Week 16 Rankings (2017): Top 40 Running Backs

by Ray Kuhn

Dance with who you brought here. In other words, before I go crazy spouting cliches don’t get too cute. You know who your top options at the position are, who has had recent success and who is going to get the most touches. Be aware of match-ups and look to exploit those, but with a championship on the line try and resist the urge to over think things.  With that in mind, let’s take a look at how the running backs rank for the coming week:

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

Notes:

  • This is the moment fantasy owners have been waiting for. Hopefully your match-up means something as Ezekiel Elliot returns, but if all else fails you can use him in a DFS lineup. After being suspended for six games, Elliot will be fresh and itching to go against Seattle. Prior to taking his extended rest he had gained 763 yards and scored seven rushing touchdowns as he was on his way towards earning his first round value. Don’t be intimidated by Seattle’s reputation as they aren’t what it used to be and Todd Gurley gashed them for 152 yards and 3 TD on the ground. Both Alfred Morris and Rod Smith have had success running the ball in Elliot’s absence, so Dallas’ offense shouldn’t miss a beat upon his return.
  • We still have one more week so I don’t want to jinx things, but it looks like we can take back all those things we were saying about Kareem Hunt. With 1,201 rushing yards its hard to find fault with his debut campaign, but the rookie has made things stressful for fantasy owners in recent weeks. Last week he set things up perfectly for Sunday as he followed up a 116 yard effort by gaining 155 and 1 TD on 24 carries. Hunt was also targeted nine times and caught seven passes for 51 yards and another TD. Perhaps Hunt hit a wall midway through the season, but if that was the case he certainly has broken through it. Targeted 59 times, catching 49 passes, he has a consistent role in Kansas City’s passing gam, so that helps with his value. The last two weeks have proven, don’t do anything fancy other than insert him right into your lineup.
  • I guess the good thing we can say about Jordan Howard is that he has been there all season. While no one is going to complain about five games of more than 100 yards rushing, he has promptly been a disappointment the following week. This past week was no different, as Howard gained just 37 yards on 10 carries. Considering that he gained 125 against the Lions in their previous meeting and Detroit allows the second most rushing TD and fifth most points to opposing running backs, that was an even bigger disappointment. Howard did help save some fantasy value as he caught all four of his targets for 26 yards, but game flow was a major issue. Once Detroit jumped out to an early lead Howard was effectively taken out of the game, and therefore his value took a hit. This week against the Browns that shouldn’t be an issue, and I would look for him to have a bounce back game. Despite the fact that you may have won in spite of him in Week 15, don’t over think things for this week.
  • We really thought he had it figured out; Mike Davis was the lead back for Seattle. Then you look at the box score from last week and he carried the ball just six times for 19 yards while catching two passes for 20 yards. To make matters worse he didn’t touch the ball at all in the second halfas the Seahawks looked to J.D McKissic. However, it doesn’t take much effort to realize that game flow was a true culprit here as Seattle was out of the mix pretty quickly. Prior to last week Davis averaged 15.5 carries and 65 rushing yards in his last two games, and I would look for more of the same against Dallas in what figures to be a more competitive game.
  • Avoiding running back by committees is preferred but sometimes you just can’t help it. So if you must dance in those waters you want to go with the running back who is going get the most touches and also has the most upside moving forward. While Orleans Darkwa and Shane Vereen had 10 touches each and are still factors, Darkwa scored a short yardage touchdown, Wayne Gallman is the running back to own. The rookie followed up a 99 yard effort last week by carrying the ball eight times for 39 yards and adding six receptions (seven targets) for 40 yards. It was the second week in a row the versatile running back led the Giants’ backfield in touches and it is a trend I expect to continue as New York attempts to take a look at what they have.

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Week 16 Rankings (2017): Top 20 Tight Ends
Week 16 Rankings (2017): Top 25 Quarterbacks

4 comments

  1. Fred says:

    Professor
    What’s your general approach to week 17? Some teams will rest their starters if they’ve clinched which can impact fantasy lineups. Do you recommend trying to add someone to your bench this week who may get some extra reps next week. For example, Blount is available on waivers in my league. Would you pick him up thinking that he may get more touches in week 17?
    Thx for your insight…

  2. John says:

    Do you like Drake as much with Williams looking like he’ll be back? Also the coaching staff said they’re, “using him more than they’d like to”. Seems ridiculous when talking about a rookie who’s played half a season. With a 1% chance at the playoffs, what are they saving him for anyway? My only other option is Ajayi. Just wondering if you had any thoughts on the situation. Thanks for everything this year and good luck to everyone in the championship!!

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