Dual Threat: Saquon Barkley's 91 receptions
in 2018 would've ranked 10th among wide receivers.
Last week I shared my way-too-early
top-12 quarterback rankings, complete with the disclaimer that a
multitude of things will have an effect on these rankings as we
go forward. Perhaps the single most significant factor that will
change the outcome of the top-12 running back rankings will be the
landing spot for Le’Veon
Should Bell land in an attractive situation like Indianapolis
or Tampa Bay, it is not out of the question for the former No.1
fantasy pick to leapfrog into the top-5. However, should Bell
find free agency not as lucrative as his agents predicted and
a sub-prime landing spot like Oakland is his best option, Bell
could fall out of the top-12 altogether.
Barkley, NYG - Barkley became only the third rookie
in NFL history to reach 2000 total yards last year, joining Edgerrin
James and Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson. Not only is Barkley supremely
talented, his volume in both the ground and passing game makes
him a fantasy goldmine. Todd Gurley would be the No. 1 pick here
based on his past performances and the value of playing in the
Ramsí offense, but his health and playing time issues in the playoffs
raise too many red flags.
Elliott, DAL - It may shock some readers to see Elliott
ranked No.2 over Gurley, especially considering that Zeke posted
a mere six rushing touchdowns last season. The reason why I am
so high on Zeke is the fact that his low rushing touchdown total
was somewhat of an anomaly. For a player to receive 304 carries
and post a 4.7 yard per carry average and finish with just six
touchdowns, that player was incredibly unlucky and should have
reached at least double figures. When you also add in the fact
that the Cowboys finally wised up and gave Zeke a career-high
77 receptions for 576 yards and three touchdowns, you can see
how Zeke has the volume to lead the league in fantasy points.
Gurley, LAR - It pains me to rank someone who has 40
total touchdowns over the last two seasons like Gurley as anything
but the No.1 player in fantasy this season, but I canít stop thinking
about his odd usage and ineffectiveness in the playoffs. The talent
is still there, and so is the elite surrounding cast of skill
players and elite coaching. I just fear that the Rams will continue
to use more of a shared backfield approach based on what they
saw from Gurley late last season. As my No.3 RB, he is still elite,
and I would love to have him on my fantasy team next year. But
he does have some question marks, and I feel that Barkley and
Zeke are safer picks.
McCaffrey, CAR - With 1965 total yards and 13 touchdowns
in 2018, McCaffrey proved to be one of the best values in the
draft for those lucky enough to get him in the second round. With
a league-high 107 receptions (most for running backs), McCaffrey
was an elite player in full point PPR formats, worthy of a top
5 pick. You will need to use a high first round pick to get CMC
this season, but he will be well worth it as a versatile player
who proved he can score rushing touchdowns and be durable between
the tackles player.
Kamara, NO - The regression that was such a favorite
topic in the fantasy community did not come to fruition for Kamara.
Not only did the second-year player post nearly three points per
game higher than his rookie campaign, but he also finished second
with 14 rushing touchdowns. I donít count on getting over 200
carries this season even if Mark Ingram leaves in free agency,
but that should not matter based on his elite ability to score
touchdowns from anywhere on the field.
Gordon, LAC - Many people will look past Gordon this
year based on injury concerns and the way he finished the 2018
season. Donít be the one in your league to make that mistake.
Gordon was an absolute stud and averaged more fantasy points per
game than Barkley, Kamara, McCaffrey, and James Conner. The Chargers
look to be a powerhouse on offense once again and Gordon could
be the steal of the first round for the second year in a row.
Johnson, ARI - Those who drafted David Johnson last
season will likely tell you that they will never make that mistake
again. Johnson stumbled out of the gate with fewer than 50 rushing
yards in his first three games and only one game in which he topped
the century mark all year. While Johnson was clearly not the premier
back that he was in 2016, he did finish as an RB1 with 1387 total
yards and 10 touchdowns in one of the worst situations in the
league. With a new offensive scheme from Kliff Kingsbury and hopefully
a focus on bolstering the offensive line via free agency and the
draft, Johnson could be a massive value late in the first or early
in the second round of drafts.
Mixon, CIN - Mixon thrived as the primary running back
for the Bengals last season with 1464 total yards and nine touchdowns
in just 14 games. Like David Johnson, Mixon will have a new offensive
scheme from a new coaching regime, and the return of A.J. Green
from a season-ending foot injury in 2018 will give the offense
a boost. I am bullish on the Bengals offense this season and Mixon
could break into the top 5 at the position if he stays healthy.
Bell, FA - As I mentioned in the introduction, Bell
is the most fascinating and difficult player to rank this season.
You could make a viable argument that until we find out where
he lands he should not be ranked in the top 12. But you can also
make a case that if he falls in an attractive situation like in
Tampa Bay, he could be the No.1 player in fantasy.
Conner, PIT - I am not as bullish on Conner as some
in the industry based on the fact that I am not sold on him getting
bell cow volume. The team clearly likes Jaylen Samuels, especially
in the passing game, and the two could be headed more for a 60-40
split in 2019. Conner is still a top 12 running back, but expectations
should be tempered.
Chubb, CLE - I liked Chubb a whole lot more before
the Browns made the head-scratching move of signing free agent
Kareem Hunt. Hunt is still on the commissioner's list and who
knows how many games he will play in 2019. But assuming Hunt does
play in the second half of the season, he could eat into the volume
Chubb would have enjoyed as the sole first and second down back.
Cook, MIN - Cook posted five straight double-digit
performances to close of out the fantasy season after killing
people for most of the year with a lingering hamstring injury.
When on the field and healthy, Cook flashed the dynamic speed
and agility that he showed before suffering a knee injury in 2017.
Iím not sold on the offensive system in Minnesota under Kevin
Stefanski, but I do think Cook could put up 1400 total yards and
10 touchdowns if he can stay on the field.