2017 fantasy football position rankings: Running Backs

Continuing our series of position rankings for the upcoming 2017 fantasy football season, we’ll take a look at running backs before turning to wide receivers next week. We’ve ranked the QBs from 1 to 32. We’ll rank the running backs from 1-36, the wide receivers 1-36 and the tight ends 1-24. Defenses and kickers will be ranked 1-12.

The top three running backs are so close, but I give the edge to David Johnson since he had 80 receptions last year and caught passes for more yards than Dez Bryant, Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall and Jordan Reed.

1. David Johnson, Cardinals—He nearly carried the ball 300 times last season and caught 80 passes. There’s no reason to think he won’t be used to that degree yet again.

2. Le’Veon Bell, Steelers—No worries about an early-season suspension this time around. I had him No. 1 early in my rankings, but Johnson’s touches gave him the edge at this point.

3. Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys—Elliott couldn’t have had a better rookie season. Given that, you have to assume he has just a tiny bit of regression. The Cowboys will also want to save him from too much work by using Darren McFadden to relieve some pressure.

4. LeSean McCoy, Bills—Mike Gillislee is in New England now, so if McCoy can stay healthy he might get even more work than he already does.

5. Jordan Howard, Bears—Howard gained the most yardage between the tackles in 2016, according to Pro Football Focus. He should see an increase in touches given that he’ll likely be playing with a rookie quarterback at some point.

Jordan Howard #24 of the Chicago Bears is hit by Ha Ha Clinton-Dix #21 of the Green Bay Packers as he scores a touchdown in the 4th quarter at Soldier Field on December 18, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Packers defeated the Bears 30-27. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

6. Melvin Gordon, Chargers—Gordon’s value has been improved by this offseason. Danny Woodhead is a Raven and the Chargers didn’t draft a running back, they drafted two offensive linemen. Gordon will continue to dominate touches in the backfield.

7. Devonta Freeman, Falcons—Have no fear of Tevin Coleman, Freeman actually is more productive when Coleman gets touches. If the Falcons can continue to run a potent offense without Kyle Shanahan, Freeman will do well.

Devonta Freeman #24 of the Atlanta Falcons fails to reach the pylon against Vinnie Sunseri #40 of the San Francisco 49ers during the first half at the Georgia Dome on December 18, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

8. DeMarco Murray, Titans—He surprised some people last season, given his average draft position was in mid-to-later rounds. Murray suffered from Chip Kelly’s sideways run scheme the year before so he was undervalued in drafts in 2016. He seems to be back to his Cowboys-era self.

9. Jay Ajayi, Dolphins—Three games rushing for at least 200 yards can’t be ignored. Plus, it looks as if he’s making strides in the passing game. He showed his ability as a pass catcher in college so if he improves in that portion of his game he could be remarkable.

10. Lamar Miller, Texans—The addition of D’Onta Foreman may end up helping Miller stay fresh all season. Quality touches will be the key to his success in addition to decent volume.

11. Todd Gurley, Rams—He remains an RB1 despite his rough season last year. That’s because the volume is still there. His bad season probably means he can be had in the second round. But he’ll end up being undervalued if he goes after the first.

Todd Gurley #30 of the Los Angeles Rams rushes for a first down during the fourth quarter of the game against the Carolina Panthers at the Los Angeles Coliseum on November 6, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

 

12. Spencer Ware, Chiefs—He got great news when the Chiefs didn’t re-sign Jamaal Charles, but they did end up drafting Kareem Hunt. Keep an eye on training camp to make sure Ware holds firm to the starting spot.

13. C.J. Anderson, Broncos

14. Isaiah Crowell, Browns

15. Carlos Hyde, 49ers

16. Mark Ingram, Saints

17. Tevin Coleman, Falcons

18. Adrian Peterson, Saints

19. Latavius Murray, Vikings

20. Eddie Lacy, Seahawks

21. Leonard Fournette, Jaguars

22. Marshawn Lynch, Raiders

23. Doug Martin, Buccaneers

24. Mike Gillislee, Patriots

25. Robert Kelley, Redskins

26. Ty Montgomery, Packers

27. Jeremy Hill, Bengals

28. Derrick Henry, Titans

29. Frank Gore, Colts

30. Bilal Powell, Jets

31. Ameer Abdullah, Lions

32. Christian McCaffrey, Panthers

33. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers

34. Paul Perkins, Giants

35. Matt Forte, Jets

36. Joe Mixon, Bengals

2016 Fantasy Football Awards and 2017’s Top 100

With the 2016 season in the books, it’s time to talk about the bests and worsts of the year and take a look toward 2017. Here are the 2016 Fantasy Football Awards.

