Week 7 Rankings (2018): Top 40 Running Backs

by Ray Kuhn

I’m not going to say that things have settled down around the NFL, or at the running back position in particular, and there’s a new wrinkle thrown into the mix for Week 7. For the first three weeks of byes we were eased into things with just two teams resting each week, but for this week there will be four on the sidelines: Green Bay, Oakland, Seattle and Pittsburgh. To make matters a little more stressful there is another game in London, but this time it starts at 9:30 AM so some roster decisions are going to be accelerated. With that being said, let’s jump right into the rankings for this week:

  1. Todd Gurley – LA Rams – at San Francisco
  2. Saquon Barkley – NY Giants – at Atlanta
  3. Kareem Hunt – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. Cincinnati
  4. Melvin Gordon – LA Chargers – vs. Tennessee
  5. Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints – at Baltimore
  6. David Johnson – Arizona Cardinals – vs. Denver
  7. Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals – at Kansas City
  8. Ezekiel Elliot – Dallas Cowboys – at Washington
  9. Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers – at Philadelphia
  10. LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills – at Indianapolis
  11. T.J. Yeldon – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. Houston
  12. Sony Michel – New England Patriots – at Chicago
  13. Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints – at Baltimore
  14. James White – New England Patriots – at Chicago
  15. Tarik Cohen – Chicago Bears – vs. New England
  16. Dalvin Cook – Minnesota Vikings – at NY Jets
  17. Adrian Peterson – Washington Redskins – vs. Dallas
  18. Tevin Coleman – Atlanta Falcons – vs. NY Giants
  19. Alex Collins – Baltimore Ravens – vs. New Orleans
  20. Carlos Hyde – Cleveland Browns – at Tampa Bay
  21. Corey Clement – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Carolina
  22. Kenyan Drake – Miami Dolphins – vs. Detroit
  23. Phillip Lindsay – Denver Broncos – at Arizona
  24. Jordan Howard – Chicago Bears – vs. New England
  25. Marlon Mack – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Buffalo
  26. Matt Breida – San Francisco 49ers – vs. LA Rams
  27. Bilal Powell – NY Jets – vs. Minnesota
  28. Peyton Barber – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – vs. Cleveland
  29. Chris Thompson – Washington Redskins – vs. Dallas
  30. Javorius Allen – Baltimore Ravens – vs. New Orleans
  31. Lamar Miller – Houston Texans – at Jacksonville
  32. Wendell Smallwood – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Carolina
  33. Isaiah Crowell – NY Jets – vs. Minnesota
  34. Frank Gore – Miami Dolphins – vs. Detroit
  35. Dion Lewis – Tennessee Titans – at LA Chargers
  36. Nyheim Hines – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Buffalo
  37. Kerryon Johnson – Detroit Lions – at Miami
  38. Ito Smith – Atlanta Falcons – vs. NY Giants
  39. Royce Freeman – Denver Broncos – at Arizona
  40. Duke Johnson – Cleveland Browns – at Tampa Bay

Notes:

  • If you take a look the rushing leaders by team through the first six weeks,  there is a substantial amount of digging required to get to the Giants as they have one of the worst rushing offenses in the league. What is a little confusing is that this is despite the Giants having perhaps the best rookie in the NFL in their backfield, who also happens to be one of the few first round draft picks living up to expectations so far this fantasy season. The problem is simply that Saquon Barkley is not getting enough carries each week as New York’s offense is in disarray. None of this is indicative on the performance of Barkley, as he has already racked up 438 rushing yards and four touchdowns through six games despite average just 14 carries per game. In fact this should be classified as a good thing for Barkley’s fantasy value as he is targeted early and often in the passing game. Barkley is already up to 40 receptions, which has added 373 yards to his total along with two more touchdowns. To say that he has looked explosive would be an understatement and we just need to keep in mind that his workload isn’t that of typical top running backs. In time I would expect to see his carries increase, which in turn would potentially come out of his passing game workload, but his value will remain elite.
  • With Devonta Freeman headed to the IR Atlanta’s backfield has gotten a little clearer, but that doesn’t mean it will get any more fruitful. With Freeman missing three games and only carrying the ball 14 times so far this season, what we have seen is similar to what our expectations should be moving forward, and I’m not sure how good of a thing that is. In years past, with Freeman was sidelined, it was automatic that Tevin Coleman would be an undeniable RB2 with RB1 upside, but so far in 2018 he has struggled. While Coleman is still worth of starting in most leagues, his value shouldn’t really change with the updated news. Despite having one game in which he eclipsed 100 rushing yards, Coleman is averaging just 3.7 yards per carry (71 carries for 260 yards). Additionally he has yet to truly be a factor in the passing game, catching 13 passes for 105 yards and two more touchdowns. Rookie Ito Smith has also been a factor, but with three rushing touchdowns a portion of his value has been dependent on him finding the end zone as he is averaging just 3.2 yards per carry while catching 10 passes for 66 yards. Coleman is still the back to own, but Smith will do just enough to be annoying and to have a role to the point where you will think about starting him some weeks. What can’t happen is expecting Coleman to be Freeman and Smith to smoothly taking on Coleman’s previous role without any issues or bumps in the road. The fact that Atlanta’s offense seems to be built around the passing game also doesn’t help Coleman’s cause.
  • Had he not fumbled at the goal line things would have looked a little different for Jordan Howard last week. We do know, though, that the Bears’ offense as a whole isn’t responsible for Jordan Howard’s struggles. With 10 receptions the promises of the summer that we would see an increased role in the passing game have not yet come to fruition. Last week Howard had 14 carries for 69 yards, and through five games he is averaging just 3.5 yards per carry for 272 yards on 78 carries. Based on his skill set it shouldn’t be a surprise that Tarik Cohen’s role is beginning to increase, and last week he was only two touches behind Howard. With 5.3 yards per carry on 32 carries Cohen is clearly the more successful back, but the Bears are going to need Howard to have a sizable role in their offense. Based on his increased role, and 21 receptions for 259 yards, Cohen is now getting closer to being an every week starter. What he brings to the table, that Howard is currently lacking, is potential.
  • While Andrew Luck remains on pace to set records for pass attempts, it’s not something that we can expect to be completely sustainable for the remainder of the season. With that being said, the Colts’ offense is still going to run through Luck even if his workload does get reduced at some point. What might play a role in that happening is the return of Marlon Mack. Last week the Colts finally got something done on the ground as the second year running back appeared in his second game of the season. Mack gained 89 yards on 12 carries after he gained 34 yards on 10 carries in Week 2. With just one reception in each of his two games he isn’t going to have much of a role in the passing game, as that will go to rookie Nyheim Hines. However, it will be Mack that the Colts lean on to control the tempo of the game and his workload will be more dependable than that of Hines.
  • With all of the success that the Chiefs’ offense is having we had to wait until last week for Kareem Hunt to truly have a breakout game. While he did gain 80 yards on 10 carries in what was an offensive bonanza, it was his 67 yard touchdown reception to start the second half that made his night. Overall he caught five passes for 105 yards, which doubled his reception total. Hunt has found the end zone six times, and with 4.4 yards per carry, and 103 carries, he is a true RB1.

