Week 11 Rankings (2017): Top 40 Running Backs


by Ray Kuhn
The waiver wire has been quiet for the last few weeks, but this week might be a little different. There are few options potentially available, and while they might not be the most exciting they offer some hope. How do those “fliers” fit into the rankings?  Who should we be trusting overall?  Let’s take a look at what we can expect and how our options rank:

  1. Kareem Hunt – Kansas City Chiefs – at New York Giants
  2. Le’Veon Bell – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. Tennessee
  3. Todd Gurley – Los Angeles Rams – at Minnesota
  4. LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills – at LA Chargers
  5. Leonard Fournette – Jacksonville Jaguars – at Cleveland
  6. Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints – vs. Washington
  7. Melvin Gordon – Los Angeles Chargers – vs. Buffalo
  8. Jordan Howard – Chicago Bears – vs. Detroit
  9. Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints – vs. Washington
  10. Jay Ajayi – Philadelphia Eagles – at Dallas
  11. Tevin Coleman – Atlanta Falcons – at Seattle
  12. Chris Thompson – Washington Redskins – at New Orleans
  13. Isaiah Crowell – Cleveland Browns – vs. Jacksonville
  14. DeMarco Murray – Tennessee Titans – at Pittsburgh
  15. Kenyan Drake – Miami Dolphins – vs. Tampa Bay
  16. Lamar Miller – Houston Texans – vs. Arizona
  17. Jerick McKinnon – Minnesota Vikings – vs. LA Rams
  18. Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals – at Denver
  19. Orleans Darkwa – New York Giants – vs. Kansas City
  20. Doug Martin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at Miami
  21. Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings – at Houston
  22. Duke Johnson – Cleveland Browns – vs. Jacksonville
  23. Jamaal Williams – Green Bay Packers – vs. Baltimore
  24. Rex Burkhead – New England Patriots – at Oakland
  25. Marshawn Lynch – Oakland Raiders – vs. New England
  26. Ameer Abdullah – Detroit Lions – at Chicago
  27. Alfred Morris – Dallas Cowboys – vs. Philadelphia
  28. Latavius Murray – Minnesota Vikings – vs. LA Rams
  29. C.J. Anderson – Denver Broncos – vs. Cincinnati
  30. Theo Riddick – Detroit Lions – at Chicago
  31. Javorius Allen – Baltimore Ravens – at Green Bay
  32. Dion Lewis – New England Patriots – at Oakland
  33. Samaje Perine – Washington Redskins – at New Orleans
  34. J.D McKissic – Seattle Seahawks – vs. Atlanta
  35. Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans – at Pittsburgh
  36. Austin Ekeler – Los Angeles Chargers – vs. Buffalo
  37. Damien Williams – Miami Dolphins – vs. Tampa BAy
  38. Thomas Rawls –  Seattle Seahawks – vs. Atlanta
  39. Alex Collins – Baltimore Ravens – at Green Bay
  40. James White – New England Patriots – at Oakland


  • We now have official word that Rob Kelley has been placed on injured reserve and is out for the season. What does that mean for fantasy owners? Their first inclination should be to feel relief. as Kelley has been banged up all season and when he has been on the field the results haven’t exactly been there. Now Kelley can be safely released. On 62 carries he is averaging just 3.1 yards per carry while not being a factor in the passing game. The passing game is the domain of Chris Thompson ,who has two 100-plus yard efforts as part of his 38 receptions for 494 yards and three touchdowns. The Redskins try to limit Thompson’s workload on the ground to keep him fresh, but based on the results (4.6 yards per carry on 60 carries) it is going to be hard to continue to do so. Entering the season there were some expectations around Samaje Perine, but with just 3.2. yards per carry on 66 carries he has failed to distinguish himself. When Kelley was previously injured Perine didn’t exactly grab hold of the job, and it’s hard to expect a different result this time. However he is worth a glance on the waiver wire just in case. I also would be careful not to give Thompson much more of a boost, but it’s hard to argue with the success he has had so far and now we know that isn’t going away.
  • Another backfield that has been a mess got a little clearer with Seattle placing C.J. Prosise on injured reserve. With only 32 backfields you can’t ignore any situation, but the Seahawks’ is one that shouldn’t take too much of your attention. When healthy Eddie Lacy hasn’t done anything (128 yards on 48 carries) and I wouldn’t pay much attention to him either this week or the rest of the season. The problem is that Thomas Rawls hasn’t exactly been any better, or worse for that matter, with 125 yards on 49 carries. So, instead of chasing something that will likely never develop, we should just look to Prosise’s replacement in J.D McKissic. In spotty playing time McKissic is averaging 4.4 yards per carry on 21 carries with a touchdown, but his true value comes as a receiver. Again the sample size is small, but McKissic has 13 receptions for 126 yards and a touchdown. The fact that he has some foot speed and can catch the ball sets him apart from his competition, and if you must target one Seattle back he should be it.
  • This is what Tevin Coleman owners have been waiting for. Obviously, and this cannot be stressed enough, we don’t want to see any player get injured, but due to Devonta Freeman’s concussion Coleman is now the starter. Atlanta’s offense is not what it was last season, and Coleman’s workload (Freeman’s too) has left fantasy owners disappointed but the production has been there when they have been given a chance. After Freeman’s concussion last week Coleman did carry the ball 20 times and he gained a solid 83 yards while scoring a touchdown. Overal, Coleman is averaging 4.8 yards per carry on 83 carries while also catching 17 passes for 203 yards. We do have to worry about Terron Ward getting some work in replacing Freeman, but it is clear we will see Coleman’s touches increase. Against a team in Seattle that has allowed the fifth lowest point totals to opposing running backs there likely will be better match-ups, but Coleman is easily starting worthy.
  • We take production any place we can get it, and after last week we should be looking in Los Angeles. Or are we just overreacting? With Melvin Gordon not going anywhere for the Chargers and the fact that 15 of Aaron Ekeler’s 44 touches this season cameon Sunday, I think we might be. This doesn’t mean Ekeler isn’t going to be on my waiver wire radar, but he’s also not someone I’m going to rush out to grab. As just about every running back has done, Gordon struggled on the ground against Jacksonville as he gained 27 yards on 16 carries. Ekeler managed to pick up 42 yards on 10 carries, and the Chargers were leaning on him to control the clock at the end of the game. Once he fumbled that task went back to Gordon. Where Ekeler truly made his presence felt was through the air, as he caught five passes for 77 yards and two touchdowns. He certainly looked explosive in that role, but the Chargers do lean on Gordon in the passing game. He was targeted eight times, which led the team, and he has 35 receptions for 250 yards this season. Ekeler might have increased his role, but Gordon’s hold on the starting job isn’t going anywhere.
  • With Aaron Jones sidelined for a few weeks with a knee injury and Ty Mongtomery’s rib injury aggravated once again, Jamaal Williams is the next man up for Green Bay. Brett Hundley looked a little better under center this past week for the Packers, so their offense isn’t a complete bust. Whether it was Jones (two games of more than 100 yards) or Montgomery in the backfield the Packers’ running game has had success, and I would expect that to continue with Williams for Week 11. After both running backs were injured the rookie carried the ball 20 times for 67 yards while also catching one pass for seven yards. The only other healthy running back on Green Bay’s roster is Devante Mays, so Williams should see a substantial workload. It comes against Baltimore, whose run defense has been roughly league average, so Williams should have a solid afternoon.
  • The Eagles traded for Jay Ajayi to use him, and after their bye week that is what I would expect to see happen. Yes it is a crowded backfield, Corey Clement and LeGarrette Blount will have a role, but Ajayi is going to be the running back to own. This week Philadelphia faces the Cowboys, who are without Sean Lee, so Ajayi and company should find some room to run. Even after being acquired mid-week he gained 77 yards and scored a touchdown on eight carries two weeks ago, and being out of Miami should suit him well.

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Make sure to check out all of our Week 11 rankings:

RankPlayerTeamQuick Thoughts
1)Jacob deGromNew York MetsAfter back-to-back Cy Young Awards what's left for deGrom to prove? It turns out he may have been tipping his pitches in April (4.85 ERA), once he corrected the issue he didn't have an ERA above 2.92 in any month after. Even if he's not your #1, he's clearly in the top tier.
2) Max ScherzerWashington NationalsWhen healthy Scherzer continued posting elite numbers, the problem was that he was limited to 27 starts (and missed time in the playoffs). Current reports have him fully healthy for Spring Training, but it will be something that needs to be monitored.
3) Justin VerlanderHouston AstrosWe keep waiting for Verlander to start slowing down, but he is showing no signs (including racking up 300 K in '19). There is some slight concerns in his luck metrics (.218 BABIP, 88.4% strand rate), but that just makes his first half 2.98 ERA a better expectation.
4) Gerrit ColeNew York YankeesHe signed a massive contract this winter (9 years, $324 million) and there will be questions as to whether or not he can live up to it in New York. While opponents need to make contact for it to become an issue, groundball rates of 36.0% and 40.3% the past two seasons, now pitching in Yankee Stadium, raises a small red flag.
5) Walker BuehlerLos Angeles DodgersThe Dodgers took it slow with their young ace in the spring, and that may have factored into his early season struggle (5.22 ERA). In 24 starts from May 1 through the end of the year he posted a 2.88 ERA, and he showed strikeouts (10.61 K/9) and control (1.83 BB/9) all season long.
6) Chris SaleBoston Red SoxIt's fair to be concerned about Sale, after he was limited to 147.1 IP in '19 due to elbow issues and posted a 4.40 ERA when healthy. However he continued to show strikeouts (13.32 K/9), control (2.26 BB/9) and should improve upon his luck (66.7% strand rate). Reports have him healthy heading into Spring Training, so don't ignore him.
7)Shane BieberCleveland IndiansBieber put his name on the map in '19, with a 3.28 ERA and 1.05 WHIP courtesy of a 10.88 K/9 and 1.68 BB/9. He's always displayed elite control, but now he's delivering swings and misses (14.0% SwStr%) while utilizing his secondary pitches more and more (he threw his fourseam fastball 45.73%) has solidified his place among the elite.
8)Stephen StrasburgWashington NationalsCan Strasburg stay healthy? That's always been the biggest question, though Washington is betting on it after signing him to a 7 year contract. Last year he showed just how good he could be, utilizing his sinker and curveball more led to a 51.1% groundball rate (to go along with strikeouts and control).
9)Mike ClevingerCleveland IndiansClevinger's SwStr% rose to 15.2% in '19, and he's continued to throw strikes (2.39 BB/9 in the second half) and limit hard contact (33.0% Hard%). That's the makeup of a Top 10 starter, though he's often not considered so highly.
10)Patrick CorbinWashington NationalsA year after receiving a big free agent contract, Corbin lived up to the expectations with a 3.25 ERA and 1.18 WHIP over 202.0 IP. He did it while showing all three skills we look for from a pitcher, and also improving his Hard% (34.5%).
11)Luis CastilloCincinnati RedsHad it not been for a late season swoon (ERA of 5.70 and 4.40 over the last two months), there would be a lot more chatter about Castillo being a potential Top 10 option. He showed strikeouts (10.67 K/9), control (3.73 BB/9) and groundballs (55.2%), and even as he struggled late in the year an improvement in his control (2.76 BB/9 in the second half) speaks to just how high his ceiling could be.
12)Charlie MortonTampa Bay RaysAfter breaking out in Houston it was fair to wonder if Morton could replicate the success while maneuvering through the AL East. He proved more than capable, with a 3.05 ERA and 1.08 WHIP over 194.2 IP. With his skill set and believable luck metrics (.298 BABIP, 75.3% strand rate), the good times should continue.
13)Blake SnellTampa Bay RaysHe missed time due to injury (107.0 IP) and struggled when on the mound (4.29 ERA), though it was poor luck (.343 BABIP, despite a 34.8% Hard%) and not a regression in skills that caused the issues. Maybe he's not as good as he was in '18, but he should continue to be in the mix for a Top 10 spot.
14)Carlos CarrascoCleveland IndiansRegardless of the results, the fact that Carrasco returned late in the year is promising after he was limited by injuries. Over his career he owns a 9.37 K/9, 2.25 BB/9 and 48.5% groundball rate, as he's consistently been among the better starters. As long as he's healthy he should return to that status.
15)Frankie MontasOakland A'sHe was limited to 96.0 innings, but don't take that to mean that the breakout wasn't for real. He began using a split-finger fastball, which contributed to his 9.66 K/9, 2.16 BB/9 and 49.4% groundball rate. He should continue on the same path, which would allow him to maintain that success over a full season.


