August 31, 2018

NFL FANTASY PREVIEW: The Top 50 running backs

by Dan Bilicki In: Fantasy, Football

Just because you’re at the top of the draft and grabbing one of the best RBs, that doesn’t guarantee success. Since 2000, the top RB has repeated just twice and the average finish for an RB1 when accounting for injuries is RB16 the following year.

1. Todd Gurley LAR

1305 rushing yards, 788 receiving yards, 19 TDs, 323.3 points.

Made big leaps in the passing attack and on the ground, but it will be tough to repeat those 19 TDs.

2. LeVeon Bell PIT

1291 rushing yards, 655 receiving yards, 11 TDs, 256.6 points.

The definition of a workhorse: At 406 touches last season, Bell had 60 more than the next highest player and we don’t see that changing.

3. Ezekiel Elliott DAL

983 rushing yards, 269 receiving yards, 9 TDs, 179.2 points.

Injuries on the offensive line and a weakened receiving corps are concerning, but the volume will certainly be there.

4. David Johnson ARI

23 rushing yards, 67 receiving yards, 7 points.

Broke his hand in Week 1 last year costing him the season, but was the top RB in 2016 and a PPR threat.

5. Saquon Barkley NYG

2018 rookie.

The only concern we have is a hamstring injury he picked up in camp, but he is already over it.

6. Alvin Kamara NO

728 rushing yards, 826 receiving yards, 13 TDs, 235.4 points.

With Ingram suspended, he’ll have plenty of chance to light it up, but expect some regression from his unreal 6.6% TD rate.

7. Kareem Hunt KC

1327 rushing yards, 455 receiving yards, 11 TDs, 242.2 points.

Taking out his five-game mid-season lull, in which he averaged 5.7 points per game, Hunt rang up 19.4 PPG over the other 11 contests.

8. Melvin Gordon LAC

1105 rushing yards, 476 receiving yards, 12 TDs, 230.1 points.

The Chargers are looking to get him more involved in the passing game, to PPR owners’ delight.

9. Leonard Fournette JAX

1040 rushing yards, 302 receiving yards, 10 TDs, 194.2 points.

Impressed during his rookie season and looks to have an even better O-line to run behind. Biggest downside is lack of PPR potential.

10. Dalvin Cook MIN

354 rushing yards, 90 receiving yards, 2 TDs, 56.4 points.

Averaged 13.6 points per game before tearing up his knee last October. Good chance he’ll be eased back into action.

11. Devonta Freeman ATL

865 rushing yards, 317 receiving yards, 8 TDs, 166.2 points.

His numbers took a dive across the board last season, but he remains the top RB over Coleman in a good offence.

Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey is a high-end target in PPR leagues. (GETTY IMAGES)

12. Christian McCaffrey CAR

435 rushing yards, 651 receiving yards, 7 TDs, 150.6 points.

After finishing RB10 in PPR scoring last season, we should see even more from him with Stewart gone.

13. Jordan Howard CHI

1122 rushing yards, 126 receiving yards, 9 TDs, 178.7 points.

He has the starting job wrapped up, but his subpar pass-catching isn’t the best fit in new coach Matt Nagy’s offence.

14. Jerick McKinnon, SF

570 rushing yards 421 receiving yards, 5 TDs, 131.1 points.

He’s one of six RBs with 150 carries and 40 receptions over the past two seasons despite playing just 31.4 snaps per game.

15. Alex Collins BAL

973 rushing yards, 187 receiving yards, 6 TDs, 152 points.

Came out of nowhere last season to finish as RB16 despite not getting 10 touches in a game until Week 5.

16. Joe Mixon CIN

626 rushing yards, 287 receiving yards, 4 TDs, 115.3 points.

Bengals’ undisputed lead back this season, but his 3.5 YPC last season and Bernard’s passing-down presence are red flags.

17. LeSean McCoy BUF

1138 rushing yards, 448 receiving yards, 8 TDs, 206.6 points.

If he plays, he could be a steal at his current ADP, but there’s a chance he’ll be punished over accusations from ex-girlfriend.

18. Derrick Henry TEN

744 rushing yards, 136 receiving yards, 6 TDs, 124 points.

Don’t expect much in the passing game from him, but he’s expected to get the lion’s share of work for the Titans.

19. Jay Ajayi PHI

873 rushing yards, 158 receiving yards, 2 TDs, 115.1 points.

An undisclosed lower-body injury is concerning, but he’ll be the top dog in the Eagles backfield when healthy.

20. Kenyan Drake MIA

644 rushing yards, 239 receiving yards, 4 TDs, 114.3 points.

Should see some regression in his big-play numbers, was very ineffective in the red zone and looks to be part of a committee.

21. Royce Freeman DEN

2018 rookie

He has been called a “bell-cow” back by Broncos brass, but it could be a committee approach early on.

22. Lamar Miller HOU

888 rushing yards, 327 receiving yards, 6 TDs, 157.5 points.

Not the sexiest pick, but he’ll be a feature back in an offence that could make a big leap with QB Deshaun Watson back.

23. Rex Burkhead NE

264 rushing yards, 254 receiving yards, 8 TDs, 99.8 points.

While you never really know with Pats RBs, speculation is that Burkhead has been kept fresh in the pre-season and is the one to own.

24. Mark Ingram NO

1124 rushing yards, 416 receiving yards, 12 TDs, 226 points.

His carries per game were already sagging towards the end of last season and he’ll miss the first four games due to suspension.

25. Dion Lewis TEN

896 rushing yards, 214 receiving yards, 9 TDs, 165 points.

Played 16 games for the first time in his career last year and moves to Tennessee, where he could be of great value if Henry goes down.

26. Marshawn Lynch OAK

891 rushing yards, 151 receiving yards, 7 TDs, 146.2 points.

Predictably started off slow after coming out of retirement, but was a monster after contact later in the season.

27. Chris Carson SEA

208 rushing yards, 59 receiving yards, 1 TD, 32.7 points.

Has run away with the starting job in the pre-season. Broken leg ended his 2017 season early.

28. Carlos Hyde CLE

938 rushing yards, 350 receiving yards, 8 TDs, 176.8 points.

Was surprisingly involved in the passing game last year with the 49ers, but shouldn’t have those duties in Cleveland.

29. Peyton Barber TB

423 rushing yards, 114 receiving yards, 3 TDs, 71.7 points.

Could be a decent sleeper as a volume-based flex option. He clearly beat out second-rounder Jones for top job.

30. Tevin Coleman ATL

628 rushing yards, 299 receiving yards, 8 TDs, 140.7 points.

Gets a decent share of carries in Atlanta, but remains firmly behind Freeman in the pecking order.

31. Isaiah Crowell NYJ

853 rushing yards, 182 receiving yards, 2 TDs, 117.5 points.

Moves to a slightly better situation in New York and should see the majority of the carries.

32. Jamaal Williams GB

556 rushing yards, 262 receiving yards, 6 TDs, 117.8 points.

Has been hyped up by Mike McCarthy to “have a big year,” but the Packers coach is notoriously wrong about his RBs.

33. Marlon Mack IND

358 rushing yards, 225 receiving yards, 4 TDs, 82.3 points.

In no small part due to Mack’s hamstring injury, the Colts backfield looks like bloated fantasy mess.

34. Kerryon Johnson DET

2018 rookie

Has the highest ceiling of the Lions RBs, but there are too many mouths to feed, it looks like.

35. Chris Thompson WAS

294 rushing yards, 541 receiving yards, 6 TDs, 116.4 points.

Averaged the 12th-highest fantasy points per game in standard scoring and 11th-highest in PPR.

36. Sony Michel NE

2018 rookie

Missed time in pre-season with a knee injury, but should be ready for Week 1. Not sure what his role is yet, though.

37. Ronald Jones TB

2018 rookie

Don’t expect much PPR action from the Bucs rookie: He was thrown to only 17 times in college.

How much does Washington veteran Adrian Peterson have left in the tank? (GETTY IMAGES)

38. Adrian Peterson WAS

529 rushing yards, 70 receiving yards, 2 TDs, 67.9 points.

Signed just over a week ago, the future hall of famer has some decent potential if he gets some starts.

39. Duke Johnson Jr., CLE

348 rushing yards, 693 receiving yards, 7 TDs, 146.1 points.

Finished fourth in RB targets and should have some good value in PPR leagues.

40. Tarik Cohen CHI

370 rushing yards, 353 receiving yards, 3 TDs, 94.1 points.

Burst on to the scene with some huge games early on, but faded fast. He’ll have a very versatile role with Bears.

41. C.J. Anderson CAR

1007 rushing yards, 224 receiving yards, 4 TDs, 149.1 points.

We see the best-case scenario for the Ex-Bronco is as a handcuff to McCaffrey and a possible goal-line vulture.

42. Aaron Jones GB

448 rushing yards, 22 receiving yards, 4 TDs, 71 points.

He has serious big-play potential, trailing only Kamara in carries per 15-yard gain. Will miss first two games due to suspension.

43. Rashaad Penny SEA

2018 rookie

Not only did he break a finger in the pre-season, he concerningly gained 16 pounds and lost the starting job to Carson.

44. Latavius Murray MIN

824 rushing yards, 103 receiving yards, 8 TDs, 142.5 points.

Could be in for a split of the carries early on if Cook’s not at 100% in recovering from ACL tear.

45. Corey Clement PHI

321 rushing yards, 123 receiving yards, 6 TDs, 82.4 points.

Showed some good flashes last year in a backup role and has great handcuff potential behind Ajayi.

46. Ty Montgomery GB

273 rushing yards, 173 receiving yards, 4 TDs, 68.6 points.

Foot injury is “nothing serious,” according to the team and he’ll start the season as the No. 2 guy with some PPR upside.

47. Devontae Booker DEN

299 rushing yards, 275 receiving yards, 1 TD, 63.4 points.

There’s a chance that Booker might be the starter in Denver for at least Week 1.

48. Matt Breida SF

465 rushing yards, 180 receiving yards, 3 TDs, 82.5 points.

If you’re unsure that McKinnon can shoulder a feature-back load, Breida is the handcuff you want.

49. Chris Ivory BUF

382 rushing yards, 175 receiving yards, 2 TDs, 67.7 points.

If anything happens to McCoy — and this wouldn’t be shocking — Ivory will be in for a ton of carries.

50. Frank Gore MIA

961 rushing yards, 245 receiving yards, 4 TDs, 144.6 points.

Father Timeless has impressed in camp and it wouldn’t be shocking to see him split carries with Drake.

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