Will the top running backs continue to dominate in 2017?

It is often said in financial product marketing that, “past performance is not a guarantee of future success,” the same holds true for the highly volatile running back position. The top eleven running backs in standard scoring leagues for the 2016 season are the following:

Rk Playa Pos Team Gms Att Yds Yds/Att TD Targets Rec Yds TD Fantasy Points
1 David Johnson RB ARI 16 293 1,239 4 16 120 80 879 4 327.8
2 Ezekiel Elliott RB DAL 16 322 1,631 5 15 40 32 363 1 293.4
3 LeSean McCoy RB BUF 15 234 1,267 5 13 58 51 356 1 248.3
4 Le’Veon Bell RB PIT 12 261 1,268 5 7 94 75 616 2 242.4
5 DeMarco Murray RB TEN 16 293 1,287 4 9 67 53 377 3 240.8
6 Devonta Freeman RB ATL 16 227 1,079 5 11 65 54 462 2 230.1
7 LeGarrette Blount RB NE 16 299 1,161 4 18 8 7 38 0 225.9
8 Melvin Gordon RB LAC 13 254 997 4 10 57 41 419 2 209.6
9 Jordan Howard RB CHI 16 252 1,313 5 6 50 29 298 1 201.1
10 Mark Ingram RB NO 16 205 1,043 5 6 58 46 319 4 196.2
11 Jay Ajayi RB MIA 15 260 1,272 5 8 35 27 151 0 188.3

 

The NFL is clearly a passing league. Selecting running backs heavily involved in the past game is imperative even in standard scoring leagues. David Johnson led all running backs with 80 receptions, followed closely by Le’Veon Bell with 75. These two players should be targeted early in both standard and PPR  season-long drafts. These two players would be my top two picks, the order doesn’t matter. The top eleven running backs 2016 PPR scoring are as follows:

Rk Playa Pos Team Gms Att Yds Yds/Att TD Targets Rec Yds TD Fantasy Pts
1 David Johnson RB ARI 16 293 1,239 4 16 120 80 879 4 407.8
2 Ezekiel Elliott RB DAL 16 322 1,631 5 15 40 32 363 1 325.4
3 Le’Veon Bell RB PIT 12 261 1,268 5 7 94 75 616 2 317.4
4 LeSean McCoy RB BUF 15 234 1,267 5 13 58 51 356 1 299.3
5 DeMarco Murray RB TEN 16 293 1,287 4 9 67 53 377 3 293.8
6 Devonta Freeman RB ATL 16 227 1,079 5 11 65 54 462 2 284.1
7 Melvin Gordon RB LAC 13 254 997 4 10 57 41 419 2 250.6
8 Mark Ingram RB NO 16 205 1,043 5 6 58 46 319 4 242.2
9 LeGarrette Blount RB NE 16 299 1,161 4 18 8 7 38 0 232.9
10 Jordan Howard RB CHI 16 252 1,313 5 6 50 29 298 1 230.1
11 Jay Ajayi RB MIA 15 260 1,272 5 8 35 27 151 0 215.3

 

Below are the results of my first mock draft for the 2017 NFL season. FantasyPros.com is an excellent resource for research and mock drafts.  I ended up with a draft grade of A-. I drafted in the 11th position of a 12 team standard league. As it was my first mock, I was more interested in seeing the “experts” rankings. I was a little surprise that the first 3 picks were running backs. It will be interesting to see if running backs are targeted high in drafts this year. Last season I utilize a wide receiver-centric draft. I was fortunate to get Le’Veon Bell in the second round because he was suspended the first few games. 6 of my first 7 picks were wide receivers. The strategy won the league after a slow start and a boat load of cash. Quarterback and tight end, I typically target last. The point differential week to week between the top and mid-range quarterback is not as great as many perceive. The volatility in the tight-end position isn’t worth using a pick early in the draft. I will review quarterback, wide receiver and tight end position in separate articles.

 

2017 Mock Draft results