Week 14 Rankings (2017): Top 40 Running Backs

by Ray Kuhn

After the marathon trip through the regular season we have finally reached the fantasy playoffs. I wish I could say that things are going to get easier, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Picking the right option seems like a thankless task, but you don’t have a choice. Let’s take a look at how our options rank for the first week of the playoffs (and for those of you fortunate enough to have earned a bye, that doesn’t mean you get the week off as it is imperative you look towards next week):

  1. Le’Veon Bell – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. Baltimore
  2. LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills – vs. Indianapolis
  3. Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints – at Atlanta
  4. Todd Gurley – Los Angeles Rams – vs. Philadelphia
  5. Melvin Gordon – Los Angeles Chargers – vs. Washington
  6. Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints – at Atlanta
  7. Lamar Miller – Houston Texans – vs. San Francisco
  8. Leonard Fournette – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. Seattle
  9. Kareem Hunt – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. Oakland
  10. Kenyan Drake – Miami Dolphins – vs. New England
  11. Devonta Freeman – Atlanta Falcons – vs. New Orleans
  12. Carlos Hyde – San Francisco 49ers – at Houston
  13. Jordan Howard – Chicago Bears – at Cincinnati
  14. Samaje Perine – Washington Redskins – at LA Chargers
  15. Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers – vs. Minnesota
  16. Giovani Bernard – Cincinnati Bengals – vs. Chicago
  17. Marshawn Lynch – Oakland Raiders – at Kansas City
  18. Jerick McKinnon – Minnesota Vikings – at Carolina
  19. Rex Burkhead – New England Patriots – at Miami
  20. Alfred Morris – Dallas Cowboys – at New York Giants
  21. Jamaal Williams – Green Bay Packers – at Cleveland
  22. Alex Collins – Baltimore Ravens – at Pittsburgh
  23. Peyton Barber – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – vs. Detroit
  24. Dion Lewis – New England Patriots – at Miami
  25. Duke Johnson – Cleveland Browns – vs. Green Bay
  26. Mike Davis – Seattle Seahawks – at Jacksonville
  27. DeMarco Murray – Tennessee Titans – at Arizona
  28. Isaiah Crowell – Cleveland Browns – vs. Green Bay
  29. Frank Gore – Indianapolis Colts – at Buffalo
  30. Latavius Murray – Minnesota Vikings – at Carolina
  31. Jay Ajayi – Philadelphia Eagles – at LA Rams
  32. Orleans Darkwa – New York Giants – vs. Dallas
  33. Matt Forte – New York Jets – at Denver
  34. Theo Riddick – Detroit Lions – at Tampa Bay
  35. Tevin Coleman – Atlanta Falcons – vs. New Orleans
  36. Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans – at Arizona
  37. Danny Woodhead – Baltimore Ravens – at Pittsburgh
  38. Devontae Booker – Denver Broncos – vs. New York Jets
  39. Bilal Powell – New York Jets – at Denver
  40. Kerwynn Williams – Arizona Cardinals – vs. Tennessee

Notes:

