Updated 2017 Rankings: Top 40 Running Backs: One Major Injury Leads To A Rankings Shakeup

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Obviously the loss of Spencer Ware had the biggest impact on the rankings, as Kareem Hunt now stands as the clear favorite to produce in Kansas City.  That’s not the only change in the rankings, however, as the we are through the all important preseason dress rehearsal and are hopefully gaining some clarity on the running back rotations (though we still await word as to the suspension of Ezekiel Elliot).  Who is currently seeing their stock rise?  Who should we be ignoring?  Let’s take a look at how our rankings stand as the season grows near:

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

Dropped Off Rankings – Spencer Ware (KC, 22), Eddie Lacy (SEA, 38), Darren McFadden (DAL, 39)


  • Obviously the biggest change in the rankings comes due to the injury to Spencer Ware, thrusting Kareem Hunt into the lead back duties.  There were already rumblings about Hunt potentially surprising in his rookie season, and now he’s going to get a real opportunity to claim the role and run with it.
  • Christian McCaffrey is going to be a great weapon for the Carolina Panthers, but don’t assume that Jonathan Stewart is simply going to disappear from the offense.  He’s going to continue to play a role, and a significant one, so keep that in mind before considering McCaffrey as a must own RB2 and ignoring Stewart all together.
  • Both DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard will both play roles for the Raiders this season, and considering that Marshawn Lynch is 31-years old and long removed from a full season they could see more time on the field than anyone initially expected.  Washington in particular has impressed this preseason (14 carries for 57 yards), and don’t be surprised if Lynch is limited to the 15 carry range each week (if not fewer).  That sends him spiraling down these rankings a bit.  That said, we’ve been questioning Lynch’s upside for a while (click here for our article on the risks in selecting him).
  •  Ameer Abdullah is going to lose playing time to Theo Riddick, but he should dominate the early down opportunities and he too can catch the football.  It’s all a matter of health, but if he stays on the field he’s a viable RB2 and a good FLEX option.
  • With Jamaal Charles making the Broncos roster, it’s a hit to C.J. Anderson’s outlook a bit.  Of course Charles is not a lock to stay healthy, but you would think they aren’t keeping him to have him not involved in the offense.  With Anderson likely losing a few touches per game, his stock has to drop at least a little bit.

Make sure to check out all of our 2017 Preseason Rankings:

Last Update
Running Backs08/28/17
Wide Receivers08/29/17
Tight Ends08/30/17
Updated 2017 Rankings: Top 60 Wide Receivers: Injuries Cause Havoc To The Middle Of The Rankings
Updated 2017 Rankings: Top 25 Quarterbacks: Potential Missed Time Brings Significant Impact


  1. James says:

    Why I should Lynch trending down? Other sites have him at 13/14

    • I’ve always been lower than most, but as I stated above I fear that his carries will actually be limited due to both DeAndre Washington & Jalen Richard having a role. If he’s getting 12-15 carries per game, in an effort to keep him fresh, he’s bot going to be close to a RB1

  2. Joel Macke says:

    Any RB recommendations for those following zero RB strategy in PPR league in RDS 5-9?

  3. Chris says:

    Hi Prof, assuming based on your rankings that you don’t see AP being much of a factor behind Ingram? Is he the clear #2? Thanks

  4. Randy says:

    I draft 4th in a standard league; we start 2 RB, 2 WR, and a flex (among the other positions). If DJ, Bell, and Brown are off the board, which direction would you go? Very torn about RB vs. WR. Based on your suggestion, what positions/players would you like for rounds 2/3? Thanks!

    • It would be an easy call on Beckham, though the ankle obviously complicates that slightly. That said I can’t justify taking a Gordon at #5, so I’d probably go Julio Jones and then look at RB at the next turn

  5. Bobby says:

    If you had to pick two for your bench from Blount, Rob Kelley, and Duke Johnson, who’do you stash?
    Thanks professor. Best advice on the net.

  6. haggy says:

    Would you take Elliot in round 2 over a WR like Hopkins or Cooper or Dez. Taking Ajai in round 1. Seems hard to pass on Eliott for round 2 pick. Also Hill or Bryant later which one you like better.

  7. Haggy says:

    Hill or Bryant

  8. Chris says:

    hey professor, would you start Mike Gillislee or Kareem Hunt in week 1? i’m getting mixed answers I’m leaning towards Hunt…thanks

  9. Haggy says:

    I pick 6th. Would you take running backs with your first 3 picks.

  10. Mike says:

    Picking 8th of 10, 1/2 PPR…likely RBs are Melvin Gordon, Freeman, Ajayi and Gurley along with WR’s AJ Green, Michael Thomas, Jordy or Mike Evans. What combo would you do at 8 and 13?

  11. Kermit says:

    Hey Prof – Wanting to drop Paul Perkins and pick up one of the following still available in my 10 team PPR league Tevin Coleman, Gillislee, T. West, Rawls or Kelley. Drop Perkins at all? Thanks

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