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2017 Fantasy Football PPR Rankings – Running Backs

A list of the top running backs to draft for the 2017 fantasy football season in PPR leagues.

1. David Johnson (ARZ)

  Rushing Stats Receiving Stats
Year Att Yds TD Avg Rec Yds TD Avg
2017 Projections View David Johnson's 2017 projected stats.

After a dominant finish to his rookie campaign, big things were expected from Johnson in 2016, but it's doubtful even his most enthusiastic boosters foresaw what was coming. The 25-year-old seized the Cardinals' starting job by the throat and never let go, recording at least 100 yards from scrimmage in an NFL-record 15 straight games before finally being held in check by a limited snap count in a meaningless Week 17 contest against the Rams. Along the way he scored 20 TDs, piled up 2,118 combined yards and received 72 red-zone touches, leading the league in all three categories and establishing himself as one of the few true every-down backs left in the modern game. Johnson's 6-1, 224-pound frame allows him to run with some power, but it's his elusiveness and speed in the open field that set him apart as a home run threat, and his 34 runs of 10 yards or more tied him for fifth in the NFL. Bruce Arians' offense also took full advantage of Johnson's pass-catching skills, and his 54.9 receiving yards per game led all NFL backs. That 2016 performance may not even represent his ceiling, though. With Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald both in the twilight of their careers, the Arizona attack may end up relying even more heavily on its young stud RB in the coming years, which is a scary thought for opposition defenses.

2. Le'Veon Bell (PIT)

  Rushing Stats Receiving Stats
Year Att Yds TD Avg Rec Yds TD Avg
2017 Projections View Le'Veon Bell's 2017 projected stats.

Heading into his fifth NFL season, Bell has established himself as arguably the most dangerous and productive all-around running back in the league. He's delivered at least 100 scrimmage yards in an amazing 28 of 34 regular-season games over the last three years, and in 2016 he overcame a three-game suspension (and Week 17 absence) to finish second among RBs in targets, receptions and receiving yards and fifth in rushing yards while leading the NFL in total yards after contact. Unfortunately, the most important number in that list might be the '34', as Bell has missed 14 games over those three seasons due to various injuries and suspensions. Last year ended with another injury sustained in a playoff loss to the Patriots, and he underwent core muscle surgery in the offseason, but he's expected to be healthy by Week 1. Whether he can stay that way is another question. The Steelers certainly seem prepared to give him another big workload, heading into camp with only third-round pick James Conner, former Chiefs backup Knile Davis, and special teams ace Fitzgerald Toussaint behind Bell on the depth chart, but despite a combination of elite vision, patience and elusiveness that allows him to avoid plenty of contact, his questionable durability is still a major drawback.

3. Devonta Freeman (ATL)

  Rushing Stats Receiving Stats
Year Att Yds TD Avg Rec Yds TD Avg
2017 Projections View Devonta Freeman's 2017 projected stats.

In terms of raw numbers, Freeman's 2016 was very similar to his 2015, as he topped 1,500 yards from scrimmage and scored 11 rushing TDs in each season. On a per-play basis, however, he saw his effectiveness soar, averaging a career-high 4.8 yards per carry and 8.6 yards per catch. Freeman's smallish frame (5-8, 206 pounds) isn't ideal for early-down work, but his willingness to run between the tackles and keep his legs churning allowed him to pick up 1.4 yards after contact per touch, good for 15th among RBs. His excellent pass-catching skills also produced top-five finishes in both receptions and receiving yards, and he was the only RB in the league to finish in the top three in both red-zone carries and targets. The big concern for Freeman, and indeed the entire Atlanta offense, revolves around the departure of Kyle Shanahan. New offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian has a very limited track record, and while he'll continue to employ the no-huddle and play-action elements of Shanahan's scheme, it seems unlikely that the unit will maintain the high level it reached during the Falcons' Super Bowl run. Freeman should remain an integral part of the team's offense, but likely won't be able to match his 2016 efficiency or production.

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2017 PPR Position Rankings

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