Week 7 Rankings (2017): Top 40 Running Backs

by Ray Kuhn

After this week, we are more than halfway through the fantasy regular season. I know it seems like we were just completing our drafts, but at this point we are now beginning to get past the point of patience. It is not time to completely sell out, but it is getting close as you can’t fall too far behind in the race for the playoffs. With that in mind let’s take a look at how our options at running back rank for the coming week:

  1. Ezekiel Elliot – Dallas Cowboys – at San Francisco
  2. Le’Veon Bell – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. Cincinnati
  3. Devonta Freeman – Atlanta Falcons – at New England
  4. Leonard Fournette – Jacksonville Jaguars – at Indianapolis
  5. Kareem Hunt – Kansas City Chiefs – at Oakland
  6. LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills – vs. Tampa Bay
  7. Mark Ingram – New Orleans – at Green Bay
  8. Jay Ajayi – Miami Dolphins – vs. New York Jets
  9. Todd Gurley – Los Angeles Rams – vs. Arizona
  10. Jordan Howard – Chicago Bears – vs. Carolina
  11. Melvin Gordon – Los Angeles Chargers – vs. Denver
  12. Carlos Hyde – San Francisco 49ers – vs. Dallas
  13. Adrian Peterson – Arizona Cardinals – at LA Rams
  14. Doug Martin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at Buffalo
  15. Jerick McKinnon – Minnesota Vikings – vs. Baltimore
  16. Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints – at Green Bay
  17. Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers – at Chicago
  18. C.J. Anderson – Denver Broncos – at LA Chargers
  19. Duke Johnson – Cleveland Browns – vs. Tennessee
  20. Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals – at Pittsburgh
  21. DeMarco Murray – Tennessee Titans – at Cleveland
  22. James White – New England Patriots – vs. Atlanta
  23. LeGarrette Blount – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Washington
  24. Chris Thompson – Washington Redskins – at Philadelphia
  25. Buck Allen – Baltimore Ravens – at Minnesota
  26. Marshawn Lynch – Oakland Raiders – vs. Kansas City
  27. Ty Montgomery – Green Bay Packers – vs. New Orleans
  28. Tevin Coleman – Atlanta Falcons – at New England
  29. Matt Forte – New York Jets – at Miami
  30. Frank Gore – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Jacksonville
  31. Tarik Cohen – Chicago Bears – vs. Carolina
  32. Andre Ellington – Arizona Cardinals – at LA Rams
  33. Orleans Darkwa – New York Giants – vs. Seattle
  34. Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans – at Cleveland
  35. Alex Collins – Baltimore Ravens – at Minnesota
  36. Isaiah Crowell – Cleveland Browns – vs. Tennessee
  37. Marlon Mack – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Jacksonville
  38. Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers – at Chicago
  39. Jamaal Charles – Denver Broncos – at LA Chargers
  40. Mike Gillislee – New England Patriots – vs. Atlanta

Notes:

  • So I guess we are back on Adrian Peterson? Let’s be clear, Peterson is not the running back he was a few years ago with Minnesota and he is no longer a must start. At the same time, how many running backs truly have that designation? After languishing in New Orleans for the first four weeks of the season, Peterson had a temporary resurgence in his debut with the Cardinals. The veteran gained 134 yards on 26 carries and found the end zone twice, once on a 27 yard run, and again in the fourth quarter from one yard out. Arizona traded for Peterson to use him, and it was clear last week he was a large part of their offense. This week it actually gets easier as he faces the Rams who have the worst run defense in the league from a fantasy perspective. Just be cautious of investing too much in Peterson long term.
  • From a fantasy perspective Jay Ajayi had an underwhelming week. That was just because he failed to find the end zone, and taking the long view fantasy owners should be pleased. After carrying the ball a combined 23 times for 62 yards in Week’s 2 and 3, Miami has recommitted to their feature back. Ajayi carried the ball 25 times for 77 against the Titans two weeks ago, and last week he gained 130 yards on 26 carries against Atlanta. With Jay Cutler struggling to do much of anything with the passing game, I would expect the Dolphins to lean on their feature back once again against the Jets (who happen to allow the fifth most points to opposing running backs). Ajayi is not a factor in the passing game, but eventually you would expect him to find the end zone on the ground as he has yet to score.
  • For, at a minimum, the next two weeks, Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden will go back to being useless from a fantasy perspective. With the news coming down that Elliot will be available for at least the next two weeks, now is not the time to sell. That is especially the case with Elliot getting to face the 49ers this week, who happen to allow the second most points to opposing running backs. Elliot has eclipsed 21 carries in four of his five games this season, and the Denver game was just a nightmare for Dallas’ offense. That is a good thing since Elliot’s value comes form his work as a ball carrier, and game flow dictates that the Cowboys will be looking to control the clock for most of the game. While Elliot does have two games of more than 100 yards so far this season, he only has two rushing touchdowns and has yet to have a monster game. This could be the week.
  • Who cares that Chris Thompson doesn’t do much running the ball? At this point his value extends beyond just PPR leagues, but that is what happens when you eclipse 100 yards receiving twice this year. Thompson’s lack of success running the ball isn’t for a lack of trying, as he carried the ball 16 times but gained just 33 yards. He more than made up for it by catching four of his five targets for 105 yards. In fact, Thompson now has three games of more than 100 total yards this season. What does keep Thompson’s value to that of a FLEX play in most leagues is that while he is racking up the yards, the value isn’t really there as through five games he has just 18 receptions.
  • Just when we thought the Giants season was over and Evan Engram was their only fantasy relevant player, Orleans Darkwa rushed for 117 yards on 21 carries. It was unexpected for multiple reasons, one of which being that prior to last week Denver was holding opposing running backs to 1.9 yards per carry. The Giants have struggled to do anything on offense, but their offensive line has appeared to stabilize. However, Darkwa has yet to put together any sustained success and the Giants’ offense is still one that doesn’t generate much confidence. While it wouldn’t surprise me to see Darkwa take control of the job and become a consistent fantasy option, things aren’t looking up for him this week as he faces the seventh best run defense in Seattle.
  • Doug Martin carried the ball 13 times in his debut two weeks ago as Tampa Bay tried not to work him too hard, but he certainly was up to the task. This week he did get more work, but just by one carry as he gained 53 yards and scored a touchdown. I wouldn’t read too much into that, as Martin is the clear option for the Buccaneers on first and second downs. Instead, game flow was the problem as Tampa Bay fell behind early and was trailing all afternoon. With Jameis Winston’s status questionable for this week, Tampa Bay will likely look to Martin to establish their offense early on.

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Make sure to check out all of our Week 7 rankings:

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defenses
Week 7 Rankings (2017): Top 20 Tight Ends
Week 7 Rankings (2017): Top 25 Quarterbacks

54 comments

  1. Pwyll says:

    Is it time to give up on Latavius Murray? It’s looking to me like McKinnon has a pretty solid hold on the workload in MN.

    My available options aren’t great. D’Onta Foreman, Samaje Perine, Matt Breida and the NE contingent (White, Lewis, Burkhead) look to be the best available in this non-PPR league.

  2. Trevoe says:

    I have Peterson in a .5 ppr. My other backs are Zeke, Ajayi, Miller and Hyde, so I have depth. My wr are D. Thomas, Crabtree and Allen. Thinking of offering Peterson and D. Thomas (or either of the other two WRs)for Julio Jones. Am I offering too much or not enough?

  3. Mike says:

    Hi Ray, I’m 6-0 (knock on wood, been lucky so far; 12
    Team standard league) and Would like to shore up my bench. I have fournette, hunt,
    Kamara, Alex Collins, j stew and ivory (picked him on
    Waivers last night for fournette handcuff). Can I drop
    J stew for cj prosise? Thanks!

  4. stephen martin says:

    I’m sitting at 1-5 1o team standard. got an offer of mariota and mccaffrey for my rivers and howard. my other rb’s are martin, mixon, mack , kamara, only start 2 rb no flex. my gut says howard is worth more however i look at the trade as howard for those 2 since i dont really value rivers. is there a better duo of players i should target if i trade howard.
    thanks, as always

  5. Haggy says:

    I have Elliott and now have Mcfadden and Morris which leaves me with only 2 players I could drop if I need to add someone. S.Perine or W.Snead. Also got A.J Anderson and D.Henry on bench. Who would go for you if needed.

  6. Krysta says:

    Good afternoon, Professor! 14 team, 1/2 PPR.

    Melvin Gordon is RB 1…Who would you pick as RB2 of Javorius Allen, Duke Johnson or Tevin Coleman. Also, assuming you would have TY Hilton and Tyrell Williams as WR1&2, who would you flex of the above + Jamison Crowder. I also have Geronimo Allison on my bench, just in case, but know he’s likely not a viable option.

  7. carmen b. says:

    Hey Prof,
    For flex my options are d. johnson, w. smallwood, n. agholor and d. jackson….right now I have duke johnson in, any opinion?

    Also, I have Matt Ryan in this week at QB because of NE’s awful defense, but do you think in the future Alex Smith may be the better option yet?

