By: Kyle Richardson (Twitter: @krich1532)
Dynasty Tiers: RBs
When ranking players, I place them into tiers instead of normal numerical rankings. I’m not one to split hairs on certain players. In a tier, I could be happy owning any numbers of players. Tiers are as follows:
Tier 1:Top players at the position. Age is factored in, but elite is elite. You are getting the best here.
Tier 2:Up and comers. They may not have a lengthy track record, but they are trending up. They will be elite soon.
Tier 3:Reliable vets. These guys may or may not provide elite stats, but they are trustworthy. Age could be catching up though.
Tier 4:Risky options galore. A mix of seasoned vets and younger players that have not established a track record, but will be getting their shot soon.
Tier 5:The rest. Rookies with no experience and bench vets who could be an injury away from starting.
Not sure I really need to waste article space or your time talking about these guys. We all know there are three backs and then everyone else.
People are down on Gurley right now, but he is uber talented. The question is whether he has the talent around him to reach his full potential. Howard is going to have another fantastic year running between the tackles in Chicago. People have concerns about Freeman leaving Atlanta and where he would go, but I’m not going to worry too much about that. I was down on Freeman heading into 2016, and he proved me wrong. Not doing it again. Gordon will not see quite the same TD count in 2017, but there is no other back in LA pushing him for carries. Lots of talent at WR will open the box for him. I will get roasted for including Hyde here, but I am not giving up yet. Injury concerns are the only thing that worry me with a Joe Williams take over, but Hyde has the talent to be RB1. Yeah, I included two rookies in here with Fournette and Mixon. Both will make contributions in 2017 and both will be in Tier 1, maybe as early as next year. Henry will be the lead back in Tennessee the next time I write this article. If you grab Henry, it’s hoping he helps some in 2017, but then really breaks out in 2018.
Montgomery only has about half a season under his belt at RB since, well, a long time. Not enough for me to keep him out of tier 2. “But he hasn’t played running back long.” “He only had 1 big game last year!” “Green Bay drafted 3 running backs!” I hear it, but I’m just ignoring you. Crowell will surprise some people this year, and I think he finishes as a high RB2 or even RB1. He could leave Cleveland after 2017 if they don’t have a respectful season and go somewhere better. I think the Cleveland offense is trending up though. Dixon will miss the first 4 games in 2017, but its smooth sailing after that. He’s an all-around back that won’t be losing too many carries to Terrence West. Coleman will not be a huge fantasy asset in 2017, but he may be the starting running back for Atlanta in 2018. May want to try and grab him now if possible. Kelley could lose some carries to Perine this year, but I don’t think it’s many yet. I have some concerns about him, but not enough for what potential he showed last year. He’s a fringe tier 2 for me.
I am going to get some comments about Ajayi being in my third tier. I just don’t trust his knees to hold up and I don’t know if he can produce the kind of season he had last year. McCoy is going to have a fantastic year in 2017. But at 29, with a lot of miles and no guarantee of where he will be in 2018, he falls into tier 3 for me. Miller scares me, but I put him here because I think the Texans run the ball much more this year. He has someone ready to take his spot though. Murray falls in to tier 3 also because of long term questions. He won’t be in Tennessee next year and I have concerns over injuries as well.
Ingram and Peterson will split time this year, but AP will be the guy to own in New Orleans for 2017. Long term though? I would stay away from both to be honest. Powell and Forte will also split time this year. If Powell was on his own, I would like him more, but can’t do it here. Bernard and Hill will be behind Mixon before too long. Hill however has double digit TDs each year in the league and can be a decent flex play. Gio is worth owning in PPR formats after he comes back. I think Bernard is the one to move on from Cincy and could be worth a lot after that happens. What is Anderson going to do? I don’t have a clue. It sounds like it will be a RBBC in Denver, and even though I think Anderson is the main guy, a lack of top tier QB worries could cause just as much issue with the backs as it does receivers.
