That’s a perfect Bernie right there, folks. He hit it once, hesitated, then went to the next level before celebrating with his teammates in the end zone. Ok, wait…are we talking about Le’Veon Bell doing the Bernie or actually running a football? This dude’s more elusive in the backfield, slipping through the line and blowing past the second level than anyone else in the NFL. Sure, you can take the injury he suffered a year and a half ago (he was totally fine once coming back), and the fact that he parties like he’s trying to be in ‘Weekend at Bernie’s,’ into account. Me? Nah…I’ll just take the best player in the fantasy game when he’s running full steam.
Now, that may be a hot take on Le’Veon over David Johnson and Ezekiel Elliott, but while I talked about shelf life and a long window of patience with the previous two rankings, running backs are a little different. 25 years old isn’t that much different than 22 years old. Actually it’s better. The difference is that the tires on the truck start to fall off with much fewer miles than other positions. 30 for running backs is 40 for quarterbacks. Wide receivers aren’t much better, but they stretch a little further. What does this do to the running backs in dynasty leagues? Shortens their window and increases the intrigue of the younger guys.
Now, all that to say, the biggest difficulty with drafting and selecting running backs in dynasty leagues is whether to go with situation or talent. Which do you choose? For me, give me talent every day. Talent typically trumps the turn over time. Sure, Spencer Ware may have the job, but is the talent of Kareem Hunt enough to really push him by the end of this year, let alone 3 years from now? Adrian Peterson and Mark Ingram could split the load in New Orleans, but have you seen Alvin Kamara operate in space? It’s decisions like these that define the running back position. Combined with the tight window of their elite production and this just may be the most difficult position to accurately valuate in the whole game.
So, here’s how I’d rank those Bernie-dancing, tote-carrying, touchdown-scoring, ankle-breaking difficulties…the Top 50 Dynasty Running Backs!
Since we’re approaching the dynasty draft season, now’s the time for some RANKINGS! Overall ranks, positional ranks and, in the previous article, rookie ranks will hopefully give you all the ammunition needed to compete not just this year, but for years and years. You’ve heard, “If you build it, they will come.” And what’s the “they” in our context? Belts. Belts on belts on belts. (Or trophies. Or money. Whatever. Just freaking win). So…here’s how you ‘build’ your team.
Note: I’ll touch on strategy after the ranks come out, but as a general marker I try to view dynasty football value through a three-year window.
Top 50 Dynasty Running Backs
A few notes from the Ranks:
- Now, in all honesty those top 3 are quite interchangeable, and Gurley is the clear #4 to me. I know Tud (go look that up on Twitter) was incredibly underwhelming last year, likely losing many people their redraft leagues, but he’s a unique talent that I envision news Rams brass will feature in a much better way than the clown HC Jeff Fisher. Given his age and the situations of those just below him, he sits as the best of the rest. If Devonta Freeman re-ups with Atlanta he could easily jump him, which would consequently slide Tevin Coleman back down the board a little.
- I’m not a believer in Carlos Hyde at 18, but he’s flashed enough potential to prove he’s still worth that spot. Just below him the entire group of 20-somethings become a cluster of I-don’t-fully-knows before giving way to the older veterans with much less upside. Well, outside of…
- Joe Williams and Kareem Hunt slot into the mid-30’s, and that may be a bit bullish. There’s a story circulating about Peter King in the San Fran draft room seeing Kyle Shanahan put his foot down on targeting Williams when not many others in the organization wanted him. And they got him. Shanahan can really get the most out of his RB, and if Williams supplants the aforementioned yawn-inspiring Carlos Hyde, he could catapult up this list. As for Hunt, a close friend that’s quite the expert in fantasy himself (and I don’t fully claim to be) believes in Ware less than me which rises Hunt on his board. Andy Reid, even more than Shanahan, has a history of creating juggernauts from RBs, especially young ones. He’s a great target for years to come.
- Rookies pepper the next few names until you get to the 30-year olds in Blount, Lynch, AP, Ingram, Forte and Charles. If you’re going for broke this year, go and get them on the cheap in these leagues, but don’t expect much production beyond 2017 from them. As a result, don’t let someone steal a 1st rounder from you for one of them. Haha, and in your rookie draft, don’t take Lynch in the 1st this year (he’s likely unowned and available to draft).
- Lastly, Brian Hill and Aaron Jones are both sleepers for me to make an impact if the situation falls right. Let’s say Devonta moves on from the Falcons (very likely). That leaves Hill with a great opportunity to step into the #2 slot beside Coleman. There’s massive value in that offense for the RB2. With Jones you have a fifth-rounder drafted one round behind Jamaal Williams. The Packers are going for youth int he backfield after big questions the past two years. Either could become the bell-cow, so at this point Jones is a great flier heading into training camp. If he emerges the leader there could be Jordan Howard-type impact awaiting this fall. That high? Probably not, but the starting RB in GB is worth great consideration. Yes, Ty Montgomery is currently there (and he’s ranked accordingly in the RB rankings), but Ty’s versatile enough to go all over the place and leave some vacancy in the backfield.
Have thoughts on the rankings? Questions about other players? Well…
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