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Regular Season, Updated: 9/4/17


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 Ezekiel Elliott, DAL (Bye: 6)
13
Height: 6’0”   Weight: 225   DOB: 1995-07-22   Age: 22
College: Ohio State   Draft: 2016 Round 1 (4) 
SeasonTeamGameAtt Yard TDRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2016DAL15322 1,631 15 32 363 1 295.4 19.7
2017 (Projected)DAL 194 932 7 24 224 1 163.6  

Outlook: Elliott certainly lived up to the hype and early draft position with 1,631 rushing yards and 16 total touchdowns to go along with 363 receiving yards last season. The former Ohio State Buckeye star will once again be the focal point of the Cowboys offense, with well over 300-touches likely again in 2017.

The question is will changes to his offensive line limit his effectiveness on the ground and will a tough opening schedule, with road games against Denver and Arizona, and a difficult home game against the Rams, marginalize his fantasy production to start the year?

One area in which Elliott may improve is in the passing game, as the Cowboys did not fully utilize his skills in that arena in 2016. Elliott displayed an excellent ability to pass protect and catch out of the backfield in college and during his first season in the NFL and the Cowboys coaching staff is on record stating that they would like to get Elliott more involved in his sophomore season.

Although there are questions surrounding changes to the offensive line, and a downgrade to the Dallas defense that could lead to less favorable game scripts, Elliott is a consensus top-3 pick in standard leagues and should deliver top-10 fantasy production in 2017.

UPDATE 7/22/17: Elliott's off-field issues are becoming increasingly worrisome for fantasy owners. The Cowboys running back may already be facing a short suspension for a domestic issue last summer and could face a longer suspension if he's found to be at fault in a recent nightclub skirmish.


 Mark Ingram, NO (Bye: 5)
14
Height: 5’9”   Weight: 215   DOB: 1989-12-21   Age: 27
College: Alabama   Draft: 2011 Round 1 (28) 
SeasonTeamGameAtt Yard TDRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2014NO13226 964 9 29 145 0 164.9 12.7
2015NO12165 767 6 50 405 0 153.2 12.8
2016NO16205 1,044 6 46 319 4 196.3 12.3
2017 (Projected)NO 184 865 5 44 333 2 161.8  

Outlook: Mark Ingram finally stayed healthy for a full season and fantasy owners were treated to over 1300 total yards and ten touchdowns on 251 touches (46 were receptions). Most teams would be gearing up for another year riding their big back and his 5.1 YPC but the Saints decided to add Adrian Peterson. Fantasy owners shouldn't be deterred from selecting Ingram, as Peterson's addition also provided a solution for the team's depth as well as insurance for their lead running back. For his part, Ingram has welcomed the opportunity to battle for the starting job and quite frankly offers more stability to the offense. Tim Hightower proved last year, that Ingram needs a breather to get through the year but in doing so he had the best fantasy season of his career by nearly 40 fantasy points. Now that everyone knows what Ingram is capable of, what do we make of his situation in 2017? The offense figures to once again provide plenty of scoring but consistency hurts Ingram's overall fantasy impact. He scored more than 14 fantasy points in seven games while scoring fewer than nine points in eight games. Although the numbers represent a frontline fantasy running back, the presence of Peterson and lack of consistency drops Ingram into RB2 territory.


 Kareem Hunt, KC (Bye: 10)
15
Height: 5’10”   Weight: 216   DOB: 1995-08-06   Age: 22
College: Toledo   Draft: 2017 Round 3 (22) 
SeasonTeamGameAtt Yard TDRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2017 (Projected)KC 194 855 6 37 317 1 159.2  

Outlook: One of the hottest players to watch in training camp has to be rookie Kansas City running back Kareem Hunt. Hunt is getting a ton of hype right now with some sources close to the team even indicating that he will not only be a major part of the backfield to start the season, but could have the inside edge to finish with the highest number of running back touches in 2017. Running back coach Eric Bieniemy has been specifically praising Hunt's skills as a pass catcher, which could lead to Hunt getting the majority of work on third downs as long as he can pick up his pass protection assignments. Hunt was highly productive in college at Toledo, including rushing for over 100 yards in each of his final five games. He caught four or more passes in six of his 13 games as a senior.


 Ty Montgomery, GB (Bye: 8)
16
Height: 6’0”   Weight: 221   DOB: 1993-01-22   Age: 24
College: Stanford   Draft: 2015 Round 3 (30) 
SeasonTeamGameAtt Yard TDRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2015GB53 14 0 15 136 2 27.0 5.4
2016GB1377 457 3 44 348 0 98.5 7.6
2017 (Projected)GB 182 835 5 45 385 2 164.0  

Outlook: Due to a ridiculous amount of injuries, the former Stanford Cardinal was thrust into meaningful snaps at running back, just as he was posing back to back 12-plus target games at receiver. Green Bay officially switched his position when it was clear James Starks and Eddie Lacy wouldn't be returning from injury. And while he never quite took on a "feature back" role, he was effective with his ground touches (averaging a silly 5.9 yards per carry average), and remained part of the passing game plan.

Montgomery is one of the most polarizing players in fantasy this season. Some writers believe he can grow into the role, and develop into the feature back on one of the best offenses in the league. Some feel the drafting of three running backs show that Green Bay sees Montgomery as only a complement in the backfield. I feel like if the Packers get their way, rookie runner, and fellow BYU alum Jamaal Williams will take over as the main runner (Eddie Lacy role) with Montgomery playing the complement (James Starks role). Mike Krueger has Montgomery as a low end RB2, and I think that's his ceiling. The Packers weren't scared to give Lacy all of the work his rookie year, and I think if/when Williams proves he's capable, he'll take over, and Montgomery will play second fiddle. I certainly wouldn't be scared to take Montgomery, and I'm particularly interested in pairing him with Doug Martin, as I feel the Packers runner will have more value early in the year than he will later, and you can take advantage while Martin serves his suspension. I do think if you invest heavily in #88, you need to handcuff him with Williams.


 Bilal Powell, NYJ (Bye: 11)
17
Height: 5’10”   Weight: 204   DOB: 1988-10-27   Age: 29
College: Louisville   Draft: 2011 Round 4 (29) 
SeasonTeamGameAtt Yard TDRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2014NYJ1433 141 1 11 92 0 29.3 2.1
2015NYJ1170 313 1 47 388 2 88.1 8.0
2016NYJ16131 722 3 58 388 2 141.0 8.8
2017 (Projected)NYJ 173 815 4 54 416 2 159.1  

Outlook: One of only a few attractive fantasy options on an otherwise pathetic offense, Powell was far more efficient than his backfield mate Matt Forte, with a 5.5 yard per carry average on 131 carries in 2016, and was a more accomplished player catching balls out of the backfield.

Only David Johnson, Le'Veon Bell, and James White garnered more targets in the passing game for running backs last season, and Powell will likely continue to be the primary option for McCown, Petty, Hackenberg, or whatever QB the lowly Jets roll out each Sunday.

The fact that Powell has never carried the ball more than 176 times in a season and the likelihood that Forte will continue to receive the bulk of first and second down carries, in addition to goal line work, limits Powell's value in standard leagues. In PPR formats, Powell is a solid flex option with the upside to be a viable No. 2 RB.


 Carlos Hyde, SF (Bye: 11)
18
Height: 5’11”   Weight: 230   DOB: 1991-09-21   Age: 26
College: Ohio State   Draft: 2014 Round 2 (25) 
SeasonTeamGameAtt Yard TDRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2014SF1483 333 4 12 68 0 64.1 4.6
2015SF7115 470 3 11 53 0 70.3 10.0
2016SF13217 988 6 27 163 3 169.1 13.0
2017 (Projected)SF 224 986 6 26 204 1 161.0  

Outlook: Now entering his fourth season as a pro, it's put up or shut up time for former second-round NFL Draft pick Carlos Hyde. Hyde has struggled with injuries throughout his career and has never played a full 16-game slate, including 2016 when he suffered both MCL and shoulder injuries which caused him to miss time. The introduction of a Kyle Shanahan offense may look good at first glance but Hyde doesn't exactly fit the mold of the backs who have been successful in this offense in the past. He's more of a bruiser and volume back whereas Shanahan has recently seen success with players who have more of an ability to get to the outside and break off big runs.

Hyde did rush for just under 1,000 yards a season ago, but he did so with only two 100-yard games and he did not score a single rushing touchdown after Week 5. Hyde's three receiving touchdown passes from Weeks 12 to 17 would indicate that maybe he is becoming a more significant piece to the passing game, but he caught just 27 passes in 13 games. Hyde's value is higher in standard scoring formats as Tim Hightower will likely end up being the team's third-down back. competition will come in the form of Joe Williams who is gaining in popularity among the fantasy community , but the new coaching regime did draft Joe Williams in the 4th Round... it's more likely Williams could end up getting opportunities late in the season if the 49ers are not succeeding with Hyde. Hyde is still easily the top fantasy option in this offense, but that's not saying a whole lot as the 49ers might be the league's worst fantasy offense this season.


 Joe Mixon, CIN (Bye: 6)
19
Height: 6’1”   Weight: 226   DOB: 1996-07-24   Age: 21
College: Oklahoma   Draft: 2017 Round 2 (16) 
SeasonTeamGameAtt Yard TDRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2017 (Projected)CIN 194 835 6 28 217 1 147.2  

Outlook: If you have Mixon off your board for personal reasons, much respect to you. I have a more cynical view when it comes to fantasy football. If a player's off-field behavior won't affect their weekly availability (i.e. suspensions), I'm interested. And when it comes to Joe Mixon's talent and on-field potential, I'm very interested. Mixon's blend of power, speed, and versatility made him possibly the most gifted running back in the draft this spring. His actions off the field led to his fall. Can the Bengals and fantasy owners benefit?

