2015 Fantasy Football: Running Back Rankings (Part 1)

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Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

21.) Chris Ivory, Jets – He never gets much love in fantasy circles, but has never averaged less than 4.1 YPC in his five year career and is in line to be the Jets primary RB. The Jets have serious problems at QB which could lead to a heavy workload for Ivory and they added three new starters on the O-line which could lead to some actual running lanes which were rarely there last season. Ivory is a tough, reliable runner who isn’t splitting carries with anyone for the first time in his career and could be in line for his best season.

22.) Jonathan Stewart, Panthers – I have no problem with Stewart’s talent, but he’s missed 20 games over the last three seasons. Averaging almost half a season in missed games over a three year span is too much of a red flag for me to spend a 6th round pick on a player. It doesn’t help that the Panthers O-line might be the least talented in the NFL. Stewart should produce decent numbers when on the field, but who knows how long that will last.

23.) Andre Ellington, Cardinals – When matched with a solid between the tackles RB, like he was his rookie season, Ellington is an ideal change of pace back. Last year the Cards tried to turn him into a 3-down back and it was a disaster. His yards per carry dropped from 5.5 to 3.3. Ellington’s 90 additional touches last year seemed to sap his explosiveness and also led to even more minor injures. He was banged up all year and I would be surprised if the Cardinals gave the 5’9, 199 pound back anywhere close to the 201 carries he got last season. His production per touch should go way up with limited action but his total fantasy point production should drop. Like in 2013 Ellington should go back to being an excellent Flex play, but not draftable at his current 5th round position.

Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

24.) T.J. Yeldon, Jags – He’s not the 2nd best rookie back talent wise (not even top 5 imo), but opportunity is almost as important for fantasy purposes. Yeldon’s competition for the lead back are just the plodding Toby Gerhart and the former QB/WR Denard Robinson.  Gerhart is too slow and Robinson too small, which make Yeldon and his potent mix of size (6’1 | 226) and speed (4.61) the clear option for the Jags. If Yeldon can hold on to the ball and the Jags line improves, he has the ability to surpass 1,000 yards with double-digit TDs. I debated ranking Yeldon a few spots higher, but it’s just hard to trust any RB on the Jags until they show the ability to run the ball.

25.) Todd Gurley Rams – The first back drafted (10th overall) and the best mix of power and speed to come into the league since Adrian Peterson. Gurley is less than a year removed from an ACL tear though and I think the Rams will be extra cautious with him during his rookie season. They have a decent lead back in Tre Mason and their O-line is still a work in progress. I expect Gurley’s snaps to increase gradually as the season goes on, and he could be an impact player by the 2nd half and for the fantasy playoffs. He’s currently being drafted in the 4th round which to me is too high for a player that might start the season on the PUP list. If Gurley suits up for week 1, then bump him up 7-8 spots.

Next: 2015 Fantasy Football: Running Back Busts

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