Week 1 Rankings (2019): Top 40 Running Backs

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After a long off-season we are back and let’s be honest, who really knows what is going on? That is not what you want to hear, and while I’m being a little dramatic there is also some truth in that statement. It is the beginning of the season, so the research is plentiful and we have our draft board to go with. There is a reason why we drafted our teams the way we did, but at the same time there are also a lot of questions to be answered.

Now, let’s take a look at how our options rank:

  1. Saquon Barkley – NY Giants – at Dallas
  2. Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints – vs. Houston
  3. David Johnson – Arizona Cardinals – vs. Detroit
  4. Nick Chubb – Cleveland Browns – vs. Tennessee
  5. Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers – vs. LA Rams
  6. Le’Veon Bell – NY Jets – vs. Buffalo
  7. James Conner – Pittsburgh Steelers – at New England
  8. Dalvin Cook – Minnesota Vikings – vs. Atlanta
  9. Leonard Fournette – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. Kansas City
  10. Todd Gurley – LA Rams – at Carolina
  11. Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals – at Seattle
  12. Ezekiel Elliot – Dallas Cowboys – vs. New York Giants
  13. Mark Ingram – Baltimore Ravens – at Miami
  14. Kerryon Johnson – Detroit Lions – at Arizona
  15. Chris Carson – Seattle Seahawks – vs. Cincinnati
  16. Aaron Jones – Green Bay Packers – at Chicago
  17. Phillip Lindsay – Denver Broncos – at Oakland
  18. Duke Johnson – Houston Texans – at New Orleans
  19. Sony Michel – New England Patriots – vs. Pittsburgh
  20. Damien Williams – Kansas City Chiefs – at Jacksonville
  21. Devonta Freeman – Atlanta Falcons – at Minnesota
  22. James White – New England Patriots – vs. Pittsburgh
  23. Tevin Coleman – San Francisco 49ers – at Tampa Bay
  24. Marlon Mack – Indianapolis Colts – at LA Chargers
  25. Austin Ekeler – LA Chargers – vs. Indianapolis
  26. Josh Jacobs – Oakland Raiders – vs. Denver
  27. Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans – at Cleveland
  28. Derrius Guice – Washington Redskins – at Philadelphia
  29. Miles Sanders – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Washington
  30. David Montgomery – Chicago Bears – vs. Green Bay
  31. Kenyan Drake – Miami Dolphins – vs. Baltimore
  32. Devin Singletary – Buffao Bills – at NY Jets
  33. Tarik Cohen – Chicago Bears – vs. Green Bay
  34. Peyton Barber – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – vs. San Francisco
  35. Latavius Murray – New Orleans Saints – vs. Houston
  36. Tony Pollard – Dallas Cowboys – vs. NY Giants
  37. Justin Jackson – LA Chargers – vs. Indianapolis
  38. Dion Lewis – Tennessee Titans – at Cleveland
  39. Chris Thompson – Washington Redskins – at Philadelphia
  40. Rashaad Penny – Seattle Seahawks – vs. Cincinnati

Notes:

  • You had to know we were going to go here, but let’s just jump right into Tony Pollard. While Alfred Morris is around, we can’t really expect that much from him other than being a nuisance and maybe pilfer the short yardage and goal line opportunities. In reality though, it is going to be Pollard who sees the majority of the work and is the running back to own in Dallas’ backfield. The Cowboys selected Pollard in the fourth round of this year’s draft, and he has been the starter for Dallas throughout the pre-season which will be a positive for his value as he has worked on building chemistry with the Cowboys’ starting unit all summer. While Pollard might come off the field in some short yardage situations, the good thing about the rookie, is that he will have a role on all three downs. The crazy thing, is that last season, Pollard carried the ball a career high 78 times as he was more of a receiving threat in college. At the same time though, Pollard 6.8 yards per carry in college, and the fact that we know he can catch the ball works for PPR leagues as well. Granted it is the pre-season, but Pollard did look impressive as a runner, and he should be starting in the majority of formats this week.
  • As far as name recognition and draft price, Austin Ekeler is the higher ranked running back in the Chargers’ backfield. In PPR leagues he is certainly the one to own, and he also has the track record. Ekeler’s size should preclude him from really being the bell-cow running back, but in today’s NFL there aren’t many situations where that is the case. Last season Ekeler caught 39 passes for 404 yards, and when he did carry the ball he was successful averaging 5.2 yards per carry on 106 carries. While that is appealing we can’t expect that trend to carry through if he is getting 15-20 carries a game. That brings us to Justin Jackson, who will likely be the first and second down back that also receives the goal line carries. In limited work last season Jackson carried the ball 50 times averaging 4.1 yards per carry as a rookie. While there is buzz surrounding Jackson I would likely wait a week to see how the Chargers truly intend on deploying him, but he should be owned and there are worse options to go with.
  • While LeSean McCoy being released does help clear things up in Buffalo, there is still some mud in the water. I would love to say this means we can run towards Devin Singletary, but we might be getting ahead of ourselves by a few weeks. That doesn’t mean he isn’t the back or that he isn’t the best option, but we still have to get through both TJ Yeldon and Frank Gore. Buffalo is going to take things slow with their rookie back, and Singletary also didn’t do much to distinguish himself this preseason. From a roster management perspective you have to keep Singletary on your bench, because there is going to be a week in which he goes off, and there goes your waiver budget, but don’t insert him into your starting lineup as a direct result of McCoy’s release.
  • One running back who is in clear position to be a bell-cow number one option is Nick Chubb. Kareem Hunt is suspended and Duke Johnson is now in Houston, so it’s Chubb’s show. These aren’t the Cleveland Browns of old either, as their offense has quite the talent and buzz heading into this season. Of course it could all blow up in their face, but it still shouldn’t impact Chubb’s value all that much. After the mid-season coaching change he had an increased role in the passing game, and there is already talk about that progressing even more so this season. When he was the starter he averaged 17.9 carries and 2.9 targets per game, and I would mark him down for 20-25 touches per game in 2019. After coming up just four yards shy of the 1,000 yard mark last season, Chubb is poised to surpass that this season, doing so while averaging 5.2 yards per carry will lead to RB1 production as he looks to build on his 10 combined touchdowns.
  • Jordan Howard has looked good so far this summer, but we all know what preseason success, talk and speculation counts for. The buzz in Philadelphia’s backfield is surrounding Miles Sanders, but it might be a situation best left for your bench to begin the season. Yes both players were drafted and will find their way into starting lineups in 2019, but game flow could also come into play here. Howard is strictly a first and second down option, and his lack of pass catching ability takes quite the hit in PPR formats. That brings us to Sanders, who is quite the PPR threat but also garnered some buzz and had some impressive runs in the preseason. We have to expect, or at least allow for, the Eagles to take things on the slow side with Sanders to begin the season, and Howard will be in a vulture situation for rushing touchdowns from him most of the year.
  • What do we expect from Todd Gurley? There is no debating the talent and the fact that Gurley is an elite RB1, but his health is a different story. As far as news/information and chatter regarding Gurley’s knee and his projected workload to begin the season, we don’t have much to go on. Everything we have heard has been glowing, and while I’m not sure I would commit to him in DFS he might be a sneaky tournament play if he does end up seeing his normal workload. With that being said you have to stay away from Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown until we get a better indication.

Make sure to check out all of our Week 1 rankings:

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defenses

11 COMMENTS

  1. 10 tm .5ppr. i need to drop 2 to fill my kicker and def spots…. who am i less likely to regret dropping. must drop 2

    Jaylen Samuels Pit – RB
    Marvin Jones Jr. Det –
    Justice Hill Bal –
    James Washington Pit – WR
    Giovani Bernard Cin – RB

    • I really have a tough time trusting both of them, so I guess I’d lean the RB. That’s not a ringing endorsement though, it’s more of a “safer” bet on two not great options.

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