Week 15 Rankings (2018): Top 40 Running Backs

by Ray Kuhn

If you earned yourself a bye during the regular season or made it through the first week of the playoffs, congratulations are in order (if not, there’s still DFS!). Just keep in mind that even if you make all the right decisions, there is still the chance you can run into Derrick Henry or suffer from the first down week of the season from Todd Gurley. What’s to be expected for the coming week?  Let’s take a look at how our options rank for this week:

  1. Saquon Barkley – NY Giants – vs. Tennessee
  2. Ezekiel Elliot – Dallas Cowboys – at Indianapolis
  3. Todd Gurley – LA Rams – vs. Philadelphia
  4. Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers – vs. New Orleans
  5. Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints – at Carolina
  6. Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals – vs. Oakland
  7. Nick Chubb – Cleveland Browns – at Denver
  8. Phillip Lindsay – Denver Broncos – vs. Cleveland
  9. David Johnson – Arizona Cardinals – at Atlanta
  10. Leonard Fournette – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. Washington
  11. Dalvin Cook – Minnesota Vikings – vs. Miami
  12. Lamar Miller – Houston Texans – at NY Jets
  13. Chris Carson – Seattle Seahawks – at San Francisco
  14. Aaron Jones – Green Bay Packers – at Chicago
  15. Kerryon Johnson – Detroit Lions – at Buffalo
  16. Doug Martin – Oakland Raiders – at Cincinnati
  17. Tarik Cohen – Chicago Bears – vs. Green Bay
  18. Spencer Ware – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. LA Chargers
  19. Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints – at Carolina
  20. Sony Michel – New England Patriots – at Pittsburgh
  21. Jaylen Samuels – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. New England
  22. Tevin Coleman – Atlanta Falcons – vs. Arizona
  23. James White – New England Patriots – at Pittsburgh
  24. LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills – vs. Detroit
  25. Josh Adams – Philadelphia Eagles – at LA Rams
  26. Justin Jackson – LA Chargers – at Kansas City
  27. Gus Edwards – Baltimore Ravens – vs. Tampa Bay
  28. Jeff Wilson – San Francisco 49ers – vs. Seattle
  29. Jordan Howard – Chicago Bears – vs. Green Bay
  30. Dion Lewis – Tennessee Titans – at NY Giants
  31. Kenyan Drake – Miami Dolphins – at Minnesota
  32. Marlon Mack – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Dallas
  33. Adrian Peterson – Washington Redskins – at Jacksonville
  34. Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans – at NY Giants
  35. Peyton Barber – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at Cincinnati
  36. Nyheim Hines – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Dallas
  37. Elijah McGuire – NY Jets – vs. Houston
  38. Theo Riddick – Detroit Lions – at Buffalo
  39. Kenneth Dixon – Baltimore Ravens – vs. Tampa Bay
  40. Royce Freeman – Denver Broncos – vs. Cleveland

Notes:

  • Right off the bat let’s start with Henry. While the week he had was a difference maker, it’s really hard to describe 238 yards and four touchdowns any other way, his success wasn’t completely out of nowhere (entering the week he had 474 yards rushing and five touchdowns). It came against the Jaguars who have also proven that, while they are a solid defense, we don’t need to avoid them. Those who went against Henry might see it otherwise, but starting Henry each week is reasonable depending on your other options. At the same time he is not going to repeat last week’s performance (at any point in his career), and don’t start him expecting that. Prior to his eruption, Henry hadn’t rushed for more than 58 yards in a game this season, and his value is touchdown dependent. However the big play potential that he showed has always been there, just hiding beneath the surface.
  • Fantasy owners have been burned by Melvin Gordon once already this season, and we have to tread carefully again this week. The fact that the Chargers play on Thursday this week doesn’t work to anyone’s advantage, but after word that he wasn’t going to play, Gordon was limited in practice on Tuesday. That doesn’t mean anything, and it came just hours after there were reports about it being “unlikely” he would face the Chiefs. For that reason we are omitting Gordon from the rankings for this week, but he is a borderline RB1 if there is definitive news that he will play and have a regular workload, and looking hard at Justin Jackson. The fact that Aaron Ekeler isn’t expected to play this week, also works in the rookie’s favor. After gaining 63 yards on eight carries two weeks ago against Pittsburgh and outperforming Ekeler, things reversed themselves last week as he managed just 12 yards on seven carries. Overall Jackson is averaging 5.1 yards per carry on 27 carries, but he has value for this week based solely on the lack of other potential options.
  • While we don’t know anything for certain just yet, it looks like we will be spending another week without James Conner.  For all of the attention that Jaylen Samuels garnered entering last week, he failed to impress on the ground. The rookie had his chances, 11 carries, but he gained just 28 yards and Stevan Ridley picked up the one rushing touchdown. However, that doesn’t mean that Ridley should be counted on as a viable fantasy option as he gained just four yards on five carries. What does work for Samuels is his success in the passing game, as he caught seven passes for 64 yards. That should continue this week against the Patriots.
  • Last week is what we were finally looking for out of Elijah McGuire. Granted Isaiah Crowell was dealing with an ankle injury, but with the Jets clearly looking towards next season the second year running back should continue to see a large workload over the next three weeks. McGuire gained 60 yards on 17 carries while scoring his first touchdown of the season on a fourth and three to put New York ahead for good. With three receptions for 23 yards McGuire also has shown some ability in the passing game, and while there is risk involved he is a player to watch over the remainder of the season. The problem is that there is a chance he takes a step backwards this week against the Texans and their tough defense.
  • Speaking of the Texans, this past week’s victim was Marlon Mack. He managed just 33 yards on 14 carries, but the day was saved with a four yard touchdown run. It was the fifth touchdown of the season for Mack, who despite two straight rough weeks,is still averaging 4.7 yards per carry. We can chalk this week’s struggles up to the opponent, but before we expect a quick turnaround things might not get much better as he has to face another tough defense in the Cowboys. It also doesn’t work in his favor as with just 12 catches for 90 yards, Mack is not a factor in the passing game.
  • One running back who we can expect to see a clear bounce back from is Todd Gurley. His 28 rushing yards, on 11 carries, were a season low as both Gurley and the Rams’ offense just never got going. With an average of 4.9 yards per carry and 15 rushing touchdowns, he has been one of the top options at the position all season. He did catch his customary three passes last week despite the Rams’ struggles. There is no reason not to expect a bounce back effort back at home this week against the Eagles.

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Make sure to check out all of our Week 15 rankings:

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defenses
Week 15 Rankings (2018): Top 50 Wide Receivers
Week 15 Rankings (2018): Top 20 Tight Ends

23 comments

  1. GizmoMate says:

    Dear Professor, what do you expect from S Michel during the rest of the fantasy season?
    Thanks a lot,
    Happy Chrismas,
    Gizmo

  2. Tim says:

    Hello, Need 1 RB from guys below.
    AND 1 flex (I have one WR in that mix rest are RB’s.)
    Standard scoring.

    RBs-

    Ware vs LAC But he is very doubtful. Williams is on WW and can get him.

    J.Jackson @ KC but if Gordon is active high risk and maybe high risk anyways. Rivers might pass a lot tomorrow

    Mack vs Dallas

    Michel @ Pitt

    R.Penny @SF

    McCoy vs Detroit but he is injured and did not practice today (Wednesday) Hammy issue.

    WR- J.Edelman @ Pitt

    Thank you!!!

  3. Brian says:

    Standard TE: Kittle vs Sea or Brate vs Bal?

    Standard: I have Melvin Gordon (not sure if he plays)but if he doesn’t I need 3 RB to go with WR Thielen!

    Fournette Jac, Michel NE, Samuels Pit, and Justin Jackson Lac?

    If Gordon plays Thursday Night which two should I go with from above list.

  4. Bri says:

    Who do you like as the flex play in half PPR: Kittle, Ingram, Lockett, G. Edwards?

  5. Touchette says:

    League 1:
    Choose one Flex (PPR) – Tyler Boyd, Damien Williams (assuming Ware is out), or Jeff Wilson (assuming Breida is out)?

    League 2:
    Choose one RB (PPR) – Michel, Ingram, D. Williams (assuming Ware is out), Wilson (assuming Breida is out)?

  6. Krysta says:

    Assuming RB 1 is Nick Chubb, Adrian Peterson or Josh Adams as RB2? Also Elijah MacGuire and Kenneth Dixon are free agent.

  7. Sheldon says:

    Hi, Prof. 0.5 PPR league. Need 1 RB: Josh Adams, Theo Riddick, or Jordan Howard. Thanks.

  8. JJR says:

    Thanks for your insight!
    Need help with Flex RB: James White, Henry or McGuire?

  9. Cara Stewart says:

    Hi, stil struggling with a bunch of RB’s all in the middle rankings.
    Choose 3 please!
    Ingram @ Carolina
    Edwards vs Tampa
    Martin@ Cincy
    Jones@ Chicago
    White @ Pittsburgh
    Wilson vs Seattle
    Some tough matchups!!
    Standard league. Thank you!!!!

  10. Billy Toufexis says:

    I’m in the championship game in a 1 point PPR league and I’m not sure which RB to start in my flex spot. It’s either Damien Williams with KC needing to win this game to stay ahead of the Chargers, or Jamaal Williams that should be a bell cow for Greenbay this game even though this game is meaningless for Greenbay since their out of the playoff race?
    Damien Williams or Jamaal Williams?

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