Week 1 Rankings (2017): Top 40 Running Backs

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:

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

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Week 1 Rankings (2017): Top 50 Wide Receivers
Week 1 Rankings (2017): Top 20 Tight Ends


  1. Wrt says:

    2 Questions:

    1) in a no flex 10 team 2RB, 3WR how many rb’s can I roster? I’m stacked at RB with Johnson, Bell, Gore, Gillese, Rawls. Do I drop 1 or 2 of them for upside WR?

    2) is tyler eifert worth the #1 WW? Someone autodrafted the first 25 minutes of our auction and got 4 top 6 TEs – everyone has refused to trade with him since he autodrafted and he dropped eifert. I have the #1 WW (currently only have Witten) but am not sure I should use it on such an injury prone guy

    • 1) I would rather try to trade but I wouldn’t say you are stacked. The bottom 3 all of questions surrounding them

      2) Well he is a huge upgrade so I probably would make the move

      • Wrt says:

        I have the two best RB’s and I’m not stacked?

        Have you ever watched a football game?

        • Depth is key. Yes you are stacked at the top but injuries are common and you need to have multiple guys you can plug in. If one of Johnson or Bell goes down, your depth chart won’t look quite as good. I would call it top-heavy

  2. Stephen says:

    Better stash for the season: Dion Lewis or Marlon Mack?

  3. Chucky says:

    Matt Brieda looking like the heir apparent in Shanneys offensive scheme? Hyde in his final year of contract. SF may be looking to see what they have in the UDFA Brieda.

  4. Benjamin says:

    Ive got the #2 pick in our 10 team, 4 keeper standard league, so roughly the top 40 guys are off the board.

    Who do you like best out of Fournette, Hunt, Gurley, or Crowell?

  5. Brenden says:

    I find it tough to say there will be 9 players higher than a cowboys RB on this list, especially Zeke.

    • Part of it was the unknown of his status, but at the same time the Giants may be the one team who can control him thanks to the presence of Snacks Harrison. Most weeks he’s Top 3, but the Giants are a tough matchup for him

  6. Kim says:

    I have 3 Panthers in my line up, QB-Cam, WR-Benjamin, TE-Olsen. I need a flex player. Options are: Stewart RB Panthers, Matthews WR Tenn, Henry RB Tenn, Coleman WR Clev.

    Do I dare play ANOTHER Panther? Stewart would normally be the Flex play but……..

    Thank you

  7. Gregor says:

    Hi Professor,

    In a PPR setting, who do you start in week 1 at the RB2 slot – Abdullah or T. Coleman? I see you have Abdullah higher in the ranks but everyone has them so close. What’s the verdict?


    • It is close, but I’d still lean Abdullah. Coleman still has to share touches, while Abdullah should see the majority of the early down work (he will lose to Riddick in passing downs)

  8. Tim says:

    Struggling with decision at RB2: A.Peterson (revenge game) vs. K.Hunt (v. NE)

    RB scoring: PPR, 1/20 rush yds, 1/10 rec yds, 6pt TD

    Thanks. (RB1 is L.Bell)

  9. Bob says:

    Trade issue;

    10 men- PPR.

    He wants Zeke, McFadden and Stewart.
    I get Hunt, Cook and Cooper.

    My team after trade- RB- Bell, Hunt, Ajayi, Cook, Henry. WR- Cooper, Hill, KB (Carolina) and Matthews (Tenn) and Coleman (Cleve). TE- Kelce and Olsen. Flex can be TE-WR-RB.

    Do it or wait and see what happens with Zeke suspensions? Not sure how long this will be on the table.

    Thank you!!!

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