2018 Preseason Rankings: Updated Top 40 Running Backs: What Does Jerick McKinnon’s Loss Mean & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The running back spot got hit with another significant injury yesterday, as Jerick McKinnon tore his ACL in practice and has been lost for the season.  It’s a big blow, though as we discussed earlier this morning (click here for the article) Alfred Morris has the potential to play a big role and emerge as a RB2.  Let’s take a look at where things fall, as well as any other changes in our rankings as Week 1 draws closer:

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

 

Dropped from Rankings:

  • Jerick McKinnon – San Francisco 49ers (19)
  • Marlon Mack – Indianapolis Colts (40)

 

Notes:

  • Jay Ajayi has been sidelined with an unidentified “lower body injury”, and given the concerns about his knees dating back to when he was drafted (which caused him to fall) it’s definitely a concern.  It makes sense to be more conservative when targeting him at this point, especially since there could be a concern about his Week 1 status.
  • Considering how poor of a preseason it was for Ronald Jones the arrow is pointing up for Peyton Barber.  There obviously is still the risk of Jones emerging at some point in ’18, but it’s going to take time for him to get there.
  • With Sam Darnold the starting quarterback for the Jets, look for them to put a greater focus on the running game and controlling the clock.  That should mean a greater role for both Crowell and Powell, though Crowell should be the focus of the early down work.  Don’t undervalue him at this point.

Previous 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
Week 1 Rankings (2018): Top 25 Quarterbacks
2018 Preseason Rankings: Updated Top 20 Quarterbacks: Are Watson/Wentz Trustworthy, Mahomes Continues To Climb & More

5 comments

  1. Bob says:

    Have RB Powell and drop him for RB Conner now? Good move? Should I pull the trigger now ( Monday) just in case Bell is not back and start him ( Conner) as my flex. Have McCaffery and McCoy as RB’s.

    • Bob says:

      Right now I have McCoy and McCaffery as my RB’s and Carson is my Flex …..If I get Conner-play him over Carson in Flex if Bell out, right? Thank you for the advice. Standard League

    • I wouldn’t play Conner over Carson anyways, as I think Pittsburgh could easily just lean on Roethlisberger & company this week. It’s worth owning Conner as a handcuff, though

  2. Viv Savage says:

    Hi Eric, Bell owner here having to make impossible call on someone to drop for Conner. My other RBs are Burkhead, Jamaal W, Alf Morris, & Ty Montgomery. Would it be end of the world to drop Montgomery for him? Or is Conner not worth it? I have Njoku behind Trey Burton as well, but am not sure how those guys will work out & Burton is on bye week 5.

    Thoughts? Hesitant in case Conners is just short term fix. But feels like playing with fire to not have Bell cuffed at this point..

    • I’m ok with dropping Montgomery because I’m not sure he makes a huge impact anyways. Williams is going to be the name to own and Montgomery is likely to be more of a third-down/PPR option.

      I’d go Conner over Montgomery

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