We’ve got the MVP,  best sleeper, the best waiver pickup and a lot more.

We’ve also got the Top 100 rankings heading into next season.

Here’s a look at the potential first round:

1. Le’Veon Bell, RB, Steelers

2. David Johnson, RB, Cardinals

3. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys

4. Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers

5. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Giants

6. Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers

7. Julio Jones, WR, Falcons

8. Jordan Howard, RB, Bears

9. LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills

10. DeMarco Murray, RB, Titans

11. A.J. Green, WR, Bengals

12. Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers

Go here for the rest of the list.

Fantasy football Week 14 recap and waiver wire suggestions

If you had a good weekend playing fantasy football, you very likely had some unexpected performances turn in your favor. Other than Le’Veon Bell owners, virtually no owners with weekly top-tier performers were guaranteed victories.

For the most part, big-name players under-performed in the first week of the fantasy playoffs. If you were able to avoid those disasters, you survived a terrible Sunday.

Starting with the worst quarterbacks this week, you had Drew Brees, Russell Wilson, Jameis Winston, Derek Carr, Marcus Mariota and Ben Roethlisberger all score in single digits. It was as if they didn’t know, or worse didn’t care, that this week was crucial to our fantasy success.

Buffalo Bills outside linebacker Lorenzo Alexander (57) and defensive end Adolphus Washington (92) celebrate after Alexander intercepted a pass from Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Bill Wippert)
Buffalo Bills outside linebacker Lorenzo Alexander (57) and defensive end Adolphus Washington (92) celebrate after Alexander intercepted a pass from Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Bill Wippert)

Only eight running backs topped 100 yards. The biggest disappointment was Melvin Gordon, through no fault of his own, as he was injured early in the game. He had three carries for 5 yards before a hip injury had him carted off the field. NFL.com reports that he will be day-to-day, just three yards shy from 1,000 for the season.

Mark Ingram was a big dud as well, and he was available the whole game. Seven carries for 14 yards isn’t going to do it as an RB1 in the first round of the fantasy playoffs. Hopefully you had other players step up.

Thomas Rawls had limited impact because of game script as the Seahawks trailed early and by a lot. He looked good and gained 67 yards on 12 carries, but became a victim of circumstance with the Seahawks needing to throw.

Seattle Seahawks' Thomas Rawls runs during the first half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Seattle Seahawks’ Thomas Rawls runs during the first half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

Devonta Freeman was virtually invisible in a game in which the Falcons scored 42 points. Tevin Coleman scored twice, on the other hand.

Your biggest receiving disappointment was Dez Bryant, who fumbled away his only reception of the night, leaving him in negative-point territory. Mike Evans, who’s been very consistent, and Brandon Marshall, who hasn’t, both failed to eclipse 42 yards receiving.

Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys fumbles the ball as Janoris Jenkins #20 and Keenan Robinson #57 of the New York Giants make the tackle in the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium on December 11, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys fumbles the ball as Janoris Jenkins #20 and Keenan Robinson #57 of the New York Giants make the tackle in the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium on December 11, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The disappointments didn’t end with the skill positions. The Seahawks defense was terrible as well, giving up 38 points, 21 in the first half, to the Packers.

Basically, if you’ve been consistently good all year, Week 14 was very likely not your week.

On the bright side, the odds of your opponent having a bad week were pretty good as well. Here’s hoping you had at least a few of the following fantasy studs on your side.

There was Bell, who had nearly 300 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns. His 38 carries were a season high and he was basically worth two RB1s in the game.

Bilal Powell #29 of the New York Jets rushes for a 19-yard touchdown to beat the San Francisco 49ers 23-17 in overtime of their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on December 11, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Bilal Powell #29 of the New York Jets rushes for a 19-yard touchdown to beat the San Francisco 49ers 23-17 in overtime of their NFL game at Levi’s Stadium on December 11, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Bilal Powell and Carlos Hyde were distant second- and third-place performers to Bell.

