WELCOME BACK FANTASY FOOTBALL!
Fantasy Football is back for the 2016 season and I am ready to put in my two cents on the upcoming season. As this pertains to fantasy football, I will start with the most important position… Running Back!
First, you will see the list of top 20 RBs as ranked by ESPN (dated Aug-19 2016). Now this will only give a fantasy league with 10 teams 2 RBs each and we all know every team needs 3-4 RBs on their roster at all times. It is important to pick players that do not have a bye week at the same time but sometimes that is unavoidable. Along with the default rankings, I will also provide you my opinion on their rank position as well as any sleepers you should possibly consider drafting in mid to late rounds that would be value picks.
Top 20 Ranked Running Backs (Source: ESPN.com). Provided is Name, Team Name and Bye week:
1. Adrian Peterson MIN 6 – Likely will be #1 on most boards
2. Todd Gurley LA 8 – Gurley is a beast and if he avoids injury, he will have a big year. Remember that he has a rookie QB (Goff) so Gurley will have a lot of touches both on the ground and quick dump offs on the flat for receptions. This is huge for PPR (Points Per Run/Reception) leagues. In case Gurley gets injured, consider picking up backup B. Cunningham.
3. Ezekiel Elliott DAL 7 – Elliott is positioned to be the starter for Dallas as long as he is healthy. Dallas has the best offensive line in the Pros and his numbers will benefit from that. One thing to note that Dallas also has Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden so Elliott likely will not get 20+ carries a game.
4. David Johnson ARI 9 – Surprising to me that David Johnson is ranked so high and in fact higher than teammate Chris Johnson who was the starter last year. D. Johnson did get most of the carries in the red zone so he had a lot of TDs. Also be aware that they have Ellington and Stephan Taylor. They carried 4 RBs last year and they may do the same this year. Understand that they are treated as a 3-headed monster so it is hard to get a read on who will get the most touches and when.
5. Devonta Freeman ATL 11 – Came out of nowhere in 2015 and made fantasy owners that picked Freeman up from free agency look like geniuses.
6. Le’Veon Bell PIT 8 – Well this is a risky one. On one hand, Bell is an incredible RB on a great team and when healthy, he is a top ranked RB. He is currently ranked at 6 but should be ranked second or third. The downside is his health. The last few years he has been injured a lot which has lowered his stock. If you take Bell, pick up DeAngelo Williams who had his best year since he was in his prime in Carolina years ago.
7. Lamar Miller HOU 9 – Miller is a safe pick but will not give you huge numbers. Miami does not have a great offense and his numbers tend to suffer. Also, be aware that they picked up Arian Foster who, when healthy, is one of the best RBs in the league… just cannot stay healthy.
8. Doug Martin TB 6 – Last year he made a comeback but I do not feel he is worth a first round pick. I see RBs lower in the rankings that are worth picking ahead of Martin. I would say Martin is a good 3rd round pick.
9. Mark Ingram NO 5 – Ingram is the primary RB for the Saints but with Drew Brees, they have always been more of a throwing team as many others trend this way as well. Ingram is small and is prone to injury and is similar to Martin where there are lower ranked RBs worth taking before Ingram.
10. Eddie Lacy GB 4 – Lacy is NOT a #10 RB this year, he should be ranked in the top 3. Lacy has lost weight in the off season and so far has run very well in the preseason. Add the fact that they will have their best WR (Jordy Nelson) back from achilles injury and it spells a big year for Lacy!
11. Jamaal Charles KC 5 – Charles is another RB that is ranked lower than usual because he was hurt last year. It was his second ACL injury but if returns healthy, he will put up big numbers. He has been a big touch guy in the past but I think that KC will limit him as he returns from his ACL injury. If you get Charles, be sure to get back up RB Knile Davis or Spencer Ware as they would be splitting time.
12. LeSean McCoy BUF 10 – Getting older and regularly battles injuries. Has not been a true #1 fantasy RB since he left Eagles. Also, young Karlos Williams is a great backup that may take touches away from McCoy as we get later in the season.
13. Thomas Rawls SEA 5 – With Marshawn Lynch gone, Rawls is the clear starter. He got hurt last year but before he did, he was putting up some impressive numbers… better than Lynch in fact! I would consider him a top 10 RB.
14. Jonathan Stewart CAR 7 – When healthy, Stewart is one the best RBs in the league. His touches typically not very high because Cam Newton likes to throw the ball and will take TDs away from Stewart when they are inside the 5 yard line with his desire and ability to dive into the end zone.
15. Carlos Hyde SF 8 – This is an intriguing pick but risky. Niners will have an improved O-Line with rookie Garrett and return of Anthony Davis BUT… who will be the QB? Who will the QB throw to? Test time… name projected WR starters… I will give you one Torrey Smith, can you name the other? LMFAO…😦 That aside and even if the defenses stack the box, I can see Hyde running for 1500 yards and 10 TDs this year.
16. C.J. Anderson DEN 11 – Anderson is a safe pickup but they do not have a QB anymore so he will not have as much room to run. Plus, Denver does not use a true #1 RB, they share the duties between Anderson and Hilman but Anderson gets more touches.
17. Matt Forte NYJ 11 – Forte has been a solid pick over the last few years while with the Bears but is ranked as a RB2 not RB1. He is now with the Jets so I would not pick Forte earlier than round 3.
18. Jeremy Hill CIN 9 – Hill is an impressive RB that is only low on the ranking list because he loses touches to Bernard, a change of pace type of back that limits Hill’s touches.
19. Latavius Murray OAK 10 – Raiders are better but Murray is inconsistent. He will have a few 100+ yard games but he will have too many games where he does not even get 50 yards. Also, he needs to hold onto the ball. He fumbled way too much last year.
20. Dion Lewis NE 9 – Who? Come on, really… Patriots do not run, Brady throws ~50 times a game. No RB running for Pats is considered anything more than a FLEX player or a backup RB3
Running Backs not in top 20
I also want to point out a few Running backs that you should be aware of that are flying under the radar and have the potential to make a difference this year.
- Ryan Mathews PHI – He is the starting RB and other Darrent Sproles, I do not see a RB that will take away many touches.
- DeMarco Murray TEN – Looks good in preseason so far but that can be smoke and mirrors. Good RB2 pick, not RB1 only because Tennessee has Sankey as well as rookie Derrick Henry from Alabama who could edge all RBs and take over the starter role.
- Derrick Henry TEN – As mentioned above, great looking rookie RB with no ceiling for potential. He looks to be a great RB2/FLEX player that will likely be available as late as the 6th round.
- Jeremy Langford CHI – Langford took over the starting job when Forte was hurt last year and never relinquished it. He is a strong runner and should be considered a strong RB2
- Arian Foster MIA – If healthy, will run extremely well and you will see him out there more often than Miller.
- DeAngelo Williams PIT – If you took Le’Veon Bell, Williams is an absolute MUST!
- Giovani Bernard CIN – Bernard is limited in touches because Jeremy Hill is the starter but he is explosive and is capable of the long runs. Great FLEX player.
- Ameer Abdullah – Abdullah will be the starter in DET. They do not have any OFF other than Abdullah so he will get a lot of touches. Good RB2
- Chris Johnson ARI – Chris Johnson is ranked 55 while teammate David Johnson is ranked 4 because of the broken leg he suffered last year. If he makes a full recovery, he could take touches back from D. Johnson and make some noise.
- Alfred Morris DAL – Picked up in Free Agency, Morris will be backing up Ezekiel Elliott and will get his fair share of touches and TDs thanks to the best offensive line in the league. I believe that McFadden will be traded or waived or simply see a lot of the bench this year.