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2018 Running Back Fantasy Football Rankings

By on May 25, 2018

After taking some time off to let the NFL Draft settle in, I’m back with my Fantasy Football rankings! I’m going to do them by position and since RBs are the most important position in Fantasy Football, we’re going to start with them.

Let’s get into these RBs!

1 – Le’Veon Bell – BYE: 7 ADP: 1.7

2017: 15 Games

321 rushes, 1,291 yards, 9 TDs, 3 Fumbles

85 receptions, 655 yards, 2 TDs, 106 Targets

2018 Projected:

308 rushes, 1,300 rush yards, 10 TDs, 3.8 Fumbles

82 receptions, 660 yards, 2 TDs

266 Points

Strength of Schedule: 21st easiest for RBs

Le’Veon Bell is my clear-cut #1 guy this season in fantasy football. Nobody has been as consistently productive as an every down RB over the last 5 years, despite missing 10 games in 2015 due to a torn ACL. Bell’s ability to contribute in the passing game is what sets him apart from the rest of the RBs in the league. He’s averaging over 100 targets in the passing game over his last 3 healthy seasons and enters 2018 in yet another contract year. Le’Veon Bell and the Steelers have been at odds for quite some time about the RBs worth, but he should yet again be motivated to dominate defenses this year to prove his value. The only argument that Bell is not the top fantasy option is due to the fact that the top fantasy WR is on the same team, but Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell have coexisted in fantasy harmony for years now and that shouldn’t deter you from taking him with the top pick in your fantasy draft. I think the only way someone passes on Le’Veon Bell with the 1st overall pick in fantasy drafts this year is if they are a fan of the Rams, Cowboys, or Cardinals and want their top RB instead.

2 – Ezekiel Elliott – BYE: 8 ADP: 3.7

2017: 10 Games

242 rushes, 983 yards, 7 TDs, 1 Fumble

26 receptions, 269 yards, 2 TDs, 38 Targets

2018 Projected:

317 rushes, 1,367 rush yards, 10 TDs, 2 Fumbles

43 receptions, 405 yards, 2 TDs

248 Points

Strength of Schedule: 27th easiest for RBs

Ezekiel Elliott isn’t in a contract year like Le’Veon Bell, but there might be no player more motivated than Zeke in 2018. Last year’s roller coaster ride has left him with a thirst for revenge and redemption in 2018 and the Cowboys have reinforced the strongest part of their entire roster with 2nd round draft pick, Connor Williams completing their OL. The Cowboys have steadily increased Zeke’s role in the passing game each year and after losing Cowboys legends Dez Bryant and Jason Witten this offseason, those targets have to go somewhere and I think Zeke is a sneaky place for a majority of them. Defenses are going to be getting a heavy dose of Zeke this year and I think he responds with an MVP candidate season.

3 – Todd Gurley – BYE: 12 ADP: 1.7

2017: 15 Games

279 rushes, 1,305 yards, 13 TDs, 5 Fumbles

64 receptions, 788 yards, 6 TDs, 87 Targets

2018 Projected:

294 rushes, 1,311 rush yards, 11 TDs, 3 Fumbles

65 receptions, 632 yards, 4 TDs

280 Points

Strength of Schedule: 32nd easiest for RBs

Todd Gurley won me a couple championships last year after so many people passed on him in the 1st round. He’s been one of the most talented RBs in the NFL since entering the league and now that the injuries and Jeff Fisher are behind him, he’s really come into his own as an offensive centerpiece. The Rams made moves to improve their defense this offseason and that only helps Gurley be even more effective in 2018. Relying more on their defense means that the score will always be manageable and the Rams won’t have to get away from the running game. The only concern I have with Gurley is that it’s hard for a guy to have back-to-back seasons like he did in 2017 and, paired with his injury history, I think he’s slightly less of a sure thing than Le’Veon and Zeke.

