Patrick Daugherty

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Week 1 Rankings

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Week 1 Running Backs

Rank Player Name Opponent Notes
1 David Johnson at DET -
2 Le'Veon Bell at CLE -
3 LeSean McCoy vs. NYJ -
4 DeMarco Murray vs. OAK -
5 Ezekiel Elliott vs. NYG -
6 Devonta Freeman at CHI -
7 Jordan Howard vs. ATL -
8 Melvin Gordon at DEN -
9 Todd Gurley vs. IND -
10 Lamar Miller vs. JAC -
11 Isaiah Crowell vs. PIT -
12 Carlos Hyde vs. CAR -
13 Marshawn Lynch at TEN -
14 Christian McCaffrey at SF -
15 Leonard Fournette at HOU -
16 Kareem Hunt at NE -
17 Dalvin Cook vs. NO -
18 Bilal Powell at BUF -
19 Ty Montgomery vs. SEA -
20 C.J. Anderson vs. LAC -
21 Ameer Abdullah vs. ARZ -
22 Joe Mixon vs. BAL -
23 Mark Ingram at MIN -
24 Rob Kelley vs. PHI -
25 Terrance West at CIN -
26 Tevin Coleman at CHI -
27 Paul Perkins at DAL -
28 Mike Gillislee vs. KC -
29 Frank Gore at LAR -
30 Danny Woodhead at CIN Questionable (hamstring)
31 Adrian Peterson at MIN -
32 Jonathan Stewart at SF -
33 Darren Sproles at WAS -
34 Theo Riddick vs. ARZ -
35 LeGarrette Blount at WAS -
36 Duke Johnson vs. PIT -
37 Derrick Henry vs. OAK -
38 Eddie Lacy at GB -
39 Matt Forte at BUF -
40 James White vs. KC -
41 C.J. Prosise at GB -
42 Jamaal Charles vs. LAC -
43 Chris Thompson vs. PHI -
44 Shane Vereen at DAL -
45 Jeremy Hill vs. BAL -
46 Giovani Bernard vs. BAL -
47 Chris Carson at GB -
48 Rex Burkhead vs. KC -
49 Latavius Murray vs. NO -
50 Darren McFadden vs. NYG -
51 Robert Turbin at LAR -
52 Jamaal Williams vs. SEA -

RB Notes: In my opinion, David Johnson and Le'Veon Bell are solid Week 1 fantasy plays. Now please pay me $200. … DeMarco Murray faded in the second half last season, and Derrick Henry looms as a concern, but Week 1 matchups don’t get much better than this. The soft underbelly of the Raiders’ defense somehow got worse this offseason. Home-favorite Tennessee is going to spend a lot of time handing the ball off to its bell-cow. … A 29-year-old runner with a history of soft-tissue injuries, it’s probably best not to look under LeSean McCoy’s hood. For their part, the Bills have committed to driving their lead back until the wheels fall off. … I try to avoid cultural references that are more niche than mainstream, and I haven’t even watched David Lynch’s Twin Peaks reboot, but it’s hard to know what else to compare the Ezekiel Elliott saga to. The still-suspended, currently-appealing, definitely playing Week 1 sophomore back has distractions galore, but like David Johnson and Le'Veon Bell, he’s a top-five option no matter the matchup. … The Bears weren’t pushovers against the run in 2016, but game script should be in workhorse Devonta Freeman’s favor.

Even if the Bears are playing from behind Sunday, that’s something Jordan Howard will be used to from his rookie season. In his 13 2016 starts, Howard was held below 99 yards from scrimmage only twice. … The Broncos were quietly soft against the run in 2016. Melvin Gordon not so quietly totaled 249 yards from scrimmage across his two games against Denver. The Broncos’ run-stopping cast remains largely the same. … Week 1 is a now-or-never game for Todd Gurley. The Colts lack impact run-stoppers aside from Johnathan Hankins, are an overall mess on defense and won’t be able to sustain drives on offense. Gurley, who averaged just 75 yards from scrimmage in 2016, needs to show something. … The Jaguars are run tough, but Lamar Miller isn’t going to lack for volume. His backups are banged up and neither the Jags nor Texans will be lighting up the scoreboard. … Boom or bust in 2016, Isaiah Crowell will be running behind a much-improved offensive line. Dual-threat DeShone Kizer could open up running lanes. Game flow will remain an issue, but Crowell figures to spend much of the year on the RB1/2 borderline.    

