by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
While we still wait for some clarity to the Ezekiel Elliot suspension, at this point it’s hard to imagine that he won’t be on the field for Week 1 (though if something changes we’ll update these rankings). Even if he does play, though, he’s unlikely to carry the typical value given the matchup. Who else gets a tough draw? Who should we be targeting? Let’s take a look at how our rankings currently stand:
- David Johnson – Arizona Cardinals – at Detroit
- Le’Veon Bell – Pittsburgh Steelers – at Cleveland
- LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills – vs. New York Jets
- Jay Ajayi – Miami Dolphins – vs. Tampa Bay
- Todd Gurley – St. Louis Rams – vs. Indianapolis
- Jordan Howard – Chicago Bears – vs. Atlanta
- Dalvin Cook – Minnesota Vikings – vs. New Orleans
- Devonta Freeman – Atlanta Falcons – at Chicago
- Isaiah Crowell – Cleveland Browns – vs. Pittsburgh
- Ezekiel Elliot – Dallas Cowboys – vs. New York Giants
- C.J. Anderson – Denver Broncos – vs. Los Angeles Chargers
- DeMarco Murray – Tennessee Titans – vs. Oakland
- Melvin Gordon – Los Angeles Chargers – at Denver
- Lamar Miller – Houston Texans – vs. Jacksonville
- Carlos Hyde – San Francisco 49ers – vs. Cleveland
- Jacquizz Rodgers – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at Miami
- Bilal Powell – New York Jets – at Buffalo
- Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers – at San Francisco
- Kareem Hunt – Kansas City Chiefs – at New England
- Leonard Fournette – Jacksonville Jaguars – at Houston
- Frank Gore – Indianapolis Colts – at Los Angeles Rams
- Ty Montgomery – Green Bay Packers – vs. Seattle
- Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals – vs. Baltimore
- Mike Gillislee – New England Patriots – vs. Kansas City
- Marshawn Lynch – Oakland Raiders – at Tennessee
- Ameer Abdullah – Detroit Lions – vs. Arizona
- Robert Kelley – Washington Redskins – vs. Philadelphia
- Paul Perkins – New York Giants – at Dallas
- Tevin Coleman – Atlanta Falcons – at Chicago
- Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints – at Minnesota
- LeGarrette Blount – Philadelphia Eagles – at Washington
- Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers – at San Francisco
- Thomas Rawls – Seattle Seahawks – at Green Bay
- Adrian Peterson – New Orleans Saints – at Minnesota
- Danny Woodhead – Baltimore Ravens – at Cincinnati
- Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans – vs. Oakland
- Darren Sproles – Philadelphia Eagles – at Washington
- James White – New England Patriots – vs. Kansas City
- Theo Riddick – Detroit Lions – vs. Arizona
- Terrance West – Baltimore Ravens – at Cincinnati
- Le’Veon Bell would be the top choice for this week, had he not sat out the entire preseason. That’s not to say that he won’t have a big day, but there’s a concern that he’ll be eased into things and not get the type of workload we’re accustomed to.
- The New Orleans Saints were among the worst defenses against opposing running backs last season, particularly running backs who can catch the football (873 receiving yards were the most in the league). Dalvin Cook has proven capable of catching the football in college, and the matchup should allow him to get his NFL career off to a good start.
- Isaiah Crowell is one of the biggest breakout candidates this season, and he gets to start the season against the team he torched to end the 2016 campaign. In the final game of the season he took 19 carries for 152 yards and while we can’t quite expect those types of numbers the potential is there for a productive start.
- While there is the fear that the Patriots rack up a big lead and the Chiefs giving up on the run, look for Kansas City to try and control the ball early. That should mean ample opportunities for Kareem Hunt, who was a sleeper even before Spencer Ware’s injury thrust him into a starting role.
- Speaking of New England, we all know that there’s upside in Mike Gillislee. That said, can we ever really trust a Patriot’s running back?
- The Jets’ offense could be historically bad this season, with the one exception being Bilal Powell. He’s about the only player the team has that’s worth rostering, and should be the focal point with ample touches every week. In a favorable Week 1 matchup look for him to produce strong numbers.
Make sure to check out all of our Week 1 Rankings: