Chet Gresham Week 1 Fantasy Rankings - Running Back

Published 9/7/2017 12:00 AM

By Chet Gresham

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  • 1. Le'Veon Bell, RB, Steelers. Bye: 8.

    Bell or Johnson are both strong contenders for the top spot this week, but I expect Bell to see plenty of work in a game the Steelers should lead throughout.

  • 2. David Johnson, RB, Cardinals. Bye: 9.

    Johnson gets work no matter game flow, so he will get his in Detroit, but if Detorit tries to slow the game down, it could hurt his upside slightly.

  • 3. LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills. Bye: 10.

    Shady should be the focal point in this offense until he's hurt or falls asleep on the field. The Jets gave up Sheldon Richardson, which will hurt their run defense, and they will have trouble scoring, which should give the Bills plenty of opportunity to give it to McCoy.

  • 4. Todd Gurley, RB, Rams. Bye: 8.

    The Rams' offense has to be better under McVay, and they get a great matchup to start the season.

  • 5. Dalvin Cook, RB, Vikings. Bye: 6.

    The Saints are a perfect opponent for Cook, as they gave up the second-most rushing touchdowns in the league and the third-most fantasy points to running backs last season. Cook should be set up as the three-down back and could have a field day at home against the Saints.

  • 6. DeMarco Murray, RB, Titans. Bye: 13.

    I think we'll see Derrick Henry start to cut into Murray's workload as the season goes along, but Week 1 should be solidly in Murray's camp, plus he gets a nice matchup against Oakland, which has seen turnover in its interior line this year.

  • 7. Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers. Bye: 11.

    The Broncos' "weakness" is against the run, and the Chargers defense isn't worthless, so I expect this to be a close game with Gordon getting enough work to be a top contributor.

  • 8. Jordan Howard, RB, Bears. Bye: 9.

    It will be interesting to see how much work Tarik Cohen gets if the Bears have to go into pass mode to try to keep up with Atlanta, but Howard will be used in the passing game as well and should be the focal point of this offense, especially when it's reasonably close.

  • 9. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys. Bye: 7.

    Elliott didn't have much luck against the Giants' tough defense last season, but he's still Elliott and will likely be running with a chip on his shoulder.

  • 10. Devonta Freeman, RB, Falcons. Bye: 11.

    The game flow should favor the Falcons' run game, which of course is a good spot for Freeman. We'll have to see if there's been much change in roles between himself and Tevin Coleman, but for now I feel safe in having Freeman as a top-10 back.

  • 11. Isaiah Crowell, RB, Browns. Bye: 13.

    If we knew the Browns could hang with the Steelers at home, Crowell would be a strong start, but as it is he has some risk due to game flow killing his rushing attempts. He's good enough to be useful even in bad game flow if Hue Jackson uses him like he wants to.

  • 12. Leonard Fournette, RB, Jaguars. Bye: 5.

    Going to Houston as an underdog might not be the best set up for Fournette's debut, but we do know the Jaguars will use him as much as they possibly can.

  • 13. C.J. Anderson, RB, Broncos. Bye: 11.

    Anderson will again get his shot to be the lead back, and that's enough to give him the start, especially in a favored home game.

  • 14. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Raiders. Bye: 10.

    Lynch is going to score touchdowns, and this game seems like a good place to start. Unfortunately, he's not going to catch a ton of passes and play every snap, so we need to temper expectations.

  • 15. Kareem Hunt, RB, Chiefs. Bye: 5.

    Hunt will be the lead back and should see enough work to be a solid start, but the Patriots are tough to run on, which is boosted by game flow, as they get out to leads and push opponents to throw the ball.

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