Week 16 Rankings (2018): Top 40 Running Backs

by Ray Kuhn

Here we are… It’s championship weekend and everything you have worked for comes down to one more week. One more lineup to lock down.  One more set of decisions to make. You have come too far to overthink things, but there is plenty of information to comb through before hitting submit for the last time. Let’s jump into how our options rank for this week:

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

Notes:

  • Dalvin Cook is currently working on four straight weeks of double digit fantasy point production, and it’s coming at the right time. At this point I think it is safe to presume that the second year back is fully recovered from last season’s ACL injury and he is poised to finish the season on a high note. It hasn’t worked in Cook’s favor that the Vikings’ offense has had its share of struggles, but following their change at offensive coordinator it appears that they are going to be more focused on the running game. Last week it certainly proved to be successful as Cook carried the ball 19 times for 136 yards and two touchdowns while also adding a catch for another 27 yards. In fact Latavius Murray even got involved with 15 carries, but Cook is the running back to own. Two weeks ago he was more of a contributor in the passing game as he caught five passes for 28 yards. While that type of production might not come every week, it is good to see that part of his game utilized. What really sways things is the explosiveness Cook is showing running the ball over the past few weeks, with last week being the “break-out game” as everything appeared to come together for him.
  • Despite all of the struggles we are seeing from the Cardinals this season, we can’t fully hold it against David Johnson. While he hasn’t lived up to his pre-season billing, Johnson is still a Top 12 running back and things could be a lot worse. At this point in the season, despite the fact that he is facing a difficult defense in the Rams, he still has to be in your starting lineup. Johnson has proven that he is versatile enough to at least bring back some level of fantasy production even in less than ideal situations. Last week against the Falcons I thought things would have lined up well, but instead Arizona did not have a good afternoon and that might be putting it mildly. While Johnson got just 11 carries for 33 yards he did reach the end zone while also catching three passes for 68 yards. All in all that is a solid performance. In general his success as a pass catcher this season (46 receptions for 408 yards and two touchdowns) has helped to maintain his value, and I would expect to see it continue this week.
  • We waited all season for Aaron Jones to take on a larger role, so of course as he does he gets injured. That meant that Jamaal Williams had his best game since Week 2, and he is slated for a strong follow-up outing. Williams gained 55 yards on 12 carries while scoring a touchdown and also added 42 yards on four receptions, and regardless of what happens he will be a large part of Green Bay’s offensive game plan. At this point it is up in the air as to whether or not Aaron Rodgers will play this week, so if that is the case the Packers will lean even more on the run game. The fact that Williams gets to face the Jets who allow 4.5 yards per carry to opposing running backs also works in his favor.
  • With touchdowns in three straight games Doug Martin teased fantasy owners. Last week he came back down to earth with just nine carries for 39 yards and fantasy owners were left reeling. The fact that he isn’t much a factor in the receiving game does limit his value, but he is still the lead running back for an NFL team and that has to count for something. With an average of 4.0 yards per carry with 130 carries, Martin is somewhat of a boom or bust option who is dependent on a touchdown but at least you know he is going to get the ball.
  • Jordan Howard hasn’t given fantasy owners what they were looking for this season, but the bad thing is that he has been just good enough to keep him in the lineup most weeks. Just outside of RB2 status, Howard does have a regular workload and he is also in the midst of a three game stretch of success. He has 233 yards on 54 carries, and last week he found the end zone for his sixth rushing touchdown of the season. With just 17 receptions for 123 yards we can’t factor in Howard for much of anything in the receiving game, and despite his workload (216 carries) he most likely will finish short of 1,000 yards on the season as he is averaging just 3.6 yards per carry. This week Howard faces the 49ers’ in a favorable match-up, but with just one multi-touchdown game and one game over 100 yards (101), it’s hard to expect much upside.
  • The Bengals offense leaves a lot to be desired these days, but the one thing that can’t be questioned is Joe Mixon. For obvious reasons Cincinnati is leaning on their second year running back, and in a positive match-up against the Browns Mixon is set up for another big week. In each of the last two weeks,= he has had his biggest workloads of the season, 26 and 27 carries, and both resulted in Mixon breaking the century mark; 111 and 129 yards respectively. His three touchdowns in those two weeks gave him eight on the season, and with 995 yards he will likely eclipse the 1,000 yard mark on his first drive of the game next week. We also can’t forget the fact that Mixon is a factor in the receiving game with 40 receptions for 284 yards.

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Week 16 Rankings (2018): Top 20 Tight Ends
Week 16 Rankings (2018): Top 25 Quarterbacks

One comment

  1. Touchette says:

    I have 2 questions:

    1) Jaylen Samuels or Damien Williams? (Full PPR)

    2) What do I do with Gurley? Even if he starts, am I better off maybe starting someone else (considering he’s banged up and the Rams could get out to a huge lead and pull him)? I have Damien Williams, Corey Davis, & John Kelly on my bench, and access to Eli Rogers (assuming JuJu is out), DaeSean Hamilton, & Tim Patrick all on waivers. My worry about just slotting in Kelly is that reports say that CJ will be the starter if Gurley is out.

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