Week 17 Rankings (2016): Top 40 Running Backs

by Ray Kuhn

This is not going to be an easy week. In fact, it might be the most challenging week there is… Challenging might not necessarily be the right word to use, maybe frustrating or nerve wracking might be more like it.  If you are still playing it means one of two things: Either you have reached the championship, and in that case congratulations, or you are setting a DFS lineup to help ease the pain of the fantasy football season being over.

Regardless of what brings you here, it is commendable as there is nothing like filling out a Week 17 lineup. We already have an abundance of players sidelined as there is no reason to risk further injury when the game means nothing, and more inactive players will likely come this weekend.

The rankings below are based on what we know at this point, but also are very much subject to change based on who actually takes the field. If you are setting a lineup make sure to monitor who will be actually taking the field and try to read the tea leaves as to what the usage will be. We’ll try to note of the situations that might look a little different than they did last week as there are certainly opportunities for value out there.

  1. LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills – at New York Jets
  2. David Johnson – Arizona Cardinals – at Los Angeles
  3. Devonta Freeman – Atlanta Falcons – vs. New Orleans
  4. Jordan Howard – Chicago Bears – at Minnesota
  5. Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints – at Atlanta
  6. Robert Kelley – Washington Redskins – vs. New York Giants
  7. Frank Gore – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Jacksonville
  8. Jay Ajayi – Miami Dolphins – vs. New England
  9. Ezekiel Elliot – Dallas Cowboys – at Philadelphia
  10. Todd Gurley – Los Angeles Rams – vs. Arizona
  11. DeAngelo Williams – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. Cleveland
  12. LeGarrette Blount – New England Patriots – at Miami
  13. Alfred Blue – Houston Texans – at Tennesee
  14. Spencer Ware – Kansas City Chiefs – at San Diego
  15. DeMarco Murray – Tennessee Titans – vs. Houston
  16. Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers – at Tampa Bay
  17. Bilal Powell – New York Jets – vs. Buffalo
  18. Isaiah Crowell – Cleveland Browns – at Pittsburgh
  19. Tevin Coleman – Atlanta Falcons – vs. New Orleans
  20. Latavius Murray – Oakland Raiders – at Denver
  21. Darren Sproles – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Dallas
  22. Chris Ivory – Jacksonville Jaguars – at Indianapolis
  23. Dion Lewis – New England Patriots – at Miami
  24. Kenneth Dixon – Baltimore Ravens – at Cincinnati
  25. Alex Collins – Seattle Seahawks – at San Francisco
  26. Jacquizz Rodgers – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – vs. Carolina
  27. Shaun Draughn – San Francisco 49ers – vs. Seattle
  28. Jerick McKinnon – Minnesota Vikings – vs. Chicago
  29. Rex Burkhead – Cincinnati Bengals – vs. Baltimore
  30. Paul Perkins – New York Giants – at Washington
  31. Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans – vs. Houston
  32. Darren McFadden – Dallas Cowboys – at Philadelphia
  33. Mike Gillislee – Buffalo Bills – at New York Jets
  34. DeAndre Washington – Oakland Raiders – at Denver
  35. Charles Sims – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – vs. Carolina
  36. Chris Thompson – Washington Redskins – vs. New York Giants
  37. Jeremy Hill – Cincinnati Bengals – vs. Baltimore
  38. Rashad Jennings – New York Giants – at Washington
  39. Ronnie Hillman – San Diego Chargers – vs. Kansas City
  40. Justin Forsett – Denver Broncos – vs. Oakland

Notes:

  • Too little too late, and it’s still quite difficult to trust Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville offense, but the Jaguars did show something last week against the Titans. Now, as they close out the season in Indianapolis, we have to wonder who will carry the ball for the Jaguars. T.J. Yeldon is now on Injured Reserve and Chris Ivory is dealing with a hamstring injury. Before leaving last week’s game, Ivory gained 45 yards on 14 carries with a touchdown and also caught four passes for 69 yards. For now, we will move forward assuming Ivory is able to take the field and take advantage of the 28th ranked fantasy defense against running backs. If not Ivory, then there is the possibility Denard Robinson takes on some of the load, but he is also nursing an ankle injury. That then leaves us with Corey Grant as the healthy option in Jacksonville’s backfield. Last week, Grant gained 27 yards on nine carries, and if Ivory is unable to take the field, then he is worth a look. Ivory obviously has more value than Robinson or Grant, but this is a situation to exploit.
  • After last week’s game with Arizona, the Seahawks referred to Thomas Rawls’ shoulder injury as a “bruise”, and he has yet to have an MRI. Seattle’s place in the postseason is secure, but they are still fighting for a first round bye. However, with the Seahawks facing San Francisco this week, there shouldn’t be much of a problem for them to come out victorious. Even when he has been healthy this season, Rawls hasn’t exactly been successful averaging just 3.3 yards per carry. So let’s assume Rawls does play this week, his role will likely be a supporting one at best, and Alex Collins is the running back who warrants a look. The 49ers have allowed the most points to opposing running backs so far this season and Collins can also be counted on as a pass catcher. Last week, Collins gained 28 yards on seven carries and caught four passes for another 19 yards. Collins has only touched the ball 34 times so far this season which makes it hard to trust the rookie this week, but he still has the potential to be a legitimate option for this week as a borderline RB2.
  • Across the field, the absence of Carlos Hyde also provides opportunity to value seeking fantasy owners. Seattle is the third stingiest defense to fantasy running backs this season, but Shaun Draughn will likely get the majority of backfield touches for the 49ers. And this week, that does count for something. While I wouldn’t count on Draughn to do much running the ball, he has yet to gain more than 32 yards on the ground this season, his value certainly rises in PPR leagues. In a limited role this season, Draughn has 25 receptions for 195 yards, and he should see a good amount of targets this week. Last week without Hyde, Draughn carried the ball 10 times (although he gained just 17 yards) while catching six passes for 48 yards. At the very least, we can expect that from Draughn this week.
  • Melvin Gordon’s injury left him just three yards short of 1,000, and after missing the last two games, there is the possibility he returns to close out the season. Kenneth Farrow is now done for the season, so there are carries up for grabs in San Diego’s backfield, but it still remains to be seen how much we will see from Gordon this week. While gaining 90 yards on 34 carries so far this season, Hillman hasn’t exactly shown much to warrant an increased role, but at this point being healthy counts for a lot. Andre Williams, who has yet to carry the ball this season, is in place as the back-up and this is a situation to avoid. The problem though, is that based on other situations around the NFL, you might not have a choice as it could be hard to overlook Hillman’s expected workload.
  • The Steelers have been rather forthcoming with the fact that Le’Veon Bell likely will be taking this week off, but who will reap the rewards? Going back to last season, and the first two weeks of 2016, it is clear that DeAngelo Williams certainly takes advantage of Bell’s absence, but he is battling a knee injury. After there being a possibility of Williams being active last week, the expectation is that he will return against the Browns for a choice match-up. Based on the success we have come to see from Williams, it is not far-fetched to consider him an RB1 if it is determined he is active and fully healthy. If not, that brings us to Fitzgerald Toussaint who had a total of 31 career carries with Pittsburgh over the past two seasons. That isn’t exactly a stat line to bank on, but this is what Week 17 does to us.

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Week 17 Rankings (2016): Top 20 Tight Ends
Week 17 Rankings (2016): Top 25 Quarterbacks

8 comments

  1. chris says:

    Championship week and bell of course sits out. Need a RB2 and flex- right now have starting ivory and blue. on bench have- Toussaint, McFadden, zenner and thielen. also have pryor and considering as flex since Kessler is starting. Please help!!!!

  2. Gary says:

    Ray and Will – Championship Week … POR with 1.75 per reception and 1 point every 8 yards … the problem is my RBs are Bell and Rawls … and I have only one move left. Who do I let go? And who do I pick up from Gurley, D’Angelo Williams, Dixon, McFadden, Jacquizz?

    • Gary says:

      PPR that is. Ivory and Zenner are also available.

      • Mikein Macon says:

        Gary, obviously wait for the professor to answer but since it has already been said that Bell is sitting, drop him for DeAngelo and you likely won’t miss a beat. I also think Rodgers is going to have a big game whereas I’m not sure if Pittsburgh is just going to mail it in. Just my humble opinion. Good luck!

        • Gary says:

          Appreciate your thoughts … will wait for Ray and Eric … but another team picked up Jacquizz. Ty Montgomery is not available. Since the PPR is so great (1.75 points) I’m thinking of picking up Gurley since he’s at home. Praying that Rawls plays after all and I get at least a little bit out of him and that Gurley can get 50 yards on the ground and 4 receptions.

  3. Andy says:

    Hi RP,
    This is my 8 team standard, and I am in Championship game.
    My Championship here are my team, I have only 1 player to pick to replace this week, who should i change ? Thanks

    QB: Andrew Luck
    WR: Michael Thomas, Kelvin Benjamin
    RB: Ezekiel Elliott, JOrdan HOward
    TE: Zach Ertz
    W/T: Tyreek Hill
    W/R: Jacquizz Rodger
    W/R/T: JJ Nelson

    DEF: Pittsburg (BK Houston)
    BK: Michael Crabtree, Doug Martin, jarvis Landry
    BK: Delanuie Walker, Jonathan Stewart
    Should I pick up F Toussaint or D Willaims, A collins or Z Zenner or D MacFadden ?
    How about B laFell, C Mereddith, P garcon, S Shepard or M Lee or A Robinson

  4. chris – The RB are a coin flip, but I’d 100% sit one of the two for Thielen

    Gary – If you can get Williams, I concur that you just drop Bell for Williams and let it roll! Good luck, tough spot to be in!

    Andy – I’d pick up Williams and plug him into a FLEX spot

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