4 – Leonard Fournette – BYE: 9 ADP: 8.3

2017: 13 Games

268 rushes, 1,040 yards, 9 TDs, 2 Fumbles

13 receptions, 302 yards, 1 TD, 48 Targets

2018 Projected:

300 rushes, 1,180 rush yards, 1 TD, 1 Fumble

37 receptions, 306 yards, 1 TDs

208 Points

Strength of Schedule: 7th easiest for RBs

It might be a surprise to see Leonard Fournette ahead of guys like David Johnson, Alvin Kamara, or Kareem Hunt, but preseason fantasy football rankings are based on projections and not a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately list. Leonard Fournette is the focal point of the Jaguars offense and until Bortles gets familiar with all his new receiving targets and, you know.. because a reliable QB, Fournette is the guy in Jacksonville. They also have a pretty good defense down there in Duval. Last year, Fournette was bothered by deep tissue injuries, which don’t really go away without long periods of rest, but he only missed 3 games and played through it. Fournette should be more prepared for the rigor of an NFL season in 2018 and I think he makes the jump into the elite RB club. The Jaguars also signed All-Pro LG Andrew Norwell to form a really good run blocking trio on the left side of their OL with Cam Robinson and Brandon Linder on either side of him. Don’t be surprised if Leonard Fournette leads the league in carries in 2018.

5 – David Johnson – BYE: 9 ADP: 3.4

2016*: 16 Games

293 rushes, 1,239 yards, 16 TDs, 5 Fumbles

80 receptions, 879 yards, 4 TDs, 120 Targets

*11 carries in 2017

2018 Projected:

261 rushes, 997 rush yards, 8 TDs, 5.3 Fumbles

77 receptions, 787 yards, 3 TDs

234 Points

Strength of Schedule: 16th easiest for RBs

David Johnson is coming off a wrist injury in which he probably could’ve come back in 2017, but the Cardinals season was already lost and there was no reason to put more miles on the Cardinals Cadillac. The good news is that the wrist won’t impact his legs like most season-ending injuries typically do, but there will still be some rust initially, so don’t panic if he gets off to a slow start in 2018. The QB situation doesn’t help with projecting David Johnson’s 2018 season. I’m assuming they are going to start Sam Bradford week 1 and try to get off to a good start, and if they struggle then Rosen could come in and it will mean an even heavier dose of DJ in the run and passing game. Either way, David Johnson is going to have one of the heaviest loads placed on him of any individual player this year because of his abilities as a runner and receiver.

6 – Kareem Hunt – BYE: 12 ADP: 6.2

2017: 16 Games

272 rushes, 1,327 yards, 8 TDs, 1 Fumble

53 receptions, 455 yards, 3 TDs, 63 Targets

2018 Projected:

234 rushes, 1,056 rush yards, 8 TDs, 2.5 Fumbles

50 receptions, 409 yards, 2 TDs

201 Points

Strength of Schedule: 17th easiest for RBs

Kareem Hunt’s rookie season happened in 3 parts: He blew up in the season kickoff game against the Patriots and carried that momentum through the 1st couple months of the season in which the Chiefs went 5-0. Just seemed to hit a wall for a bit after that, but I’m not sure if it was a physical thing or Andy Reid being his usual self and neglecting his star RB. Most likely it was a combination of the two, but the Chiefs offense started to click again in week 13 and reeled off 4 straight wins to close the season and Hunt was the common denominator in both winning streaks. I don’t expect there to be a transitional period for the Chiefs offense to start the 2018 season with Patrick Mahomes taking over at QB, but don’t be surprised if there is another mid-late season lull for the offense once defenses get some film on Mahomes & Co. and Andy Reid gets bored with running the ball.

7- Melvin Gordon – BYE: 8 ADP: 8.3

2017: 16 Games

284 rushes, 1,105 yards, 8 TDs, 1 Fumble

58 receptions, 476 yards, 4 TDs, 83 Targets

2018 Projected:

268 rushes, 1,032 rush yards, 7.4 TDs, 1 FUM

53 receptions, 441 yards, 2.5 TDs

205 Points

Strength of Schedule: 8th easiest for RBs

Melvin Gordon was able to stay healthy and had his coming out party in 2017, showing a great ability to be the all-around RB the Chargers envisioned when they drafted him in the 1st round. As Philip Rivers gets older, I anticipate Melvin Gordon becoming more and more of the Chargers focal point on offense. Head Coach Anthony Lynn was a RB coach in the NFL for 14 years prior to becoming the Chargers HC and has always had a top rushing team in the NFL. Now with Lynn his 2nd year with the Chargers and healthy & improved OL, Melvin Gordon is about to get unleashed on the NFL. Gordon has averaged less than 4 YPC in each of his NFL seasons but has still produced like a top 10 RB for the past two. Gordon has a nose for the end zone and should be fed a ton of opportunities. 2nd year RB Austin Ekeler was impressive in his rookie season, but he should remain a compliment to spell Gordon rather than challenge him for carries, especially around the goal line.

