2017 fantasy football running back rankings: 30-21

Here’s a continuation of my fantasy football rankings, this list consists of running back rankings for the 2017 fantasy football season: 30-21.

30. Danny Woodhead (Baltimore Ravens)– Standing at 5-foot-9, 200 pounds, Woodhead has put together a nice career with the Jets, Patriots and Chargers. Woodhead has been a reliable receiving option out of the backfield for quarterbacks such as Philip Rivers and Tom Brady, and now he travels to Baltimore to play with Joe Flacco. The thing it comes down to with Woodhead is health. Two years ago, playing 16 games, Woodhead rushed for 336 yards, caught for 755 yards and had a total of nine touchdowns. The production is there if the health is so it is a risky pick, but it could pay off big time.

29. Paul Perkins (New York Giants)- Paul Perkins enjoyed a nice rookie season rushing for 456 yards on 112 attempts behind Rashad Jennings. Now that Jennings is gone, and the Giants didn’t make a move in the offseason acquiring another running back, Perkins is the lead back for New York.

The Giants, however, ran the ball on 61 percent of their plays last season and added Brandon Marshall to their wide receiver corps this offseason, so they will mainly throw the ball. But because of the situation of the Giants backfield, I expect him to get more touchdowns and enjoy a better sophomore season.

2017 Fantasy Football running back rankings

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28. Theo Riddick (Detroit Lions)- The other half of the Lions backfield is Theo Riddick. Again, Riddick is primarily a receiving back, but he found success when Ameer Abdullah went down early in the season.

He rushed for 357 and had 371 receiving yards with a combined six touchdowns in only 10 games. Currently being drafted as the 36th running back, Riddick can be a huge steal for your team if he stays healthy,

27. Mike Gillislee (New England Patriots)- Gillislee is an interesting fantasy candidate this year. He is unproven as a starter, (only started one game last season) but found success backing up Lesean McCoy in Buffalo last year.

He rushed for 577 yards and eight touchdowns, gaining 116.7 fantasy points. Now Gillislee has an opportunity to be the lead back for the Patriots who turned 30-year-old LeGarette Blount into a fantasy monster. Draft Gillislee as an RB3 and don’t be surprised if he’s your number one by the end of the season.

26. Tevin Coleman (Atlanta Falcons)- The two-headed monster of Coleman and Devonta Freeman is a big reason for the success of the Atlanta Falcons offense. In 2016, Coleman rushed for 520 yards and eight touchdowns while he had 421 receiving yards and three touchdowns.

He isn’t the main back on the Falcons roster, but he is the best second running back in the NFL today. He is a must own, if you plan on taking Devonta Freeman, but if you don’t own Devonta, take Coleman anyway for trade bait or just enjoy him as a flex play.

2017 Fantasy Football running back rankings

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25. Eddie Lacy (Seattle Seahawks)- Feastmode has found a new home. When the Seahawks signed Lacy, it just made things more complicated to read in Seattle’s backfield. It is starting to look like Lacy will be the lead back in Seattle, but he’ll probably be on a short leash with C.J. Prosise and Thomas Rawls behind him.

Lacy found success early in his career with back-to-back 1,000-plus yard seasons, but he hasn’t eclipsed 800 yards since. Lacy is a high-risk, high-reward pick, so take him only if the price is right.

24. C.J. Anderson (Denver Broncos)- C.J. Anderson got bit by the injury bug last season, only playing in seven games. In the games he played in, however he found some success.

He rushed for 437 yards and four touchdowns in 2016. Jamaal Charles is in the mix now in Denver, but expect Anderson to still have lead back duties. If he stays healthy, he’ll have a nice season. He probably won’t be a number one because of the other running backs in the mix, but draft him as a low RB2 to a good RB3.

23. Joe Mixon (Cincinnati Bengals)- Joe Mixon has all the tools to be a complete and successful back in the NFL. That’s if, and only if, he stays out of trouble off the field. Mixon has been caught in a serious domestic violence incident in the past. However, he was once the number one running back recruit and has the opportunity in Cincinnati and the ability to be a great pro runner.

2017 Fantasy Football running back rankings

Joe Mixon (Photo by: cincinnati.com)

22. Frank Gore (Indianapolis Colts)- If anyone can beat father time, it’s Frank Gore. After finishing as the 12th-best fantasy running back in 2016, Gore is still looking fresh. He rushed for over 1,000 yards and four touchdowns, and also had four receiving touchdowns. Gore, however, is 34 years old and it could be his time for a down year. Draft Gore with caution.

21. Dalvin Cook (Minnesota Vikings)- The Vikings found their replacement for Adrian Peterson. Arguably the most talented running back coming out of the NFL Draft, Cook found himself in a position to succeed immediately.

