Week 2 Rankings (2017): Top 40 Running Backs

by Ray Kuhn

We didn’t even make it out of Week 1 and fantasy owners are already feeling sour if they had the first overall pick in their drafts this summer. Just like that David Johnson is out for next few months and we might not see him at all this season. No matter what you do replacing Johnson just isn’t a possibility. There are still 12 weeks left in the regular season and one week never determined anything. With that being said, let’s take a look at how our options at the running back position rank this week:

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

Notes:

  • In one situation the injury replacement is actually better than running back who previously held the starting job. Early in draft season Spencer Ware was being drafted around the 4th round with his “handcuff” Kareem Hunt being selected a few rounds later. When Ware went down for the season with a knee injury Hunt skyrocketed up draft boards ahead of the incumbent. Even those who were the most optimistic could not have expected what we saw from Hunt last week. Initially he did not get off to a good start as he fumbled on his first carry, but he rebounded to gain 246 yards and score three touchdowns. One of those touchdowns was a 78 yard reception, and he also added a second receiving touchdown among his five receptions. Hunt also carried the ball 17 times for 148 yards and there is no question as to what the pecking order is in Kansas City’s backfield. The fact that last week’s performance came against the Patriots has to count for something, and I wouldn’t read too much into the fact that the Eagles allowed just 64 yards on the ground last week, as that is a reflection on Washington’s ground game.
  • With all of the talk surrounding rookie running backs entering this season, Leonard Fournette was almost the forgotten man. He had his share of success in college and showed he could be a workhorse, but there were still questions about how he would transition to the next level. Jacksonville clearly leaned on Fournette this past week as he carried the ball 26 times while gaining 100 yards. Entering the season there wasn’t a great deal of optimism surrounding Jacksonville’s offense, but that was mainly due to Blake Bortles. The Jaguars got out to an early lead against Houston, so Bortles only had to complete 11 passes for the victory and as a team the Jaguars ran the ball 39 times. The pecking order is clear, and it places Fournette directly on top. While he may not be an explosive game breaker, he does have the ability to move the pile, he found the end zone and he caught all three of his targets for 24 yards. I’m not sure we will see a week out of Fournette that we got from Hunt, or even a Delvin Cook type explosive performance, but he is a legitimate starting option.
  • After sitting out last season Marshawn Lynch didn’t appear to miss a beat. The Raiders were prudent in managing his workload as he didn’t get much action in the second quarter, but when it counted Oakland stuck with the veteran. Overall Lynch gained 76 yards on 18 carries while facing a strong Tennessee defense. He didn’t find the end zone or break off any huge runs, but Lynch consistently moved the pile and made it difficult for opposing defenders to bring him down. This week he gets a gift as he faces a Jets team that will be taken advantage of each week. LeSean McCoy eclipsed the 100 yard mark last week and Lynch is a good bet to do the same.
  • Despite the fact that he has relatively firm grasp on an early down role with the Broncos, CJ Anderson somewhat flew under the radar this draft season. While Jamaal Charles certainly was a factor this week, 10 carries for 40 yards, it appears to be relatively clear that the first and second downs do belong to Anderson and he will command the majority of the carries. Anderson faced a tough San Diego and carried the ball 20 times for 81 yards while also catching one pass for seven yards. That is about what you can expect each week and while there isn’t much of a ceiling, you can’t over look his floor or the chance at a touchdown each week. This week I would be a little more cautious as he faces a Cowboys’ defense that held the Giants to just 35 yards on the ground, but that can also be attributed to New York’s offensive line struggles and game flow.
  • Mike Gillislee got three touchdowns this week while he was likely on the majority of fantasy benches. The problem though, is that this week the opposite likely could be true in all counts. New England’s backfield often gets a bad rap from a fantasy perspective due to its unpredictability, but the Patriots also stick with what works. Gillislee carried the ball 15 times for 45 yards, but with New England trailing for the majority of the second half game flow did limit his true workload. There is more value in standard leagues as he wasn’t targeted in the passing game, and I wouldn’t be concerned that Gillislee was the third running back to enter the game; after Rex Burkhead and James White. More so than most running backs, Gillislee’s value will be touchdown dependent, but there is also a high probability of him getting multiple goal line carries based on New England’s offense. Plus, the Patriots are facing the Saints this week, and they shouldn’t have any issues moving the ball.
  • We started out lamenting the loss of David Johnson. Unlike the Spencer Ware/Kareem Hunt situation, there isn’t a clear plug and play option, and none of Arizona’s options are even close to as talented as Hunt is. For now, lets take Chris Johnson out of the equation as he was just signed on Tuesday after being released 10 days prior, as in the space Week 2 is our concern. Arizona will likely replace David Johnson with a combination of Kerwynn Williams, early downs and as short yardage back, and Andre Ellington, third downs and passing situations. Williams is entering his fourth season with Arizona, and his career he has 555 yards and four touchdowns on 103 carries. It does work in his favor though, that the Colts’ defense will be a hospitable opponent. Ellington has a little more of a track record, but his true skill set is that of a receiver out of the backfield and in the past two seasons he has just 79 carries (he didn’t carry the ball after Johnson exited the game last week). This is a situation I would try to avoid if possible, but Williams would be my preference just based on the likelihood of more touches.

