David Johnson and Ezekiel Elliott are likely to be at the top of many people’s list of running backs this year, but there are plenty of solid options further down the list. Here’s our guide to the top ten fantasy RBs to draft for the 2017 campaign.
Jay Ajayi – RB – (Dolphins)
The arrival of Arian Foster meant that Ajayi had to wait for his opportunity, but the second-year back grabbed it with both hands. He topped 200 yards in a single game on three occasions, and though he didn’t excel in every match, consistency is sure to come with experience. Bank on Ajayi to reach even greater heights in 2017.
DeMarco Murray – RB – (Titans)
After a disappointing 2015, the former Cowboy bounced back with the Titans, piling up 1,287 rushing yards to lead the AFC and running in 12 touchdowns to record his second best season to date. Derrick Henry should give Murray plenty of competition in 2017, but he starts the season as the spear point of the Titans’ potent offense.
LeSean McCoy – RB – (Bills)
A slow start to the season, in which he recorded less than 60 rushing yard in his opening two outings makes McCoy’s final stats all the more impressive. He finished the Bills’ campaign with 13 touchdowns and an NFL-leading 5.4 yards per carry. The Bills are embarking on a new post-Rex Ryan era, but McCoy remains the focus on offense.
Jordan Howard – (Bears)
Jordan Howard’s rookie year was pretty special. He finished the season second in both rushing yards and yards per carry, and by the end of the Bears’ campaign, he had usurped Jeremy Langford for the main back role. There is always a danger of a sophomore slump, but Howard doesn’t look the type to rest on his laurels and can improve again this season.
Lamar Miller – RB – (Texans)
The arrival of D’Onta Foreman could work in Millar’s favour. He was forced to take on a bruising work load in the first four weeks of the 2016 season, which took its toll physically. With Foreman able to lighten the burden, Miller should prove more durable, and Deshaun Watson’s dynamism at quarterback should open up more running lanes for him to exploit.
Ameer Abdullah – RB – (Lions)
Abdullah missed most of the 2016 season with a torn ligament, but is held in such high esteem by the Lions that they didn’t use any of their 2017 draft picks on another running back. Detroit also splashed big money on right tackle Rick Wagner and right guard TJ Lang, and with this added protection, Abdullah can pile up the yards as the team’s lead back.
Dalvin Cook – RB – (Vikings)
A first round talent who ended up in the second round of the draft, Cook was the third running back to be drafted and is a shrewd acquisition for Minnesota. Blessed with abundant speed, vision and balance, he can wreak havoc in the open field, and although Latavius Murray has also moved to the Vikings, Cook is likely to be given the opportunity to seize the lead role.
Jamaal Williams – RB – (Packers)
The way the Packers are lining up, Williams will have a great chance to show what he can do in 2017. Although Ty Montgomery remains first choice, Williams is likely to start as the main back-up and he can make the most of his opportunities. A powerful, high-energy runner who tallied 5.9 yards per carry in his senior year at BYU, he is an underrated rookie to watch.
Christian McCaffrey – RB – (Panthers)
McCaffrey was the second running back to be picked up in the 2017 draft and is sure to play a big role for the Panthers this season. His speed, vision and versatility make him a perfect all-round back, and not only is he dangerous on offence, he can be a dangerous kick returner. Given Jonathan Stewart’s injury record, McCaffrey can be expected to feature regularly. For the doubters we feel McCaffrey will be extremely viable for fantasy football taken in the right round.
Samaje Perine – RB – (Redskins)
A hard-nosed, powerful runner, Perine has been tearing up defences in college football averaging 6.5 yards per carry in 2014, 6.0 in 2015 and 5.4 last season. He won’t start the season as first choice, but will get plenty of chances, particularly at goal and short yardage situations and his bruising style is a good fit with the Redskins offense.