After bulking up their offensive line by adding Mike Remmers and Riley Reiff, Dalvin Cook has almost nothing in his way, except for the fact that Minnesota gave Latavius Murray an offseason deal and he’ll be splitting carries. My one word of advice is to not jump too early on Dalvin Cook, but draft him for the right price.

 

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Under the Radar Fantasy Running Backs

Under the radar fantasy running backs to watch

This season there are fantasy running backs worth watching. These five running backs may not be the biggest names in the NFL, but they can be valuable assets for your team this upcoming season.

Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears

Under the Radar Fantasy Running Backs

Jordan Howard (Photo by: chicagobears.com)

The first running back that everyone should keep an eye on is Jordan Howard. When starter Jeremy Langford got hurt last season, Howard took the starting job and didn’t look back. Not only was he good, he was dominant.

As a rookie, Howard rushed for the second-most yards in 2016 with 1,313, behind another rookie in Ezekiel Elliot. Howard also finished second in yards per carry with a 5.2 average. Howard averaged 87.5 rushing yards per game that ranked third in the league and just outside the top 10 in attempts (252).

Howard only scored six touchdowns, which ranked 20th in the NFL. Howard is on a team in which they have to come from behind which leads to passing situations on almost every down. This means that Howard doesn’t get the ball late in games to improve on some of his numbers.

Howard’s numbers will improve, especially in touchdowns. I also don’t expect Howard to have that sophomore slump. Howard will be a first round pick and could still rise to a top-five pick.

Jay Ajayi, Miami Dolphins

After Arian Foster retired early in the 2016 season, Ajayi had his chance to play and went all in. Three times did he have a 200-yard or more rushing game, including back-to-back weeks. Miami did rank 18th in rushing attempts, but in those attempts Ajayi ran the ball with intensity and purpose.

Ajayi’s 1,272 rushing yards ranked fourth among rushers in the league. Ajayi also ranked fifth in yards per game at 84.8, ninth in rushing attempts with 260, seventh in rushing yards per attempt (4.9) and just outside the top 10 in touchdowns with eight.

Although the Dolphins ranked 18th in rushing attempts, they did rank ninth in rushing yards which means Ajayi has an effective offensive line that should help deliver a repeat performance in 2017. Ajayi’s ADP (average draft position) is around the eighth to ninth running back picked, which means look for him second or third round.

Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars

The 6-foot-1, 235-pound bruiser known as Leonard Fournette will be the new man in the Jacksonville Jaguars backfield. Fournette is a running back who can punish defenses with power and get chunks of yardage with speed. He’s not the most agile running back, but when he has a running lane, he accelerates quickly and can hit a home run.

Fournette won’t give you many catches, that’s not his game. His backups T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory don’t pose any threat other than a carry here and there to give Fournette a blow. Yeldon will be the pass-catcher and Ivory is the same type of back Fournette is. Although the Jaguars ranked 17th or lower in every rushing category, Fourette should help those numbers because of the ability he has.

I see Fournette as a guy like Ezekiel Elliot. A physical, breaking tackles and hit the home run guy once in open space back. The Jaguars will use the fourth overall selection in this year’s NFL Draft to protect quarterback Blake Bortles from having to drop back 40 times a game. I would rate Fournette a high-end RB2 with the potential to be a solid RB1. He will be a second round pick in most fantasy drafts.

Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals

under the radar fantasy running backs

Joe Mixon (Photo by: cincinnati.com)

The good part about the Cincinnati Bengals running game is that they have ranked top-ten in the NFL in both rushing attempts and red-zone carries in each of the past three seasons. However, the Bengals running game for yards and consistency has been dreadful ever since Jeremy Hill’s rookie season in 2014.

Hill has declined and has delivered fewer than 60 rushing yards per game. Hill doesn’t catch the ball either. Giovani Bernard is working back from a torn ACL and will mostly be used in the passing game.

Fans should be excited to see Joe Mixon from a fantasy perspective rather than his off-the-field issues. Mixon has the potential to be a better runner than Hill, and a solid pass-catcher like Bernard. I look at Mixon and I see a David Johnson or Le’Veon Bell type player who has great ability to run and catch the ball.

Hill will probably be the starter and end up getting a good number of touches. Mixon will eventually take over somewhere in the middle of the season but don’t count him out to take the job sooner. If he’s there by the fourth to fifth round he could be a steal as he has the potential to be a RB1 but will start likely as a RB3 if he is the backup.

Mike Gillislee, New England Patriots

My dark horse running back is Mike Gillislee of the New England Patriots. With the departure of LeGarrette Blount, the Patriots signed Rex Burkhead to a one-year contract and still have James White and Dion Lewis. What separates Gillislee from the others is that he can pound the ball between the tackles.