  • After leaving Week 12 with a concussion, Doug Martin wasn’t close to returning last week and it turned into the Peyton Barber show. Speculation was that Jacquizz Rodgers would receive the bump in playing time, but he only carried the ball three times for 25 yards. Barber, on the other hand, gained 102 yards on 23 carries while catching four passes for 41 yards. This week Barber faces the Lions, who have allowed the fifth most points to opposing running backs, and that makes him a potentially valuable option for the first week of the fantasy playoffs. Yes the fact that we are talking about Barber is surprising, but potential value can’t be ignored.  If Martin practices this week and is active, then Barber’s value disappears just as quickly as it appeared.
  • It has been a season long quest to search for value and the bell cow in Seattle’s backfield, but with Mike Davis healthy we might have found our target. While Davis was on the field for 73% of the Seahawks’ snaps, the next closest competitor was J.D McKissic who had nine snaps. Davis had a tough match-up in Philadelphia, but he did manage to gain 64 yards on 16 carries while also catching three passes for 37 yards. Despite their reputation, Jacksonville is in the middle of the pack against opposing running backs this season. Perhaps most importantly, Seattle is showing confidence in Davis and he his earning his playing time with aggressive running.
  • It is clear that concussions are a major issue this season, and the latest victim is Joe Mixon. After leaving the game in the first half Mixon didn’t return, and the other issue is that his concussion came on Monday night. With Brian Hill as Cincinnati’s only other active running back, the workload fell to Giovanni Bernard. What followed was one of the best games of the season by Bernard as he gained 77 yards and added 19 yards on two receptions. He showed explosiveness and looked impressive with the ball against a tough Pittsburgh defense. Look for more of the same this week if Mixon is sidelined as the Bengals will likely lean on Bernard once again.
  • I know this is something we cover often, but based on the circumstances it bears repeating once again. Despite the fact that Lamar Miller has yet to eclipse 75 rushing yards in a game this season, he is a good play. Now I’m not betting on him having an epic game, but there is the possibility he breaks the 100 yard mark for the first time this season. This comes a week after Miller gained 56 yards on 15 carries as head coach Bill O’Brien criticized Houston’s running game. The good news is that Miller is the only game in town, and he has averaged 21 touches in each of his last three games. He has also had a role in the passing game, and last week he caught four passes for 38 yards. So far this season the 49ers have allowed 124 yards on the ground to opposing running backs, and they are among the league leaders in points allowed.
  • Another running back poised to take advantage of a favorable match-up is Frank Gore. In his last five games Gore is averaging 62 yards on 16 carries, and he has a minimum of 10 carries in all but one game this season. For the season, though, he has just three touchdowns, hasn’t gained more than 82 yards and also isn’t much of a factor in the passing game. Yes, I know, that isn’t exactly a great case I’m making, and there is a reason for that. While Gore has been a dependable option and has a positive match-up, I’m not in a rush to count on him. Despite having seven less carries than Gore, 13 to six, Marlon Mack only had had 15 less yards than his veteran counterpart last week and is the more explosive back. Despite Buffalo’s weakness against opposing running backs, this is a situation best avoiding.
  • As the season goes on, Marshawn Lynch is getting stronger and Oakland is beginning to increase the veteran’s workload. For the second straight week, and fourth time in as many games, Lynch found the end zone. This time his touchdown came on a 51 yard run as part of his 101 yard day on 17 carries. Lynch also added 20 yards on two catches and in his last four games he is averaging 73 yards on 16 carries.

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Make sure to check out all of our Week 14 rankings:

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defenses
Week 14 Rankings (2017): Top 50 Wide Receivers
Week 14 Rankings (2017): Top 20 Tight Ends

38 comments

  1. House of Pain says:

    Hello Professor,

    Full point PPR;

    I’m a strong believer in “start your studs” especially during the playoffs but this year I feel a paradox. I drafted Jordan Howard at the end of the third round expecting production from a low end RB1/RB2 which has been the case thus far. The last 3 games he has fallen way below expectations to the point I’m considering benching him and it’s killing me. I picked up Mike Davis week or so ago and I’ve seen this kid played with heart and determination. Going over 100 yards against the same Philly’s defense that barely allow Howard 40 yards. Do I start Davis over Howard this week?

    Second question:
    In need of a WR2 and a Flex out of these players; Alshon Jeffery, Larry Fitzgerald, Robby Anderson and Jordan Howard/Mike Davis?

    As always your advice it’s greatly welcomed…
    thank you

  2. Joel Macke says:

    Barber, Mike Davis, G bennard, McKinnon, Rod Smith. I need one more. I have D Lewis as my number one. I shy away from McKinnon just because L Murray clearly is number one. Thoughts?

