2018 Preseason Rankings: Updated Top 40 Running Backs: Cook/Mixon Slip, Peterson Making Impact & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

For the most part running backs have stayed healthy thus far (outside of in Washington), but that doesn’t mean things haven’t been shaken up in our rankings.  Who’s performance has led to their stock rising?  Who has created concerns?  Let’s take a look at how things currently stand, less than two weeks away from the opening of the NFL season:

  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. Devonta Freeman – Atlanta Falcons (11)
  11. Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers (14)
  12. Dalvin Cook – Minnesota Vikings (10)
  13. Jordan Howard – Chicago Bears (12)
  14. LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills (13)
  15. Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals (15)
  16. Jay Ajayi – Philadelphia Eagles (16)
  17. Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans (17)
  18. Alex Collins – Baltimore Ravens (18)
  19. Jerick McKinnon – San Francisco 49ers (19)
  20. Kenyan Drake – Miami Dolphins (20)
  21. Royce Freeman – Denver Broncos (25)
  22. Lamar Miller – Houston Texans (21)
  23. Tevin Coleman – Atlanta Falcons (24)
  24. Jamaal Williams – Green Bay Packers (27)
  25. Chris Carson – Seattle Seahawks (37)
  26. Duke Johnson – Cleveland Browns (30)
  27. Adrian Peterson – Washington Redskins (NR)
  28. Marshawn Lynch – Oakland Raiders (28)
  29. Carlos Hyde – Cleveland Browns (31)
  30. Dion Lewis – Tennessee Titans (32)
  31. Peyton Barber – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NR)
  32. Ronald Jones II – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (22)
  33. Rashaad Penny – Seattle Seahawks (29)
  34. Kerryon Johnson – Detroit Lions (23)
  35. Chris Thompson – Washington Redskins (26)
  36. Sony Michel – New England Patriots (33)
  37. Bilal Powell – New York Jets (34)
  38. Latavius Murray – Minnesota Vikings (NR)
  39. Rex Burkhead – New England Patriots (36)
  40. Marlon Mack – Indianapolis Colts (35)

 

Dropped from Rankings:

  • Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints (38)
  • Matt Breida – San Francisco 49ers (39)
  • Devontae Booker – Denver Broncos (40)

 

Notes:

  • Ingram drops off our Top 40 as he is set to miss the first four games due to suspension and once he returns, as a contract year player, is there any real guarantee that he steps right back into a shared lead back role?  That’s not to say that he isn’t worth stashing, but with others seeing their value rise this preseason and the presence of Alvin Kamara the risks drop Ingram more into the #45-50 range for now.
  • The Lions’ Kerryon Johnson is a good bet to emerge by year’s end, but in the all important third preseason game he was playing behind both LeGarrette Blount and Ameer Abdullah (and we can’t ignore the presence of Theo Riddick).  There’s a good chance that he ultimately shares the early down role with Blount, but given the risks and early usage he has to be considered more of a RB3/4 as opposed to a starting fantasy option.
  • Marlon Mack is battling a hamstring injury, and it could ultimately cost him the start of the season.  That obviously hurts his appeal, as does the potential that he loses touches to Nyheim Hines, Christine Michael or Jordan Wilkins.  When healthy we’d still expect Mack to be the lead back, and that keeps him in the RB3/4 discussion, but we also can’t ignore the risk.
  • Is anyone really willing to bank on big production from Adrian Peterson at this point?  He did take 11 carries for 56 yards in his Redskins’ debut and should be a lock for early down work to open the season.  He’s a gamble, but one that we’d be willing to take as a RB3.
  • Ronald Jones has had his struggles this preseason, as it’s become clear that Peyton Barber is going to open the year as the team’s top back.  How long that lasts remains to be seen, and we’d ultimately expect the duo to share touches.  That said it’s impossible to trust either as a RB2, especially early on.
  • We took a look at the risk involved in investing in Dalvin Cook, who may be a better fit as a RB2, recently.  Read the article in it’s entirety by clicking here.

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

Position
Date Updated
Quarterback08/31/18
Running Back09/02/18
Wide Receiver 08/29/18
Tight End08/24/18
Kicker08/28/18
Defense08/09/18
2018 Preseason Rankings: Top 15 Kickers: Who Are The Best Options To Target?
2018 Preseason Rankings: Updated Top 15 Tight Ends: A Potential Breakout On The Rise, Veterans Falling & More

2 comments

  1. Reese says:

    I’m with you there on Mixon-high risk high reward situation that someone will probably nab in the middle of the 2nd round. My question-I had the fortune of drafting kamara last year in a 1 player keeper league, who I will be retaining this year. My question: I want to draft Ingram to lock up the Saints backfield, but what round do I take Mark Ingram?

    Second-I’m picking 8th. Assuming Barkley is not there, is Hunt the right option? I’m not very high on Gordon, or nearly as high on Fournette as others seem to be. (half point ppr league, 12 teams)

    • re: Ingram – His ADP is going to be too high for me to trust. Right now he’s going in the 6th round, and that’s just not worth it considering the missed time.

      re: Pick – Yep, if Hunt is there I’d be grabbing him for sure

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