2017 RB Rankings Part 1

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1. LeVeon Bell

Like DJ, you can’t go wrong with drafting Bell. However, another drug-test fiasco will land him a 10 game suspension. That said, be sure to handcuff Bell for 2017.

2. David Johnson

David Johnson saw 116 Receiving Targets last yr. Thats more than Michael Thomas, Brandin Cooks, Davante Adams, Stephon Diggs and Kelvin Benjamin. Slight regression seems likely with a decline in offensive talent and he’s touched the ball a whopping 717 times in two seasons!

3. Ezekiel Elliott

Zeke took advantage of the best Offensive Line in football last year. A lock for another 300-350 touches, expect to see dominant stats from the 22 year old again in 2017.

Disclaimer: A 1-2 game suspension seems likey.

4. LeSean McCoy

The true bell-cow role for McCoy is solidified more than ever with Gillislee gone to FoxBoro for the 2017 season. With new O.C. Rick Dennison now in Buffalo (former O.C. of Denver Broncos), he will continue the heavy run-first scheme in Buffalo by implementing an outside-zone running blueprint. The Bills went out and signed former Falcons FB Patrick DiMarco who earned top run-blocking grades the past two seasons. Buffalo returns all 5 starting offensive lineman and they have a top 10 Strength of Schedule favorable for Fantasy Running Backs while McCoy has no competition to vulture TDs in 2017 (Mike Gillislee stole 9 TDs ’16). McCoy is easily a Top 5 Fantasy RB for the 2017 season!

5. Melvin Gordon

Was the Fantasy RB3 in PPR Leagues before a PCL sprain ended his season in Week 15. Gordon’s production sky-rocketed when Danny Woodhead went down for the season in Week 2 last year. With Woodhead now in Baltimore, we expect even better numbers from Gordon this year under new Head Coach Anthony Lynn. Gordon totaled nearly 110 total yards per game last season where his lowest total yardage game came in Week 1, Woodhead’s only healthy game of 2016. After Woodhead’s injury – Gordon took over the receiving game role where he averaged nearly 40 receiving yards per game! With no talent behind him, expect workhorse numbers in 2017.

6. Devonta Freeman

Entering a contract year, Freeman is the only current RB to rush for 1,000+ yards in two straight seasons. The emergence of Tevin Coleman is definitely concerning for Freeman (Freeman lost 50+ touches to Coleman in 2016), however Freeman posted career-high averages in rushing (4.8) and receiving (8.6) last season. With 50 Redzone carries in 2016 he not only led the Falcons, but also ranked 3rd in the NFL in the respective category. He also led the Falcons in Redzone targets (17). Despite losing work to Coleman, Freeman finished as the RB6 in PPR formats and will continue to lead the Falcons in the NFC’s most explosive offense.

7. Jay Ajayi

The inefficiency of Ryan Tannehill attributed to Miami finishing last in the NFL in plays per game and 2nd to last in pass attempts per game last year. Much of Miami’s offensive struggles are directly related to their Offensive Line, which should continue into the 2017 season as the line still ranks in the lower tier in the NFL. That said…

Jay Ajayi finished 4th in the NFL in rushing and Miami wants Ajayi’s role to grow, specifically in the receiving game. Dolphins reporter, James Walker, believes Ajayi can join the ranks of David Johnson and LeVeon Bell by reaching 1,900 total yards if he remains healthy.

Disclaimer: Ajayi relied heavily on long rushes during the 2016 season where 5 of Ajayi’s 260 carries last season equaled nearly 20% of his total rushing yards. Of Ajayi’s runs, 57% of them were 3 yards or shorter, according to Warren Sharp.  Caution should be advised when drafting Ajayi at his current ADP of 7 as there are still red flags surrounding his name. Consider him a high-risk, high-reward RB.

8. DeMarco Murray

Coach Mike Mularkey said this off-season that DeMarco Murray is his “workhorse” and has no concern with him losing much work to sophomore RB, Derrick Henry. Take that for what it’s worth, however, Murray is still going to lose some work to Henry. Much of what you read/hear elsewhere is the concern for Murray to wear down at this stage in his career with 1400+ career carries, however I big to differ!

Here’s a look at other RB’s who have surpassed 1400-1500 carries and their results the following year:

RB  Carries   Yards   Catches   Rec. Yards 
A. Peterson 348 2,097 40 217
M. Lynch 301 1,257 36 316
M. Forte 266 1,038 102 808
L. McCoy* 203 895 32 292
S. Jackson 330 1,240 46 383

 

 

 

 

*denotes injury

As you can see there’s no drop off the following year after RBs have surpassed the 1400-1500+ career carry mark. With losing some work to Henry, it’s worth noting that you’re going to have to spend an earlier pick to secure this TEN backfield. That’s a hefty price-tag to pay in most leagues. With a much improved passing game and a top notch offensive line the stars are finally starting to align for the Titans. You can still expect low-end RB1 numbers from Murray in 2017.

9. Todd Gurley

Finishing as the Fantasy RB5 in his rookie season, Gurley followed that up the next year with the biggest sophomore slump in recent history. Much of the concern with him last season was the poor play of the offensive line coupled with no talent in the passing/receiving game leading to teams stacking the box. The Rams certainly improved their O-Line this offseason signing top free agent Andrew Whitworth, who’s replacing one of the worst Left Tackles in football. Gurley slammed into brick walls while Jeff Fisher was at the controls – one of the many reasons the Rams went out and got Sean McVay as a replacement to Jeff Fisher. The 3rd year RB says he’s been “loving” McVay’s new scheme and is lining up all over the field, a part of their new “situational” scheme implanted in this offense. Gurley has more than proved his skill in the receiving game where he’s only dropped 3 of 84 career targets. Expect RB1 numbers this season with a much cheaper price tag!

10. Leonard Fournette

It was very tempting to replace Fournette with Howard, Miller or Crowell, however I couldn’t pull myself to do so. Let’s face it, the RB talent drastically drops into a lower tier from here. Fournette left LSU as the schools all-time leader in yards per carry at 6.22! The Jags already have their mind set on hiding Blake Bortles as much as they can in 2017 and are expecting their defense to do the heavy lifting. They invested heavily in the O-Line this offseason signing Brandon Albert and drafting Cam Robinson as well as acquiring 3 fullbacks! It’s obvious what they’re weekly game plan is. That said, Fournette has the talent to be a premier back in the NFL and will get the workload to do so. The biggest concern is Jacksonville’s ability to generate scoring chances.

 

 

 

Jordan and Michael Tozzi were 2013's Most Accurate Fantasy Football Experts in the nation. Owners of LegionReport.com

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