He will fill the shoes that Blount filled last year. He was LeSean McCoy’s backup in Buffalo last year and finished with only 101 carries but ran for 576 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns. His 5.7 yards per carry ranked first among all running backs with at least 100 carries.

The Bills didn’t have a great offensive line as it ranked 16th in run blocking but Gillislee’s 3.34 yards after contact per attempt was third best in the NFL. He was also a machine within the 10-yard line as seven of his eight touchdowns came from within that range.

We know Gillislee can be valuable for touchdowns, but be cautious because of the other running backs the Patriots have around him. Gillislee will get his touches as the Patriots ranked third in rushing attempts in 2016. Gillislee’s ADP right now is around the fourth to fifth round as a RB3 mostly because he enters as the starter.

 

Featured image from bigcatcountry.com

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Where Bob Stoops retiring leaves Oklahoma Sooners football

There was a shock in the college football world today when Bob Stoops decided to retire as head coach of the Oklahoma Sooners. Stoops is only 56 years old, but has already become the winningest coach in Oklahoma history.

Bob Stoops with the 2000 BCS National Championship Trophy. (Photo by newsok.com)

While retiring at a relatively young age is surprising, Stoops retiring in June is more surprising. He has gone through the offseason and spring practices with the team as the head coach, which is a rarity for a coach that is retiring.

By staying past February, he made sure the recruiting class stayed in tact for this season. Now he has to explain to his players why he is retiring. After likely telling them that he’d be the head coach during their careers in the recruiting process, he is now gone and players who were under the impression that they’d be playing for him will not be happy.

Stoops had a tumultuous last couple seasons for the Sooners which included the high of reaching the College Football Playoff in its second year. The low part was how he handled player behavior, which included running back Joe Mixon. Mixon was suspended for one year after an incident in which he punched a woman. Stoops and the Sooners used a redshirt on Mixon back in 2014, which made it so although he was suspended, he would still keep all four years of eligibility.

Ultimately Stoops will be remembered for winning the National Championship in 2000 and being an all-time great coach.

Lincoln Riley

Lincoln Riley (Photo by: footballscoop.com)

Lincoln Riley is the new man in charge and the Sooners almost couldn’t ask for a better solution this late in the game. Riley has been the offensive coordinator for Oklahoma the past two seasons. He helped create a powerhouse of an offense that finished third in the country averaging 43.9 points per game.

During his tenure at Oklahoma Riley has helped make Baker Mayfield into one of the best players in college football. They lost Sterling Shepard after the 2015 season and Dede Westbrook stepped up and became a Heisman Finalist at wide receiver position. This season Riley was looking forward to getting Mayfield back, but did lose Samaje Perine, Mixon and Westbrook to the NFL.

Due to his impressive work as an offensive coordinator, Riley was one of the most coveted coaches in college football. Bruce Feldman has reported that he turned down some decent job offers like Cincinnati, Purdue and Houston. While these aren’t the biggest jobs in college football, it is impressive for a coordinator to get that many offers. Had he been at Oklahoma for another year under Stoops, he would have likely gotten even better offers after this season.

Riley is the youngest coach in the FBS at age 33, but will prove why he is a good choice. It may not go smoothly and turn into a National Championship right away, but Riley was the right choice given the circumstances and timing of the decision of Stoops.

The 2017 Season

Oklahoma will have a tough time making it into the College Football Playoff without going undefeated because they are in the Big XII. With big games at Ohio State and Oklahoma State this season, Riley will be tested in his first season.

He does have an experienced offensive line and quarterback coming back, but will need some new skill position players to step up. Their secondary has a lot of experience on defense, but the front seven is unproven.

Even with all of these circumstances, Oklahoma should be able to win at a minimum nine games. That would be a good start to what could be a great career at Oklahoma for Lincoln Riley.

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2017 Sugar Bowl Preview

Auburn and Oklahoma will face off in a titanic clash in the 2017 Sugar Bowl.

Auburn Tigers

The Tigers had a six game win streak in the middle of their schedule to help them reach 8-4. They only lost to bowl teams, with two of their losses coming to the two teams playing in the National Championship. They have five wins over bowl eligible teams with their victories over: Arkansas State, LSU, Mississippi State, Arkansas and Vanderbilt.

Sugar Bowl

Carl Lawson (Photo courtesy: cbssports.com)

Auburn has had to play multiple quarterbacks this season due to inconsistency and injury. Sean White has taken the most snaps and has been effective. He has thrown for 1,644 yards, nine touchdowns and three interceptions. His 65% completion percentage works well because of the rushing attack of Auburn.

Because the pass offense isn’t great, there is only one player who does a lot of damage as a receiver. Tony Stevens has 466 receiving yards and three touchdowns.

