Week 15 Rankings (2017): Top 40 Running Backs

by Ray Kuhn

At this point in the season, all we can do is our best. I know that sounds silly, but the semifinals of the fantasy playoffs are not the time to get fancy and experiment. We simply need to make our rankings, stick with them and hope for the best. We have gotten this far after all, right? Let’s take a look at how our options rank for this week with that in mind:

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

Notes:

  • I guess we should not be concerned about Aaron Jones. He is back and healthy in Green Bay’s backfield, but for the second straight week it was clear that Jamaal Williams is the running back to own. Williams was on the field for 50 snaps, as compared to eight for Jones, while out touching him at 22 to 4. With the Packers, surprisingly perhaps, trailing for most of the afternoon before pulling out a victory in Cleveland, game flow wasn’t exactly the friend of Williams. However, he still managed 15 carries, although he gained 49 yards while scoring a touchdown. What truly made his day, and helps his fantasy value moving forward, is that he had seven receptions for 69 yards. The bulk of that damage came on a 30 yard touchdown catch when he was wide open, but it was a great sign to see him so involved in the passing game. Not only did Green Bay target Williams, but he also came through with production. This week will be a little harder as the Packers go against Carolina and their stout defense, but Williams has turned into a legit RB2 option.
  • We still have time, and fantasy owners will be obsessively checking practice results all week, but it looks like we can breathe. The extra three days of recovery time are a blessing as it appears that Alvin Kamara will be making his return this Sunday. So far, especially over the past month, we can’t say enough good things about the rookie running back and his return is greatly anticipated. While there is no way we keep Kamara out of the lineup, we may have to temper our expectations slightly just in case he doesn’t aggravate his concussion. For all of their struggles this season  the Jets are not a walkover on defense. Ignoring Kamara for this week in seasonal leagues when he is a large reason why you are in the semifinals, is just not an option.
  • Hopefully if you grabbed Peyton Barber off the waiver wire you didn’t discard him with the return of Doug Martin last week. That is because Martin’s return appears to be temporary and short lived. Based on how Martin has performed this season, that is certainly warranted. Prior to being benched following his second quarter fumble, which was the result of poor ball security, Martin carried the ball 10 times but gained just 26 yards and a TD. Overall it hasn’t been a successful season as he has gained just 402 yards on the ground while averaging 3.1 yards per carry and catching nine passes for 84 yards. Tampa then inserted Barber and he was able to pick up right where he left off from the week before. Replacing Martin in Week 13, Barber carried the ball 23 times for 102 yards while catching four passes for another 41 yards. Last week he gained 58 yards on 12 carries and I would look for that success to continue against Atlanta this week.
  • After facing two tough defenses back to back weeks, things are expected to get easier for Kenyan Drake. He picked up 120 yards and a touchdown last week against Denver and he dominated New England on Monday night as the Dolphins pulled off an upset victory. The Patriots just weren’t in the game at all, and Drake was a large part of that as Miami controlled the game. Their second year running back carried the ball 25 times for 114 yards while also catching five passes for another 79 yards. Had Drake found the end zone his day would have looked even better, but it is clear that Miami has found their workhorse. The fact that Drake gets to face the Bills and their league worst defense against opposing fantasy running backs is even better for as he looks for his third straight 100-plus yard game.
  • One performance we shouldn’t read into is that of Rod Smith. Alfred Morris is still Dallas’ starting running back, and that is evidenced by the fact that he out touched Smith by 50% last week; 22 to 11. Dallas leaned on Morris in the running game, and he carried the ball 19 times for 62 yards while also catching three passes for 23 yards. Generally Morris is a non-factor in the passing game so that was a good sign, but you can’t ignore the volume he receives in the running game. What made Smith’s day look better, to no fault of his own, was his 2 TD. Smith caught five passes for 115 yards, but that was boosted by an 81 yard TD catch when the Giants’ coverage was essentially non-existent. Soon thereafter, Smith added a 15 yard TD run as part of a 6 carry, 47 yard effort. I wouldn’t bet on the two TD again, and when setting your lineup you have to based on Morris’ volume.

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Make sure to check out all of our Week 15 rankings:

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defenses
Week 15 Rankings (2017): Top 20 Tight Ends
Week 15 Rankings (2017): Top 25 Quarterbacks

63 comments

  1. Marion says:

    Prof – it’s crunch time and I need advice…start two in a PPR=0.5

    Latavius Murray, Josh Gordon, Alfred Morris, Mike Davis and Jamaal Williams

    Thanks

  2. darrick says:

    hey professor which 2 rb’s do i start this week in 1/2 ppr league. mccoy, crowell, mixon or do i pick up either riddick or stewart

  3. Jay says:

    PPR=1. Need 2 Burkhead, Lewis or Cohen. Cohen has been good, with a good match up. Not sure about starting 2 Pats this week on the road at Pitt

  4. Haggy says:

    So Playing In The Consolation Bracket.. Need 2 Running backs and flex out of these. MORRIS, PERINE, FREEMAN, GOODWIN,WOODS. LEANING..FREEMAN,MORRIS,GOODWIN.

