2016 Fantasy Football RB Rankings

Eddie Lacy run vs Seattle

2016 Fantasy Football RB Rankings: Part 1 of a 4 part rankings series

This is the first in a four part pre-season fantasy football rankings series. Obviously, things could change at any time with injuries, late free agent signings, and a slew of other factors. As of this moment in time however, I wouldn’t change a thing. The first group I’m covering is running backs. This is a group that seems to see new fantasy superstars born each season, and many of them seemingly pop up from out of thin air. Following this guide will hopefully allow you to get a leg up on your fellow league mates if you’re drafting early. Expected season average is for PPR leagues. ( ) denotes expected season average

 

1.     Le’Veon Bell – The closest thing to Ladanian Tomlinson since the perpetual fantasy MVP retired. Bell is a workhorse that can contribute in all aspects of the game. If he stays healthy, he will be a serious contender for number one overall finisher this season. (18 ppg)

2.     Todd Gurley – Welcome to Los Angeles Mr. Gurley! The new face of the city lived up to the lofty expectations placed on him in his rookie season, and I expect bigger things in year two. A rookie QB will place a bit of added pressure on Gurley, but his combo of size and speed will allow him to rise to the challenge. (16.5 ppg)

3.     David Johnson – Johnson looked like a legit steal for the Cardinals last season, scoring touchdowns at will, and when he got the chance at the lion’s share of the carries to conclude the year, he showed that he has all the tools to be an every down back. I don’t expect him to score at the same ridiculous rate per touch this coming season, but he’ll get every goal line and red zone opportunity he can handle. (16.2 ppg)

4.     Adrian Peterson – He’ll be 31 this season, but he led the league in rushing yards at age 30, an almost unheard of stat in this day and age. AD is a legit freak of nature, and still has a few solid years left in the tank. Many analysts are placing him as the number one RB this season, but I just can’t do that in good conscience with the ability and youth of the players I have ranked above him. (15.8 ppg)

5.     Ezekiel Elliott – Yes, I went there and placed a rookie in the top 5. How could anyone not love Zeke’s situation. A complete back with a supercharged motor that can beat you with speed or power, running behind the best o-line in football. Sign me up as a big proponent of him in year one. I’d have him higher, but the rookie wall is real, and he may taper off as the year goes on. (15.3 ppg)

6.     Lamar Miller – A new setting in run-happy Houston is the best-case scenario Miller enthusiasts could have hoped for. He’s shown what he can do when with a modest workload, and now with the offense essentially funneling through him, I’m expecting an even bigger season. (15 ppg)

7.     Doug Martin – I have to admit I’m a bit wary about Doug Martin. He has absolutely crushed it in two of his four NFL season, but has fallen off the map in the other two. If I could say for certain we’d be getting “Good Doug,” I’d have him in my top 5. As it stands, he’ll have to settle for number 7. (14.6 ppg)

8.     Devonta Freeman – Exploded onto the scene when he got the starting role en route to a monstrous month of production. He slowly fell off as the season progressed but was still a huge asset each and every week. I’m guessing Tevin Coleman cuts into his workload a bit, but Freeman will remain the man in Atlanta. (14.3 ppg)

9.     Jamal Charles – JC in KC will have to look over his shoulder for the first time in his career, as Charcandrick West performed more than adequately in his stead. Make no mistake, Charles is the back to own for the Chiefs, but his role will be lighter than in previous years. Hopefully he’ll be fully recovered from another ACL tear and be able to break off more of those huge runs we’ve grown accustomed to seeing. (14.3 ppg)

10.  Thomas Rawls – Rounding out the top 10 is Rawls, a second year back that looked like he was going to cruise through the second half of 2015 racking up wins for owners. A broken ankle cut his season short however, and he won’t just be given the job in Seattle. I believe he’ll win it and assume the Marshawn Lynch role while proving he belongs in the top 10. (14.1 ppg)

11.  LeSean McCoy – Starting to drop off in production and Karlos Williams is breathing down his neck. McCoy will still handle most of the work and if he stops dancing around so much, should have another productive season or two in the tank. (13.5 ppg)

12.  Eddie Lacy – Fat Eddie has supposedly been vanquished, and hopefully, with him the disgust of every one of Lacy’s 2015 fantasy owners. Lacy has something to prove this season, and I see him making a significant comeback. (13.3 ppg)

13.  Mark Ingram – The former Heisman trophy winner finally lived up to his draft position last season, rumbling his way to several wins for his happy fantasy owners. I think he’ll keep it rolling as the Saints are now forced to pound the rock much more often with Brees another year older. (13 ppg)

14.  Carlos Hyde – He was supposed to be last year’s breakout with Frank Gore out of the picture, but injuries and huge deficits every game left Hyde without much opportunity to show what he can do. In Chip Kelly’s uptempo offense, Hyde could potentially flirt with top 10 status, and will be given every opportunity to do so. (12.8 ppg)

15.  Jonathan Stewart – Health has always been the main concern with Stewart, and has held him back from being a consistent fantasy starter. In his role last year though, he turned into a pretty consistent option, and should be able to expand on that for the upcoming season with every team game planning to stop Cam Newton. (12.2 ppg)

16.  Matt Forte – In a new setting for the first time in his career, the Jets will lean pretty heavily on Forte. He’s no longer got youth and endless energy on his side, but he’s still a guy that can do it all for his team. Short passes are where he’ll make his fantasy owners happy this season. (12 ppg)