  1. Good morning. I own Jordy Nelson in a 12 team and a 14 team leagues. Both PPR. Is he now droppable? I have started him the last 3 weeks and it is killing me. Thanks for the time

  2. Abdullah, drake, McKinnon, burkhead? I’m leaning McKinnon and Abdullah. Abdullah has been looking better the past few weeks and get Green Bay. I like drake but still usage is iffy with Williams. He’s more boom or bust. Thoughts?

  3. Hi,
    10 team standard. I have Morris and MacFaddon. I prefer not to play Morris this week in flex. I have McCoy/McKinnon for RB. G. Tate/Marquise Lee for WR. Time to drop MacFaddon? Jeremy Maclin or Danny Woodhead or Jamison Crowder are available. I am also looking at ROS potential. Maclin has Houston next week. I have Zeke on the bench, but looks like we will serve full suspension now. Also, Buck Allen and Jamaal Williams available. Trying to get some help this week while looking ahead too. Your thoughts? Thanks.

  4. 1 point ppr. I’m thinking of playing Booker over Murray on the road against Steelers tonight. Your opinion. Thanks, love this site it’s great.

  5. Please help me out here. 12-Man full 1 pt ppr league.
    What am I missing here? Unless Howard gets into the endzone, to me he’s a volume highly dependent TD RB that catches no passes so his floor is terribly low.
    Yet in all of the expert rankings I’ve viewed, Howard is ranked ahead of McKinnon. I know match-ups are a factor too but isn’t McKinnon the safer play?

  6. Assuming Melvin Gordon and Tevin Coleman as RB 1/2 and JuJu (already played him) and Michael Thomas as WR 1/2…shall I flex Duke Johnson or Jamison Crowder?
    Do you have any thoughts about keeping/dropping Buck Allen at this point? No a lot on waivers to use now…TJ Yeldon? Or maybe Greg Olsen for a playoffs run?

  7. Q1
    1 pt. PPR Need 4
    RB Fournette (didn’t practice Friday), McCoy. Mckinnon
    WR Tate, Thielen, Shepard, D Thomas DEN
    Pick 1 WR & 1 Flex
    WR’s Thielen, Lee, Evans
    Need a Flex
    WR Lee, Ginn, Sammy Watkins
    Broncos or Texans

    • Question 1 – McCoy, McKinnon, Thielen, Shepard (as of today too many questions facing Fournette)
      Question 2 – Thielen/Evans
      Question 3 – Lee
      Question 4 – I’d lean Texans, but it’s really a coinflip

  8. Hello Professor,
    What would be the logic of starting Mixon instead of Burkhead? I see that R Stanley is probably out, so I will probably bench Collins for J Williams as he should carry quite a lot given the passing limitations from both teams, and the weather there. Woodhead could return and that makes it a bigger mess even though I’d like to believe Collins could do well, but see him ranked low in your opinion.
    Anyway, I’m off on a tangent, but I see Mixon ranked higher than Burkhead, though not much. I worry mostly that Mixon won’t get the carries, but then think when it seems least obvious, he’ll have a big game even at Denver. I fear starting any NE RB, as most would! I once had S Ridley on my team.
    Thank you very much either way as I know you get a lot of questions, so fair enough if you can’t get to my question.

      • Hi Profesor,
        Thank you very much for writing, and excellent point, which is of course is the problem with NE RBs, and reason I stayed away from them, but trying to win division, so guess desperation overruling reality. As I noted, I suffered with Ridley (fumbles), but here I am considering Burkhead; could be White who scores more points this week, though thinking that they’ll all get their share against the Raiders, but I will start Mixon, so thanks again for bringing me to my senses!

  9. Hi Professor
    amother week another dilemma
    standard scoring
    Fournette sat out friday practice – wondering who is better bet if he can’t go – Ivory or Yeldon? Leaning Ivory but………..
    also wouldyou play Booker over CJ?
    also have Gordon and Chris Thompson at RB
    thanks as always! love your work!

  10. Happy Sunday Professor! I need help in FX position this week! I just can’t make up my mind!
    Would you go Macklin, Lynch, Jones Jr, or CJ Anderson?
    It’s a non PPR league!
    Thank you as always professor!


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