As runners like David Johnson and Le'Veon Bell become the new hotness, many owners want to find their own versions of game-changing dual threat backs. Mixon has this kind of potential, finishing with 1,900 total yards from scrimmage last season at Oklahoma. There's been news out of camp that Mixon is going to get the bulk of the work right from the get-go, but as much as I want to believe Mixon has that potential in 2017, there are some serious roadblocks to consider. The first are fellow teammates Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill. Bernard has been the Bengals' resident dual threat. He's coming off a torn ACL, and was expected to miss much of camp. But he's been on the field since the start and has apparently surprised coaches and teammates with his recovery. Hill has been a huge disappointment since his tantalizing rookie year in 2014. With that said he's still only 24, and has the support of the coaching staff. With Hill likely to steal goal line work, Mixon's upside is limited.

The 2nd and possibly bigger problem for Mixon is the state of the Bengals line. They weren't world beating last year, and they've lost their two best starters in the off-season. Despite being a need area, the line was hardly addressed in the draft or with an impact free agent. One knock on Mixon in the pre-draft process was vision, and finding the holes when the offensive line isn't mauling people is vital.

I've devoted this much space to Mixon because I believe he could be the next game changing fantasy runner, but I just don't believe it will be in 2017. With Bernard and Hill still having roles and Mixon a controversial rookie, the Bengals might ease in their newest asset. Mixon has RB1 talent, but as things stand in early August, and until I see the coaching staff back up the chatter, I think a low end RB2 finish is more realistic.


 Marshawn Lynch, OAK (Bye: 10)
20
Height: 5’11”   Weight: 215   DOB: 1986-04-22   Age: 31
College: California   Draft: 2007 Round 1 (12) 
SeasonTeamGameAtt Yard TDRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2014SEA16280 1,306 13 37 367 4 269.3 16.8
2015SEA7111 417 3 13 80 0 67.7 9.7
2017 (Projected)OAK 193 831 8 28 215 1 158.6  

Outlook: It's not often that a player retires from a perennial Super Bowl contending team, then returns over a year later to play for a franchise that has mostly been a basement dweller for the better part of 20 years. But that's the situation we have with Marshawn Lynch, who now finds himself as a Raider for the 2017 season. Lynch is well known for being one of the most bruising tailbacks in recent history, bringing the kind of grit to the field that isn't common in today's NFL. On paper, his style matches perfectly with the Oakland offense, specifically due to the team's recent efforts to revamp and rebuild their offensive line. The Raiders now boast one of the league's most dominant front fives, which makes for an extremely interesting fantasy situation. Lynch was highly productive even behind a largely mediocre Seattle offensive line, but he may now have the opportunity to break off even more big runs.

Lynch's situation isn't without concern, however. While Derek Carr might not be quite as established as Russell Wilson was, he and the passing game were certainly the focal point of the Oakland offense in 2016 - a reality that is not expected to change much even with Lynch on the roster. But even beyond the concerns of the passing game taking carries from Lynch is the reality that Lynch is not necessarily a shoo-in to get all of, or even the large majority of carries. Second-year backs Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington both had moments where they looked very good as rookies and with Lynch having spent a year away from the game, there are some who believe that his age (31) and general wear and tear will lead to him needing to concede carries to other backs anyway. The Raiders certainly didn't bring Lynch into the fold in order to sit him on the bench, but keep an eye on the other tailbacks on the roster during the preseason and training camp. If Washington or Richard begin to separate themselves from the other, it might be a wise idea to handcuff one of them to Lynch, which would go a long way to securing yourself a potentially elite running back situation.


 Isaiah Crowell, CLE (Bye: 9)
21
Height: 5’11”   Weight: 225   DOB: 1993-01-08   Age: 24
College: Alabama State   Draft:
SeasonTeamGameAtt Yard TDRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2014CLE15148 607 8 9 87 0 117.4 7.8
2015CLE16185 706 4 19 182 1 118.8 7.4
2016CLE16197 944 7 40 319 0 168.3 10.5
2017 (Projected)CLE 194 855 6 28 245 0 146.0  

Outlook: Crowell has displayed tantalizing fantasy promise since rushing for 8 touchdowns as an undrafted free agent rookie in 2014. In the two years since, he's steadily improved, increasing his role in the passing game and serving as one of the few reliable offensive weapons on a terrible team. Crowell stood out last year in fantasy circles when he finished as a strong RB2, putting up 4.8 yards per carry behind a suspect offensive line. His 1,200-plus total yards easily led the team, and with a revamped offensive line, more weapons outside, and hopefully a more stable quarterback position, the fourth-year back has a real chance to take another leap forward.