  3. trevor says:

    ppr flex kenyan drake, dion lewis or josh gordon
    ppr flex crabtree, marvin jones, marshawn lynch or demaryius thomas
    ppr marvin jones, landry or tyreek hill
    ppr dion lewis or burkhead
    ppr drake or lewis
    ppr drake, jordan howard, perine or josh gordon
    ppr marvin jones, josh gordon, davante adams or crabtree
    ppr flex-josh gordon, crabtree, perine,burkhead or drake
    ppr- drake, burkhead or perine
    ppr flex-josh gordon, dion lewis, drake or jamaal williams

    • ppr flex kenyan drake, dion lewis or josh gordon — Lewis
      ppr flex crabtree, marvin jones, marshawn lynch or demaryius thomas — Lynch
      ppr marvin jones, landry or tyreek hill — Hill
      ppr dion lewis or burkhead — Lewis
      ppr drake or lewis — Lewis
      ppr drake, jordan howard, perine or josh gordon — Perine
      ppr marvin jones, josh gordon, davante adams or crabtree — Gordon
      ppr flex-josh gordon, crabtree, perine,burkhead or drake — Perine
      ppr- drake, burkhead or perine — Perine
      ppr flex-josh gordon, dion lewis, drake or jamaal williams — Lewis

  4. John K says:

    Glad to see you like Drake that much. He really came through for me last week and I need him big-time this week. I claimed Barber over Gio which looks like a huge mistake (Martin practiced fully today). My opponent grabbed Gio and I have a bad feeling he’s going to have a big game. Really hoping Mixon plays but that’s a quick turnaround. Anyway, I’m rolling with:

    Cam, Alf, Drake, Hopkins, Watkins, Gordon, Ertz (Hopefully), Cincy D, Tucker

    One question: Do you think Greg Olsen is a good play if Ertz sits or would you prefer Trey Burton or Julius Thomas?

    Thanks for the advice this year and good luck to everyone in the playoffs!!

  5. Beans says:

    What’s up man? Please choose one RB in PPR. Crowell, mike Davis, Peyton Barber, Alf Morris, Aaron Jones or woodhead? Thank you

  6. Brian Cagle says:

    Q1
    1pt PPR
    Need 4 (One must be a WR)
    RB’s: McCoy Fournette Hyde McKinnon
    WR’s Shepard Tate Theilen

    Q2
    Standard
    Need 4 (One must be a WR)
    RB’s: McCoy McKinnon J Williams(GB)
    WR’s: M Lee Crowder Baldwin Sammy Watkins

    Q3
    Standard Need 1 Flex
    Evans M Lee Tevin Coleman Crowell?

    Q4
    Rams vs PHI (High Power Offense)or Bills(Bad DST) vs IND(Bad Offense)?

    Q5
    Broncos vs NYJ(Mediocre Offense)or Bills(Bad DST) vs IND(Bad Offense)?

  7. promillo says:

    Hi Prof!

    Last week in my league, do or die to make the playoffs:

    RB1: J. Williams
    RB2: Gore, Morris or Murray?

    WRs: Allen, Cooks, Green, Hill :-)

    TE: Seferian-Jenkins or Evan Engram?

    R/W/T: Josh Gordon, Sterling Shepard or Evan Engram?

  8. ossqss says:

    Howdy brofessor!

    Need 2 each and a flex.

    Ingram,d freeman, m davis, perine, g bernard

    Jeffry,R anderson, funchess

    QB Wilson or Wentz?

    Thanks a bunch!

  9. Ric says:

    Need help ASAP!!!! First round of playoffs start tonight. Should I start Matt Ryan tonight against the Saints or Josh McCown on Sunday against the Broncos

  10. Tony says:

    Hi Professor,

    I have Hyde, Jamaal Williams, Collins, then Mixon as well, but was able to pick up Bernard off the waiver as I doubt as well that he will play.

