Week 8 Rankings (2018): Top 40 Running Backs

by Ray Kuhn

If you lost last week chances are there is a running back to blame. Whether it was an unexpected poor performance (Ezekiel Elliot), an early injury (Matt Brieda and Sony Michel), a late scratch (Melvin Gordon) or just a wrong decision, the struggle was widespread. We know that it is not going to get any better, whether it is for this week or the remainder of the season. This week we do get another variable, as there are four teams on bye and fantasy owners will have to find replacements for Elliot and Gordon (among others). Let’s take a look at how our options rank for this week:

  1. Todd Gurley – LA Rams – vs. Green Bay
  2. Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints – at Minnesota
  3. Kareem Hunt – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. Denver
  4. James White – New England Patriots – at Buffalo
  5. Saquon Barkley – NY Giants – vs. Washington
  6. Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers – vs. Baltimore
  7. James Conner – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. Cleveland
  8. Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals – vs. Tampa Bay
  9. David Johnson – Arizona Cardinals – vs. San Francisco
  10. Jordan Howard – Chicago Bears – vs. NY Jets
  11. Dalvin Cook – Minnesota Vikings – vs. New Orleans
  12. Lamar Miller – Houston Texans – vs. Miami
  13. Adrian Peterson – Washington Redskins – at NY Giants
  14. Marlon Mack – Indianapolis Colts – at Oakland
  15. Kerryon Johnson – Detroit Lions – vs. Seattle
  16. Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints – at Minnesota
  17. Nick Chubb – Cleveland Browns – at Pittsburgh
  18. LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills – vs. New England
  19. Matt Brieda – San Francisco 49ers – at Arizona
  20. Aaron Jones – Green Bay Packers – at LA Rams
  21. Jalen Richard – Oakland Raiders – vs. Indianapolis
  22. Phillip Lindsay – Denver Broncos – at Kansas City
  23. T.J. Yeldon – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. Philadelphia
  24. Chris Carson – Seattle Seahawks – at Detroit
  25. Chris Thompson – Washington Redskins – at NY Giants
  26. Kenyon Drake – Miami Dolphins – at Houston
  27. Corey Clement – Philadelphia Eagles – at Jacksonville
  28. Alex Collins – Baltimore Ravens – at Carolina
  29. Tarik Cohen – Chicago Bears – vs. NY Jets
  30. Bilal Powell – NY Jets – at Chicago
  31. Javorius Allen – Baltimore Ravens – at Carolina
  32. Wendell Smallwood – Philadelphia Eagles – at Jacksonville
  33. Royce Freeman – Denver Broncos – at Kansas City
  34. Latavius Murray – Minnesota Vikings – vs. New Orleans
  35. Isaiah Crowell – NY Jets – at Chicago
  36. Carlos Hyde – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. Philadelphia
  37. Doug Martin – Oakland Raiders – vs. Indianapolis
  38. Duke Johnson – Cleveland Browns – at Pittsburgh
  39. Mike Davis – Jacksonville Jaguars – at Detroit
  40. Theo Riddick – Detroit Lions – vs. Seattle

Notes:

