Updated/Expanded 2017 Rankings: Top 40 Running Backs: Ajayi Joins The Top 5 & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Unlike on the quarterback side we don’t have any significant injuries to account for, though a potential suspension for Ezekiel Elliot does cloud the very top of our rankings.  That said there has been some movement, for various reasons.  Let’s take a look at how things currently stand, though preseason will hopefully continue to add some clarity to situations across the league:

  1. David Johnson – Arizona Cardinals (1)
  2. Le’Veon Bell – Pittsburgh Steelers (2)
  3. Ezekiel Elliot – Dallas Cowboys (3)
  4. Melvin Gordon – Los Angeles Chargers (5)
  5. Jay Ajayi – Miami Dolphins (6)
  6. Jordan Howard – Chicago Bears (4)
  7. LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills (7)
  8. Devonta Freeman – Atlanta Falcons (8)
  9. Todd Gurley – Los Angeles Rams (9)
  10. Leonard Fournette – Jacksonville Jaguars (11)
  11. Lamar Miller – Houston Texans (12)
  12. DeMarco Murray – Tennessee Titans (13)
  13. Isaiah Crowell – Cleveland Browns (14)
  14. Marshawn Lynch – Oakland Raiders (10)
  15. C.J. Anderson – Denver Broncos (15)
  16. Carlos Hyde – San Francisco 49ers (17)
  17. Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers (18)
  18. Bilal Powell – New York Jets (16)
  19. Paul Perkins – New York Giants (19)
  20. Frank Gore – Indianapolis Colts (21)
  21. Ty Montgomery – Green Bay Packers (23)
  22. Dalvin Cook – Minnesota Vikings (25)
  23. Spencer Ware – Kansas City Chiefs (20)
  24. Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals
  25. Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints (24)
  26. Ameer Abdullah – Detroit Lions
  27. Eddie Lacy – Seattle Seahawks (22)
  28. Tevin Coleman – Atlanta Falcons
  29. Mike Gillislee – New England Patriots
  30. Terrance West – Baltimore Ravens
  31. LeGarrette Blount – Philadelphia Eagles
  32. Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans
  33. Kareem Hunt – Kansas City Chiefs
  34. Rob Kelley – Washington Redskins
  35. Adrian Peterson – New Orleans Saints
  36. Jacquizz Rodgers – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  37. Doug Martin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  38. Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers
  39. Theo Reddick – Detroit Lions
  40. Rex Burkhead – New England Patriots

Thoughts:

  • We have to continue to closely monitor the news in regards to Ezekiel Elliot, who could be facing a suspension.  If he ends up missing 2 games or fewer his spot on the rankings will remain unchanged.  If he’s suspended for more than that?  Then things start to get dicey, so we’ll have to wait and see how things play out.
  • While adding Jay Cutler should help keep the Dolphins passing attack functioning, the loss of Ryan Tannehill should mean a bigger reliance on Jay Ajayi and the running attack.  He’s shown how good he can be and he should be ticketed for a Top 5 season as long as he stays healthy (remember his draft stock fell due to concerns with his knee).
  • There’s a lot of hype surrounding Joe Mixon, but fantasy owners cannot draft him like he’s assured significant carries from Day 1.  Do not forget that Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard remain in the mix, and early rumors are that Hill could open the year as the starter.  It shouldn’t take long for Mixon to emerge as the leader, and he is the best option to own, but just know the risk/situation.
  • The Patriots have amassed numerous options at running back, though Gillislee appears to be the favorite to lead the pack.  Of course Rex Burkhead and James White will eat into his touches, and any one of them could lead the backfield in any given week.  That’s going to keep the New England situation a frustrating one, to say the least.
  • Doug Martin is going to miss the first three games of the season due to suspension and is no guarantee to take the starting job upon his return.  That doesn’t mean that he isn’t worth the gamble as a RB3, but make sure you have even further depth just in case he is put into a complimentary role.  We talked about this situation recently, which you can read by clicking here.

Make sure to check out our early 2017 Rankings:

Updated/Expanded 2017 Rankings: Top 60 Wide Receivers: The Fallout From Buffalo's Deals & More
Updated/Expanded 2017 Rankings: Top 25 Quarterbacks: Luck's Health Concerns & More

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