Week 2 Rankings (2018): Top 40 Running Backs

by Ray Kuhn

Talk about a wild way to begin the NFL, and therefore fantasy, season. We had offensive outbursts, stars who lived up to their billing,and some of our questions were answered. The important thing to remember is that we are still dealing with just one week of action. There is a lot of football left, and while we can now make more informed decisions overreacting shouldn’t be an option. Let’s jump right into how our options rank for this week:

  1. Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints – vs. Cleveland
  2. Todd Gurley – Los Angeles Rams – vs. Arizona
  3. Ezekiel Elliot – Dallas Cowboys – vs. NY Giants
  4. Melvin Gordon – Los Angeles Chargers – at Buffalo
  5. David Johnson – Arizona Cardinals – at LA Rams
  6. James Conner – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. Kansas City
  7. Saquon Barkley – New York Giants – at Dallas
  8. Leonard Fournette – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. New England
  9. Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals – vs. Baltimore
  10. Dalvin Cook – Minnesota Vikings – at Green Bay
  11. Jordan Howard – Chicago Bears – vs. Seattle
  12. Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers – at Atlanta
  13. Kareem Hunt – Kansas City Chiefs – at Pittsburgh
  14. Jay Ajayi – Philadelphia Eagles – at Tampa Bay
  15. Lamar Miller – Houston Texans – at Tennessee
  16. Kenyan Drake – Miami Dolphins – at NY Jets
  17. Devonta Freeman – Atlanta Falcons – vs. Carolina
  18. Adrian Peterson – Washington Redskins – vs. Indianapolis
  19. Dion Lewis – Tennessee Titans – vs. Houston
  20. LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills – vs. LA Chargers
  21. Alex Collins – Baltimore Ravens – at Cincinnati
  22. Carlos Hyde – Cleveland Browns – at New Orleans
  23. Chris Thompson – Washington Redskins – vs. Indianapolis
  24. Rex Burkhead – New England Patriots – at Jacksonville
  25. Royce Freeman – Denver Broncos – vs. Oakland
  26. Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans – vs. Houston
  27. Jamaal Williams – Green Bay Packers – vs. Minnesota
  28. James White – New England Patriots – at Jacksonville
  29. Peyton Barber – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – vs. Philadelphia
  30. Isaiah Crowell – New York Jets – vs. Miami
  31. Chris Carson – Seattle Seahawks – at Chicago
  32. Tarik Cohen – Chicago Bears – vs. Seattle
  33. Tevin Coleman – Atlanta Falcons – vs. Carolina
  34. Matt Brieda – San Francisco 49ers – vs. Detroit
  35. Marshawn Lynch – Oakland Raiders – vs. Denver
  36. Austin Ekeler – Los Angeles Chargers – at Buffalo
  37. Phillip Lindsay – Denver Broncos – vs. Oakland
  38. Jordan Wilkins – Indianapolis Colts – at Washington
  39. Alfred Morris – San Francisco 49ers – vs. Detroit
  40. Bilal Powell – New York Jets – vs. Miami

Notes:

  • What we saw from Joe Mixon on Sunday was a lot more in line with what we expected of the running back in his rookie year. We also received some clarity on the Cincinnati backfield, as Mixon was the only act in town. Looking a lot more explosive and quite frankly, in shape, compared to last season after losing some weight in the off-season he looked like a different running back. He carried the ball 17 times for 95 yards and a touchdown while also looking impressive as a receiver (five receptions for another 54 yards). For those of you looking to squeeze some PPR value out of Giovani Bernard, that doesn’t appear to an option as he gained a net total of nine yards via one carry and an 11 yard reception. While there should be no debate about Mixon’s status in your starting lineup, and his value will be propped up based on the fact that Marvin Lewis is planning to lean on his second year running back, Baltimore’s rush defense will be a lot stronger this week than what he faced against the Colts.
  • Equal rushing lines… The early winner for the running back who emerged out of nowhere is Phillip Lindsay. Undrafted this April he wasn’t garnering much in the way of attention, but there he was right alongside Royce Freeman. As the summer progressed Freeman received increasing attention, and by September he was among the first rookie running backs off the board. Ultimately I still think the backfield belongs to Freeman, he was the starter on Sunday and lead Denver running backs in snaps, but three is a crowd. I think we can eliminate Devonate Booker and his 19 snaps, as four touches (two carries for four yards and two catches for 11 yards), as he failed to make much of an impact. Lindsay made the most of his opportunity as the Broncos stuck with the rookie while he was successful on his way to a 15 carry, 71 yard day. Freeman turned in an identical rushing line, but he was the running back Denver called on in the fourth quarter as they were managing their lead. While it is a problem that Freeman wasn’t targeted in the passing game, I wouldn’t bank on the two running backs finishing any other weeks with the same number of carries. As last week proved, there is enough room in Denver’s backfield for two rookies, especially for Lindsay in PPR leagues.
  • We started the season off with some injury concerns from Devonta Freeman, but after exiting early with a knee injury he appears to be good to go for this week. Just to be safe the Falcons did promote fellow running back Brian Hill from the practice squad, but the extra days off will aid in Freeman’s healing. When he was on the field he averaged six yards per carry on six carries while catching three passes for 14 yards. With just 19 yards on nine carries Tevin Coleman failed to take advantage of the situation, but the Eagles also have one of the best defensive lines in the NFL. The Panthers are another tough matchup, but I would continue to lean on Freeman. Coleman, on the other hand though, is more of a borderline FLEX option depending on your roster situation.
  • At least for one week the Chargers were dedicated to getting Melvin Gordon more involved in the passing game. It was alluded to multiple times in the off-season, and with Gordon catching nine passes San Diego backed it up. Regardless of his efficiency, 15 carries for 64 yards, Gordon’s workload should keep him firmly on your radar as anRB1. With nine receptions for 102 yards, that was certainly the case last week in a high scoring game against the Chiefs, but the San Diego offense also proved it might be able to support two running backs. While Austin Ekeler is clearly more of a PPR option, the second year running back touched the ball 10 times on Sunday while eclipsing 100 total yards. Ekeler had five carries for 37 yards while also catching five passes for 87 yards and a touchdown while proving he might be more than just a handcuff.
  • Washington made it clear that Adrian Peterson is going to be the focal point of backfield. The veteran both started off strong, 71 yards in the first half, and then closed out the game with 95 yards in the second half. One play, a 52 yard reception on a screen pass, accounted for the bulk of that production, but Peterson didn’t show many signs of slowing down. He gained 96 yards on the ground via 26 carries, and his value was more a result of game flow and workload than anything else. Aside from his big play Peterson caught just one other pass for 18 yards, with Chris Thompson catching six passes for 63 yards and a touchdown. Thompson also gained another 65 yards on five carries, as he cemented his role as a large part in Washington’s offense. This week, the Redskins face the Colts so it is another favorable match-up for Peterson, but it remains to be seen whether this is a pace he can maintain for the entire season. Thompson and Smith appeared to be in sync, and it appears to be a situation for fantasy owners to exploit.
  • It’s never a good thing when your running back doesn’t receive goal line carries, but it’s too early to panic about. Quite simply, Kareem Hunt just didn’t get going on Sunday despite his 16 carries. The second year running back managed 49 yards on the ground while also going without a reception. With Pittsburgh’s run defense lacking as compared to the Chargers, I would look for Hunt to have a bounce back effort. However, it is also a good sign that Spencer Ware wasn’t a factor as he had just three carries and one reception.

Make sure to check out all of our Week 2 rankings:

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defenses
Week 2 Rankings (2018): Top 20 Tight Ends
Week 2 Rankings (2018): Top 25 Quarterbacks

22 comments

  1. Chris says:

    Roto Professor,

    Needs a RB2 and Flex! Jordan Howard, Mixon or James conner??

    THanks!

  2. Matt says:

    Trade ppr league collins and thielin for david johnson ?

  3. Trevor says:

    Better ROS pickup ..
    Mack, Lindsay or Johnson (detroit) Ppr league.

  4. Sheldon says:

    Hi Professor, Happy new fantasy football year! Have to make a choice at flex between Ekeler, Sproles, and John Brown. WR Brown has a Thursday night game (tonight). Thanks.

  5. Krysta says:

    14 team, 1/2 PPR. Devonta Freeman now out my remaining option at RB2 are Jordan Wilkins or Adrian Peterson?

  6. Billy says:

    Should I drop Marlon Mack and pick up Austin Ekeler in his place in a PPR league?

  7. Krysta says:

    P. S. Carlos Hyde became my rb1 so my question was for rb2… I assume you would still roll with Hyde over Wilkins?

  8. reggie says:

    Hi Professor

    standard scoring need a flex

    Chris Thompson or Marshawn Lynch ?

    also at WR with Josh Gordon out the best I have (not injured) is Dante Pettis or DeSean Jackson – who do you prefer?

    thanks so much as always

  9. David says:

    Good Morning!! Yahoo- Standard Had to take Gordon out.. which should I pick up? Locket, Marshall, Godwin, D.Jackson, Cole, or Pettis? Thanks!

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