There’s plenty to cover at the running back position with Lamar Miller‘s ACL injury and holdouts from Melvin Gordon and Ezekiel Elliott. Check out my original rankings from July for more in-depth writeups for each running back on the list.
Scroll past my rankings to the bottom of the page to see notes on various risers and fallers over the past month of the preseason.
These rankings are based on PPR scoring.
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- I’m stubbornly keeping Ezekiel Elliott high in my rankings, though I have moved David Johnson above him recently. I also would take DeAndre Hopkins, Davante Adams, and Julio Jones above Zeke in the first round of drafts. By pick eight overall, however, I’m ready to roll the dice on Elliott. I think he’s too big a part of the Cowboys for this to cost him much more than a game or two. If you want to avoid the headache, however, I wouldn’t blame you.
- Melvin Gordon, on the other hand, has dropped 13 spots in my running back rankings since July. The Chargers aren’t as dependent on Gordon with Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson ready to fill in, and Ekeler provides a versatile option that not many teams possess. Coupled with Gordon’s injury history and lower ceiling compared to Zeke, and I am much less likely to take the risk on Gordon.
- I moved Nick Chubb up four spots after fully considering the trade of Duke Johnson and the offensive upside that the Browns appear capable of. Chubb will be sharing the backfield with Dontrell Hilliard for the first eight games of the season while Kareem Hunt is suspended. Chubb should have all the work he can stomach during the first eight weeks, and if Hunt needs time to ease into his role, Chubb’s backfield dominance could extend even further. Frankly, I’ll worry about Week 9 when I get there, and Chubb may have you knocking on the door of a first-round bye in the playoffs by the time Hunt re-establishes himself in the Browns offense.
- Speaking of Duke Johnson, the Lamar Miller ACL injury leaves a gaping hole in the Texans backfield, and Johnson appears ready to be given a bigger role than he has ever handled in his career. His efficiency numbers show a player that could break out if given the chance, so it will be interesting to see if the Texans add anyone to their backfield in the coming weeks. Damarea Crockett, Karan Higdon, and Josh Ferguson sneak onto the bottom of my list on the off chance that the Texans stand pat and head into the season with what they have at the position. Even free agent Jay Ajayi receives a token ranking, as he has been rumored to be on the Texans radar. Johnson is likely the only Texan running back currently on the roster with any fantasy value, but this situation needs to be monitored closely.
- Marlon Mack drops seven spots after the Andrew Luck retirement, not a devastating hit to his value for now. With a likely decrease in yardage and touchdowns without Luck, Mack needs more than ever to expand on his non-existent passing game role. There have been promising signs in camp and in preseason games, so hopefully Mack can see an overall increase in his workload as the Colts rely on him more in the post-Luck world.
- I continue to want to draft Darwin Thompson and Justice Hill as often as possible, but the hype is real, and they are flying up draft boards. My ranking is an attempt to be rational, as I wouldn’t feel comfortable with either as my flex option to start the season. Thompson and Hill rank just outside of the top 36 in my updated rankings, though their potential upside is what makes me want to jump them higher. Still, the most realistic outcome is that both players are complementary pieces in their offenses, and never quite develop the workload to be every week difference makers.
- Tony Pollard could become a wasted pick very quickly if Elliott were to end his holdout. But don’t forget about Pollard, whether you drafted Zeke or not, as he’s an elite handcuff option that could see a start or two for the Cowboys if Elliott’s holdout continues much longer. Just be prepared to feel like an idiot if Zeke ends his holdout the day after your draft.
- If Carlos Hyde is in danger of being cut, then we should be interested in Darrel Williams by default. As the potential third running back on Kansas City’s depth chart, Williams would be behind only Damien Williams, who has never carried the ball more than 50 times in a single season, and Darwin Thompson, a 5’8″ rookie sixth-round pick. Darrel Williams got some action last year after Hunt was suspended and waived, so he could see some work again this year in the league’s most explosive offense. I’d be willing to wager Darrel Williams becomes fantasy relevant at some point this season if Hyde is indeed released.
(Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire)