2018 Preseason Rankings: Updated Top 40 Running Backs: Injuries Already Cause Significant Changes & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

While this won’t be the last hit that the running back position takes, the first “shot” was fired as Derrius Guice has been lost for the year due to a torn ACL.  It’s a significant blow to the Redskins rushing attack and to fantasy owners, so who steps up now?  Who else has seen their value rise and fall?  Let’s take a look:

  1. Todd Gurley – Los Angeles Rams (1)
  2. Ezekiel Elliot – Dallas Cowboys (2)
  3. Le’Veon Bell – Pittsburgh Steelers (3)
  4. David Johnson – Arizona Cardinals (4)
  5. Kareem Hunt – Kansas City Chiefs (5)
  6. Saquon Barkley – New York Giants (6)
  7. Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints (7)
  8. Melvin Gordon – Los Angeles Chargers (8)
  9. Leonard Fournette – Jacksonville Jaguars (9)
  10. Dalvin Cook – Minnesota Vikings (10)
  11. Devonta Freeman – Atlanta Falcons (11)
  12. Jordan Howard – Chicago Bears (12)
  13. LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills (13)
  14. Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers (15)
  15. Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals (16)
  16. Jay Ajayi – Philadelphia Eagles (17)
  17. Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans (18)
  18. Alex Collins – Baltimore Ravens (19)
  19. Jerick McKinnon – San Francisco 49ers (14)
  20. Kenyan Drake – Miami Dolphins (21)
  21. Lamar Miller – Houston Texans (22)
  22. Ronald Jones II – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (23)
  23. Kerryon Johnson – Detroit Lions (35)
  24. Tevin Coleman – Atlanta Falcons (24)
  25. Royce Freeman – Denver Broncos (32)
  26. Chris Thompson – Washington Redskins (27)
  27. Jamaal Williams – Green Bay Packers (33)
  28. Marshawn Lynch – Oakland Raiders (26)
  29. Rashaad Penny – Seattle Seahawks (25)
  30. Duke Johnson – Cleveland Browns (28)
  31. Carlos Hyde – Cleveland Browns (31)
  32. Dion Lewis – Tennessee Titans (34)
  33. Sony Michel – New England Patriots (29)
  34. Bilal Powell – New York Jets (36)
  35. Marlon Mack – Indianapolis Colts (30)
  36. Rex Burkhead – New England Patriots (38)
  37. Chris Carson – Seattle Seahawks (NR)
  38. Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints (37)
  39. Matt Breida – San Francisco 49ers (NR)
  40. Devontae Booker – Denver Broncos (40)

Dropped from Rankings:

  • Derrius Guice – Washington Redskins (20)
  • Isaiah Crowell – New York Jets (39)


  • There’s been a lot of talk that Jerrick McKinnon isn’t going to be the type of workhorse that fantasy owners are anticipating.  While the injury to Matt Breida may change that slightly, at least early on, it’s still telling and shows that you need to at least be a little bit more cautious on how highly you are prepared to “reach” to select him.  There’s still a ton of upside, but with the new risk of somewhat limited touches (think 12-15, as opposed to 20+ per game) we have to drop him down a few spots.
  • Sony Michel may ready for the start of the season, but a rookie running back missing the preseason is going to send him down the depth chart.  Obviously he’ll still be involved immediately, but how quickly will he get up to speed with the offense and overtake the numerous other backs for early down work?  He’s well worth targeting and will likely be a must use option by the end of the season, but we have to take into account the risk and the fact that he could be unusable for the first few weeks.
  • After his showing in the first preseason game consider Royce Freeman’s stock firmly on the rise.  There appears to be a good chance that he emerges as the lead dog for Week 1, and in that type of role he’ll continue to rise and should ultimately settle in our Top 20.
  • We spoke about the risk involved in investing in Rashaad Penny recently (click here to view) so it shouldn’t be a surprise to see him drop a few spots down the rankings.  Like with Michel he’s a much better option for late in the season, as opposed to the early going.
  • Obviously the injury to Derrius Guice is going to have a significant impact on the Redskins’ backfield, but don’t expect a role change for Chris Thompson.  The team stayed the course with him a year ago with a similar cast of characters and they aren’t going to risk burning him out by trying to pile up a workload he can’t hold up to.
  • Marlon Mack has a chance to emerge as a must use fantasy running back, but the hamstring injury he suffered is going to cost him time and open up an opportunity for someone to step up.  Just be aware and watch the situation closely, especially since it’s not impossible that the injury carries into the regular season.

Make sure to check out all of our 2018 preseason rankings:

Date Updated
Running Back09/02/18
Wide Receiver 08/29/18
Tight End08/24/18
2018 Preseason Rankings: Updated Top 50 Wide Receivers: Value Shifts Across The Board (Jeffery, Gordon & More)
2018 Preseason Rankings: Top 15 Defenses


  1. Nk says:

    What do you think of Peyton Barber’s chances of stealing touches from Jones II? I’m in a deep 12 team keeper and most of the running backs are already off the board. I’m trying to establish value in some of the muddled backfields with shiny new rookies coming in. Would Barber be a better target than someone like Rob Kelley?

  2. John K says:

    Hey Prof,

    So I’m in a league that is starting keepers this year. Apparently there was some confusion with the amount of keepers so we’re unfortunately only doing 1 keeper. I’ve narrowed it down to Hopkins for a 3rd or Zeke for a 1st. I have the 7th pick in the draft. Obviously keeping Hopkins is better value, only giving up a 3rd rounder. But man I really would like to have Zeke and he won’t be there at 7. What would you do in my situation and do you have any draft advice for me?

    If I keep Hopkins, who should I target at the 7th pick and for my 2nd rounder? Gurley and Kamara will be off the board as keepers which kind of throws a wrench in it. At 7 I’m thinking either Melvin Gordon or Fournette would be who I should target. In the second round it depends who is there but would you be looking to lock down a second RB or just take the best player available? If my first 3 rounds look something like Gordon, Hopkins, AJ Green I’d be pretty pumped!

    • I would keep Hopkins and then target the best RB available at that spot if it’s Gordon or Barkley, etc

      • John Kircher says:

        Thanks for the reply. I was thinking the same thing but now I’m hearing Fournette and Hunt will likely be kept too. The draft will go Johnson, Bell, Zeke, Brown, Gordon, Barkley. At 7 I’ll miss all those RBs and if Fournette and Hunt are kept I’m looking at Howard or McCaffrey as my RB1 bestcase. I’m leaning toward keeping Zeke and targeting a guy like AJ Green or Mike Thomas in the 2nd. I think the drop from Hopkins to Thomas is much less significant than the drop off from Zeke to McCaffrey/Howard

  3. Tim says:

    Hello. I am in a 10 team ppr keeper league. We can keep 3 players. I have narrowed my choices to 4 players: Le’Veon Bell as a 1st rounder, Kareem Hunt as a 3rd rounder, Zach Ertz as a 10th rounder, and Davante Adams as a 4th rounder. Which 3 would you keep? Thanks.

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