Cleveland is committed to running the football, and more favorable gameflow should push Crowell past 200 carries for the first time in his career. He's young, supremely athletic, and is looking for a big payday as a free agent in 2018. Crowell won't turn 25 until after the season, and I love him as a dynasty prospect, but I have to temper my expectations in redraft leagues simply because his scoring potential is limited on what still should still be a bad team. Unless one of the quarterbacks shows well, this offense is going to struggle to get in the red zone frequently, and a big part of Crowell turning the corner and approaching RB1 status is finding the endzone with more frequency. I think he stays in the RB2 area, sets career highs in carries and yardage, and becomes a solid running back to pair with a stud.


 Paul Perkins, NYG (Bye: 8)
22
Height: 5’10”   Weight: 208   DOB: 1994-11-16   Age: 23
College: UCLA   Draft: 2016 Round 5 (10) 
SeasonTeamGameAtt Yard TDRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2016NYG13112 456 0 15 162 0 61.8 4.8
2017 (Projected)NYG 203 872 5 29 225 1 145.7  

Outlook: Second-year back Paul Perkins enters camp as the favorite to start the 2017 season for the Giants, assuming he can fend off journeyman Shaun Draughn, veteran Orleans Darkwa, and rookies Wayne Gallman and Khalid Abdullah. As a rookie, Perkins averaged 4.1 yards per carry on 112 touches on the ground, with 15 receptions for 162 yards. The former fifth-round pick from UCLA showed promise, but he did not run away with the job as evident by the fact that he failed to score a TD in 13 games, and the Giants are not heavily invested in him when it comes to draft capital or salary cap issues. Despite these knocks, Perkins is the favorite to receive 200-plus carries in an offense that finished 8th overall just two seasons ago when they ran the ball more effectively, and Manning threw for 35 touchdowns.


 C.J. Anderson, DEN (Bye: 5)
23
Height: 5’8”   Weight: 224   DOB: 1991-02-10   Age: 26
College: California   Draft:
SeasonTeamGameAtt Yard TDRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2014DEN14179 849 8 34 324 2 177.3 12.7
2015DEN15152 720 5 25 183 0 120.3 8.0
2016DEN7110 437 4 16 128 1 86.5 12.4
2017 (Projected)DEN 190 835 5 22 166 1 136.1  

Outlook: The Broncos perceived starter at running back heading into the 2017 season, C.J. Anderson is now entrenched in what now could be a three player battle for snaps now that Denver added veteran Jamaal Charles to the mix. Anderson has spent the most time in Denver and has the trust of the coaching staff, but his production took a dip this past season as he fell from a 4.7 yards per carry average in both 2014 and 2015 to a 4.0 yards per carry average in 2016. Still, there are many questions about the other backs on this roster, which should mean that Anderson is in line to get the biggest share of the touches. One positive skill that Anderson has going for him is his hands. He's fumbled just three times in over 500 career touches and his reliability will be an important consideration for the Denver coaching staff as the team looks to get back to the playoffs in 2017. Anderson is more of an RB3 for fantasy purposes right now, but he could find himself as an RB2 on some rosters. Understand however, that his upside is limited due to the crowded nature of this Denver backfield.


 Frank Gore, IND (Bye: 11)
24
Height: 5’9”   Weight: 217   DOB: 1983-05-14   Age: 34
College: -   Draft: 2005 Round 3 (1) 
SeasonTeamGameAtt Yard TDRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2014SF16255 1,103 4 11 111 1 151.4 9.5
2015IND16260 967 6 34 267 1 165.4 10.3
2016IND16263 1,026 4 38 277 4 178.3 11.1
2017 (Projected)IND 201 805 5 29 221 2 144.6  

Outlook: Frank Gore has become an "old standby" for veteran fantasy managers in recent seasons but even they would admit that the end may be near for the 34-year-old running back. Barring a significant injury, Gore will become only the eighth NFL player to attain 3,000 career rushing attempts (he will enter this season with 2,967 career carries). Gore's fantasy ceiling is significantly lower than other RB2 types but there is still a lot to like about his chances of being a productive fantasy asset in 2017. Where the team lacks in pass protection, they have excelled in run blocking so Gore's shouldn't have trouble posting a YPC just under the 4.0 mark. Indianapolis didn't bring in a clear short-term upgrade to challenge Gore as the lead horse in the backfield. 1,037 rushing yards are all that separate Gore from moving into fourth place on the NFL's All-Time rushing yards leaderboard. He has averaged 1,032 rushing yards per season over the past three years and you can bet the Colts will give him every chance to get there if he stays healthy. If your league mates fail to recognize Gore as a RB2 he makes for a great mid-round selection.