Make sure to check out all of our Week 2 rankings:

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defenses
Week 2 Rankings (2017): Top 50 Wide Receivers
Week 2 Rankings (2017): Top 25 Tight Ends

47 comments

  1. V_Money says:

    Professor,

    10 man league.

    Would you drop Crowder for M. Lee?

    K. Benjamin, Watkins, or Maclin as WR2?

    Thanks!

  2. Matt says:

    Ppr, what 2
    Landry, Cobb, hilton, golladay,
    Thanks alot.

  3. Evan Wozniak says:

    Hello-I’m in a 12 team half ppr league and am worried about the matchups of players I’m considering for two FLEX spots. Who would you start? I’m looking at Isaiah Crowell, Pierre Garcon, Mike Wallace, Cooper Kupp, and Corey Davis. Thanks for any help!

  4. Ryan says:

    Would you trade mccoy, hunter henry,blount and recieve devonta freeman, kerwyn williams, and kelce.

    our starting team is –
    Mariota
    aj green
    ty hilton
    jimmy graham
    alshon jeffrey
    rob kelley

  5. John says:

    Hey Prof– Thanks for all the great info. Should I drop Matt Forte for Derrick Henry? Both would be on my bench but not sure if I should drop a starter on a RBBC Jets team for a handcuff. Thank you!

  6. Eric says:

    Standard league- Lamar Miller, Sammie Watkins, or Devante Adams

  7. Chris says:

    Ppr league. RB1 is fournette. Would you start buck allen or duke johnson at other RB?

    Thanks

  8. Patriots says:

    Hello Professor,
    12 team standard looking for rb depth. I have Rex burkhead, Alvin Kamari, and Alfred Morris on bench(zeke owner). What are your thoughts on picking up marlon Mack or Chris Carson? Would you drop one of these ribs on my bench or perhaps jack Doyle te2 , I could also drop either Sammy Watkins, devante Parker, or deandre Hopkins .
    Thank You

  9. Al says:

    Professor I have J Charles on ice as possible starter or he to be J Charles we knew and loved. Would you drop him D D Moncrief, Marlon Mack, or C Thompson for 1 pointPPR ? Thanks!!

  10. Mike says:

    Why so low on LaGarrette Blount? He should at least be in the top 20s in terms of usage.

  11. Luigi Iannuccilli says:

    Mike Tolbert vs his old team?

  12. Jacob says:

    Is Ameer Abdullah outside your top 40 rbs?

    • I would call that an oversight on Ray’s part most likely, so I apologize. I’d say he’s a FLEX option at best, though, as the Giants are capable of shutting down a RB (Riddick may be the better play)

  13. Andy says:

    Hi Professor,
    My Team1 PPR
    QB: Drew Brees
    WR: Doug Balwin, Keenan Allen
    RB: DeMarco Murray, Mike Gillislee
    TE: Zach Ertz
    Flex: Goden Tate
    BN: Chirstian McCaffrey, Terrelle Pryor, Davante Adam
    My David Johnson is out so I pick Mike Gillislee to replace.
    1. Is my set up line this week ok ?
    2. what 3 RBs should I keep in these RBs ?
    DeMarco Murray, Mike Gillislee, Chirstian McCaffrey, Doug Martin, Thomas Rawl

    My Team2: PPR
    Flex: Golden Tate or Devante Parker
    Thanks

  14. Ben says:

    Hey Professor. Pick two to start. Corey Coleman, Blount, Chris Carson, Lockette. I currently have Carson and Coleman starting. thanks.

  15. Johnny Joestar says:

    Yo prof
    need help with the flex spot in standard league who would u start of these guys in my flex, B Powell, J White, T Cohen? thanks man

  16. Krysta says:

    14 team 1 pt PPR

    1. RB 1 is Melvin Gordon. RB 2? Tevin Coleman or Buck Allen?
    2. Flex? Tevin Coleman/Buck Allen, Tyrell Williams or Eric Decker?
    3. My WR 1 is T.Y. Hilton (WR 2 is Jamison Crowder, other WR’s mentioned above)…ride out the Colts backup QB sh*tshow like a boss or do I actually sit him at some point?

  17. Sheldon Williamson says:

    Hi, Prof. Need 2 RBs and 1 FLEX from this bunch: James White, Thomas Rawls, Buck Allen, Alvin Kamara, and Rishard Matthews. Thanks.

  18. Wolverine says:

    Std — CJ or Quizz?

  19. Too Tall says:

    Hi Professor,

    I have Ezekiel Elliott. Considering the recent uncertainty with his suspension, would you add D. McFaddon or A. Morris as a handcuff? If so, I have T Rawls, G. Tate, J Mathews, C Kupp, J. Rogers on bench as possible drops. Thoughts?

    Thanks

  20. reggie says:

    Hi Professor

    need a flex in standard

    CJ Anderon, JQuizz, or Gillislee?

    thanks for your work – its the best!

  21. Haggy says:

    If you had to drop one. Samja Perine or Jamaeel Charles.

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