The run game is where the Tigers are able to do the most damage. Kamryn Pettway has been the leading rusher with 1,123 yards and seven touchdowns. Kerryon Johnson has added 866 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.

The Tiger defense is good at stopping the run and allow just 125 rushing yards per game. The pass defense is average and gives up 224 yards per game.

Carl Lawson has had a great season rushing the passer with nine sacks. He will have to get pressure to slow down Baker Mayfield and the Oklahoma offense.

Oklahoma Sooners

Oklahoma is on a nine game winning streak and has a record of 10-2. They have beaten five bowl eligible teams in TCU, Kansas State, Baylor, West Virginia and Oklahoma State. Their losses came to Houston and Ohio State.

Sugar Bowl

Baker Mayfield (Photo courtesy: usatoday.com)

Baker Mayfield has been great ever since he took the field for Oklahoma. This season he earned a spot as a Heisman Finalist with 3,669 passing yards, 38 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He has also completed an impressive 71% of his passes.

Dede Westbrook also got an invite to the Heisman ceremony as Mayfield’s best receiver. He finished the season with 1,465 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. Westbrook creates big plays at 20 yards per reception.

Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine have split ball carrying duties with a smash and dash approach. Mixon is the speed back and has rushed for 1,183 yards and even missed a game with suspension. He also is a good receiver out of the backfield. Perine is the power back, who has picked up 974 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns.

The run defense is above average for the Sooners and allows 161 rushing yards per game. The pass defense is one of the worst in the country as Oklahoma gives up 279 yards per game.

Ogbonnia Okronkwo has been one of the bright spots on defense for Oklahoma with nine sacks this season. Jordan Evans has helped out with his four interceptions.

Prediction

Oklahoma will move the football through the air and Auburn won’t be able to keep up. Baker Mayfield will elude pressure to make great plays and pick up the win.

 

Oklahoma Sooners 35 Auburn Tigers 25

 

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College Football Week Three Recap

Week three produced some great football for fans nationwide. The combination of non-conference and conference games made the weekend great. Big programs faced off against each other, and rivalries were renewed. Here are five takeaways from the weekend’s action:

1. Louisville/Lamar Jackson are for real.

Louisville did not just beat Florida State, they dismantled them. The Cardinals had played manageable competition in the first two weeks, but had their first test this week against a very talented Seminole team. They still have big games against Clemson and Houston, but they look like they are capable of making the College Football Playoff and possibly doing some damage if they get there.

The man leading the Heisman Trophy race was not even in consideration last year. Lamar Jackson put up ridiculous numbers against the poor competition the first two games of the season. He had thirteen touchdowns by himself in those games. He added to his Heisman campaign, by totaling 362 yards and five touchdowns. His biggest accomplishment this weekend was Michael Vick tweeting and raving about him.

2. Dropping the ball before you reach the goal line isn’t cool.

Courtesy Sportingnews.com.

The trend of dropping the ball as soon as you get into the end zone, or dropping it before you get there in most cases,is the dumbest thing a player can do. Do players really think it is cool to drop the ball that soon and possibly cost their team a crucial score? Even though I would hand the ball to the official and head to the sideline, college football does need some celebrating, but not in this fashion. With these incidents happening to Oklahoma and Cal this week, and Clemson last week, it has occurred too much to ignore. The upside of dropping the ball early is literally nothing, but the downside is a player looking dumb on national television. In the words of Coach Herman Boone from Remember the Titans would say, “Hold onto that ball Petey!”.

3. Talent is more important than schemes/Ohio State is talented.

Courtesy of si.com.

Oklahoma’s backup quarterback Austin Kendall mentioned that he couldn’t wait to see the Sooners’ starting quarterback, Baker Mayfield, light up Ohio State’s basic defense. While it is easy to see that Ohio State’s defense doesn’t do anything mind boggling, they are still an excellent defense with a lot of talent. Their specialty this season has been intercepting passes and Mayfield fell victim to that, throwing two to the Buckeyes. The talent of Ohio State did a great job of slowing the Sooners’ offense. Maybe next time Kendall will think before he says something like this, when he isn’t the one who has to back it up.

4. North Dakota State is better than a lot of FBS teams.

Courtesy latimes.com.

North Dakota State has been a perennial powerhouse at the FCS level and have even beaten plenty of FBS teams. This season they took a step forward by traveling to Iowa and beating the thirteenth best team in the country. The Hawkeyes returned a lot of talent from last year’s team, who went to the Rose Bowl, and were expected to contend for the Big Ten again this season. The Bison just reload, as they have won five straight FCS National Championships, but they showed this week that they can compete well enough to be a solid FBS team. The School doesn’t seem to be considering a move to the FBS, they like dominating the FCS level, but are talented enough nonetheless.