Since receivers were the focus of last week’s column, we are back on RBs and QBs this week. Disappointing performances and a couple of key injuries have significantly changed the RB landscape over the last couple weeks. As the season moves along toward its midpoint, we will start labeling the disappointments busts instead of slow starters. If you are hurting at the RB position, just know that you are not alone.
How to Use this Column
Players from each position will be ranked along with a quick comment regarding their most recent news. Rankings will reflect rest of season value, not just the current week. The players’ track record, most recent production and overall health will all be factored in to the ranking.
Players ranked in the same tiers should be relatively equal in value. Owners can use these lists when trying to figure out whether to drop an under performing player for a hot waiver add or use it as a tool to evaluate a potential trade. If you disagree with a player’s ranking, feel free to discuss in the comments section.
Lastly, this column assumes standard scoring (4 point pass TDs, 1 point for 25 passing yards, 1 point for 10 pass/receiving yards, no PPR). If your league uses another scoring type, you may need to adjust for differences.
Super Elite Tier– These guys are every week starters regardless of matchup.
1. Tom Brady – Brady is clearly playing with a chip on his shoulder and the Patriots offense looks downright unstoppable, He only has six fewer fantasy points than Rodgers in one less game. Tom is simply terrific.
2. Aaron Rodgers – Rodgers has appeared to be human over his last three games. Five TDs against three TOs and 240 yards per game would be considering good for most QBs. Expect a bounce back soon, even if it does not come week 8 against the Broncos.
High End QB1 Options – These players aren’t on the level of the super elite, but they make very good weekly fantasy options.
3. Andrew Luck – Luck is finally back from his shoulder issue. He is healthy enough to be locked and loaded into fantasy lineups after a decent showing Sunday night. Better times are ahead.
4. Ben Roethlisberger – Big Ben was practicing on a limited basis last week and could return as soon as next week. With Bryant and Bell now in the fold, there is no limit for the Steelers’ offense.
5. Andy Dalton – Dalton had another big game against the Bills with 243 yards and 3 TDs. He is quickly approaching every week starter territory with his stellar play.
6. Carson Palmer – Surprisingly, Palmer and the Cardinals struggled to put up points against the Steelers. He was still able to post 421 yards and remains a no brainer QB1 for as long as he can stay healthy.
7. Cam Newton – Coming off the bye week, Newton got off to a slow start against Seahawks. A strong second half propelled the Panthers to the win and Cam to 19 fantasy points.
Low End QB1 Options – These guys are safe to start most weeks, but you may want to have a backup ready for those tough matchups.
8. Philip Rivers – The Chargers’ short passing offense looks unstoppable. Rivers’ value is on the rise following a 500 yard, 2 TD performance in the loss to Green Bay.
9. Matt Ryan – Falcons not named Devonta Freeman have struggled the last couple weeks. Ryan is a safe QB1, but he lacks the upside of those ranked higher.
10. Eli Manning – The Giants will go as far as the right arm of Eli Manning will take them. This is a good thing for Manning’s owners. He struggled Along with many of his teammates Monday night. Expect a bounce back next week.
11. Russell Wilson – Wilson finally got Jimmy Graham involved in week 6 and his rushing stats provide a high fantasy floor. It is still safe to say that his start to 2015 has been disappointing.
12. Drew Brees – Brees looked sharp in a Thursday night victory over the previously undefeated Falcons. The Saints’ offense is no longer an elite group, but Brees is still a viable fantasy starter.
High End QB2s – These guys may lack the consistency of the QB1s, but they can put up high-end numbers when the matchups are right.
13. Tyrod Taylor – Taylor was playing like a QB1, but a sprained MCL has him on the shelf for now. My bet is that we don’t see Taylor until after his week 8 bye. When he returns, he will resume pushing Brees and Wilson for QB1 status.
14. Sam Bradford – the Eagles are improving and Bradford is most likely to benefit if they ever get it rolling. His upside is still very high.
15. Blake Bortles – Bortles is not the most efficient QB out there, but volume is on his side. Owners should not be afraid to use Bortles in favorable matchups. Believe it or not, Bortles is the 4th ranked QB in terms of year to date fantasy points.
16. Ryan Tannehill – Tannehill deserves a fresh start in the minds of fantasy owners. Tannehill managed 266 yards and two TDs in the Dolphins’ demolition of the Titans.
17. Matthew Stafford – After being benched in week 5, Stafford responded with a massive game against the Bears. 400 yards and 4 TDs later, Stafford is back on the fantasy radar.