Powell filled in for an injured Matt Forte, gaining 179 yards on 34 touches and scoring twice. Forte is considered day-to-day. Hyde averaged 11.3 yards per carry against the Jets as he totaled 193 yards and caught a short touchdown pass.

Tom Brady was spectacular against the Ravens on Monday night, throwing for over 400 yards and three touchdowns.

Aaron Rodgers lit up a Seahawks defense that gave up 16.2 points per game before Sunday. He threw for 246 yards and three touchdowns. The wideout who benefitted the most was Davante Adams, who caught an early 66-yard touchdown. He ended the game with four catches for 104 yards.

T.Y. Hilton caught nine passes for 115 yards and scored while the Broncos’ receivers, Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas, both topped 100 yards. DeSean Jackson had his second 100-yard, one-TD game in three outings.

At tight end, Tyler Eifert took advantage of the Browns’ defense as expected, scoring twice. Zach Ertz has been on a serious roll as well.

If you somehow survived the bloodbath, here’s a look at some waiver wire suggestions in case your league allows them during the playoffs.

Quarterbacks

  • Trevor Siemian, Broncos (Still available in a lot of leagues)

Running backs

  • Bilal Powell, Jets
  • Kenneth Farrow, Chargers (22 touches-78 yards, great schedule ahead if Gordon is unavailable)

Wide receivers

  • Alshon Jeffery, Bears (suspension is over)
  • Chris Hogan, Patriots (5-129, TD)
  • Pierre Garcon, Redskins (5-59, TD)
  • Marqise Lee, Jaguars (Not for Week 15 at Houston, but for Week 16 vs. Tennessee)

Fantasy football Week 5 recap and waiver wire suggestions

In a way Week 5 was just the beginning for some fantasy owners. It marked the return of Tom Brady and was the second week Le’Veon Bell was allowed to run at full throttle.

And both performed as expected with Bell amassing 154 total yards while Brady threw for 406 yards and three touchdowns.

It was like Brady never missed a game and if you had trouble deciding which tight end would be the most useful on the Patriots, either one was a good call. Martellus Bennett scored three touchdowns while Rob Gronkowski caught five passes for 105 yards.

New England Patriots' Tom Brady looks to throw against the Cleveland Browns during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
New England Patriots’ Tom Brady looks to throw against the Cleveland Browns during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

Brady even raised the value of Chris Hogan, the wide receiver who caught four passes for 114 yards. He had just one catch for three yards in his two previous games.

Other quarterbacks who had big weeks were Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers and Derek Carr, who were all suggested as great starts in my column on Saturday. Roethlisberger, who continues to play better at home than on the road, had the best fantasy week as he threw for 380 yards and four touchdowns. Rivers threw for 359 yards and four TDs to go along with two interceptions. Carr is now a must-start quarterback after throwing for 317 yards and two scores against one pick.

Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers looks to pass against the Oakland Raiders during their NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on October 9, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers looks to pass against the Oakland Raiders during their NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on October 9, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

A couple of signal callers who had surprisingly good weeks were Marcus Mariota and Brian Hoyer. Though I did suggest Hoyer as a pickup last week, it was a bit surprising that he had 397 yards and two touchdown passes. Mariota had his best fantasy performance of the year, accounting for four touchdowns, throwing three and rushing for one.

I’ll admit I missed on Eli Manning this week, who really disappointed against a Packers defense that usually lets quarterbacks score big in fantasy. He connected with Odell Beckham Jr. in the end zone for the first time this season, however.

This week’s top receiver was a surprise. Sammie Coates looks like he may turn into a nice replacement for the suspended Martavis Bryant as a deep threat. Roethlisberger connected with Coates six times for 139 yards and two touchdowns, including a 72-yard score.

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Sammie Coates (14) takes a pass from from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for a touchdown with New York Jets cornerback Marcus Williams (20) defending during the first half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Fred Vuich)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Sammie Coates (14) takes a pass from from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for a touchdown with New York Jets cornerback Marcus Williams (20) defending during the first half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Fred Vuich)

Speaking of long scores, Ezekiel Elliott had a 60-yard run as he improved on his fantasy scoring once again, rushing for 134 yards and two touchdowns.

