RB Rankings Report

published 07/29/19 11:12:00 PM EDT
by Joe Dolan

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We did it again! Our draft rankings were once again the most accurate in the industry last season. We now have two first-place titles (2015 and 2018), a runner-up finish (2016), and an 18th-place finish (2017) over the last four years. It’s no surprise then that we’re at the top of the heap when it comes to draft rankings over the last four years. Make sure to check out our full rankings here. In this article, I’ll highlight a few players that we’re higher on and lower on compared to their current average draft position (ADP).

NOTE: PPR ADP data courtesy of Fantasy Football Calculator. The rankings cited in this article are based on our PPR rankings.

Players we’re higher on compared to ADP

**Kerryon Johnson **(Det, TFFA RB14, ADP RB20) — If Johnson had played 16 games as a rookie in 2018, I feel confident in saying that I believe he’d be going in the second round of fantasy drafts. From Weeks 3 through 11, from the first time he saw double-digit carries to his final game, Johnson ranked 13th in PPR RB scoring despite playing on the NFL’s 24th-ranked offense and somehow losing significant touches — especially in the red zone — to the wholly ineffective LeGarrette Blount. Kerryon earned a couple of stylistic comparisons to Le’Veon Bell, which I think are interesting because Bell, too, was thought of as more of a plodder coming out of college but showcased much more versatile traits and light feet in the NFL. The Lions’ new playcaller, Darrell Bevell, is known for his run game prowess, as well. In 12 years as an NFL playcaller, Bevell has coached a top-5 rushing offense six times (most notably the Beast Mode Seahawks). But it’s not all rushing for Johnson; he saw about 4 targets per game in 2018, caught 32 of the 39 he saw (82.1%), and is expecting an increase in his passing game workload, especially with Theo Riddick out of the picture. The issue may be more his offense in general with QB Matthew Stafford coming off a miserable season, though that at least can be explained away by a back injury Stafford played through. For what it’s worth, I don’t think Johnson’s knee injury from 2018 is a concern — he had no structural damage but the Lions saw no real benefit to playing him at the end of the year. *(NOTE: I wrote the majority of this blurb before Riddick was released, so I anticipate Kerryon’s ADP will continue to rise.)*

Mark Ingram (Bal, TFFA RB18, ADP RB23) — If you’ve been following my content all off-season, you knew Ingram was going to pop up in this article. The Ravens were the run-heaviest team in the NFL following the switch to Lamar Jackson at QB last season. They hired Greg Roman — who designed the NFL’s most dynamic run game with Colin Kaepernick under center in San Francisco — to be their new OC. They then made Ingram one of the 15 richest RBs in the NFL in total contract value. While Ingram is up there in age at 29, he has only 92 more carries to his name than Le’Veon Bell does. Bell entered football two years after Ingram and then obviously skipped 2018, so Ingram isn’t worn out. I doubt he’s in line for a massive 350-touch campaign, but he’s the clear lead back on a team that will run the living hell out of the football, and he’s a very good receiver to boot. Gus Edwards and Justice Hill could both be involved, but it shouldn’t matter with the volume available in this run game. Playing behind a strong offensive line, I think Ingram is one of the best values on the board. I love him in the 4th round, and I’m giddy when he’s there in the 5th. He’s a stellar RB2 and an intriguing RB1 for teams that go WR heavy early.

James White (NE, TFFA RB22, ADP RB26) — No, I don’t expect White to be the overall #7 RB in PPR again, but you’re not paying for him to be — the market is essentially treating him as an RB3, even in PPR. At this point, you can make the argument that he’s the Patriots’ second-best receiver behind Julian Edelman. Hell, I’m not sure you’d find too many who would argue against that. With Sony Michel (knee) opening camp on PUP (he returned on July 27) and Damien Harris a rookie, White’s role figures to be massive again given the weakness of the Patriots’ pass-catchers in general. I hope the Patriots will avoid forcing the issue with Rex Burkhead the way they did at the end of last season, which hurt White’s value, but I still love him at this price even if everyone else here is healthy.

Nyheim Hines (Ind, TFFA RB41, ADP RB51) — I want pieces of this Colts offense, and I’ll take the "cheap" pieces to fill out my bench all day. I’m cool with Marlon Mack as a third-round pick, but Hines is an excellent PPR option. He caught 63 passes as a rookie in 2018 and is a Mack injury away from a potential huge role behind one of the league’s best offensive lines with a creative coach in Frank Reich calling the plays. He’s going after some less proven guys on worse teams (Ronald Jones, for instance) and I think he’s a steal in the double-digit rounds.

