RUNNING BACK RANKINGS

 

NFL Fantasy Football Expert Analyst Lance Goodman gives fantasy owners the inside scoop on how his Top 25 Running Backs came off the board during Live Drafts this past week.

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Lance Goodman

9/7/18

2018 FINAL RANKINGS 

1. David Johnson, ARI 
2. Todd Gurley, LAR (3)
3. LeVeon Bell, PIT (2)
4. Kareem Hunt, KC (5)
5. Alvin Kamara, NO (7)
6. Melvin Gordon, LAC 
7. Leonard Fournette, JAC (9)
8. Ezekiel Elliott, DAL (4)
9. Saquan Barkley, NYG (10)
10. Jordan Howard, CHI (8)
11. Keyon Drake, MIA (12)
12. Christian McCaffery, CAR (17)
13. Alex Collins, BAL (15)
14. LeSean McCoy, BUF (11)
15. DeVonta Freeman, ATL (13)
16. Joe Mixon, CIN (15)
17. Jay Ajayi, PHI (18)
18. Derrick Henry, TEN (17)
19. Carlos Hyde, CLE (20)
20. Dalvin Cook, MIN (-)
21. Lamar Miller, HOU (20)
22. Peyton Barber, TB (-)
23. Jerrick McKinnon, SF (IR)
24. Mark Ingram, NO (-) (SSPD)
25. Marshawn Lynch, OAK (-)

LIVE DRAFT RECAP

As expected, the heavyweights who sat atop my Preseason and Final Rankings came off the board in the first Round, with 8 out of my Top 10 Running Backs unanimous picks.  However in PPR leagues, you may have been able to catch Melvin Gordon or Jordan Howard, which is excellent value for an RB1 in the second round. 

 

My final rankings held true with Christian McCaffrey and Keyon Drake leading the next set of Running Backs to be taken off the board. Both are duel threat players, who should be money in the bank for 100+ all purpose yards in most games. Dalvin Cook and DeVonta Freeman are trending heavy in most drafts as the next Running Backs to be selected. During live drafts, it's all about positioning. And in the case of Cook and Freeman, these were picks that fell right into owners hands at the top or middle of the 3rd Round. My question mark here is about Dalvin Cook being ranked so high. I have him ranked at #20, which is a fair assessment in my opinion. Yes he's an explosive player who has a 3 down Running Back skill set but his sample size was very small last season, as he only played in 4 games as a Rookie before tearing his ACL (which is fully recovered). You also have to factor in, Minnesota wants Cook there for the Long haul of this season and his career, so even though he is the teams starting Running Back, fellow backfield mate Latavius Murray will still see plenty of playing time. I don't doubt Cooks talent but having him ranked at #12 among all RBs was a bit too high for me. I was much more comfortable drafting him in the 4th round in 10 man leagues as opposed to the 2nd Round. My other question mark and in this case major issue, was Denver Rookie Running Back Royce Freeman being ranked high enough to be drafted in the 3rd Round, especially considering the Broncos Offensive Line struggles over the last few years. Drafting Freeman in the 5th Round of 10 man leagues was the smarter route to go. This is another case of accredited media outlets getting it wrong and misleading alot of owners into gambling on a pick. 

 

Now this is where the value picks begin, especially in 10 man PPR leagues. With the strong depth at Running Back this year, owners were able to load up on WRs and possibly an elite TE like Travis Kelce or Rob Gronkowski in the first 3 Rounds and then have guys like LeSean McCoy, Alex Collins, Derek Henry and Joe Mixon at their disposal in Round 4. Round 5 was still somewhat plentiful with players like Jay Ajayi, Lamar Miller, who is yielding excellent value, along with Mark Ingram. But to me, the big steal of the Draft is Carlos Hyde who will be handling the lead role in Cleveland. Hyde was ranked so inappropriately low, that he was almost hidden to the point where other Running Backs who aren't even their teams starters were ranked ahead of him. Aside from injury, Hyde was a very good player in San Francisco and with an improved Browns team and offense, if he can stay healthy, finding an RB2 in the 6th or 7th Round is priceless. 

 

After that, it was pretty much a pick of the litter situation with owners left to choose who they wanted and felt good about. Duke Johnson Jr., Tevin Coleman, Rashaad Penny, Kerryon Johnson and Rex Burkhead were still on the board but another great value pick was Marshawn Lynch, who I had ranked in my Top 25. Last season I was really high on Lynch because the Raiders had one of leagues best offensive lines and a Quarterback in Derek Carr on the rise. Worst case scenario, you figured Lynch would be a player who could at least get 60-75 yards per game and be a huge goal line Touchdown guy but it never happened and it was primarily due to the lack of touches. At one point last season, he was only averaging 10 carries per game, which is horrible for a starting Running Back. Well this season the cards are stacked in his favor much better, with new Head Coach Jon Gruden, wanting to pound Lynch early and often to set a physical tone. Catching Lynch in Round 7, is great value for a player who can be a strong flex play, respectable RB2 and also provide some nice depth at the position.