2017 RB Rankings Part 2

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11. Lamar Miller

The past 3 seasons the Texans have ranked 1st, 5th and 6th in rush attempts per game under Bill O’Brien’s 3 years at the helm. Last season, Miller set a career high in rush attempts at 265 while finishing with the 10th most rush yards (1,073) and the Fantasy RB 17. “Now, going into my second year, I’m comfortable,” Miller said. “I know the blocking schemes and stuff. I think it will be a good year.” A healthy, comfortable Miller is expected to see the ball less in 2017, which could be a good thing as odd as that sounds. Expect borderline RB1 numbers in Houston’s improved offense.

12. Isaiah Crowell

Crowell ended the 2016 season as the Fantasy RB 14 (tied with Carlos Hyde) while running behind one of the worst O-Lines in football. Fast-Forward to 2017 – Cleveland spent a lot of energy improving their Offensive Line to one of the NFL’s best, foretelling that Coach Hue Jackson wants to run. As the Offensive Playcaller in previous years, take a look at how Jackson has ranked in rushing attempts per season:

2010: 4th
2011: 7th
2014: 5th
2015: 7th
2016: 31st

Crowell’s 4.8 Yards Per Carry in 2016 was the 9th best in the NFL where he tied Falcons Davonta Freeman, falling just short of LeVeon Bell’s and Jay Ajayi’s 4.9 YPC. The 3rd-year RB played in 55% of Cleveland’s Offensive snaps where he was involved heavily in the passing game catching 40 passes.

Many Fantasy Footballers will be avoiding Crowell for the fact he plays for the Cleveland Browns. Skilled forward-thinking drafters should be valuing The-Crow based off his improving skills, the improved O-Line and skilled playcaller in Hue Jackson.

13. Jordan Howard

Howard concluded 2016 with impressive numbers, totaling 1,313 Rushing Yards, 7 +100 Rushing Yard Games, 6 Rushing TDs, 29 Receptions, 298 Receiving Yards and 1 Receiving TD. Although Howard totaled 29 Receptions in 2016, we expect regression for a number of reasons – Howard totaled 29 Receptions on 50 Targets (Leading the NFL in Drops within the RB Position with 8), Howard caught only 24 passes in his 3-Year collegiate career which gives us an idea of ceiling, along with the Bears also signing Benny Cunningham and drafting Tarik Cohen who are fully expected to take the bulk of receiving production this season and beyond. Chicago returns all 5 offensive linemen in 2017 and we expect the rushing stats to be there along with the opportunity, although don’t expect overall growth from Howard explained by the reasons above.

14. CJ Anderson

New coach Vance Joseph has opened the RB slot to a competition with expectations of turning this into a RBBC with Booker and Charles. Anderson is the heavy favorite to lead carries for Denver as Booker failed to make noise after CJ’s injury last season and Charles’ ongoing health concerns. Prior to ending his 2016 season with a meniscus tear in Week 7 last season, the 26 year old was averaging 80 total yards per game. Drafting Anderson should be executed with extreme caution as the Bronco’s face the hardest schedule in the NFL this coming season.

15. Joe Mixon

The Bengals have ranked “Top 10” in the NFL in both rushing attempts and red-zone carries in each of the past three seasons. Having added a triple threat ability and 2017’s most talented running back to the roster, we don’t expect Cincy to shy away from this trend. Mixon enters into a backfield crowded with Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill, which is where the fantasy risk lies, however SI.com writes, “Bengals running back Joe Mixon hasn’t wasted any time impressing his coaches. His high-end acceleration and size/speed ratio have stood out, as has his work to improve in pass protection, which is often what keeps rookie backs off the field. Asked how he looks, one Cincinnati staffer answered: “Like a beast.”

The to-be 21 Year Old is primed with opportunity with the likelihood of RB Giovani Bernard (ACL) being held out of the first couple of regular season games. With that chink in the armor labeled as opportunity, we expect Mixon to run away with the job, but view Hill and Bernard as production threats in Year 1, with Hill vulturing red zone opportunities. Although their offensive line is garbage, we expect Mixon to be the lead dog in this three headed monster.

Evan Silva gives the opinion of … “For my money, Joe Mixon was the most talented all-around running back prospect in the 2017 draft with the best chance at becoming a Le’Veon Bell or David Johnson level NFL producer. A breathtakingly elusive runner and sensational receiver, Mixon averaged an otherworldly 13.8 yards per catch in two years at Oklahoma and logged Pro Day measurables superior to Ezekiel Elliott’s at nearly the exact same size.” It couldn’t have been said more perfectly and we completely agree. Love Mixon and love the upside he is capable of!