  • We had an inkling of this heading into the bye week, but the Raiders made it official on Monday. Marshawn Lynch was placed on IR with a “groin injury” and he can be safely removed from rosters in all seasonal fantasy formats. Now, to be clear, I’m not questioning Lynch’s word, health or pain threshold, but it is clear that he doesn’t fit into Oakland’s future plans and placing him on IR is the best solution for all parties. As far as early down work goes, Doug Martin should see the bulk of those carries.  While he does hold fantasy value, I would temper my expectations. So far he is averaging 3.7 yards on his 27 carries while catching four passes for five yards. While the sample size is small, he has yet to show explosiveness and I’m not sure we can expect to see it. The fact that Martin isn’t jumping into the lineup for an offensive that is rolling also doesn’t help. The one running back on Oakland I am targeting is Jalen Richards. He will serve as more of a third down back, and I would expect to see the Raiders continue to target him on dump offs. He already has 31 receptions for 253 yards and he will continue to hold PPR value. In his last two games Richards has 13 receptions for 101 yards, but he has yet to show any big play potential.
  • Just as we were beginning to form our final opinions on things for Week 7, we had a nice big variable thrown in the mix as Carlos Hyde was traded to Jacksonville. That gave us clarity surrounding Cleveland’s backfield, and the main beneficiary was Nick Chubb. While Duke Johnson was technically thought to be the starter, Chubb is who garnered the most attention. Johnson touched the ball five times, compared to 18 for Chubb, as the rookie saved the day from a fantasy perspective with a late touchdown. It was his third touchdown of the season as he gained 80 yards on 18 carries to bring his average yards per carry up to 7.4 on 34 carries. Chubb has shown big play potential, and if anything his workload should only continue to increase. With just 18 receptions for 187 yards so far this season, he caught four passes for 23 yards on Sunday, Johnson has yet to truly find his footing. Despite the trade of Hyde, I would resist the urge to truly bump Johnson up that much.
  • Despite finding the end zone five times Hyde is only averaging 3.4 yards per carry while not showing much game breaking ability. Following the trade late in the week he was inactive, with T.J. Yeldon retaining control of the backfield. Going forward I would expect the veteran to have more of a supporting role behind Yeldon, who has had success so far this season. While I would potentially wait a week before dropping Hyde to confirm the distribution of work in Jacksonville’s backfield (mainly carrying the ball on early downs), his fantasy value is on the decline (which it would have been regardless had he stayed in Cleveland.) Yeldon has had some success running the ball, 4.1 yards per carry on 79 carries, but his true value is as a pass catching threat.  He is already up to 30 receptions for 263 yards and four touchdowns, and even if Hyde does draw away some carries Yeldon is still the back to own in Jacksonville’s backfield. Well, at least for the next few weeks until Leonard Fournette returns.
  • Sony Michel doesn’t have any structural damage to his knee, and currently his status for next week is unclear, but knowing the Patriots,I wouldn’t count on him. I also wouldn’t count on much of an update until later on in the week, so with that being said I excluded Michel from the ranks. With 10 carries for 36 yards, Kenjon Barner replaced Michel and failed to do much of anything on the ground. The more reasonable expectation for New England is to lean on the passing game, and more specifically James White. White carried the ball 11 times for 40 yards, but more importantly he caught eight passes for 57 yards and 2 TD. That gives him 45 receptions for 380 yards and 6 TD as the veteran is emerging as a true threat. We shouldn’t overlook that he is also averaging 4.7 yards per carry.
  • Maybe now the Lions will lean on Kerryon Johnson after he gained 158 yards on 19 carries this past week. Granted, the Dolphins’ run defense doesn’t offer up much in the way of resistance, but it’s hard to ignore that production (he also caught two passes for 21 yards). A large part of that success was a 71 yard run, but after last week Johnson is averaging 6.4 yards/carry (69 carries for 444 yards). Part of the problem is that he has just 1 TD despite eclipsing 100 yards twice. That is where LeGarrette Blount comes into play, as he gained 50 yards on 10 carries while also scoring his third touchdown of the season. With 2.9 yards per carry Blount isn’t performing consistently enough to take advantage of his 57 carries. Johnson is clearly the player to own, and the hope is that last week’s success serves as a springboard.
  • Kenyan Drake did gain 72 yards on the ground last week, but he did it via just six carries. At this point, with Drake averaging 4.9 yards per carry, I’m not sure what else he has to do in order to build on his 59 carries through seven weeks. With just 25 receptions for 160 yards, Drake isn’t doing much in the passing game and Frank Gore isn’t going anywhere. Last week the veteran didn’t do much of anything with his 10 carries (29 yards), but he is averaging 4.3 yards on his 72 carries while failing to reach the end zone. This is not a good situation, as Gore does just enough to remain relevant and Drake doesn’t touch the ball enough to reach his true value.

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Make sure to check out all of our Week 8 rankings:

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defenses
Week 8 Rankings (2018): Top 20 Tight Ends
Week 8 Rankings (2018): Top 25 Quarterbacks

41 comments

  1. Inglorious Bastards says:

    Hello Professor ,

    Full point PPR. Please advice who to start out of these players: Randall Cobb, Tre’Quan Smith or Christian Kirk. Thank you

  2. Inglorious Bastards says:

    And who do you like better the rest of the season. Tre’Quan Smith or Christian Kitk?

  3. Kermit says:

    Hey Prof – I picked up Latavius Murray for week 7 and he paid off in a big way. Kenyan Drake is available in my league (10 team PPR), but I have a Bye week conflict coming up in week 10 with Phillip Lindsay – should I drop Murray and pick up Drake? It looks like Dalvin Cook is questionable for week 8, but if he plays, it will probably cut into Murray’s touches. It shouldn’t, but more than likely would. We are an RB/WR/TE flex league, but I don’t want to downgrade my WR or TE pool and pick up a 4th RB. WR’s – D. Hopkins, JuJu SS, J. Landry, Davante Adams and Tyrell Williams. TE’s – Ertz and Trey Burton. I’m inclined to pick up Drake – your thoughts? Thank you.

  4. Fantasy Underdog says:

    I have both Kenyan Drake and TJ Yeldon ( Fournette taking space on my bench). which is the better play?