Two other rookies had big days as Jordan Howard rushed for 118 yards and caught three passes for 45 yards and a touchdown for the Bears. Tight end Hunter Henry had three catches for 74 yards and a touchdown, outscoring veteran Antonio Gates.

There was great play from T.Y. Hilton (10-171, TD) and Brandon Marshall (8 catches, 114 yards, TD) while Amari Cooper finally caught his first touchdown of the year to go along with 138 yards.

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (13) catches a pass against Chicago Bears cornerback Jacoby Glenn (39) on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind. The Colts won the game 29-23. (Sam Riche/TNS)
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (13) catches a pass against Chicago Bears cornerback Jacoby Glenn (39) on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind. The Colts won the game 29-23. (Sam Riche/TNS)

Other great games were had by Cameron Meredith of the Bears and the Vikings’ Adam Thielen. Meredith’s targets continue to increase with Hoyer starting for Chicago. Thielen broke out after being targeted at least three times in every game this year. You could probably pick him up with the Vikings set to have a bye.

Julio Jones, Julian Edelman and Jarvis Landry all had terrible weeks from the wideout position. Jeremy Hill (4 rushes, 12 yards), Lamar Miller (8-20) and Isaiah Crowell (13-22) were the worst fantasy starters running the ball.

Minnesota Vikings middle linebacker Eric Kendricks tackles Houston Texans running back Lamar Miller during the first quarter on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn. (Elizabeth Flores/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS)
Minnesota Vikings middle linebacker Eric Kendricks tackles Houston Texans running back Lamar Miller during the first quarter on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn. (Elizabeth Flores/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS)

In a surprising turn, both Falcons backs had big games against a tough Broncos defense. Tevin Coleman caught 4 passes for 132 yards and a touchdown. Devonta Freeman rushed for 88 yards and a score.

Finally I’ve got to give credit to the Bills and Vikings defenses for big weeks in which they both had four sacks and scored a touchdown. Vikings are a must-start defense.

Waiver wire suggestions:

Running backs

Matt Asiata, Vikings (17 touches-101 yards, TD)

Wide receivers

Sammie Coates, Steelers
Cameron Meredith, Bears (9-130, TD)
Adam Thielen, Vikings (7-127, TD)
Chris Hogan, Patriots

It’s time to start mock drafting

It used to be a good idea, but now it’s pretty essential to go through a few mock drafts in order to prepare yourself for an upcoming fantasy football season. I took part in one this week and learned a couple of things. First off, here’s the team I selected in a standard league mock draft on NFL.com.

mymockteam

mymockteam2

Drafting from the tenth and final spot of the round posed an interesting challenge. The first mistake I made was not taking a running back with my first two picks in the snake order. Though there’s some depth at the position on this team, there’s no clear RB2. Some might argue that Carlos Hyde isn’t even an RB1 at this point, but if he’s healthy I think he will be. Questions are swirling around DeMarco Murray, T.J. Yeldon, Thomas Rawls and Dion Lewis, however.

The wide receiver spot looks pretty good with A.J. Green and Amari Cooper taking the WR1 and WR2 spots, with either Donte Moncrief or new Lions receiver Marvin Jones taking a flex spot.

Tight end is probably the most solid position, but with Rob Gronkowski going without Tom Brady for four games Coby Fleener could get a couple starts if he has an instant connection with Drew Brees.

Speaking of quarterbacks, Ben Roethlisberger is a solid starter with Antonio Brown as his main weapon and let’s hope he doesn’t have to miss any time with an aging Tony Romo as his backup.

A few other things I learned from the mock draft:

  • David Johnson is likely a top-5 pick. The person with the first pick in my mock draft took him, but he should probably go no lower than sixth.
  • Le’Veon Bell probably won’t be the first, or maybe even second, running back selected. My draft had Johnson and Todd Gurley go ahead of him.
  • Ezekiel Elliott is no-doubt a first round pick. He went eighth in this mock draft, but I’ve seen him go higher.
  • Don’t be surprised if the first round is half running backs, half wide receivers. Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr., DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green went in the first round of this mock.
  • Lamar Miller is right in the late first round, early second round territory. Don’t feel like you’re being too risky taking the new Texan in the first.
  • If DeMarco Murray has a bounce back year, someone will be happy having taken him in the sixth or later.