It’s time to celebrate one of America’s favorite activities, the return of fantasy football. The Pug is here to guide you to another successful season. For the next few weeks we will take a look at the rankings , according to The Pug, of the top fantasy producers at their respective positions. Rankings will use a standard PPR league point system. 1 pt. for every 20 yards passing, 1 point for every 10 yards receiving and rushing, 1 pt for receptions 4 points for passing touchdowns and 6 points for rushing and receiving touchdowns.
And now for the running backs…….
1. Le’Veon Bell (Pittsburgh Steelers)- Bell is a true duel threat running back. He has shown in the past he is an extremely dangerous weapon and a top fantasy performer. This is a contract year for him so he will be looking to get paid next year by letting his performance this year do the negotiations. Question is can he stay healthy the whole year? The Pug believes he can and will.
2. Devonta Freeman (Atlanta Falcons)- Last season’s waiver wire superstar, Freeman looks to prove last season was no fluke. Even though he battled injuries later in the season and started in just 13 games, Freeman led the pack last season in running back fantasy points. He caught 73 balls and broke the 1k mark on the ground. He is poised to have a better 2016; Freeman could sniff 2,000 all-purpose yards if he stays healthy.
3. Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings)- Hard to vote against the ageless wonder. In a season where people were claiming ’30 is the age where running back decline’, Peterson went out and won the rushing title. If he caught more balls out of the backfield, he would be #1.
4. David Johnson (Arizona Cardinals)- This may be a reach, but Johnson came on strong last year. He showed promise to be an every down back with decent hands out of the backfield. It doesn’t hurt to have a decent offensive line and what seems like an endless number of weapons around you to take some of the pressure off. Johnson is my pick for breakout player this season, and you might be able to draft him after some of the bigger names……
5. Doug Martin (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)- If there is one thing Martin taught the fantasy football world last year, is that when he is healthy he will produce. That was the case last year as Martin earned himself a payday from the Buccaneers by rushing for 1,402 yards and 4.9 yards per carry. Charles Simms will see work in passing downs affecting Martin’s reception numbers but he should still bring in 30+ receptions.
6. Todd Gurley (Los Angeles Rams)- Winner of the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year award, Gurley looks to pick up where he left off in his rookie campaign. He had 1,106 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in 13 games, and looks to improve those numbers staying healthy for full season. Hasn’t been much of a receiver out of the backfield, but that could all change if rookie quarterback Jared Goff wins the starting job and leans on Gurley.
7. Jamaal Charles (Kansas City Chiefs)- Jamaal Charles should be full go by the time the regular season rolls around, and when he is healthy, he puts up monster numbers both on the ground and receiving. Problem is Charles has now had two knee surgeries in the last four years, and may see decline. Based on his past however, and how well he bounced back from his previous knee surgery, the Pug isn’t betting against him.
8. Matt Forte (New York Jets)- Forte is another example of a back who has yet to show signs of slowing down. Yes, his numbers were down last year, but that was due to injuries, something that has never been an issue for the versatile Forte. Forte is an interesting back to own, because if the Jets get decent play from their quarterback and Forte stays healthy, he could easily rise to the top 3.
9. Danny Woodhead (San Diego Chargers)- Woodhead quietly puts together solid fantasy seasons over and over again. He may not light up the stat sheet on the ground, but he is an amazing receiver out of the backfield. Now before the ‘He’s way to high on your list’ responses, in PPR leagues Woodhead was actually the third highest scoring running back last season, behind only Devonta Freeman and Adrian Peterson.
10. Mark Ingram (New Orleans Saints)- Ingram has failed to reach 1,000 yards in each of his first five seasons in the league. There are reasons to believe he will crack the top ten as far as PPR running backs are concerned though. His role could expand somewhat due to the departure of Khiry Robinson, and C.J. Spiller is no guarantee to stay healthy with his track record. Also Ingram caught 50 passes last year on 60 targets, a number that could rise this year as the number of Saints passing threats diminishes, even though Drew Brees has not.
11. Ezekiel Elliott (Dallas Cowboys)- Many experts have Elliot going way higher on their list, but he hasn’t even played a down yet so the Pug isn’t putting him in the Hall of Fame just yet. Elliot gets the benefit of playing for a team with a tremendous offensive line, a quality QB (if he can stay healthy), and a stud WR. He is in a fantastic position to succeed, now all he has to do is do it.
12. Latavius Murray (Oakland Raiders)- The Raiders are a team on the rise and one of the unsung members responsible for that rise is Murray. Murray broke the 1,000 yard mark and had over 40 receptions last season, a number that like the Raiders , is sure to rise this season.
13. LeSean McCoy (Buffalo Bills)- After getting a big contract from the Bills, Shady didn’t exactly live up to the money. He battled injuries all year long and it showed on his stat line. McCoy enters 2016 training camp healthy, and the success of the Bills may just very well rest on his shoulders, especially with the uncertainty surrounding Sammy Watkins. Taking McCoy towards the end of the RB1 list could pay nice dividends, as when he is healthy, he is one of the best.
14. C.J. Anderson (Denver Broncos)- Anderson was supposed to have his breakout season last year, but because of a slow start owners never really regained trust in him. Anderson tops the list of fantasy RB2’s but the Broncos are going to be using him more often, and his value could be on the rise. With Mark Sanchez at the helm for the Broncos and his history of turnovers, the Broncos might look to Anderson to set the pace of the game, which will be good for his fantasy numbers.
