© Jake Roth | USA Today

Three’s Company: Fantasy RBs

The Three RB Studs, Stay-Aways & Sleepers in 2017:

Ben Heisler
August 29, 2017 - 3:50 pm

We are less than two weeks away from the start of real football! All throughout the week, we’ll take a look at each fantasy football position: QB, RB, WR & TE and break down each of them into three categories.

The Studs: These are the players at this position that you don’t need to think twice about because you’re guaranteed to have them deliver at their ADP (average draft position)

The Stay-Aways: The players that I’m not going to touch this year or the players that are being drafted far too early despite their likely contributions.

The Sleepers: The players that are going anywhere from mid-to-late rounds in fantasy drafts, including some that may not be drafted at all!

Today we continue our Three’s Company series with the RB breakdown.


Writer’s Note: Similar to the situation for Rodgers & Brady, I don’t think it does much good for a write-up of Le’Veon Bell & David Johnson. They are both clear and away the top two fantasy options at RB and are interchangeable at 1A (Bell) & 1B (Johnson). I’ll therefore put a little more risk into my Studs at the RB position fully knowing that the two of them are clear and away at the top.

MELVIN GORDON, Los Angeles Chargers:

Fantasy success at RB is based on two main criteria: talent, and opportunity. With Gordon, he was able to showcase both at an exceptional level last year before going down with a PCL injury just as the fantasy playoffs kicked off. Anthony Lynn helped build the impressive rushing attack in Buffalo and is now running the show in L.A, which only sets up Gordon for more success in 2017. Even better news? With no competition in site, Gordon’s opportunity is set to be the dominant back as well as the goal line back, so the touchdowns should pile up: 12 touchdowns in 12 full games to go along with receiving 86% of the carries.

JAY AJAYI, Miami Dolphins.

I have to credit my newfound love for Ajayi to Fanball’s Brian Johnson (who you can hear every Sunday morning on Fantasy Football Sunday at 9:20 on 610 Sports Radio). Ajayi according to his head coach Adam Gase sees 350 carries as a realistic goal this year for the 24-year old RB from Boise State. Another stat Brian found was that Ajayi led all NFL runners in yards-per-carry against stacked defenses (8 or more guys in the box). He averaged 5 yards a carry, rushed for nearly 1300 yards with 8 touchdowns and reports are that his catch numbers are on the rise as well. Ajayi if healthy should be a Top-5 fantasy back.

TODD GURLEY, Los Angeles Rams

The riskiest pick of the studs on this list, but it can’t be understated that Gurley played in all 16 games a season ago despite playing with one of the worst offenses in the NFL. He’s due to bounce back closer to 2015 form thanks to a revamped offensive line, multiple playmakers in the passing game for Jared Goff in Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Tavon Austin & Cooper Kupp. Factor in new coach Sean McVay that handled a Top-12 running game the past few years and all signs point up. (Side note* props to my buddy Trevor Ray for his team’s fantasy name: “Steal Your Gurley.”


DEMARCO MURRAY, Tennessee Titans

Murray was a tale of two halves last season. First half, he was electric, a TD machine and averaged 20+ points in nine of his first 10 games. The second half, he began to fade and Derrick Henry began to emerge more into the offense. Murray was also 100% healthy so the regression in the second half became more concerning. Henry was a prominent second round pick last year and I fully expect more of a timeshare approach this season to keep both guys going strong. Marcus Mariota will be throwing a lot more often now with the additions of Eric Decker & Corey Davis to go along with 1,000 receiver Rishard Matthews.

LEONARD FOURNETTE, Jacksonville Jaguars

Fournette has generational talent, but he’s never been able to stay healthy. For a rookie RB who hasn’t played a down of NFL football yet to already have ankle and foot issues spells major concern for a RB that’s going Top-10. He’s also going to a situation with an atrocious quarterback who’s already under serious pressure and defenses will stack the box knowing if Fournette’s in the game, it’s going to him (TJ Yeldon was actually a decent pass-catching back last year). Especially in a PPR league, I’d steer clear from Fournette.

JORDAN HOWARD, Chicago Bears

This one hurts your boy. Howard is the double-whammy for me as a Chicago Bear (m hometown team) and an Indiana Hoosier star. But Howard couldn’t stay healthy during his time at IU and I’m not convinced he’ll remain healthy all season long in Year #2 in Chicago. Running back exclusivity helps most RBs when it comes to fantasy but I believe it somewhat hurts him because of his injury history. The Bears are also similar to the Jacksonville situation with a bad QB and their wide receiver situation is far worse than the Jaguars. Look for teams to line up with a mission to slow down Howard and the Bears rush attack.


PAUL PERKINS, New York Giants

Perkins is the clear-cut #1 RB on a Top-10 offense, possibly a Top 5-7 offense in the Giants this year. Some math from Mike Tagliere from FantasyPros.com indicate that RBs who can average 11.4 carries a game can end up as Top-24 RBs in fantasy football. Perkins is young, the #1 guy, and with teams looking to try to figure out how to stop Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard and of course Odell Beckham Jr, Perkins might be the guy to surprise as a Top 15-20 back even though he’s going at ADP 29-34.

JONATHAN STEWART, Carolina Panthers

Remember how I told you guys yesterday in my QB article about why I’m staying away from Cam Newton? Jonathan Stewart is one of the reasons why. No more Cam at the goalline means J-Stew will be the guy! From our Fantasy Football Training Camp, Jonathan Stewart got 16 goalline carries and scored nine times. Even with Christian McCaffrey in the mix, I fully anticipate Stewart’s goalline numbers to remain strong, possibly improve!

JAMAAL WILLIAMS, Green Bay Packers

The Packers #1 RB is a converted WR in Ty Montgomery. That’s not taking anything away from Montgomery who was terrific and explosive when he changed positions last season for Aaron Rodgers and Co, but at some point, Green Bay is going to need a ground-and-pound option. Enter Williams, a 6-foot, 213 pound running back from BYU who ran for more than 3,900 yards in his career to go along with 35 TDs in 45 career games. Williams could easily be in line for 10-20 goalline carries for Green Bay and inside-the-five opportunities are worth their weight in fantasy football.

Comments ()