    Looking at various websites, Hyde seems consistently ranked higher than the rest of these players, so wondering about your reasoning for ranking him higher as well? Last week I avoided him thinking with Garappolo at QB, the coaching staff might give Breida more time on the field; Hyde got his share, but still glad that I started J Williams and Collins instead of him.

    What ranks him higher against the Texans this week with this possible scenario? Granted, they’re all ranked fairly close and there isn’t really any science behind the ranking unless the best RB against the worst DEF.

    Which ones have the most upside? I’m leaning towards J Williams and Bernard just in terms of volume, the latter playing at home. I know Hyde is good, but too many uncertainties and Texans good against RBs, though guess Garappolo can get SF into the red zone against their poor pass defense, but then there is Breida?

    Anyway, I’m rambling, so would welcome your feedback with regards to Hyde’s higher ranking with Breida playing more, then two fairly long back to back road trips for SF.

    Thank you very much.

    Tony

    • When people are close I’d say it’s a bit of a coinflip. I can’t speak for Ray in terms of the rankings, but Bernard and Williams are fair choices. Hyde should have a more guaranteed workload though, but with all of them there’s a lot of risk

      • Tony says:

        Hi Professor,

        Thank you very much for writing. Yes, Ray and others are quite consistent in terms of ranking Hyde between 10-15, then these others are ranked around 20th, so just curious about the reasons? Hyde has the talent to be ranked that high, so it makes sense, but also comes down what Shanahan wants to see with the season winding down, and none of us knows. I think the consensus is that Hyde will not be in San Fran next season, so worries me that Breida will take carries away from Hyde. I guess as well that Shanahan wants to see Garoppolo throw more as well? Hyde will probably score 2 TDs and have 100+ total yards!

        Thanks as well for noting my RB choices. I like Collins as well, but Steelers will probably focus on stopping the run as Flacco hasn’t been playing well and game is at Pittsburgh.

        Best,
        Tony

  11. Ian says:

    I need some help. Do I start Jamaal Williams or Devonta Freeman? They both might have to split rb duties with Aaron Jones back and Tevin Coleman still around, but Williams is coming off a great week and heading into a favorable matchup. What do you think?

  12. Evan says:

    Hello!

    I’m all over the place trying to figure out my lineup for the playoffs. I’m iffy on what to do between RBs, WR2, my TE spot, and both flexes (RB/WR/TE). What do you think I should do in this 12 team half PPR league based on these players?

    QB: Big Ben
    RB1:
    RB2:
    WR1: Antonio Brown
    WR2:
    TE:
    FLEX:
    FLEX:

    Possible Players:
    RBs: Dion Lewis, Alfred Morris, Alex Collins, Gio Bernard
    WRs: Stefon Diggs, Cooper Kupp
    TEs: Evan Engram, Hunter Henry

    Thank you for your help/insight!

    Cheers.

  13. MikeinMacon says:

    This is week two of my playoffs, round one. If I win, I go to the Super Bowl playoff for two weeks. I see your rankings above but I have Carlos Hyde, Kareem Hunt, Kenyon Drake, Tevin Coleman and Melvin Gordon. I need two of those for RB and the rest compete with Marquise Lee for Flex. All of the sites have Hunt in the Top 10 but he hasn’t produced good numbers for several weeks. Your thoughts.

    P.S.-I’m running out Evans and Tyreek Hill at WR.

  14. Jim says:

    Thanks for all you do professor!
    PPR

    First team- need huge points to make playoffs
    Pick one – Ekeler or M Davis- upside?
    Pick one- Jaguars or Bengals

    Second team
    Pick one for flex spot- J Williams GB, C Kupp or C Hyde

    Thanks

  15. Fred says:

    In the playoffs. Not going to try and get cute and stick w Wilson at Jax for QB. Lineup options are Fournette, Gio Bernard, Alex Collins, Darkwa for RBs and Evans, Marvin Jones, Gordon, Goodwin, Watkins for WR. Who would you start (std scoring)?

    RB1
    RB2
    WR1
    WR2
    Flex

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