16. Carlos Hyde

Outside of Joe Staley, the 49ers offensive line is atrocious, which is why seeing Carlos Hyde post decent numbers in 2016 is even more impressive. Last season, Hyde finished as the Fantasy RB 14 (tied with Isaiah Crowell) while missing 3 games. Hyde’s 3.1 Yards After Contact ranked 5th among RBs with 100+ carries. Hyde is the favorite to lead this team atop the RB depth chart to begin the season. However, it appears the team may eventually move towards a RBBC approach at some point this year as rookie RB Joe Williams is highly regarded by SF front office and media. Keep in mind, Hyde has never played a full 17 game season in the NFL

17. Bilal Powell

Despite playing the majority of the season behind Matt Forte, Powell still finished as the Fantasy RB 22 (just one spot behind Forte) and aims to carry the lead role heading into the 2017 season. Powell totaled 552 yards over the final 4 games of the season while Forte was injured. Over that 4 week span 411 of those yards came on 82 carries where he finished as the Fantasy RB 2 at that time. Powell (age 28) possesses much more explosiveness than Forte, who’s set to turn 32 at the end of the season and has seen more than 2700 career touches. We’d love to see him open as the starter to begin the season, but a split role with Forte seems like the real scenario. Still, as the season progresses, expect Powell’s role to greatly increase. With his low ADP he aims to be a steal on draft day!

18. Mark Ingram

After concluding 2016 with 1,362 Total Yards and 10 TDs, it marked Ingram’s 3rd consecutive season across the 1,000 Yard mark for New Orleans. Ingram netted 50 Receptions in 2015 and 46 Receptions in 2016, although this could quickly turn into a frustrating situation for a preferably solid RB due to the signing of 32-Year-Old, Adrian Peterson. Out of Ingram’s 6 Seasons in the NFL, he has only played out all 16 Games in 2 of the 6 Seasons. That said, with a full season under his belt last year, Ingram totaled 205 Rushing Attempts and 46 Receptions. We expect stability in the receiving game for Ingram, but an obvious regression in his TD numbers and Rushing Yardage. Yeah, it will be frustrating, but you will at least be able to see this one coming from a mile away.

19. Ameer Abdullah

Abdullah will roll into 2017 fully healed from a season ending “Lisfranc Injury” also being tabbed with the feature role in Detroit. Consider a few things here before backing up the truck for Abdullah … Theo Riddick will garner the majority of the receiving work and Abdullah only has 2 Career Rushing Touchdowns.

20. Christian McCaffrey

A few interesting tidbits here to really mess with your head … There hasn’t been a Panthers RB to reach 30 Receptions in a season since 2011, however Carolina has finished Top 8 in the NFL for Rushing Attempts in each of those seasons. While looking at DeAngelo Williams’ 9 Seasons in Carolina, even he only totaled over 30 Receptions once in his career, which was his Rookie Season (2003) a.k.a Pre Cam Newton era. On the other side of the coin, Jonathan Stewart also mimics Williams’ receiving stats by only eclipsing 30 Receptions in a season once in his career (2011) which was Cam Newton’s Rookie Season. In college, McCaffery totaled 45 Receptions his Sophomore Season and 37 his Junior Season. Whew … Lots of info, but wait there’s more!

Newton has averaged 8 Rushing TDs Per Season throughout his career across 6 Years. If you remove a 2015 outlier, it’s a consistent regression line downward year-after-year. Speaking on SiriusXM NFL Radio, HC Ron Rivera expressed the Panthers want Cam Newton to run less and get rid of the ball more quickly. It should be assumed that this will ultimately be a work in progress, however we expect the bulk of goal-line work to go to Stewart then Newton, leaving us to really wonder how high McCaffery’s ceiling is for 2017 as the volume all around just may not be there. As much as we want to see McCaffery burst onto the scene, we view this as a work in progress and recommend limiting expectations until things shake out.

21. Mike Gillislee

The Patriots lost a league high 317 carries from 2016, the majority coming from LaGarrette Blount. The Patriots let Blount walk while they extended James White and added Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead. Gillislee looks to be the heavy favorite to fill the Blount void as he had major success as LeSean McCoy’s backup in 2016.

Gillislee led the NFL in Yards Per Carry last season at 5.6 YPC with 101 carries. Of his 101 carries, 15 came from inside the 20 yard line while 6 of his 8 rushing TD’s came from within the 5 yard line. Gillislee has only fumbled rushing the ball 1 time during his NFL career and only had 4 fumbles during his 4 year career at Florida. As the former goal line specialist in Buffalo, we’re looking to MG to replace the NFL leading 68 red zone carries Blount had in 2016.

Gillislee’s scoring potential looks favorable, but James White and Dion Lewis will likely be the passing down RBs. MG only managed to catch 23 balls during his collegiate career at Florida and only 15 in the NFL.

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

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