Chet Gresham Fantasy Rankings - Running Back

Published 4/20/2017 12:00 AM

By Chet Gresham

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

    The top spot is a fight between Bell and David Johnson this season, and I'm giving a slight edge to Bell. The Steelers should come back strong in 2017 and get some help back on offense, which should keep Bell in good spots all season long.

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

    Johnson could easily top Bell this season, but my main concern is Carson Palmer. I think coach Bruce Arians will keep giving Johnson the ball all over the field, but Palmer is hitting an old age wall. The offense could have trouble in 2017.

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

    I don't think Elliott will get the receptions he needs to pass Bell or Johnson, but his touchdown total has tremendous upside and could push him ahead of those two, especially in Non-PPR.

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

    McCoy was right up near the top last season in ability, and despite missing a little time with injuries, he still finished as a Top-3 fantasy running back. How he will be used exactly with Rex Ryan out of town, I don't know, but he still was at the top of his game last year and deserves to be a top pick this year.

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

    Gordon was a touchdown machine last season, but also showed ability outside of the goal line, especially in the receiving game. With Danny Woodhead in Baltimore, Gordon's receptions should keep him near the top of the fantasy points.

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

    Howard looked great last season despite not starting the year as the Bears' lead back and playing on a bad football team. His upside is going to be touchdown dependent, but he did catch the ball enough to not knock him too far down. He's going to be a workhorse, and as long as he stays healthy, he'll be a top back this year.

  • 7. Jay Ajayi, RB, Dolphins. Bye: 8.

    Ajayi was a beast last season and led the league in forced missed tackles. The Dolphins' offensive line is a strong unit, and with Adam Gase as the coach, I believe he can keep this offense on track enough to give Ajayi plenty of work.

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

    Freeman showed that he has the ability to be a lead back, but Tevin Coleman isn't going to go away anytime soon. If the Falcons' offense regresses at all, Freeman could be squeezed a little in 2017.

  • 9. Mark Ingram, RB, Saints. Bye: 5.

    If the Saints would use Ingram more consistently, he could easily be a Top-5 fantasy option, but he had five games with nine or fewer carries, which is just a killer to his fantasy value. But, he also had six games over 15 fantasy points and totaled 10 touchdowns. I don't expect a big uptick in work, but he's still going to give you Top-10 fantasy points if healthy.

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

    Murray isn't going anywhere just yet, even with Derrick Henry waiting in the wings. Murray does have a lot of mileage on his legs and could break down at some point, but until that happens, he will be the lead back.

  • 11. Lamar Miller, RB, Texans. Bye: 9.

    Miller didn't play as well as I had hoped in 2016, but he did see plenty of work in a run-first offense. He should again be used enough to be useful in fantasy.

  • 12. Carlos Hyde, RB, 49ers. Bye: 8.

    Hyde's health and San Francisco's offense are both concerns for his fantasy value this season, but he continues to show ability when healthy.

  • 13. Eddie Lacy, RB, Seahawks. Bye: 5.

    Lacy landed in Seattle, where he'll have competition for work from Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise. Seattle also has a deficient offensive line, but a running quarterback does help the run game. I expect Lacy wins the early down job, and I'm going to take a risk on the fatty this year.

  • 14. Todd Gurley, RB, Rams. Bye: 8.

    Gurley did not seem engaged last season due to such a horrible offense. Have his skills diminished? Maybe, but it's hard to believe that after his strong first season. I'm willing to take the risk.

  • 15. Spencer Ware, RB, Chiefs. Bye: 5.

    Ware didn't fare well in his full season as the starter, as he fell off in the second half. We can't completely discount Jamaal Charles this season, but the Chiefs will likely let him go and could re-sign him for a cheaper contract if he is healthy. I still like Ware and feel that with a full season under his belt, he'll be able to stand up to the rigors better in 2017.

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