The running back position was already one of the most volatile in fantasy football to strategize for. Ezekiel Elliott’s six game suspension makes it even tougher as fantasy players prepare for upcoming drafts.
One thing is for certain: David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell are the top two RBs to roster in fantasy football. Both rushed for over 1,200 yards last season, and their pass catching ability makes them especially valuable in points per reception (PPR) leagues.
On average, Elliott was the third RB taken in drafts before his suspension. His current average draft position (ADP) of 6.3 in NFL.com leagues will likely fall as Elliott’s status for the start of the season remains murky. He’s appealing the NFL’s ruling and his suspension could be shortened. There’s a chance that proceedings could drag on, and he might not miss a game if that happens. Whether you draft him depends on your tolerance for risk.
Here’s a look at the rest of the top running backs in fantasy based on their average draft positions in many leagues.
– LeSean McCoy caught 50 passes last season, but with the Bills’ new West Coast-inspired offense and Sammy Watkins with the Los Angeles Rams, he may have an even bigger role in their passing game. McCoy has an ADP of 8.27, he’s 28 years old and plays one of the most grueling positions in football. He’s rushed for at least 1,267 yards in three of the past four seasons, and while he hasn’t yet shown signs of regression, he has suffered injuries the past two seasons.
– Chargers RB Melvin Gordon scored 10 TDs and caught 41 passes in 13 games last season, however his 3.9 yards per carry (YPC) was pedestrian. The Chargers will use a simpler zone running scheme this season, which could help Gordon’s production.
– Titans RB Demarco Murray scored the fifth-most fantasy points among RBs in standard formats last season. He’s the sixth RB off the board and he possesses excellent pass catching skills.
– Devonta Freeman is the only NFL back to rush for at least 1,000 yards in each of the past two seasons. Freeman has averaged just over 52 receptions across his three-year career.
– Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi’s critics claim that he’s a boom-or-bust back. However, from Week 6 on, he led all RBs in carries and yards rushing. Ajayi has an ADP of 14.59, and unlike 2016, he’ll enter this season as the Dolphins’ top rusher.
– Jordan Howard averaged 5.19 YPC over the final 13 weeks of the season. He’ll be running behind a solid offensive line this season, however the Bears’ weak passing attack may cause opposing defenses to key in on their running game.
– At age 31, Marshawn Lynch returns to the NFL after a year off, playing for his hometown crowd in Oakland. His second-round ADP may be ambitious, but he should be productive running behind one of the best offensive lines in football.
– Todd Gurley is the 11th RB off the board. He’s struggled since enjoying early success in his 2015 rookie season, however the Rams’ addition of Watkins may force opposing defenses to pay more attention to their passing game, which could somewhat help Gurley’s production.
– Rookie RB Leonard Fournette is a speedy, powerful runner. With the Jaguars seeking to run the ball more this season, he could have nice value.
– Lamar Miller has an ADP of 28.13, making him a third-round pick. He’ll open the season as the Texans’ primary back, but he performs better when he carries the ball fewer than 20 times per game. Look for the Texans to lighten his load this season.
Source: Fox Sports