Week 17 Rankings (2015): Top 40 Running Backs

by Ray Kuhn

At this point it really is getting to be ridiculous. Now that we are at the finish line of the regular season your preseason rankings should have been long tossed out in the trash and we can all agree that there is very little symmetry between the Week 1 and Week 17 rankings. Regardless, it has been a wild ride, so let’s close out the season by seeing how the backfield options rank one last time:

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

Notes:

  • It has been a lost season for the Saints, but Tim Hightower is making everyone forget about Mark Ingram. Atlanta has allowed 15 touchdowns on the ground and that lines up perfectly for Hightower as he closes out the season. This will be his fourth week carrying the load after not seeing action since 2011, and so far the former Arizona Cardinal has not disappointed. He is coming of a game against Jacksonville that saw him gain 122 yards on 27 carries with 2 TD, while also adding another 47 receiving yards. With efforts of 28, 13 (game flow can be blamed) and 27 carries, it is clear that he is the only game in town.
  • While Chris Ivory is still a large part of the Jets’ offense, he is at 989 rushing yards on the season, Bilal Powell is quickly seeing his role increase. Ivory was limited by a knee issue that took him out of action for almost a quarter, and he out touched Powell by just three; 15 to 12. Ivory gained 38 yards on 11 carries last week, which was on the heels of a 37 yard performance against Dallas. Additionally he has gone without a touchdown for the last four weeks while Powell is becoming a larger factor. Powell carried the ball eight times for 56 yards on Sunday, but it was in the passing game where his presence was truly felt. Over the past four weeks hel is averaging about six catches per game, and I would look for him to be very involved in the game plan this week against Buffalo who have allowed 55 catches for 558 yards to opposing running backs.
  • Adrian Peterson did all the work on Sunday, but what would have been his second touchdown went to Jerick McKinnon. Peterson cracked the 100 yard mark for the 7th time this season, as he is now up to 1,418 yards and battling Doug Martin for the rushing title. Minnesota is pushing for a division title, so we know that Peterson will get his normal workload against a Packers team that has given up 11 touchdowns on the ground.
  • With nothing to play for, and with him still battling a knee injury, I would not expect to see LeSean McCoy once again this season. Rex Ryan will be playing for keeps, but I would expect Buffalo to be smart and not chance anything. Karlos Williams was the workhorse last week with 76 yards on 17 carries, and he is the back to own. Williams got the goal-line work and also picked up a one yard touchdown. Mike Gillisee also has upside, but there is some risk involved since you are beholden to the big play. He picked up 93 yards on just nine carries, which included a late game 50 yard touchdown run, while also catching two passes for 16 yards. Keep in mind that the Jets have allowed just 957 yards and one rushing touchdown this season.
  • It’s dueling extremes for Todd Gurley as after dealing with Seattle last week, he gets the 49ers and their second ranked defense for fantasy running backs. He did pretty well with a tough match-up as he gained 85 yards on 19 carries while scoring his 10th touchdown of the season. Earlier in the season against San Francisco he gained 133 yards on 20 carries, and I would expect a repeat of that this week.
Week 17 Rankings (2015): Top 50 Wide Receivers
Week 17 Rankings (2015): Top 25 Quarterbacks

3 comments

  1. Andrew says:

    Professor,
    Will you stat Lamar Miller or Chris Ivory or Isaiah Crowell on Flex ?

  2. Jennifer says:

    I’m solid at RB1 with Hightower, but struggling on RB2. Got Bills’ Williams and Gillislee, or James White. If none, maybe a sleeper I could pick up?

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