17.  CJ Anderson – He started off slow last season, and by the time he really started putting it together, no one was paying much attention to him, as the Broncos defense stole the show. Anderson will be called on to keep the clock ticking this year, and he’ll try to hold off all challengers to his starting role. (11.2 ppg)

18.  Dion Lewis – Back from an injury that cut his 2015 short, Lewis should pick up right where he left off last season. The Patriots rewarded his early season play with a contract extension, and I expect him to show them that they made the right decision. (11 ppg)

19.  Jeremy Hill – Though he was largely a disappointment in year two, Hill still has the ability to turn it around and be the feature back Cincinatti believes he is. He’s not in danger of losing early down work to Gio Bernard, but depending on his play, could pick up a bit more in passing situations. (10.4 ppg)

20.  Jay Ajayi – When the Dolphins let Lamar Miller walk, everyone thought it was Ajayi’s time to shine. Then Miami signed CJ Anderson to an offer sheet. Denver matched, so the Dolphins brought in Arian Foster for a discussion. Countless reports later continue to state that Miami is looking for another back, leading one to wonder what they don’t see in Ajayi. I for one, think he’ll be a great player this season, and has a ton of upside. Unfortunately, Miami’s front office may not feel the same. (10 ppg)

21.  Latavius Murray – Surprisingly good 2015 offense will take another step forward with Murray as the lead back. (9.8 ppg)

22.  Ryan Mathews – No more Demarco means the only thing that can hold him back is his terribly brittle bones. (9.7 ppg)

23.  Jeremy Langford – Won’t be Matt Forte, but will get the first crack at lead back duties in Chicago, which means a lot of carries. (9.7 ppg)

24.  Demarco Murray – Drafting of Derrick Henry put the brakes on a return to 2014 Murray form, but will still control the backfield as long as he performs. (9.6 ppg)

25.  Matt Jones – If he cures his fumblitis, could have a monster season in Washington as the only three down back in town. (9.6 ppg)

26.  Duke Johnson J.r. – Plus side, best back in Cleveland. Down side, best back in Cleveland. Receptions out of the backfield will make him valuable. (9.4 ppg)

27.  Only assuming he’s the starter, he’ll get plenty of work. Just has to go back to formula that made him a breakout star in 2014. (9.2 ppg)

28.  T.J. YeldonChris Ivory in town caps his ceiling, but should still have a relatively safe floor. (9 ppg)

29.  Melvin Gordon – He can’t be worse than he was as a rookie. At least ONE rushing touchdown is on the horizon. (8.9 ppg)

30.  Danny Woodhead – Role will get reduced slightly as Gordon figures it out, but will still hold value on his own thanks to role in passing game. (8.9 ppg)

31.  Gio Bernard – I actually like Gio more than Hill, but the Bengals coaching staff does not. Threat to take it to the house from anywhere on the field. (8.7 ppg)

32.  Frank Gore – Just keeps putting up solid numbers. Health is number one concern at this point in his career. (8.5 ppg)

33.  Rashad Jennings – Lead back in a pass-happy offense. Nothing outstanding, but will have a couple big games. (8.2 ppg)

34.  Ameer Abdullah – Should have a much larger role. Just has to get better between the tackles. (8.2 ppg)

35.  Chris Ivory – Same situation as Yeldon, dreaded timeshare. Should still have a decently high floor. (8 ppg)

36.  Derrick Henry – Backup to injury prone Murray should give him standalone value. (7.8 ppg)

37.  Legarrette Blount – The battering ram will be back for another year as the Pats’ closer. (7.5 ppg)

38.  Arian Foster – Assuming Foster ends up somewhere, he can’t handle the same workload as in the past. 10-12 touches a game max for him going forward. (7.3 ppg)

39.  Theo Riddick – PPR dynamo has less competition in Detroit now, but it’s Abdullah’s job to lose. (7.2 ppg)

40.  Karlos Williams – Deserves more of a role, but can’t be justified with McCoy’s salary. 2017 will be his year. (7 ppg)

41.  Kenneth Dixon – Could easily supplant Forsett atop the depth chart. Hasn’t done so yet though, which accounts for this placement. (7 ppg)

42.  DeAngelo Williams – Most valuable handcuff in fantasy, which makes him a must-own. No standalone value, but one injury away from being a top 10 back. (2 ppg)

43.  Tevin Coleman – Will be given another shot to contribute, but will be difficult to wrest the job away from Freeman. (6 ppg)

44.  Charles Sims – 3rd down back in Tampa is a pretty good role, and Sims makes the most of it. (6 ppg)

45.  Jordan Howard – Chicago loves his potential, and he could end up taking the starting role fairly early. (6 ppg)

46.  Bilal Powell – Nothing flashy, just production. Touches will be limited with Forte now in town. (5.2 ppg)

47.  Charcandrick West – Second most valuable handcuff in fantasy, with a bit of standalone value. (5.1 ppg)

48.  Isaiah Crowell – Came on much stronger the second half of 2015, but has the ability to disappear from games entirely. (5 ppg)

49.  Devontae Booker – Actual threat to CJ Anderson’s job in Denver. Very talented back that just needs an opportunity. (4 ppg)

50.  CJ Prosise – Pass catching back that can run it as well. Should see some touches early on for Seattle. (3.5 ppg)

 

 

Coming next: Wide Receivers

 

 

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