Kalen Ballage (Mia, TFFA RB47, ADP RB60) — Ballage was a confusing prospect coming out of Arizona State. He’s an insane athlete who managed to have a couple huge games in college but overall was an underwhelming producer. But he’s now on a team that should be in evaluation mode for all of 2019 — this is a multi-year rebuild in Miami, which has one of the worst rosters in the NFL. We got pissed off at Adam Gase for his refusal to commit to Kenyan Drake last year, but maybe there’s a reason for Gase’s stubbornness. And reports out of Dolphins camp (early reports, I must stress) are that new coach Brian Flores may be following in Gase’s footsteps. On the first two days of camp for Miami, Ballage took the first reps with the RBs. To be fair, I don’t want to call Ballage a "league winner" because I think the Dolphins stink and his profile as a prospect concern me. But if there’s a chance a “starting” RB is available in the double-digit rounds, I’ll take that guy all day.

Players we’re lower on compared to ADP

**Derrius Guice **(Was, TFFA RB38, ADP RB33) — I love Guice’s talent, but I hate the team he’s on, and I wonder just how good he can be for fantasy on this offense. First of all, he’s battling back from an ACL injury with a recovery that seemed to take a little longer than expected (to be fair to Guice, he was ready from Day 1 for training camp). Secondly, he’s battling for touches with Adrian Peterson — who has been incapable of a part-time role in his career — and Chris Thompson. Thirdly, LT Trent Williams, perhaps Washington’s best offensive player, is holding out. Last season, Peterson was the unquestioned starting RB with Guice injured, gaining over 1000 yards rushing, but Peterson had perhaps the single worst game-flow-dependent splits in the league (97.1 rush YPG and 4.53 YPC in wins, 40.2 rush YPG and 3.58 YPC in losses). What could those numbers look like for Guice if he’s splitting carries on a team I believe is worse than last year’s?

Ronald Jones (TB, TFFA RB46, ADP RB37) — Even when you do a ton of best-ball drafts like I do, you have to plant flags somewhere. I’m simply not going to draft Jones this season, barring something totally unforeseen. Quite frankly, the guy is coming off arguably the worst rookie season for a running back in NFL history. Among RBs with 20 or more carries as a rookie since the 1970 merger, Jones’ 1.91 YPC ranks 5th worst. And as the 38th player selected in the draft, he had the most draft pedigree of anyone in the top five. Several recent news reports are giving me the willies, as well — Jones reportedly gained 15 pounds "of muscle" this off-season, and recently Pewter Report speculated that Peyton Barber is still the top guy in this backfield. I don’t think Bruce Arians signed up to join a rebuilding project, and the Bucs could be a prime destination for any higher-end back who becomes available on the market (Duke Johnson?), or perhaps a reclamation project who remains unsigned like Jay Ajayi.

**Jerick McKinnon **(SF, TFFA RB55, ADP RB45) — Some players in fantasy are difficult to rank, and McKinnon is one of them. The Niners gave him a massive contract last year, but he tore his ACL in training camp and never played a snap. Meanwhile, Matt Breida impressed in his role last season, and the Niners brought in Tevin Coleman in free agency — Coleman was best utilized in Atlanta when Kyle Shanahan was the OC. Meanwhile, McKinnon’s knee is still not 100% as he landed on the PUP list to open training camp. The idea of McKinnon has always been greater than the reality, and I much prefer Coleman (RB29) and Breida (RB57) at their prices. McKinnon is a straight "avoid" for me, a probable wasted pick with some intriguing options at every position going around him.

Kareem Hunt (Cle, TFFA RB65, ADP RB36) — Trust me, I was an early believer in Hunt and I love his game. But what am I missing here? He is suspended for eight games, is behind another high-draft-capital RB in Nick Chubb (one I also happen to love), and Duke Johnson is still here for the time being. If Chubb smashes in one of the NFL’s best offenses, are the Browns going to significantly reduce his touches just because Hunt comes back in Week 10? His ADP is absolutely insane for someone who needs to be stashed for more than half the season, and even when he comes back, there’s a significant chance he isn’t the best back on his team. I’d much rather let someone else draft Hunt, get frustrated with holding him, and drop him to waivers early in the season. That’s when we’ll have more information on how Chubb is performing and if Hunt is even worth a roster spot.

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Joe Dolan
Joe Dolan

@FG_Dolan

An industry veteran of more than a decade, Joe Dolan brings his expertise to the Fantasy Free Agents Podcast. With two 1st place finishes, a Top-5 finish, and a Top-20 finish in the FantasyPros.com Draft Accuracy rankings since 2013, Joe has assumed the title of #1 Pre-Draft ranker for the four-year period from 2015-2018 among 140+ experts and sites.