Lacy is getting a second chance in Seattle, and because Thomas Rawls can’t seem to stay healthy, he’s going to get a good shot. But Seattle still hints at more of a 50-50 share. Riddick is an excellent flex start almost every week in PPR formats. He makes this list for that reason alone. Lynch is back and he enters as the lead back in a great offense. I just don’t know what kind of Lynch we will be getting. He was a tier 1 back for a couple years, but I almost had an issue putting him in tier 3. Gillislee leaves a backup role in Buffalo for a potential starter role in New England. Raise your hand though, if you’ve been high on a New England running back before with little to show for it. I see you all out there. He should, at least, be a good source of touchdowns this year. Gore is the definition of this tier. A stable veteran back that produces good numbers. I think this is the end of Gore’s career though. If you invest, don’t make it much.
Woodhead is going to be another great flex play if not RB2 this year. He is going to be the safety check down for Flacco. He has approached RB1 numbers before. Martin is either a RB1 or he is barley worth being stashed on your IR. He is going to have plenty of competition in Tampa this year to push him. The offense as a whole is going to be very good though, so I like his chances of bouncing back.
Sproles has always been the kind of back you want to own in PPR formats, but he may be worth a roster spot in all formats in what could be his last season as well. Looks like he will start the season as the main back in an offense that has added some pass catchers for Carson Wentz. Stewart will be vastly underrated this year. The hype on Christian McCaffery is so high that people forget that Stewart is even there. He will get the fair share of carries to start the year. After that, it’s anyone’s guess. Dunbar checks in as another PPR option on this list. The Rams have said that Gurley will see a diminished role in the passing game, so this is where Dunbar steps in.
I could write on and on about the players in this tier, but since I dragged on forever in the last tier, I’m going to keep it at a minimum here. This is the most important thing you need to know; the following players are literally one play from being the starting running back on their team and they are all young with upside. McCaffrey, Cook, Hunt, Perine, Foreman, Richard, Washington, Mack, Pumphrey, Drake, McNichols, Williams (both Joe and Jonathan) and Conner. Some of these guys need to be owned as handcuffs and others need to be owned because they have tons of talent and will be a RB1 someday. McCaffery, Hunt, Mack and Foreman have the best chance at producing the quickest. Abdullah is going to be real good, when healthy. So when will he be healthy? Well, hopefully in 2017.
Prosise played very well in a couple of games last year before getting hurt. He has Rawls and Lacy ahead of him though. Perkins will be the number 1 running back on a team that has tons of weapons. He may surprise some people this year. Until I see what that is though, hard to invest too much long term. Ware will be the starter in KC to begin the season, but I see Hunt slowly working his way into the mix and taking over as early as the end of the year.
Kamara also has two vets ahead of him, so he may only grow into a PPR flex play this year. May not be too long before it’s more than that. Johnson is an extremely gifted back, but his abilities may not have been used properly used in 2017. This is Crowell’s job, but we will see more of “The Duke” this year. White will be the main PPR back in New England and I think he gets decent work finally. The Super Bowl hero (outside Tom Brady) should see an uptick, but in New England, it’s still anyone’s guess. Mckinnon is on the outside looking in but I still see some potential long-term value as I don’t think Cook is very successful right away and Murray probably doesn’t spend more than a year in Minnesota. Rawls hasn’t been able to stay healthy yet, but he is talented. This all depends on his ability to beat Lacy out for carries.
Sims, Rodgers, McNichols and Martin. Too many mouths in an offense that I believe will throw more than anything. Sims and Rodgers bump up if Martin goes down or is ineffective. Yeldon seems to be on the way out in Jacksonville. There was talk of his release even after the draft. I believe Pumphrey has the leg up on Smallwood right now. Jones and Williams were brought in as depth and safety in the draft, but this is Montgomery’s backfield. Lewis was the main RB in New England before his injury and now it looks like he’s on the way out.
Murray gets the chance to run behind an improved line, but I don’t know if it’s improved enough. He has Cook ready to take over as soon as he falters. I think Denver will use Charles this year, but can he stay healthy and will it only be in a third down role? I don’t see enough work there to be a viable fantasy option. West will have the backfield to himself in weeks 1-4, but Dixon returns after that and is a much superior back. I had some high hopes for Burkhead this offseason. I thought he had the talent to go somewhere and be a fantasy asset, but the black hole of New England’s backfield is not that place.