  5. David says:

    Prof,

    Whats four opinion on the following trade?

    Plamer, Gore, Gronk, Cobb, Reed and Lutz

    For

    Luck, McCoy, Carson, Demaryius Thomas, Boyd and Elliott

  6. Jaden says:

    Hi Prof,

    My roster in a standard league,

    Cousins
    Mixon
    Ingram
    Hopkins
    Hilton
    Sanders
    OJ howard

    Bench
    Watson
    Gio
    Doug Martin
    Baldwin
    Ridley
    Jordan Reed

    I got offered a trade, Kamara and Kelce for Mixon, Hopkins and OJ Howard. Would you make this deal or hold?

    Thanks.

  7. Joe says:

    What’s your take on playing someone going against your defense? Rams, Cobb or DThomas

  8. OtisP says:

    10 team, 2 QB dynasty league, full point PPR – I have been offered Baker Mayfield and Amari Cooper for Dak Prescott and Derrius Guice. I think I am saying no to this but considering a counter-offer that replaces Prescott with Derek Carr. Thoughts?

  9. Gail Uhl Jolly says:

    Who do you like better this week? Javorius Allen or Isiah Crowell. I’m not feeling the love for either but that’s all I got with the byes and only other is Chris Thompson (why still have him not sure?)

  10. Ryan says:

    Do I trade Gurley and receive Ezekiel Elliot and Tyreek Hill?

    I have Kamara in my flex, Latavius Murray in my RB2, and Derrick Henry on my bench (on BYE).

    I have Keenan Allen on BYE week.

    If I make the trade my line-up would be..

    Goff
    Zeke
    Kamara
    Hill
    Allen
    Flex: (Kirk, Henry, Agholor, & Murray)
    Jets DEF
    Fairbairn

    But, only thing from accepting this offer is my love for Gurley. And, we are able to keep 3 guys. I was going to keep Gurley and Kamara (3rd guy potentially Kirk or Henry). If I accept the trade, I’ll keep Elliot, Kamara, and Hill. What do you think?

    I play in a 14-team Half PPR ESPN league.

    • I’d have a hard time trading Gurley, but that’s one that would move me towards accepting. Elliot shouldn’t be very far behind Gurley and Hill gives you a significant boost at WR

      • Ryan says:

        Okay,

        hmm that helps some but this is a hard one though. Because we can keep 3 guys… Keeping Gurley and Kamara for next year would be huge. I forgot to mention I have Jay Ajayi in my IR, he’s another keeper candidate.

        I’m 4-3 set to make the playoffs. This move is a huge move. Say, I accept it.

        Should I accept another trade offer I received:

        I trade, Latavius Murray and Jared Goff and I receive Clement and Joe Flacco

        I have Baker Mayfield. Adding Flacco (and can add Lamar Jackson off of waivers). The Browns and Ravens have extraordinarily good schedules remaining for QBs, while the the Rams is average for a QB.

  11. NK says:

    Would you flex Ingram or Chubb this week? You have them ranked right beside each other, but I also have Kamara in my line up. I’m not a big fan of starting two from the same team.. but feel like I may have to.

  12. Terri says:

    Hello Prof.

    Need advice on RB2- Standard scoring. IF Mack is OUT- who would you -play from this group- Yeldon, Murray or Breida.

    Right now I’m leaning toward Murray only because I don’t trust Yeldon (on his usage with Hyde there and its an early game too will probably not know Macks status that early) and Breida (bc his injury has hindered him- even with the great matchup vs the Cardinals)

    Your thoughts?

  13. Touchette says:

    If Mack is out as out RB2, do I replace him with Ingram or go with more of a sleeper pick like Jalen Richard or Raheem Mostert (assuming Breida is out).

  14. Touchette says:

    I also have Jordan Howard on my bench, but I just don’t trust him with the way Nagy has been using him.

  15. chris says:

    Jordan Howard or Peterson?? Jordan howard usage is going down but Peterson is a risky play.

  16. Cara Stewart says:

    Hi, for my flex I’m between Golladay/Gordon or Ingram?
    Any advice? Thanks!!

    • Most would say Ingram, but I’m not as high on him (especially after his struggles last week). Golladay is “safe”, though Gordon has the higher upside and keeps seeing his role expand. I’d lean towards Gordon

  17. Brian Cagle says:

    Flex Need 1 Standard
    McCoy Buf, Duke Cle, Wadkins KC, or Thompson Was?

    1 pt. PPR
    Need 1 Funchess Car, Crabtree Bal, or McCoy?

    Standard Need 1 ( I have Beida but do you roll with him or)
    Mosert SF, Baldwin Sea, T.J. Yeldon Jac?

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