8 – Alvin Kamara – BYE: 6 ADP: 5.3

2017: 16 Games

120 rushes, 728 yards, 8 TDs, 1 Fumble

81 receptions, 826 yards, 5 TDs, 100 Targets

2018 Projected:

168 rushes, 828 rush yards, 8 TDs, 1.4 Fumbles

76 receptions, 738 yards, 4.3 TDs

227 Points

Strength of Schedule: 23rd easiest for RBs

Alvin Kamara is the guy most reigning fantasy football champs have a massive hard on for going into 2018 for after he likely carried them to a title as a waiver wire pickup, and why shouldn’t they after he was the lightning to Mark Ingram’s thunder in their epic performance last year? I mean on paper, it would make so much sense to just take the production from Mark Ingram for the first 4 games while he serves his suspension and transfer it to Alvin Kamara, right? But Kamara never even had more than 12 carries in a game in 2017, so why are so many people expecting that it’s going to work like that? The Saints offense made the shift towards a running offense in 2017 with their two-headed monster leading the charge. Cut off one of those heads and the monster isn’t nearly as effective. It doesn’t mean that it can’t still be productive, but scale back those expectations a little. You can’t have lightning without the thunder, so expect Kamara to get off to a slow start without Mark Ingram softening up the defense for him early on. I’m not targeting Kamara in the draft, I’m targeting him for trade around their week 6 BYE.

9 – Saquon Barkley – BYE: 9 ADP: 8.7

2017*: 12 Games

217 rushes, 1,271 yards, 18 TDs, 1 Fumble

54 receptions, 632 yards, 3 TDs

*College Stats

2018 Projected:

256 rushes, 1,095 rush yards, 8 TDs, 1.7 Fumbles

55 receptions, 437 yards, 2 TDs

207 Points

Strength of Schedule: 31st easiest for RBs

For those that saw my mock drafts know I was strongly against the Giants drafting Saquon Barkley, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s one of the best RBs walking into the league. He’s definitely going to provide instant results compared to the slower results from drafting a franchise QB. Eli Manning is washed up, but even he might be competent enough still to just hand it off and get the ball off to OBJ and Evan Engram. The Giants are only a year removed from being a decent team, so adding in a threat at RB could transform them into a well balanced team that may very well exceed expectations. Barkley’s fantasy value has a high floor with a top 5 RB ceiling.

10 – Derrick Henry – BYE: 8 ADP: 20

2017: 16 Games

176 rushes, 744 yards, 5 TDs, 1 Fumble

11 receptions, 136 yards, 1 TD, 17 Targets

2018 Projected:

211 rushes, 879 rush yards, 7 TDs, 1.2 Fumbles

21 receptions, 191 yards, 1 TDs

Strength of Schedule: 5th easiest for RBs

Derrick Henry finally gets his chance as a lead back in Tennessee after DeMarco Murray has been the starter for his 1st 2 years in the league. If you think about how much wear and tear Derrick Henry had on his body coming into the league with, those two years as a backup/closer were perfect for him to get his body right to carry the load. The Titans didn’t draft Derrick Henry in the 2nd round to be a part time player. Just in case he’s not as effective in the lead dog role, the Titans signed Dion Lewis from New England. Don’t let Dion Lewis scare you from drafting Derrick Henry in the 2nd round because he’s just a change of pace guy and won’t be stealing goal line carries or anything like that. Lewis is going to be a 3rd down back at best for the Titans.

So that’s it for my top 10 fantasy football RBs in 2018. If this video reaches 500 LIKES, I’ll post another deeper breakdown of each guy in my top 20 and why I’m higher on guys like Christian McCaffrey and lower on guys like Jay Ajayi than most people going into this season.

11 – LeSean McCoy

12 – Jordan Howard

13 – Devonta Freeman

14 – Christian McCaffrey

15 – Dalvin Cook

16 – Joe Mixon

17 – Jerick McKinnon

18 – Derrius Guice

19 – Jay Ajayi

20 – Rashaad Penny

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