Low End QB2s – Owners seeking a bye week replacement or a weekly streamer option can sometimes find decent numbers from this group.
18. Josh McCown – McCown’s per game production has been on par with the top performers. He fared better than most against the ferocious Broncos defense and has been a pleasant surprise despite a very mediocre receiver core.
19. Jay Cutler – Cutler’s 353 yards were not enough to avoid losing to the previously winless Lions. Now that Jeffery and Royal are back, Cutler’s stock is trending up.
20. Derek Carr – Carr has been very hit or miss this season. Over the next two weeks, he matches up with the Chargers and Jets, two of the top pass defending teams in the league. Carr is best left on the free agent list for now.
21. Joe Flacco – Flacco has produced decent fantasy numbers despite having very few offensive weapons to work with. His upside is limited, but he can usually provide owners with a healthy point total.
22. Ryan Fitzpatrick – The Jets look pretty good and Fitzpatrick has two impressive weapons on the outside in Marshall and Decker.
23. Peyton Manning – Manning heads into his bye week a shell of his former self. Inexplicably, he has thrown 3 more interceptions than TDs on the season. He is quickly closing in on being droppable and his value is in absolute free fall.
24. Tony Romo – Romo is not eligible to return until week 11, so it will be difficult to hold him in leagues with fewer than 6 bench spots. He is a top 10 option upon his return though, so he still has some value in many leagues.
25. Brian Hoyer – Hoyer seems to have established himself as the starter in Houston, and he has one of the best young receivers in the game to throw the ball to. Hoyer makes the ideal play against a weak secondary in a game where the Texans are underdogs.
26. Colin Kaepernick – So far this season, Kap has had 3 monster games and 3 terrible ones. He is trending up at the moment, just don’t forget about the extreme dud potential.
27. Marcus Mariota – Mariota has upside, but he is very difficult to trust. He also injured his knee on Sunday and is reported to have a grade-2 MCL sprain.
Emergency QBs – The players list below are best used only in the event of an emergency.
28. Alex Smith – Smith refuses to throw the ball downfield. Now that Charles is out, he may be forced to be more aggressive as game flow gets away from the Chiefs. He still lacks upside needed to be a decent fantasy option.
29. Jameis Winston – Winston can put points on the board in a hurry. The problem is that sometimes those points go to the other team in the form of a pick 6.
30. Teddy Bridgewater – Bridgewater lacks the volume to be a legitimate fantasy option. He is best left on the waiver wire.
Super Elite Tier – These men have separated themselves from the pack and need to be started every week. They are game breakers capable of carrying your fantasy team.
1. Le’Veon Bell – Bell is the ultimate all around back. His numbers will only improve when Roethlisberger returns to lead the offense. Despite a slow week 6, he is averaging almost 17 fantasy points per game.
2. Devonta Freeman – Freeman has been the top scoring fantasy RB in 3 of the last 4 weeks. In week 5, he was the second highest scorer. He now leads all RBs in fantasy points by 52.3 points. The only reason that Freeman is not ranked number 1 is because of the small sample size. If he keeps it up, he will be at the top spot in two weeks.
High End RB1 – These players are every week starters who you can usually count on for 15-20 touches and a very high floor during the off weeks.
3. Adrian Peterson – Peterson had a tough week 6, managing just 60 yards on 26 attempts. The Chiefs defense did a great job containing him. He is still among the best RBs in the league and should bounce back next week against the struggling Lions.
4. Matt Forte – Forte continues to make his doubters look silly as he racks up yards from scrimmage. Forte is still the focal point of the Bears’ offense.
5. Todd Gurley – Gurley looks absolutely special. Now past the bye week, owners should expect big things moving forward.
6. Arian Foster – The touches are there, but Foster seems to lack his usual burst. Since he and Hopkins are the entire Texans’ offense, he will continue to get the rock 20-30 times per game.
Low End RB1 – These players have the ability to produce like an elite RB1 in any given week, but they have lower floors than the players ranked ahead.
7. Chris Ivory – Only Devonta Freeman is averaging more fantasy points per game at the RB position. Ivory is an absolute beast, but will post a few duds when game flow gets away from the Jets. Ivory’s injury risk is very high also.
8. LeSean McCoy – McCoy bounced back with a strong week 6 performance, racking up 90 yards and a TD. He is still not 100% healthy and Karlos Williams is waiting to steal goal line touches when he gets healthy.
9. Lamar Miller – I am giving Miller a pass for his struggles in weeks 1 – 4. If the Dolphins stay committed to the run game (I expect them to under Campbell), Miller will live up to his lofty preseason expectations the rest of the way.
