Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs (Update)

Aug 20, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Giants free safety Landon Collins (21) dives to try and tackle Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy (25) as he runs the ball during the first half at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 20, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Giants free safety Landon Collins (21) dives to try and tackle Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy (25) as he runs the ball during the first half at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports /
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Aug 18, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; Chicago Bears running back Jeremy Langford (33) is tackled by New England Patriots outside linebacker Jamie Collins (91) during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /

Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs, after Preseason Week 2.  These rankings are submitted by Matt Rogers, FantasyCPR Editor, to FantasyPros.  The results are based on career to date and 2015-2016 statistics, as well as 2016-2017 expectations of the writer.

The second week of preseason games concluded this past weekend, and we continue to evaluate player rankings and prepare for your Fantasy Football Draft day(s).  I recently updated my submitted ‘Expert’ Fantasy Football rankings to FantasyPros, and this article presents the Running Backs (RB) results, as well as an explanation for several of the ranking change decisions.

Before we go into detail, here are my top 86 RB draft rankings, after week 2 of the NFL Preseason, along with a comparison to the FantasyPros Expert Consensus Ranking and Average Draft Position so far this year:

2016 Fantasy Football Rankings powered by FantasyProsECR ™ – Expert Consensus Rankings
ADP – Average Draft Position

Next: Top RB Risers

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Aug 18, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back Kenjon Barner (34) runs the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The Eagles won 17-0. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Top RB Risers

Anyone who’s played in a fantasy football league over the past couple of years knows the running back position is full of fragile options.  Building a deep group or running backs to help you through an entire season, and hopefully a championship, is very challenging.  With the wear and tear this position takes, leading to many injures, team managers are checking FA’s almost daily for a better option at RB.  The fragility starts with the RB depth chart battles each preseason.  Unless you have Adrian Peterson, who has earned his lock at #1, almost every running back in the league could have a limited stay in the number 1 and number 2 spot on each team’s depth chart.

We’ve seen a remarkable number of running backs surge and plummet over the last two weeks. Several options, some not even previously on our list, are now rising quickly up the running back rankings.  A great example is Kenjon Barner (50).  Barner is pretty far down our list of rankings, but he wasn’t even on the 86 player list last week.  At the start of training camp, it was assumed Ryan Mathews was the Eagles top running back, with Darren Sproles playing more of an X-factor role out of the backfield along with Mathews.  Then, most expected the 5th round pick out of West Virginia, Wendell Smallwood to fill in as the 3rd RB, with Kenjon Barner either fitting into a 4th back spot, or likely getting a practice team contract.  However, Barner is making a strong play for the 2nd spot on the roster at running back, and it appears has beating an injured Smallwood already.  With Mathews injury history, Kenjon Barner should be on your radar in deep leagues or a hand-cuff to Mathews.

A few other risers related to depth charts are Reggie Bush (60), who’s now becoming the #2 back in Buffalo, Robert Kelley (61), likely starting in week 3 with Matt Jones injured and the Kendall Marshall experiment falling flat.  Despite the hype, I’m still skeptical of Ezekiel Elliott, so I’m moving Alfred Morris (40) up several spots because he looks good in the preseason and is arguably the next best option in Dallas.

Finally, after being down on Jeremy Langford (16) to start the preseason, Langford appears to be redeeming himself, so far.  Langford had flashes of brilliance last year, but also had plenty of red flags.  He’s not a great blocking back, has trouble receiving out of the backfield, and struggled to break tackles.  But, Jeremy has high upside and room to grow.  So far this preseason, it looks like he may be taking several steps toward growing as an NFL running back, and could become a sleeper.  I moved Langford up 11 spots from my last rankings, but I’m keeping an eye on him and remain skeptical.

Next: Top RB Fallers

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Nov 8, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots running back Dion Lewis (33) is tackled by Washington Redskins outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan (91) during the first quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports /

Top RB Fallers

After an incredible start to the 2015 season, Dion Lewis (36) tore his ACL.  There is a lot of hype, still around Lewis’ ability to take over as the lead back in New England, especially after great comments from Tom Brady about his skill set.  However, Lewis is still on the mend, and recently has ‘minor’ surgery that’ll keep him out for the next 2-3 months.  I pushed Lewis down 15 spots, but I’m considering dropping him further.  While Lewis has demonstrated incredible upside, I’m very worried about how difficult it has been for Dion to get back on the field.  For this year, I would avoid him.  But, he may be a great late round grab, or FA pickup, in dynasty/keeper leagues.

Speaking of Injuries, Matt Jones (6) continues to have hype around him in DC, but he appears to struggle to consistently get on the field healthy.  We already talked about Kelly getting more reps because of Jones time off.  If I’m a Redskins fan, it’s time to start getting concerned about Jones injury bug, after moving on from an Alfred Morris, who’s now emerging in Dallas, your swore enemy.

I moved Frank Gore (29) down a few more spots as well, because I’m concerned about his so-so performance in Indy last year and he’s going to hit the age wall soon.  Jamaal Charles (11) is still a top notch RB, but if you’re in a 10-team league, he should be a top 2nd RB, not top 10.  Finally, while I understand Eddie Lacy (17) has been amazing in the early part of his career and still has great upside, I’m concerned about his health and effort over the last couple of seasons.  I would avoid him, even if others still think he’s a top 20 RB.  I may move him down further next week.52.

Next: Fantasy Football Rankings: QB's (Updated)