15. Eddie Lacy (Green Bay Packers)- Lacy sits towards the top of the list of RB2 options, after having a ‘off’ year last year. There is upside here though. One of the main knocks against Lacy last year was his weight. He has lost a reported 15 pounds and although he still has some work to do, appears to be on the right track. Rising into the low end RB1 discussion if he continues to lose weight wouldn’t be a crazy discussion.
16. Chris Ivory (Jacksonville Jaguars)- Chris Ivory is an interesting case. He is joining a young offense that has potential to be one of the best offenses in the NFL. He was given starter money in his contract so all indications point to him being the starter in Jacksonville. T.J. Yeldon should see action in passing downs, but Ivory should get most of the work around the goal line. If Ivory can avoid slowing down towards the end of the season, Ivory could be a fantasy gem this season.
17. Lamar Miller (Houston Texans)- As inconsistent as Miller was last year, he actually finished sixth in points from a running back. Although Miller is the clear cut starter, there are a lot of mysteries concerning Miller. A new system with a new team, not to mention a new quarterback learning that system as well, could take some time for the offense to get firing on all cylinders.
18. DeMarco Murray (Tennessee Titans)- What a difference a season makes. Murray was a consensus top tier fantasy running back going into last year, but Philadelphia didn’t have much brotherly love for him. Murray comes to Tennessee far from a volunteer as he is still playing under the huge contract he signed with the Eagles. Rookie Derrick Henry might take away goal line opportunities from him, and also breathing down his neck if he continues playing the way he did last year.
19. Giovani Bernard (Cincinnati Bengals)- Choosing which Bengals running back to pick is a difficult decision. The Pug is going with Bernard because he was the better of the two running backs last season. Jeremy Hill was a touchdown vulture last year, but Bernard had a better yard per carry average and had three times as many receptions. Look for the Bengals to give Bernard more opportunities this season.
20. Justin Forsett (Baltimore Ravens)- After having a fantasy breakout campaign in 2014, Forsett’s 2015 campaign was cut short by a broken arm. His numbers were a little down before the injury, but his receptions per game saw a rise. Forsett could go either way, but at age 30, he is running out of time. The flip side of this is he should see a large majority of the work as long as he stays healthy.
21. Thomas Rawls (Seattle Seahawks)- Rawls stepped up and produced for the Seahawks and fantasy owners that were lucky to pick him up off of the waiver wire. Although not much of a receiver (only 9 receptions last year) Rawls averaged an impressive 5.65 yards per carry on 147 carries. Rawles ceiling is limitless as he is the full-time starter now with the departure of Marshawn Lynch. He is a classic case of high risk, high reward as he could make owners look like geniuses, or be stuck riding the bench in the later weeks.
22. Jeremy Hill (Cincinnati Bengals)- Hill is still listed as the starting running back, but the Pug believes that title to be on a short leash. Although Hill scored 12 touchdowns last season to make him a reasonable fantasy option, he only averaged 3.6 yards per carry, and isn’t much of a receiver. Unless he comes out of the gate hot, he won’t be any more than a low end RB2.
23. Arian Foster (Miami Dolphins)- Freshly signed Foster will have a chance to compete for the starting job, and the Pug believes he will win it. The Dolphins won’t sway too far away from Jay Ajayi, as they believe he could be the future. Foster will probably come close to a 50/50 timeshare, as the Dolphins may be cautious with him to keep him healthy all year, a problem for him throughout his career. He could still surprise owners with flashes of his former self from time to time, and isn’t a bad low end RB2 option at all.
24. Ryan Matthews (Philadelphia Eagles)- Matthews slides into the number one role with the departure of DeMarco Murray. Hard to trust anyone on the Eagles roster at this point and Matthews is no different. Darren Sproles will take away a good chunk of his time on the field, but Matthews will be the starter which is why he is ranked in front of Sproles.
25. Carlos Hyde (San Francisco 49ers)- Hyde was an early waiver wire pickup for many owners after rushing for 168 yards and two touchdowns in week one. Unfortunately he didn’t do much after that until his season ended because of a foot injury. Without much competition behind him, he will be the starter for the 49ers as long as he stays healthy. Hyde could be a good option to fill in during a bye week, with a chance to put up some healthy numbers.
26. Charles Sims (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
27. Ameer Abdullah (Detroit Lions)
28. Duke Johnson (Cleveland Browns)
29. Rashad Jennings (New York Giants)
30. T.J.Yeldon (Jacksonville Jaguars)
31. Melvin Gordon (San Diego Chargers)
32. Matt Jones (Washington Redskins)
33. Jeremy Langford (Chicago Bears)
34. Frank Gore (Indianapolis Colts)
35. Bilal Powell (New York Jets)
36. Jay Ajayi (Miami Dolphins)
37. DeAngelo Williams (Pittsburgh Steelers)
38. Darren Sproles (Philadelphia Eagles)
39. Darren McFadden (Dallas Cowboys)
40. James Starks (Green Bay Packers)
41. C.J. Spiller (New Orleans Saints)
42. Kenneth Dixon (Baltimore Ravens)
43. C.J. Prosise (Seattle Seahawks)
44. Tevin Coleman (Atlanta Falcons)
45. Shane Vereen (New York Giants)
46. Isaiah Crowell (Cleveland Browns)
47. Derrick Henry (Tennessee Titans)
48. LeGarrette Blount (New England Patriots)
49. Jerick McKinnon (Minnesota Vikings)
50. Theo Reddick (Detroit Lions)
51. Karlos Williams (Buffalo Bills)
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