    • I agree with Johnson in the FLEX this week. As for the QB, I actually like Smith better for this week (though Ryan has a higher upside), but long-term I’d still bet on Ryan

  8. Sheldon Williamson says:

    Hey, Prof. Any hope for Wendel Smallwood or Rob Kelley? Who would you pick to start at FLEX?

  9. darrick says:

    hey professor, which 2 rbs do i start this week in 1/2ppr league. mccoy, mixon, darkwa crowell

  10. K says:

    What are your thoughts on Gore long term? I need some help at TE since Reed hasn’t been cutting it, and am thinking of picking up ASJ. I’ve been hoarding RBs and am pretty stacked with Bell, Howard, Ingram, and Martin.

    Also, what’s your view on Snead with Thomas coming back on?

    • I think Gore is going to be a productive option, and I wouldn’t drop him (I’d prefer to trade him).

      Snead is a long-term play, but it’s going to take him time. Solid stasho on your bench

  11. smidge says:

    I have Lynch, Mixon A Jones and C. Thompson i am leaning towards benching Lynch and starting Mixon and Jones I could flex Thompson or Thielen or Lynch… thoughts….

  12. chris says:

    Flex help!!!! Murray, Mixon, or Pryor??? As of now AP is my RB2 and Landry WR2

  13. David says:

    Prof,

    I’m leading my division at 4-2 in a 16 team PPR league.

    QB’s – Palmer and Brees
    RB’s – Ingram, West, Collins, Abdullah
    WR’s – Fitzgerald, Cooks, Ginn, Golladay
    TE’s – Ertz, Kroft
    K – Lutz, Catanzaro

    We can use TE’s as WR’s, We can start either 3 RB’s and 2 WR’s or 2 RB’s and 3 WR’s.

    So far we’ve done OK with the 2 RB 3 WR system. I feel I need another good RB to make the playoff and hopefully win it all.

    If I could swing a deal Carson Palmer for Jerick McKinnon would you do it?

  14. Bob says:

    Flex help; PPR, please pick 1- C.Thompson @ Philly on MNF or Kamara @ GB.
    Thank you.

  15. James says:

    WOuld you start Henry this week? Murray may not Ben a go

    Over Coleman or Martin?

  16. Manu says:

    Hi,

    12 Team Non-PPR, I have to choose between Ajayi, Hyde, Ingram, Mixon and Martin.

    I think going with Ajayi and Ingram, but who’s the safer 3rd choice ? (Mixon has a real good matchup no !?)

    Thx.

  17. Jay says:

    HELP! 10 tm 1 point PPR, IDP League. Has 2 rb, 2wr, rb/wr, flex and OP slots. League was auto draft. My RB’s kinda suck. have Murray, Henry, Tarik Cohen & Adulah. WR’s are Julio, Dez, Tate, Sanders, Snead, Parker & Fuller V. Available RB’s Dion Lewis, Darkwa, McGuire, Gallman, Breida, McKissic, Burkhead & Booker. WR,s banged up at the moment. Add/Drop who out to anyone’s ideas. Thanks

    • The problem is the injuries to the WR corps, handcuffing you a little bit because they aren’t guys you can drop. I’d say Darkwa/Lewis are worth owning, but there isn’t an obvious drop unfortunately

  18. BigD says:

    In .5 PPr league

    This week my RB2 choices are Tarik cohen/ Wendell smallwood/ chris ivory – I could laso drop for marlon mack – What to do!??

  19. Jim says:

    PPR two leagues RB Questions for flex

    First league-Mixon or D Martin
    Second League- Ivory, T Montgomery or M Mack

    Thanks for all you do!

    • League 1 – Martin (though I really like Mixon)

      League 2 – If Fournette is out it’s Ivory, otherwise I’d go Montgomery (could be a run heavy approach, meaning enough touches for both)

  20. Brian says:

    1 pt PPR I’m starting Hyde, McCoy, Demaryius Thomas, and Fournette
    If Fournette is a no go. Who is his replacement?
    McKinnon, D Jackson TB, or Thielen

    Standard Flex: Rank them
    Thielen, John Brown or Chris Ivory(if Fournette sits)?

    Standard TE? Doyle or Hunter

  21. reggie says:

    Hi Professor

    need a flex in standard

    CJ Anderson or Jarvis Landry ?

    thanks as always!

  22. reggie says:

    thanks!

    wish I had acted on your KC kicker idea! nice call!

  23. reggie says:

    actually have a third optopn – kinda concerned about Fournette’s statu so I picked up Ivory – so another thought is playing them both instead of Landry or Anderson

    tough one there – don’t really want to dilut my lineup but it would be safety play

  24. Jrod says:

    Can’t decide starting Joe Mixon or Chris Ivory. Thoughts?

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