Carlos Hyde’s perceived offseason stock was a rollercoaster. It enters Week 1 near an all-time high. Earning plaudits from the coaching staff and media, Hyde had an impressive camp as would-be committee members in Joe Williams and Tim Hightower fell by the wayside. The 49ers stink, but coach Kyle Shanahan is one of the league’s top run-game minds. Playing for a new contract, 26-year-old Hyde could vastly out-perform his ADP. … Healthy and focused, 31-year-old Marshawn Lynch seems ready to cash more checks than Latavius Murray did behind the Raiders’ road-paving line. … Christian McCaffrey was a special player at Stanford and a top-eight pick, so it makes sense that the Panthers reportedly have a “large part of the offense devoted to him.” Jonathan Stewart will only be a nuisance if McCaffrey lets him. … It wasn’t smooth sailing for Leonard Fournette as he battled a foot injury this summer, but he’s absent from the Week 1 injury report. The Jaguars have gone beyond telegraphing monster usage for their rookie back, essentially guaranteeing he will be the vessel through which the offense flows. Nevertheless, Houston is a tough Week 1 road matchup.

Third-round rookie Kareem Hunt projects as a three-down back for creative running mind Andy Reid. The Pats are a tough debut matchup, but touches aren’t a Week 1 concern for Hunt. … Dalvin Cook turned heads all summer, but I’m going to hold off on officially crowning him a top-15 option until we see how $3.4 million guaranteed free agent Latavius Murray is used. Minnesota also needs to show — not tell with questionable FA additions — that its offensive line is better than last year’s disastrous unit. … Bilal Powell looked like the Jets’ only legitimate player on offense this preseason. Matt Forte threatens to be a thorn in Powell’s side, but his three-down upside is real. … It remains unclear if the Packers are ready to go all in on Ty Montgomery on early downs. His Week 1 opponent, the Seahawks, remained run tough even as their defense took a step back in 2016. Now Sheldon Richardson has joined the party. Sunday figures to be inconclusive for the TyMont fantasy experiment. … C.J. Anderson entered the preseason healthy and exited with his fourth shot at securing the Broncos’ starting role. Jamaal Charles is ready to change the pace, and perhaps more if CJA struggles.

Ameer Abdullah begins his latest quest to lead the Lions’ backfield with the Cardinals’ stingy run defense. … Jeremy Hill will start for the Bengals. Joe Mixon will spell him early and often. The Bengals should be open to their uber-talented rookie developing the “hot hand.” … If the preseason is any indication, Rob Kelley should remain relatively untroubled on early downs by Samaje Perine. … The Saints’ backfield is pure guesswork. Mark Ingram is coming off his best season. Adrian Peterson is seeking revenge against his former team. Coach Sean Payton will only shed light on the situation through his in-game usage. … I think Terrance West will out-touch Danny Woodhead. The rest I don’t really know. … The Patriots’ new-look backfield remains shrouded in mystery. Presumed early-down favorite Mike Gillislee still had “quite a ways to go” the last time coach Bill Belichick spoke on the matter. … Paul Perkins isn’t threatened on early downs. That has to count for something. … Eagles coach Doug Pederson has decreed his backfield will be game-plan specific. Tempo could be the key against Washington, which would favor Darren Sproles over LeGarrette Blount. … The Seahawks’ backfield is in complete disarray. Thomas Rawls (ankle) is practicing in full, but could still sit. With Eddie Lacy coming off a woeful summer, Chris Carson and even passing-down back C.J. Prosise could get in the mix on early downs.                      

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Patrick Daugherty is a football and baseball writer for He can be found on Twitter .
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