10. Justin Forsett – Forsett’s passing game usage make his floor higher than most on this list, but his red zone struggles make his ceiling lower also. With Taliaferro out for the season, Forsett is locked in as an RB1 and has posted 3 straight games with at least 100 yards from scrimmage.
11. Mark Ingram – Ingram is the 5th ranked RB in terms of total fantasy points despite failing to reach 80 rushing yards in a single game this season. He is averaging just over 19 touches per game, has been active in the passing game and is the preferred red zone option for the Saints. He has found a way to produce every week.
12. Doug Martin – Martin backed up a big week 4 with an even bigger week 5. Game flow concerns are real for Martin, but he has recorded 23 or more touches three of the last 4 weeks and has the 5th most fantasy points among all RBs.
High End RB2 – These players all offer plenty of name value, but productivity concerns and/or timeshare issues limit their weekly upside.
13. Frank Gore – Gore has played very well since his slow start. He clearly still has it, averaging 4.5 yards per carry. Bradshaw’s addition will likely mean fewer weekly touches for Gore, but he makes a good start most weeks.
14. Marshawn Lynch – Lynch is banged up, the Seahawks’ offensive line is not opening up holes and the offense appears to be relying more and more on Russell Wilson. Lynch deserves the benefit of the doubt because of his track record, but his value is falling.
15. Jeremy Hill – Hill has some major usage concerns, but in week 6, he out touched backfield mate Gio Bernard for the first time since week 1. He is locked in as the goal line back for an elite team and appears to be trending up.
16. DeMarco Murray – Murray started slow against the Giants, but a big 3rd quarter showed fantasy owners what he is still capable of.
17. Eddie Lacy – Lacy had 5 total yards on 6 touches in week 6 against a terrible run defense. The ankle is appears to still bothering him and he is losing touches to James Starks. I am calling him a buy low for now, but if he does not look better after the bye week, I will be using a different term that starts with “b”.
Mid Range RB2 – Many of these players have out-produced the high-end RB2s, and could continue to do so but they lack the name brand value of those players and likely won’t return as much in trade.
18. Giovani Bernard – Bernard and Hill are in a 50-50 split that appears dependent on game flow. Bernard is the 9th ranked fantasy RB on the season and has a much higher weekly floor than Hill does.
19. Dion Lewis – I was called out for ranking Lewis too low two weeks ago. Week 6 is an illustration of why I was reluctant to go all in on him before. Lewis will often post duds when game flow favors Blount.
20. LeGarrette Blount – Blount is as likely to get you 20+ as he is to get you 5 or less. He has week winning upside, and that is valuable.
21. Carlos Hyde – Hyde is a good back, but he emerged from week 6 with a minor foot injury and his production has been wildly inconsistent. The 49ers offensive line and negative game flow are obstacles preventing Hyde from reaching his full potential.
22. T.J. Yeldon – Yeldon is a true 3 down back. He missed week 6 with a groin injury, but the fact that he was not ruled out until Sunday leads me to believe that he was not too far away. He might miss one more game since the Jags have a week 8 bye, but Yeldon should be ready to rock after that if not before.
Low End RB2/RB3 – These players all have the upside to move up this list, but there are significant question marks with each.
23. Latavius Murray – Murray’s value is trending down after two consecutive second half benchings. Murray was dealing with a sore shoulder prior to the bye week, which may have impacted his playing time. Still, Murray needs to play better to retain his starting job. I expect him to do just that.
24. Chris Johnson – Johnson had a rough game against the Steelers with just 45 total yards on 15 touches. He remains the lead back in Arizona, but there is an awful lot of talent behind him on the depth chart.
25. Jonathan Stewart – Stewart managed 2 TDs in week 6, but his yards per carry (YPC) numbers remain low. Usually Stewart has to contend with Newton and Tolbert vulturing his TD chances, so his owners were certainly happy to see the goal line attempts.
26. Ronnie Hillman – Hillman’s value is trending up after his second 100 yard game in 3 weeks. He continues to severely outplay C.J, Anderson.
27. Danny Woodhead – Woodhead lacks Gordon’s upside, but he is a much safer bet for weekly production given his role in the passing game. He is averaging just under 12 touches per game.
28. Melvin Gordon – Gordon’s value appeared to be in the rise after increased pass game usage in week 5. Two first half fumbles later, Gordon was firmly planted on the bench. With 4 fumbles in 6 games and a YPC under 4.0, it is fair to question what Gordon’s role will be moving forward.
Low End RB3s – Most low end RB3s are mired in committees, but you may find a couple of diamonds in the rough from this group.
