been looking for someone to consistently replace Arian Foster, so I would expect to see Blue take on a main role again this week. It also works in his favor that he gets the Titans who are in the middle of the pack against running backs but have been struggling as of late.
Week 16 Rankings (2015): Top 20 Tight Ends
Week 16 Rankings (2015): Top 50 Wide Receivers

27 comments

  1. Sam says:

    If TJ Yeldon is active, does he take Robinson’s spot at 9?

  2. J says:

    Martin, D Johnson, Yeldon, Murray. I’m leaning Martin and Johnson. Thoughts

  3. Sheldon says:

    Hey, Prodessor! It’s finals week. It’s here. And I need 3 from among Danny Woodhead, Denard Robinson, Matt Forte, and Christine Michael. Thanks.

  4. Vicious says:

    Hey Prof! Yet another Question I can’t believe I’m asking but obviously need to win this week and Sea DeF scares me on the ground…

    Non-PPR pick one Flex …

    T.Gurley
    C.Artis P
    J.Bell
    J.Edelman (if active)

    Thanks!!!

  5. Sam – Probably not that high, as if both are active they should both play a role

    J – Yep, that’s how I’d roll.

    Sheldon – Robinson/Forte are the locks. Michael is the higher upside, but riskier option. All depends how you want to play it, but I’d lean Woodhead

    Vicious – Gotta go Gurley

  6. Tim says:

    Professor in a PPR league I need 2 of these 4 RB for a title-

    Latavious Murray, Denard Robinson, Danny Woodhead, Bilal Powell

    Thanks!

  7. chuckie says:

    love your input prof

    I have Forte & Denard @ RB- need to add flex either Karlos or Hightower – who do you like? thanks

  8. Gman says:

    Hey Prof – I’m in the final this week and need to pick two of the following as PPR Flex plays…

    Todd Gurley
    Denard Robinson
    Eric Decker
    TY Hilton

    What two would you play?

  9. Justin says:

    Prof,

    I need some input. 1/2 Point PPR League
    QB: Big Ben
    RB1: David Johnson
    RB2: Charcandrick West
    WR1: Martavis Bryant
    WR2: Larry Fitzgerald
    TE: Jordan Reed
    Flex: Jarvis Landry
    DEF: Seattle
    K: Graham Cano

    Bench: Michael Floyd, Michael Crabtree, Ted Ginn Jr., Darren McFadden, Antonio Gates

    I’m leery about both Larry Fitzgerald and Jarvis Landry. Should I flex Darren McFadden instead of Landry? Would it be a terrible idea to play 2 TE, flex Antonio Gates? Or should i stick Ted Ginn Jr. in the lineup somewhere?

    Thanks for your time prof, I appreciate it.

  10. Tim – Murray/Robinson (assuming no Yeldon)

    chuckie – Hightower for me, don’t think Williams will get a full workload

    Gman – I’d go Decker/Robinson (assuming he’s healthy and no Yeldon). It’s hard sitting Gurley, but Seattle is a scary matchup.

    Justin – I’d 100% use McFadden as my FLEX, sitting Fitzgerald and sliding Landry itno the WR spot

  11. Haggy says:

    Bilal Powell or Buck Allen or Jeremy Hill. Leanning Powell hate Allen and Hills Matchups.

  12. Eric says:

    Thanks for your help this year, you and Eric have guided me to the finals!! For my last RB slot who do you like– James White, Todd Gurley, or Ronnie Hillman? Thanks again and happy Festivus!!

  13. Andrew says:

    Hey roto right now I have Alshon in my flex. If he doesn’t go u think karlos Williams or Tim Hightower in a one point ppr. Thx

  14. Haggy – I’d probably lean Allen, but it’s really a coin flip between him and Powell. Go with your gut.

    Eric – I have to go Gurley, even with the tough matchup

    Andrew – I’d go Hightower

  15. Aj says:

    Merry Xmas! Worried about APs usage and worse if he “starts” and gets only a handful of carries/split with McKinnon, given its a late start and the game may be meaning less. I have both but could roll out Karlos instead and avoid completely. Also have Jeremy hill on Monday, a lousy option but at least will allow me a stop gap. How would you play this? 1/2 ppr. Thinking of passing on Karlos and hope GB wins so MN games means something.

  16. Randy says:

    Tim Hightower, Darren Mcfadden, Buck Allen, and Denard Robinson. Which two to play? Happy Holidays.

  17. AJ – It’s hard to sit Peterson, so I would def. monitor the news into Sunday AM to get an idea. I’d prob. plan to use him, with Hill as the fallback. Williams is a decent option, but hard to use him over AP if you can avoid it.

    Randy – Hightower/McFadden

  18. Jim Smith says:

    Professor, I am stuck with Matt Jones and Ajayi as I lost TJ Yeldon to injury….Would you start Jones or Ajayi as your RB2? Thanks.

  19. Tiffany says:

    Bilal Powell or Matt Jones?

    Thanks again Prof!

  20. Jim Smith – Jones is safer, so probably the way I’d lean. That said, I love Ajayi and have a sneaking suspicion he’s going to have a big day.

    Tiffany – Powell

  21. Ryan says:

    PPR league, my WR and flex is set with Julio, Antonio Brown, and Allen Robinson, need some help setting my RB, my choices are Freeman, West, or James White. It’s a full PPR league

  22. Stan Gable says:

    Up 78-0 with great games Latavius, Cousins, and Reed. Playing Karlos Williams at RB2. Flex right now is Frank Gore in Nonppr. Colts have been bad but expect lot of carries and think Gore might have good floor. Switch Gore for CAP or C. Michael?

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