Make sure to check out all of our Week 7 rankings:

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defenses
Week 7 Rankings (2018): Top 50 Wide Receivers
Week 7 Rankings (2018): Top 20 Tight Ends

39 comments

  1. Eric says:

    Hey Prof. I have AB on the bye and starting Tyreek Hill. Please choose 2 WRS. Kenny Golladay, Corey Davis or the newly acquired Albert Wilson. Also Austin Hooper or OJ Howard thanks

  2. Sheldon says:

    Hi, Prof. Got to choose 2 for the rest of the season (0.5 PPR). Can you arrange them in order of priority adds? Ekeler, Murray, Freeman, Bernard, Sproles, Foreman. Thanks.

  3. Jay says:

    I have Collins, Clement, Breida, Josh Gordon and Ridley. I need 2RB and a flex standard league. Should I go 2rb and 1 WR? or all 3 rb? Which players? Thanks soo much for all you do.

    • I’d go Clement/Breida for sure.

      I really want to say Collins, but he’s almost as risky as Gordon (who has a higher upside). I’d lean Gordon, but depends on if you want that boom/bust risk

  4. Ted says:

    Who would you play in the W/R (PPR) spot this week, K Drake, I Smith, F Gore, or J Allen?

  5. Touchette says:

    PPR League, Pick 2 from S. Michel, M. Ingram, & TJ Yeldon?

    Any other week I’d go Michel/Ingram easy, but they’re playing the two toughest teams against RB’s (for fantasy) on the road. Yeldon has an easier matchup at home and I’m thinking of trading out Ingram for Yeldon. What are you thoughts?

  6. Chris says:

    Hi Prof, Why are you so low on Kerryon? It is just lack of trust in Jim Bob Cooter/bad matchup?

  7. Terri says:

    Standard League: Need 3 RB’s from these guys- Michel, McCoy, Brieda, Yeldon, McCaffery.

    McCaffery, Michel are no brainers-IMO.

    Not sure on the rest (need only 1)? Brieda, Yeldon or McCoy. Right now I have Yeldon in.

    Help please.

    Thank you!!!

  8. Krysta says:

    14 Team, PPR…I need two of:Carlos Hyde, Javiorious Allen, Adrian Peterson and Ito Smith?

  9. C says:

    Hey professor,

    I’m trying to upgrade at RB.
    Someone dropped Chris Thompson in my 12 team standard league. Would you pick him up, and if so who would you drop?

    RBs: Elliott, Carson, Clement, A. Jones, Chubb
    WRs: Green, Goodwin, Gabriel, Cooper
    TE:s Ertz, Burton

    Thanks a lot!

  10. Jay says:

    Standard scoring, non PPR. Start Ingram or Cohen at flex. (Went Hunt, Gordon in the draft feeling pretty good with that decision)

  11. Cara Stewart says:

    Ingram or White as my RB2 and If I use one as a flex do I use them or Alshon Jeffrey? Thanks!!

  12. K says:

    Do you happen to have an article coming up on Chubb? I snatched him up…standard, Chubb or Sony?

    Thanks Prof!

  13. GizmoMate says:

    Dear Professor,
    Who would you choose from McCaffrey, Breida, Mixon, Michel to fill 1 RB and 1 Flex option.
    Thanks a lot

    • RB – McCaffrey
      FLEX – Michel

      Good “problem” to have sitting Mixon though

      • GizmoMate says:

        Do you really think that Michel againts the Bears will outscore Mixon againts the Chiefs?
        Im not sure even in McCaffrey will put many points against Philly.

        Btw yes i know, these problems are the good kinds of :)

        Thanks again Prof for replying!

        • I do prefer there upsides (especially with Gronkowski out and with McCaffreys ability to make plays through the air). I’d say it’s not crazy if you decided to go the other way though (I wouldn’t sit McCaffrey)

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