Perhaps the most crucial position for fantasy, even in PPR, is the running back. The word “streaky” usually comes to mind when you think of the majority of NFL running backs. Because that’s the case, being able to draft running backs that will give you weekly high points is usually the difference between a stellar season and a season to forget.
Top-10 PPR Running Backs for 2018:
1. Todd Gurley II – Los Angeles Rams
2018 Projected points and yards: 335 points – 1,275 yards
Coming off a 2017 season where Gurley racked up an incredible 390 points, I see no reason why he would fall off in 2018. The scoring output this year might not be to the same unbelievable total, but under HC Sean McVay, I think TG30 will see a large percentage of the offensive workload. This is a player you want first overall if you’re fortunate enough to get that position.
2. Le’Veon Bell – Pittsburgh Steelers
2018 Projected points and yards: 357 points – 1,319 yards
Though Bell is projected to surpass Gurley in both points and yards this season, I have a hard time putting him first overall due to the growing tension between him and the Steelers franchise. Still yet to sign the franchise tender offered by the Steelers, Bell just recently began training with a “footwork coach” for 2018, marking the first time he was seen at the team facility. With all that being said, Bell is still one of the most gifted athletes to play in the NFL over the last decade, and because of this, he should be taken inside the top-3 in every draft this season.
3. David Johnson – Arizona Cardinals
2018 Projected points and yards: 331 points – 1,087 yards
Johnson only had one half of gameplay for the entirety of 2017 due to a wrist injury that took place in week 1. However, coming into camp fully healthy this year should have fantasy owners very excited to draft him. Back in 2016, Johnson racked up 1,241 rush yards, and I would imagine he will be north of the 1,000-yard mark this season as well. He should b drafted in the top-5 in every draft for 2018.
4. Ezekiel Elliott – Dallas Cowboys
2018 Projected points and yards: 301 points – 1,403 yards
Coming into 2018 with the highest projected yards total, Elliott is likely to see a significant portion of the offensive workload for the Cowboys. He only played ten games in 2017 due to a suspension, and he still managed to put up 983 yards, putting his game average at 98.3 yards. If you project that into a 16 game season, his total would have been over 1,500 yards. This should excite owners that are drafting in the 4-6 spot in the draft.
5. Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints
2018 Projected points and yards: 294 points – 843 yards
Kamara was Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2017 with 322 points and 730 yards. With his running mate Mark Ingram serving a suspension in 2018, look for Kamara to get off to a scorching start. A sophomore slump could be in the cards for Kamara, but it’s safer to bet on a productive season that puts him as a solid RB1 for 2018.
6. Saquon Barkley – New York Giants
2018 Projected points and yards: 290 points – 1,132 yards
Arguably the most dynamic player drafted this season, Barkley has enormous expectations put on him for 2018. Last season was the year of the rookie running back, and I think Barkley will continue that trend this season with the Giants. With Odell Beckham Jr. getting the defensive respect he deserves, Barkley should have ample opportunity to make big plays and rack up points. I would bet on the rookie as a solid RB1 for 2018.
7. Dalvin Cook – Minnesota Vikings
2018 Projected points and yards: 270 points – 1,108 yards
Cook had his 2017 season considerably shortened due to a torn ACL in week four against the Lions. He was averaging 88.5 rush yards per game before that, which is just over 1,400 yards for a full 16-game season. Having only missed two games in 3 years at Florida State, I think its safe to say that Cook is not an injury-prone player. Because of that, I look for him to have a healthy 2018 season and be a reliable RB1.
8. Melvin Gordon – Los Angeles Chargers
2018 Projected points and yards: 267 points – 1,024 yards
Gordon put up 1,105 rushing yards last season, with eight touchdowns as well. Having improved his number in each of his first three years, I see no reason why he wouldn’t continue to get better in 2018. I look for him to get a lot of the offensive workload this year, and because of that, I’m making him an RB1.
9. Kareem Hunt – Kansas City Chiefs
Projected points and yards: 262 points – 998 yards
Hunt sprinted out of the gates in 2017 with 148 rushing yards in his first game as a professional. He continued the production the rest of the season with five more games over 100-yards rushing, finishing with a total of 1,327 yards and 11 total touchdowns. Since Patrick Mahomes II is set to take the starting QB role in 2018, I look for Hunt to take some pressure off the first year starter and have a high workload on the ground. He’s in the RB1 club for 2018.
10. Leonard Fournette – Jacksonville Jaguars
Projected points and yards: 262 points – 1,202 yards
Fournette had a solid rookie campaign posting 1,040 yards and ten total touchdowns. The highlight came in week 5 when he ran over the Steelers for 181 yards and two touchdowns. There is a flashy, high-scoring side of Fournette as well as a dumpy, low-production side. I look for him to put his head down and have a very productive 2018 season with the Jaguars. He’s a borderline member of the RB1 club but for sure a very solid RB2.
Honorable mentions and projections:
Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers: 255 points – 635 yards
LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills: 259 points – 1,098 yards
Jerick McKinnon – San Francisco 49ers: 232 points – 877 yards
Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans: 188 points – 940 yards
Stats and projections courtesy of ESPN.com and NFL.com
Stats and projections courtesy of ESPN.com/fantasy and NFL.com