Early Top 10 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings
Fantasy baseball has just started, but most of us who are die hard NFL fans are looking forward to this years NFL Draft. This years draft will have some players I think could be big fantasy impact players, especially at the running back position. Saquon Barkley, Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, Ronald Jones and Derrius Guice. Now it’s hard to project where I think some of these guys will go because we’re not sure what team will draft each back. Every year in recent memory, rookie running backs have become the hot commodity, whether they were drafted early or late. Last years guys like Kareem Hunt, Alvin Kamara and Leonard Fournette took teams to their fantasy championships. This position is crucial to winning because of the whole RBBC (running back by committee), which means teams use multiple backs when they play. Here I will give you who I think will be the top guys at the position next season, and who you should try to draft in your league.
- Todd Gurley : This man was a beast last year. Gurley had a combined 2,093 yards from scrimmage in an offense that has only gotten better. Sean McVay was able to use Gurley in multiple ways and really used him a lot more in the pass game, which doubled his production last year as Gurley had almost 800 yards receiving. The Rams got Brandin Cooks this year and I expect Cooks to have defensive backs always wondering on play action passes making sure they don’t get burnt. This will open up the run game even more for Gurley and I expect him to have an even better year in 2018.
- Alvin Kamara : Kamara was off to a slow start last year because of Adrian Peterson being there, but after he was traded to Arizona, Kamara became an animal. Even though he will be sharing carries with Mark Ingram, I expect him to be more of a lead back this year and getting more of the running workload while also being the third down back in the passing game as he was used last year.
- Le’Veon Bell : Bell is the most elusive back in the game and I think he will still have an amazing season next year, but all these talks with his contract may impact his performance during the season. With Big Ben getting older, they may have to trust Bell more with the ball. Being in the north also helps his production because the weather gets a little messy at the end of the season, which always allows the running game to be the strong point for offenses.
- Ezekiel Elliott : Elliott still finished in the top 10 last year, even after only playing 10 games during the season. With the Cowboys offensive line being healthy and Elliott hopefully playing a full season, I see untapped potential with him. He may be able to rush for 2,000 yards. The other big factor is Dez Bryant not being with the Cowboys anymore. Not having a sure fire option in the passing game always leads to more rushes. Elliott will take full control and be a focal point of the offense as he was in 2016.
- Kareem Hunt : Hunt had a breakout year last season as a rookie. Spencer Ware going down in the preseason may have been the best thing to happen to the Chiefs. The Chiefs offense added Sammy Watkins as an outside threat, but starting Patrick Mahomes, who has very little game experience, will cause the Chiefs to lean on Hunt to be more of a bell cow. Hunt’s breakaway speed is great, but no other back pushes for more yards on every play than him.
- David Johnson : The return of DJ should be a fun thing to watch. The Cardinals lost Carson Palmer, who retired, but brought it another veteran in Sam Bradford. Bradford being healthy is huge for Johnson because he will love to check it down and allow him to catch out of the backfield a lot, which brings in a lot of fantasy points. DJ is coming off a wrist injury, so his legs will be fine and fresh for a big season in 2018.
- Melvin Gordon : Gordon got the second most carries out of any back last year and I don’t see anyway he has less carries. Rivers is getting older, which could lead to a similar situation like Le’Veon Bell, where they may have to trust Gordon more in the run game. Gordon has gotten better and better every year, and with Head Coach Anthony Lynn being a running back coach at heart, he will find even more ways to utilize his three down back.
- Leonard Fournette : Coming off a great rookie year, Fournette will look to take an even bigger piece of the pie. Blake Bortles isn’t the best passer and the Jaguars lost their top two receivers in free agency. Signing guard Andrew Norwell to help beef up the run game next to Cam Robinson shows the Jaguars are all in on the run game this year. He may break the record for rushing attempts.
- Saquon Barkley : Now I understand we still don’t know what team will draft Barkley. He may be the running back for the Giants or the Browns from what most experts expect. The reason he’s in this list is because the past three years there has been at least one rookie finishing in the top 10, and if any rookie is going to do that it will be him. He is such a complete back and is considered a better prospect than Gurley and Elliott when they came out. Barkley showed at Penn State he was the complete package, so be ready for him to have a strong season no matter what team he ends up on.
- Dalvin Cook : Cook was off to a hot start last year, but eventually being hurt led him to miss most of the season. In the games he played however, you could see this kid was going to be something special. Another plus is new Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins coming to the Vikings, who provides more of a threat than Case Keenum did. Cousins is a very smart player and isn’t afraid to check it down to the running back. Look at how Chris Thompson did in a couple games with Washington last year with Cousins. Cook is a lot more talented and being in such a dynamic offense will allow him to flourish this season.
One of the guys who I have just outside the top 10 is LeSean McCoy, because of him losing two offensive lineman who were crucial to his success and also Tyrod Taylor getting traded to Cleveland. Mark Ingram falls outside because I think Kamara will take much more of the plays from him. Ingram is not as dynamic, but i still think Ingram has a good season. Derrick Henry however, is a guy I think will sky rocket up from last year due to the fact DeMarco Murray isn’t on the team anymore. Henry having a full season will be a fun thing to watch in the 2018 season.