29. Christine Michael – The Cowboys are not happy with Randle or McFadden (surprise, surprise), so they plan to give Michael a shot to lead the committee in week 7. He has plenty of issues, including fumblitis, but he needs to be rostered in all leagues given his upside.
30. Ameer Abdullah – Abdullah’s production has been extremely disappointing and he left week 6 with a stinger. He still has plenty of upside, the question is whether the Lions will ever be able to open up running lanes for him.
31. Duke Johnson – Johnson has the largest piece of a messy Cleveland timeshare. His passing game role makes him less game flow dependent than the others.
32. James Starks – Starks has outplayed Lacy thus far. His value is at a high point after parlaying 11 touches into 117 yards and 2 TDs. Lacy should improve if he allows his ankle to heal, so this could be a sell high moment for Starks.
33. Matt Jones – Jones’ stock may have risen last week by sitting. He was able to rest his injured two last week while Morris continued to struggle. Jones has gotten almost all of the goal line carries this year and will be a decent, but risky flex option when he returns.
34. Charcandrick West – West really struggled with 33 yards rushing and a lost fumble in his first chance as the Chiefs’ starter. Fortunately for him, Davis did not fare much better.
35. Rashad Jennings – Jennings is getting about 10-15 touches per game. His ceiling is limited by a messy three-way timeshare.
RB4s – These players are your high-end backups worthy of FLEX consideration.
36. Isaiah Crowell – Crowell continues to get almost 15 touches per game. The concern is that Duke Johnson’s usage seems to be increasing.
37. Joseph Randle – Many people still think Randle is the starter. Michael’s time may not last long, but now may be the time to float some trade offers to unsuspecting owners.
38. Karlos Williams – The timing of Williams’ concussion was extremely frustrating. I don’t think anybody expected McCoy to beat him back. He still warrants consideration as a FLEX play when he returns.
39. Alfred Morris – Morris will be worth a week 7 start if Jones remains out. To say that his production this season has been a disappointment would be a huge understatement. Although not technically a backup, a Redskins RB with no passing game role and no goal line carries is not worth a whole lot.
40. Knile Davis – There is still quite a bit of uncertainty in the Chiefs’ backfield. Davis may just be the guy to own once the dust settles.
41. Andre Ellington – Ellington’s role has been limited since his return. He has proven that he is still capable of the big play.
42. David Johnson – All he does is score touchdowns. Unfortunately, it is tough to maintain fantasy value on 5 touches per game.
43. Ryan Mathews – Mathews remains involved in the weekly game plan with a big game in week 5. He still probably needs a Murray injury for him to be worth starting weekly.
44. C.J. Anderson – While we are on the topic of disappointing RBs….
45. Antonio Andrews – I want no part of the Titans’ backfield. Andrews gets the goal line totes, so he is the back to own of you are desperate.
Passing Game Specialists – These backs offer more value in PPR, but in standard formats they are low-end FLEX options.
46. Theo Riddick – Riddick has amassed 42 targets and over 300 yards from scrimmage through 6 games. He might be the most reliable RB in Detroit despite only getting 9 rush attempts in the season. 7 of those attempts came in week 6.
47. Darren McFadden – McFadden is taking on the Lance Dunbar role. At least until Romo returns, he could have plenty of work.
48. Shane Vereen – Vereen is entirely game flow dependent, but he was able to flash his big game potential in week 5.
49. Charles Sims – Sims has maintained a significant role despite Martin’s success. He is the preferred passing game back for a team that figures to trail a lot.
50. Darren Sproles – After a hot start, Sproles has seen his offensive role greatly reduced over the last few weeks.
51. C.J. Spiller – Spiller has not been on the field as much as his owners would like. He has been splitting the leftovers with Khiry Robinson.
52. Chris Thompson – Thompson is highly involved in the Redskins’ offense. He has been averaging almost 8 targets per game over the past couple weeks. Unfortunately for him, the Redskins are so bad that he has been unable to do much with them.
53. Bilal Powell – Powell was playing nearly 50% of the time prior to sustaining an injury in week 4. Now Ivory has rendered him somewhat useless.
Handcuffs – These players only have real value if the starter ahead of them gets injured.
54. Thomas Rawls – Rawls has outplayed Lynch so far, but he will not get very many touches as long as Beast Mode is active.
55. Tevin Coleman – Coleman has plenty of upside, but Freeman has a stranglehold on the job now. Only an injury will change that at this point.
56. DeAngelo Williams – Williams showed what he could do in weeks 1 and 2.
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