2017 Fantasy Football: The “Too Early for a Top Ten, Top Ten” RB Edition (PPR)

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Geoff Lambert

Founder at GoingFor2
I started this site in January of 2015 and never thought it would grow as it has. I'm an avid sports and fantasy sports fan from the Greater Washington D.C. area, but my teams are the S.F. 49ers and the N.O. Pelicans. I hope you enjoy the site and continue to visit us for all your fantasy sports needs.
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1. David Johnson, Cardinals 

Johnson had the breakout season that we all expected him to have in 2016. He led the league in yards from scrimmage with 1,239 rushing yards and 16 TDs adding another 879 receiving yards and another four TDs. As a clear-cut workhorse running back, he is a rare commodity in today’s fantasy football world, and should — at worst — go №2 overall in your drafts.

2. Le’Veon Bell, Steelers

Bell is more of a one-A than he is a №2, but I had to split hairs to decide between the two and it came down to total touchdowns. As great as Bell is, his touchdown production leaves a little to be desired. He had nine TDs in 12 games last year after being suspended for the first four games. Extrapolated over a 16 game season, he would have had 12 total TDs — still eight short of Johnson’s 20.

3. Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys

I haven’t done my standard rankings yet because I prefer the PPR format, but Elliott could find himself as my №1 standard RB. However, since we are doing PPR rankings, he finds himself at №3. He wasn’t the threat out of the backfield that Bell and Johnson were in 2016, and I don’t see that changing much in 2017.

4. LeSean McCoy, Bills

LeSean McCoy is primed for another big season in Buffalo.

After an injury-plagued season in 2015, his first as a Buffalo Bill, McCoy reminded us in 2016 that he is still among the elite fantasy running backs in this league. Not only did he have 1,267 yards and 13 TDs on the ground, but he averaged 5.4 yards per carry — the highest YPC of any of the top 20 RBs in 2016.

5. Devonta Freeman, Falcons

If you read my “Too Early…” WR edition, then you know that I was down on Julio Jones as a top-five WR in 2016, and he proved me very wrong. Well, I was also down on Freeman after he faltered down the stretch in his breakout 2015 campaign — and he too proved me wrong (Spoiler alert, I was down on Matt Ryan too). I’m a little worried about the Falcons offense now that former OC Kyle Shanahan is now the head coach of the 49ers, but Freeman showed me that his 2015 season was no fluke, so I won’t bet against him in 2017.

6. Melvin Gordon, Chargers

After being pegged as a fantasy flop in his 2015 rookie campaign, Gordon bounced back with a good 2016 season and solidified himself as a top 10 fantasy RB. It’s a shame that he got injured at the end of the season. He missed the last three games and fell short of 1,000 yards by mere three yards. My biggest concern with Gordon is his paltry 3.9 YPC average in 2016. Some of that can be attributed to the Chargers bad O-Line play last season, which they are expected to address this offseason, but it will still give me pause when I’m drafting my team in August.

7. Jay Ajayi, Dolphins

Can Ajayi give us an encore performance of his 2016 season or was he a one-hit-wonder?

Raise your hand if you saw the Jay Ajayi breakout season coming. Put your hands down, the Miami Dolphins coaching staff didn’t even see it coming. After failing to re-sign Lamar Miller, the Dolphins tried to sign Broncos running back C.J. Anderson only to have the Broncos match the offer, keeping Anderson in Denver. The Dolphins ultimately signed veteran RB Arian Foster and had every intention to give him the starting job. They did all of this with Ajayi still on their roster. That screams “no confidence” in their young running back, resulting in Ajayi going late in fantasy drafts — and in some cases not drafted at all.

After taking the starting job in Week 5 and having his breakout game in Week 6, Ajayi went on to be the league’s fourth-leading rusher with 1,272 yards with six TDs. He comes into the 2017 season with the Dolphins’ roster largely intact from last season and, barring an injury, should be able to build upon his 2016 numbers.

8. DeMarco Murray, Titans

Left for dead by the Eagles and fantasy owners after his disappointing 2015 season, Murray reminded everyone why he was the №1 overall fantasy player in 2014.

His 293 carries last season tied him for the third-most in the league. He turned those carries into 1,287 yards and nine TDs, adding 53 receptions for another 377 yards and three more TDs.

The Titans were one of the most “run first” teams in the league last season, and if they don’t drastically improve the receiving corps in the draft, they will likely be run heavy again this season. The only wildcard that could affect Murray’s value is his backfield mate Derrick Henry. The Titans could elect to give Henry more touches and start grooming him for the lead role sooner rather than later.

9. Lamar Miller, Texans

I was all over Lamar Miller when he went to Houston thinking he would have a huge season. Well, I was wrong about the huge season, but it wasn’t a horrible season either. He went over 1,000 yards for just the second time in his career, but tying his career low in yards per carry, having his lowest touchdown total since 2013, and only getting 188 receiving yards after having nearly 400 last year, left me wondering what he could have been if he had a decent quarterback under center.

The QB situation in Houston hasn’t really gotten any better. Everyone expected Tony Romo to sign with the Texans, but he elected to go into the CBS broadcast booth instead. As it stands now, Tom Savage would be the Texans’ Week 1 starter. Unless the Texans pull off a trade or sign a veteran free agent, it’s hard to imagine Miller’s situation gets any better than it was last year.

With that said, he is still a top 10 fantasy running back, and if the Texans can find a way to get a decent QB to start the season his stock could rise.

10. Mark Ingram, Saints

I made this list before the signing of Adrian Peterson, but I decided to leave Ingram at №10 on my rankings simply because I think Peterson’s days are numbered. He didn’t look particularly good before getting injured and I find it hard to believe he can come back from yet another season-ending injury.

Ingram had his first 1,000 yard season in 2016 and had double-digit touchdowns (10) for the first time in his career as well. The Saints are notorious for their “running back by committee” approach. At times they’ll feature as many as three different running backs with three different styles, but somehow they make it work. Ingram will still be the workhorse, and while he may lose some carries to Peterson early on, I think the Saints will soon realize that handing the ball to Ingram is their better option.

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I started this site in January of 2015 and never thought it would grow as it has. I'm an avid sports and fantasy sports fan from the Greater Washington D.C. area, but my teams are the S.F. 49ers and the N.O. Pelicans. I hope you enjoy the site and continue to visit us for all your fantasy sports needs.

Geoff Lambert

I started this site in January of 2015 and never thought it would grow as it has. I'm an avid sports and fantasy sports fan from the Greater Washington D.C. area, but my teams are the S.F. 49ers and the N.O. Pelicans. I hope you enjoy the site and continue to visit us for all your fantasy sports needs.

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