Week 15 Rankings (2016): Top 40 Running Backs

by Ray Kuhn

Without fail we were back to dealing with injury woes last week. In general it was a rough week all around (even more so since it was the first week of the playoffs) and the running position was not immune.  We saw Matt Forte and Melvin Gordon both go down with injury, and neither wasted much time doing so. Injuries are, unfortunately, a reality but it made matters worse that neither got a chance to put up many fantasy points before departing. While they certainly ruined the day of many fantasy owners, their injuries now present an exploitable opportunity for this week. Let’s take a look at how the running backs rank for Week 15:

  1. David Johnson – Arizona Cardinals – vs. New Orleans
  2. Le’Veon Bell – Pittsburgh Steelers – at Cincinnati
  3. LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills – vs. Cleveland
  4. Ezekiel Elliot – Dallas Cowboys – vs. Tampa Bay
  5. Latavius Murray – Oakland Raiders – at San Diego
  6. Devonta Freeman – Atlanta Falcons – vs. San Francisco
  7. DeMarco Murray – Tennessee Titans – at Kansas City
  8. Jay Ajayi – Miami Dolphins – at New York Jets
  9. Lamar Miller – Houston Texans – vs. Jacksonville
  10. Thomas Rawls – Seattle Seahawks – vs. Los Angeles
  11. Jordan Howard – Chicago Bears – vs. Green Bay
  12. Carlos Hyde – San Francisco 49ers – at Atlanta
  13. Spencer Ware – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. Tennessee
  14. Bilal Powell – New York Jets – vs. Miami
  15. Jeremy Hill – Cincinnati Bengals – vs. Pittsburgh
  16. Theo Riddick – Detroit Lions – at New York Giants
  17. Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers – at Washington
  18. Robert Kelley – Washington Redskins – vs. Carolina
  19. LeGarrette Blount – New England Patriots – at Denver
  20. Doug Martin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at Dallas
  21. Tevin Coleman – Atlanta Falcons – vs. San Francisco
  22. Frank Gore – Indianapolis Colts – at Minnesota
  23. Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints – at Arizona
  24. Todd Gurley – St. Louis Rams – at Seattle
  25. Kenneth Dixon – Baltimore Ravens – vs. Philadelphia
  26. Kenneth Farrow – San Diego Chargers – vs. Oakland
  27. Ryan Mathews – Philadelphia Eagles – at Baltimore
  28. Jerick McKinnon – Minnesota Vikings – vs. Indianapolis
  29. Isaiah Crowell – Cleveland Browns – at Buffalo
  30. Rashad Jennings – New York Giants – vs. Detroit
  31. Matt Asiata – Minnesota Vikings – vs. Indianapolis
  32. Dion Lewis – New England Patriots – at Denver
  33. T.J. Yeldon – Jacksonville Jaguars – at Houston
  34. Duke Johnson – Cleveland Browns – at Buffalo
  35. Justin Forsett – Denver Broncos – vs. New England
  36. Mike Gillislee – Buffalo Bills – vs. Cleveland
  37. James White – New England Patriots – at Denver
  38. Charles Sims – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at Dallas
  39. Rex Burkhead – Cincinnati Bengals – vs. Pittsburgh
  40. Chris Thompson – Washington Redksins – vs. Carolina

Notes:

  • Day to day. Is that really what we want to hear as we are setting waiver claims and planning our rosters? That is term Todd Bowles used to describe Matt Forte’s situation as the results of his MRI are still unclear. Things didn’t sound too good for Forte after departing, and I wouldn’t consider him a viable option for this week. The opposite should be said for Bilal Powell. A veteran is in his sixth year with the Jets, Powell is different from some of the other back-ups we have seen this season. He didn’t miss a beat last week as he touched the ball 34 times, 29 carries and five receptions, while gaining a combined 179 yards and scoring 2 TD. For his career he is averaging 4.3 yards on the ground along with 7.7 yards on his 154 receptions. Powell shouldn’t have too many problems adjusting to his increased workload and he is worth a legit look going against a middle of the road defense in Miami. With Bryce Petty still under center, the Jets will continue to rely on the run.
  • Powell is a name that was likely already on your radar, but the same cannot be said for Kenneth Farrow. Melvin Gordon is dealing with both a knee and a hip sprain, and the majority of San Diego’s carries will likely go to Farrow. That was the case this past week after Gordon departed as Farrow carried the ball 16 times for 55 yards while also catching six passes for 23 yards. San Diego leaned pretty heavily on the undrafted rookie as he nearly doubled his workload for the season. He did struggle in pass protection, but having a full week of preparation as the starter should serve to benefit him. Ronnie Hillman will likely be a factor as well, but he has just 22 touches this season. I would try look for a better option than Farrow, but it’s also hard to argue with his expected opportunity against the Raiders, who are allowing the fifth most points to opposing running backs.
  • After Powell torched the 49ers last week, and honestly who hasn’t this season, we should look to exploit them once again. However, that likely gives us two running backs who are fantasy worthy. That has been the case all season for the Falcons as both Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman have proved to valuable options when healthy. Last week it was mildly surprising that Freeman didn’t do a better job taking advantage of the Rams in a game that Atlanta had in hand all afternoon. Freeman managed six yards on six carries while catching two passes for another 12 yards. So far this season he has just one 100-yard game, but he does have a combined 9 TD and 1,121 yards. Coleman’s day only looked vastly better than his counterpart because he found the end zone twice while gaining 55 yards. Both backs could easily find their way into your starting lineup this week, but Freeman is the back to own.
  • From four, we are likely down to two running backs in Philadelphia. It appears that Wendell Smallwood is out for the season and Darren Sproles is currently in the concussion protocol. That should make for a big day for Ryan Mathews, but we also should take into account that Kenjon Barner will play a role. It also needs to be noted that the Philadelphia offense has been reeling as of late as Carson Wentz has been looking like the rookie that he is. With just 24 carries this season, I both wouldn’t buy into Barner nor would I let it impact my thoughts on Mathews. The problem is that at 4.2 yards per carry, the enthusiasm surrounding Mathews does need to be tempered. He does have 7 TD, but Baltimore has a tough defense.
  • Don’t let the fact that LeSean McCoy is not technically the goal line back for Buffalo hinder his value. The Bills offense never truly got on track last week, but McCoy still scored a touchdown on the ground and caught six passes for 81 yards. I wouldn’t be concerned about the 2.3 yards per carry he averaged against Pittsburgh as he is just 24 yards away from 1,000 mark for the season with an average of 5.2 yards per carry. Plus, this week it’s not going to get much easier than it does facing the Browns.

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Make sure to check out all of our Week 15 rankings:

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defense
Week 15 Rankings (2016): Top 50 Wide Receivers
Week 15 Rankings (2016): Top 20 Tight Ends

20 comments

  1. James says:

    question for a 3rd wr

    Mitchell, Snead, Garçon or sterling shepard?

  2. Dron says:

    Start 2: Stefon Diggs, Emmanuel Sanders, Jeremy Hill, Kenneth Farrow?

  3. Mike says:

    Start which 3 RB’s- Gurley, Ware, Powell, Ajayi, Howard or Farrow? Standard scoring.

    Right now I have Howard, Ajayi and Powell. You agree?

    Is starting 2 RB’s in the same game (Powell/Ajayi) ok? Thank you.

  4. Krysta says:

    I have Stewart and Ingram (how is he ALWAYS hurts!!?!?) and picked up Forsett on Waivers. Forsett if Ingram too questionable or Gillisle/Sims/Blue still available on waiver?

  5. James – Really want to say Mitchell, but I’d lean Garcon

    Dron – Hill is the lock. Saunders would be my second choice, but close

    Mike – I may lean Ware over Powell, but splitting hairs there. Both are worth using, so go with your gut (and I have no issue playing 2 RB from same game)

    Krysta – Forsett would be the play, if can’t use Ingram

  6. Bryan says:

    Jeremy hill or Dixon in week 15 Ppr league?

  7. Haggy says:

    Ware or Kelley this week.

  8. Ken Politte says:

    Ranks these please for this championship week….Ware, Rawls, Freeman, Hill

  9. Bms914 says:

    Ware or Stewart in Flex

    Inman or Edelman

    Ladarius Green or Ertz

    All. 1 point ppr…..

  10. Billy says:

    Who should I start at RB this week, Tevin Coleman vs San Francisco or Kenneth Farrow vs Oakland.

  11. David says:

    Start Farrow or West?

    Thanks

  12. Billy – I’d go with Coleman

    David – Farrow, though that doesn’t say much

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