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Evan Silva

Tiers of Heaven

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Silva: 2018 Running Back Tiers

Sunday, August 5, 2018


* These tiers and rankings are based on 0.5 PPR scoring.


Tier One: Every-Down Back Week Winners

Todd Gurley (RB1) > Le’Veon Bell (RB2) > Ezekiel Elliott (RB3) > David Johnson (RB4) > Alvin Kamara (RB5)

Overview: Tier-one running backs are fantasy’s most-valued commodities and should comprise five of the initial six draft picks, with Antonio Brown mixed in. Gurley’s passing-game prowess was unlocked in year one of Sean McVay, leading the NFL in yards from scrimmage (2,093) and all-purpose TDs (19). Among running backs, only Kamara (826) logged more receiving yards than Gurley’s 788. Bell has been the NFL’s signature workhorse since entering the league. He’s averaged 27.5 touches per game the past two years and set a career high with 85 catches in 2017. Bell did start slow after a training-camp holdout and will likely hold out until early September again. Elliott’s suspension is behind him, and his offensive line returns healthy. The NFL’s leader in rushing yards per game in each of his first two seasons, Zeke offers the highest sheer workload projection in the league. Johnson enters 2018 with “fresh legs” and contract-year narratives after missing almost all of 2017 with a broken wrist. He is a candidate to lead all running backs in snaps and targets. Kamara saw 100 targets as a rookie despite playing behind Adrian Peterson to open the year and sharing time with Mark Ingram. Peterson is long gone, and Ingram will begin 2018 on a four-game suspension. Even if Kamara’s efficiency regresses, he can compensate with significantly increased usage and runs behind a top-two offensive line. No one should be surprised if Kamara finishes as this year’s overall RB1.

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Tier Two: Rest of the Probable RB1s

Melvin Gordon (RB6) > Saquon Barkley (RB7) > Leonard Fournette (RB8) > Kareem Hunt (RB9) > Christian McCaffrey (RB10)

Overview: Gordon has lacked efficiency from both yards-per-carry and success-rate angles since entering the NFL, but his targets (37 > 57 > 83) and catches (33 > 41 > 58) have climbed each year, and he’s finished top three in carries inside the five-yard line (14, 17) in consecutive seasons. This year’s Chargers project to field the best offensive line of Gordon’s career and draw one of the NFL’s softest schedules, enhancing their run-friendly game scripts. Barkley has a David Johnson-level skill set and should rarely come off the field. Gordon and Barkley both offer tier-one upside based on their all-purpose usage. Including playoffs, Fournette totaled 1,628 yards from scrimmage and 14 touchdowns in 16 games as a rookie. Fournette’s multi-year ankle problems and lower receiving projection keep him out of the first tier, but he is capable of leading the league in carries and rushing scores if his health holds up. The NFL’s rushing leader as a rookie, Hunt would have a case to be ranked higher if not for Spencer Ware’s return and a few off-field incidents. Hunt has also battled a hamstring injury on and off since the spring. Ron Rivera and Norv Turner’s suggestions that McCaffrey could handle 25-30 touches per game have generated understandable scoffs, but they are still positive indications the Panthers expect McCaffrey’s workload to spike after he averaged only 12.3 touches per game as a rookie. Lately, I’ve been hammering McCaffrey in the second round of drafts.

Read the rest of Silva's RB Tiers in the 2018 Rotoworld Draft Guide.

Editor's Note: The 2018 Rotoworld Draft Guide provides more than 500 extensive player profiles, tiersprojections, Evan Silva’s Sleepers and Busts and much more. Get the NFL Draft Guide now. 



Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Evan Silva



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