2017 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings: Flex and Bench plays - Roto Street Journal
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2017 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings: Flex and Bench plays

Most sites will call these the “Way Too Early” Fantasy Football Rankings; we call them not soon enough.  After all, in the wise words of actor Peter Bergman, “When you are not practicing, remember somewhere someone is…and when you meet him, he will win.”

The Wolf will NOT get out practiced when it comes to fantasy football, and nor should you. 

True, fantasy values are far from set; plenty of these player will shoot up or plummet downward  in the rankings with each spin of the coaching carousel, free agency wheel, or NFL Draft cycle. Still, there’s plenty of value to a “Stream of Gut” rankings list: a collection of your unbiased, pure gut feelings about particular players, written before your mind can be swayed as the “advice” begins pouring down. This way, the foundation for all your rankings is wholly built upon your own, independent thoughts.

Without further adieu, welcome to the 2017 Fantasy Football Rankings. These rankings assume 1/2 point PPR scoring to achieve a happy medium between the two formats. As a huge sucker for tiers, I’ll be releasing different positional groups each day (i.e. WR1s, WR2s, Flex Plays) before ultimately combining them all into a final Big Board by the end of the month.

Previously in 2017 Running Back Rankings…

Part I – RB1s (#1 – #9)

Part II – RB2s (#10- #25)

Part III – Flex and Bench Plays

The following RBs don’t make ideal starters, but the volume or individual talent should be enough for useful flex production throughout the season.

Tier Five – Flex

26. Adrian Peterson (MIN)

Is AP super human, or just another old, withered RB? 2017 will answer this question, and I doubt it’ll matter to any of my teams; someone will bite far earlier than I’m willing. Of course anyone with the nickname “All Day” has the potential for a massive rebound, but nothing about his 2016 suggested an upwards trend. Peterson and his overall health / role will be among the most important camp storylines to follow.

27. Isaiah Crowell (CLE)

The Crow topped 12 points (.5 PPR) in four of five games with RGIII under center, which makes complete sense; RGIII’s dual threat as a runner creates more open cutback lanes, which jives with Crowell’s one-cut-and-go running style. If Griffin or a running QB is given the starting job, and Crowell’s still the lead horse, he’ll be bumped into the dependable RB2 range.  I’m skeptical of either happening.

28. C.J. Prosise (SEA)

I’m in love with the brief NFL tape Prosise put out in 2016 — the receiving skills and breakaway speed were truly special.  The main rub is the brevity, as Prosise struggled with separate hamstring, hand, and shoulder injuries that reduced him to only 6 total games; Pete Carroll has already expressed his worries, stating:

Still, Prosise is easily among the Seahawks most exciting offensive talents in both the running and passing game.  When healthy, he should see plenty of looks, potentially even on the same field as Rawls.  As seen in Atlanta all year and in Detroit during week one, offenses can funnel through mismatch-creating dual backfields, and the Seahawks seem like the perfect fit for a similar 2017 approach.

29. LeGarrette Blount (NE)

Of course Blount’s fantasy stock could rise if he re-signs in New England and is again the goal line hammer for the league’s most explosive offense. But just how much?

Let’s assume he returns to New England. The workload distribution versus the Texans heavily favored Dion Lewis, and seems like a fair forecast for 2017’s usage.  Sure, Blount would carry high weekly  TD upside; nonetheless, the 15-20 weekly carries from 2016 would now be reduced to 5-6 in close contests. Consequently, and unlike 2016, Blount would carry a 1 or 2 point floor during weeks he failed to find the end zone. Anytime Lewis has been healthy, this offense has belonged to him — an insane thought given Blount’s 18 TD, 1,100 yard masterpiece.

Perhaps Blount’s highest fantasy upside, therefore, would be a new landing spot. In the right role, Blount is a massive, powerful runner with strong vision and patience; he can wear down teams and finish them off with 15-20 carries. If he gets a real shot at that type of workload, Blount would shoot up the rankings. He could just as easily be signed as a team’s insurance policy, and be little more than a handcuff. In short, he’s purely landing spot dependent.

30. Frank Gore (IND)

Until Gore retires, I will continue ranking him in the 30s, and he will continue making me regret this. King Girth.

31. Danny Woodhead (LAC)

While his tiny frame and fair skin tone creates immediate (perhaps unintentional) skepticism, let’s not forget how incredible Woodhead is when on the field; in 2015, Woodhead finished as the #3 back in PPR leagues and #12 in Non-PPR formats; his only other full season in San Diego (2013) yielded a top-12 PPR finish as well.  True, Gordon has now locked down the goal line role which the tiny Woodhead once owned, but Rivers will no doubt continue leaning on his most-trusted RB target in the passing game every week.

Tier Six – Ideally not starters…

I’ll likely own at least three guys from the above tier, making this group mainly irrelevant (I’ll be filling out my QBs and TEs at this stage).

32. Paul Perkins or NYG Running Back

After weeks of pussy-footing, the Giants finally began unleashing Perkins down 2016’s stretch; the rookie rewarded them with a 100 yard Week 17 effort that helped them control the clock and keep a divisional rival in Washington out of the playoffs. Still, Perkins didn’t leap off the page as anything special ever, and, with Eli Manning in decline, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Giants go for a huge splash at the position. Plenty to still be seen here, but this ranking assumes a committee role at best.

33. Chris Ivory (JAC)

New head coach Doug Marrone is a hard-nosed kind of guy, and I can see him trying to establish physicality behind his battering ram. True, 2016 was an absolute trainwreck,  but Ivory’s workload was inconsistent as was his health.  Neither of these are guarantees in 2017 of course, but a major Ivory revival in 2017 would not shock me.

34. Eddie Lacy (GB)

I don’t care how many P90x’s the impending fat free agent does. Unless he actually looks slimmed down by about 50 pounds, I don’t touch him, regardless of the landing spot.

35. Jeremy Hill (CIN)

Hill averaged under 4.0 YPC in 12 out of 16 efforts in 2016, including six efforts with under 3.0 yards per tote.  Since his incredible rookie season finish, Hill has put nothing of quality on tape outside a nose for the end zone.  This inneffectiveness  is doubly  annoying because he had every opportunity to reestablish himself during Giovani Bernard’s extended 2016 absence, but Hill just continued plodding into irrelevancy.

This wraps our first, “Stream of Gut” round of Running Back rankings. We’ll organize them all in one place with a smoother, easier to read list tomorrow, before looking ahead to 2017’s receivers next week.  Are any names glaringly missing or misjudged? Who are you most interested in tracking this offseason? Sound off below! 


  • Founder of Roto Street Journal. Lover of workhorse backs, target hog wideouts, and Game of Thrones. Aspiring to be the "Brady" and "Leo" of the fantasy universe.


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