  5. Haggy says:

    Got Bortles and Keenum. Think I gotta go Keenum…How about you…

  6. Joel Macke says:

    McKinnon, d Lewis, Mike davis, gio bennard, k Williams, rod Smith. I need two.

  7. Tony says:

    Hi Professor.

    The season ended for my team due to that bizarre eagles’ defensive TD with one second remaining in the game, leading to a final score of 95-94.

    I’m writing to say thanks very much for the great advice over this season, most of it making a difference, but then good players cannot always make a difference given game flow, injuries, etc.

    Anyway, best of luck to your teams if in the playoffs, and thank you very much again for taking the time to take my questions – I appreciate it!

    Best wishes,
    Tony

    • dman says:

      well said Tony, the professor helps out so many people with this web site and we all appreciate his insight and knowledge.

      thank you and merry christmas to you professor…

    • Thank you to both of you and everyone else that supports the site. It really means a lot to me and I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without you.

      Thanks again and Happy Holidays!

      • Tony says:

        Have a great holiday as well, Professor, and dman as well! We really do appreciate the time you´ve taken to answer our questions, and your feedback is excellent and provides perspectives that I´ll have missed.

        Yes, this is certainly one of the best, if not the best website for FF, especially considering the amount of money and resources the big sport media provide for their FF staff.

        Keep up the great work and look forward to 2018! This was a year for rebuilding, so my team should be better next season and hopefully it will mean throwing fewer questions at you, and again, you helped a lot and I really appreciate it….thanks again!

        Have a great year ahead as well!

        Best wishes,
        Tony

  8. CP says:

    Hey Professor…need some expert advice! Pick 3 in a standard scoring league…Ingram, Kamara, J. Howard, and Collins. I know I know…good problem to have!

    Thank you.

  9. Mpd says:

    Pick 2. .5ppr. Marquise Goodwin, Tyreek Hill, Latavius Murray. Thank you!

  10. Brian Cagle says:

    Q1
    1 pt PPR
    Need 4 (q must be a WR)
    RB’s: McCoy Fournette Hyde McKinnon
    WR’s: Theilen Tate DeMaryius Thomas JuJu Smith Schuster

    Q2
    Bills or Rams

    Q3 Standard
    Need 4 (1 must be a WR)
    RB’s: McCoy Hyde Jamal Williams McKinnon
    WR’s: Baldwin Crowder Sammy Watkins M Lee

    Q4
    Saints or Rams

    Q5
    Need one Flex
    M Lee Evans Crowell Tevin Coleman

  11. James says:

    Miller Burkhead and Henry

    Which two would you start?

  12. Jim says:

    PPR

    Pick one
    J. Williams, C Hyde, M Davis or Krupp for my flex spot?

    Thanks for your help!

  13. haggy says:

    Morris, Freeman,Perine, Henry, Kerwinn Willliams..Of these 5….. I am going Morris/ Freeman and Henry at Flex. Don’t trust Perines matchup…What you think..Also would you sit Hill over Goodwin since Quarterback play in K.C has been sketchy..

  14. Chris says:

    Need 2rbs and a flex…..Perine, Williams, DeMarco Murray, jordy Nelson or Kerwynn Williams??? Also have Mixon and Bernard but not comfortable starting Bengals RB against Vikings.

  15. Evan says:

    Hello!

    Big Ben for sure over Rodgers? That’s what I’ve been seeing consistently, but it is Aaron Rodgers in Dec…

    What about Evan Engram or Hunter Henry? (half PPR)

    And then how about a second FLEX between Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, and other TE from above?

    Thank you!

    Cheers.

  16. S says:

    Might have to bench Fournette if he’s hurt.

    Mike Davis or Kerwynn Williams?

  17. Whoppa says:

    Hey Professor…thanks for all the great advice this year!
    1 pt ppr
    Have Gurley locked…please pick 2 out of the following group.

    Hunt, Drake, J. Williams, D. Lewis.

  18. Whoppa says:

    Seals-Jones or Olsen?

    Thanks!

  19. Luigi says:

    Good Afternoon,
    Firstly thanks for the many seasons of insight, truly appreciate it.
    I have to admit I have all sorts of confusion this week. Please help me set my line up?
    Qb: AROD over J.Goff
    RB: Ingram, A.collins, T.Riddick, Kerwynn Williams, Demarco,
    WR: Alshon, Mike Evans, J.Gordon, Aj. Green.

    My Gut is telling me ingram, Collins, aj green Josh gordon and to flex evans for the Monday night appeal.

    Your input always helps.

  20. Dave says:

    I need either McCoy, Gurley, in a non PPR. Which would you take?

  21. Jay says:

    Standard scoring. Hunt or Drake at flex?

  22. Tom says:

    Hunt or A.Morris? Last week I started Morris and he burned me as Hunt went off. Charger’s D scare me.

  23. Gman says:

    With Fournette out, would you start Kupp, Dion Lewis, or Crowder?

  24. reggie says:

    Burkhead over Ivory or Yeldon yes?

    thanks Professor!

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