The NFL season is over and for us diehard fantasy football writers, it can only mean one thing: it’s time to look ahead and analyze what is to come for the 2018 season.
The 2017 season was a year of injuries. I understand that injuries happen every year but this year seemed to have affected more elite players than normal. Two of the top three running backs from 2016 had their seasons shortened. We were all robbed of seeing running backs like David Johnson play 16 games and Ezekiel Elliott was suspended for 6 games at the end of the year but somehow still finished the year as a top 10 running back!
If you can manage to block out the negative storylines surrounding the 2017 running back campaign, you will see there were some exciting things that happened at the RB position. Rookies flashed, they performed like seasoned veterans and three rookie RBs finished the season as RB1s! Lately, there has been a shortage of elite talent at this position so we could very well see teams taking more chances with the young players as the 2018 season unfolds. Either way, I know I’m excited to talk about our way too early top 10 RBs for 2018!
The Fantasy Footballers’ Writing Staff has ranked the top 10 players at each position to give a clear picture of the consensus top 10.
2018 Top 10 Running Backs (Half PPR scoring)
|Consensus Rank||Player||Team||Highest Rank||Lowest Rank|
*Also received a top 10 vote: D. Freeman #11, M. Ingram #12, D. Henry #14,
Now that we have our consensus rankings, I’ve asked some of the writers to provide their reasoning and process as to which RBs they could see falling outside the top 10, who they ranked in the top then that did not make the consensus, and who did they rank in the top spot and why.
Q1. Which running back could you see falling outside of this Top 10 in 2018?
His RB3 finish in a timeshare was uber efficient. Not sure he can finish quite that high next as regression is definitely coming. I ranked Kamara at 11, so just outside top 10. –Matthew Betz, @TheFantasyPT
So I’m slightly concerned about Kareem Hunt. Inconsistent and usage issues are scaring me off. With Andy Reid presumably taking back over play calling in 2018, I’m concerned we’ll see many repeats of their playoff defeat. If he doesn’t have a huge first quarter, he may not see the ball enough to do anything in the last 3. I have him ranked lowest among the writers. -Ryan Weisse, @TheFantasyFive
After the last couple years of RB revival, this is as strong of a Top 10 as I can remember. The top eight are all absolute locks in my book, so I have to choose between Gordon (Mr. Inefficient) and McCoy. I’m going to give the edge to Father Time slowing Shady McCoy (just a step) in his age-30 season. I personally ranked him 14th and it’s less about doubt in the shifty vet and more about confidence in the young talent elsewhere in the league. -Matt Okada, @FantasySensei
I can’t say that any of these top 10 RBs don’t deserve to be there. In fact, this top ten is my top ten (just not in this order). I ranked LeSean McCoy 9th but could easily see him slip out of the top 10 in 2018. He had 6 (not counting Week 17) games in 2017 where he rushed for 50 yards or less and he wasn’t very effective in the passing game. McCoy will be 30 years old in 2018 which is typically the cliff for most backs. Given his age and the uncertainty of what the Buffalo Bills offense will look like in 2018, LeSean McCoy is the most likely candidate to fall outside the top 10 running backs in 2018. –Nate Hamilton, @DomiNateFF
Q2. Who did you rank in the Top 10 that did not make the consensus?
Devonta Freeman and Derrick Henry were my 9 and 10. For Freeman, it’ll only take a slightly improved offense to get him from his RB13 finish in 2017 back to the Top 10, and I think the Falcons will make that recovery. -Matt Okada, @FantasySensei
This is largely rooted in the belief that new head coach Mike Vrabel will finally feed Henry the 20 carries per game he needs and relegate DeMarco Murray to a pass-catching role. (P.S. We couldn’t rank rookies yet, but I’d also put a certain incoming prospect in the Top 10 regardless of landing spot … his name rhymes with Maquon Markley). -Matt Okada, @FantasySensei
So all of my top 10 made the consensus but keep an eye on Derrick Henry. With new coaching, and especially a defensive minded coach, and the probable departure of DeMarco Murray, 2018 could be a breakout year for Henry. -Ryan Weisse, @TheFantasyFive
Q3. Three different RBs received a number 1 ranking (Bell, Gurley, & Elliott). Who did you rank 1 and why?
Rumors that he could be franchised means PIT will ride him into the ground if he plays under the tag. Can’t deny the volume in that offense, especially with his involvement in the passing game. –Matthew Betz, @TheFantasyPT
For some strange reason, I am the only FFBallers ranker to put Todd Gurley — the reigning No. 1 RB — back at the top for 2018. As a reminder, this is the guy who just outscored Bell by 52.2 half-PPR fantasy points (in the same number of games) and outpaced Zeke by 4.4 fantasy points per game. The only active player with a better fantasy season under his belt is David Johnson — in 2016 when he actually averaged 0.4 FPPG less than Gurley in ’17 — and he has injury and offense question marks that Gurley simply doesn’t have. Plus, Sean McVay and Jared Goff can only improve this offense with another year of work and Gurley will be the prime beneficiary. Game. Set. Match. -Matt Okada, @FantasySensei
Zeke is my number 1 for a couple of reasons. Dallas knows they have to lean on him. He is going to get the ball a lot and he should do a lot with it. I’m having trouble trusting Lev Bell and his contract situation and I’m waiting to see if the Gurley roller coaster is heading up or down. -Ryan Weisse, @TheFantasyFive
Need I remind you, this man missed 6 complete NFL games in 2017 and STILL finished as the RB #10! Zeke finished the year with 190.20 fantasy points in half point scoring. This means he averaged 19.02 fantasy points per game which happened to be 3rd best in the league. Had he played a full 16 games, he would have ranked ahead of Le’Veon Bell in 2017. It’s just scary what Ezekiel Elliott could do in a full season given his talent and workload. –Nate Hamilton, @DomiNateFF