Continued from my blog post last week featuring #1-20, found at this link:
21. Marshawn Lynch, OAK
2017 Projection: 200 attempts / 1000 rushing yards / 8 rushing touchdowns; 25 receptions / 200 receiving yards / 2 receiving touchdowns (180 points)
Outlook: Marshawn Lynch returns to the NFL for his hometown team, the Oakland Raiders. Bringing life to a disenfranchised fan base due to their impending move to Las Vegas, Lynch returns healthy and with a renewed focus as he looks to be the missing piece to spurring his hometown team to new heights in 2017. Always a threat to run over multiple defenders and seemingly will himself into the end zone, I expect him to have value if his body holds up. After a year away from the game and with new motivation, I’d never bet against Lynch.
22. Kareem Hunt, KC
2017 Projection: 140 attempts / 700 rushing yards / 9 rushing touchdowns; 28 receptions / 182 receiving yards / 1 receiving touchdown (176 points)
Outlook: I’m pretty high on Kareem Hunt. Andy Reid running backs are always excellent fantasy plays (see: Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy, and Spencer Ware when he is healthy.) The problem with Ware is that he is frequently banged up and had concussion issues last year. I think the Chiefs added Hunt to their already-crowded backfield for a reason and as a result, believe he will put up low-end RB2 numbers in what is sure to be a time share. The hype won’t die on this kid and I believe he plays well despite it.
23. Duke Johnson Jr., CLE
2017 Projection: 80 attempts / 360 rushing yards / 1 rushing touchdown; 60 receptions / 600 receiving yards / 2 receiving touchdowns (174 points)
Outlook: The complimentary back to Isaiah Crowell, Duke Johnson has some of the best hands and moves out of the backfield in the entire NFL. Playing for a coach dedicated to getting every running back involved, combined with young quarterbacks aplenty on the roster, means that the check downs will be there. Hue Jackson realizes that Crow and Johnson are the two best weapons on the team and give the Browns their best chance to win; both will be fed early and often. A good flex play based on passing game volume.
24. Christian McCaffery, CAR
2017 Projection: 100 attempts / 500 rushing yards / 6 rushing touchdowns; 26 receptions / 286 receiving yards / 4 receiving touchdowns (164 points)
Outlook: The Panthers seemed locked in on Christian McCaffery from the beginning of draft season, and they made him a Top 10 pick in April’s draft. A dynamic threat from everywhere on the field in college, McCaffery is one of the most polarizing prospects at the position in years. He lands in Carolina with Cam Newton, who will help McCaffery become an instant hit in the run-option game. With brittle Jonathan Stewart in front of him, McCaffery will be a playmaker from Week 1 in the Carolina offense. Beware the time share with Stewart… but if he goes down, McCaffery is a great play.
25. C.J. Prosise, SEA
2017 Projection: 35 attempts / 175 rushing yards / 1 rushing touchdown; 58 receptions / 580 receiving yards / 4 receiving touchdowns (163 points)
Outlook: It took Prosise a little while to get going last year in Seattle, but once he established himself as a weapon (albeit briefly,) he really got a lot of buzz in the Seattle backfield. A dynamic passing game weapon, a healthy Prosise brings another element to the Seattle offense as a back with breakaway speed who can take little dump off passes all the way to the end zone. Prosise is going to get a lot of play when Seattle is behind, which may happen more often than not this year. This defense is getting older, and I project Prosise to have his fair share of opportunities. If he figures out how to run the ball in the NFL, he will have massive value.
26. C.J. Anderson, DEN
2017 Projection: 150 attempts / 675 rushing yards / 8 rushing touchdowns; 20 receptions / 160 receiving yards / 2 receiving touchdowns (163 points)
Outlook: The Denver backfield has all the makings of a messy running back by committee in 2017, but Anderson is by far the most talented. After an injury-plagued 2016, the Broncos signed free agent Jamaal Charles to help out and return fantasy flame-out Devontae Booker. Anderson is the best player in this committee and will likely play on the first two downs. With a history of being a bell-cow back, he could take over the lion’s share of the backfield work in Denver on a team that projects to grind clock each week. A great pick at his current ADP.
27. Dalvin Cook, MIN
2017 Projection: 160 attempts / 640 rushing yards / 6 rushing touchdowns; 30 receptions / 240 receiving yards / 1 receiving touchdown (160 points)
Outlook: A prolific running back at Florida State, Cook lands in a situation where he can quickly and easily ascend to the top of the depth chart. Free agent signing Latavius Murray is incredibly mediocre, and Jerrick McKinnon can’t handle more than 5 carries a game. That leaves plenty of room for Dalvin Cook to run away with the Vikings running back job. Will he? I can see it. Already deemed “special” by the coaching staff, I expect Cook to take over by the middle of the season and run away with the majority of the carries. How involved will he be in the first few weeks is the real question. Pass protection is always a big thing with rookie running backs. He will have to master that before he gets a big role.
28. Doug Martin, TB
2017 Projection: 180 attempts / 792 rushing yards / 6 rushing touchdowns; 20 receptions / 180 receiving yards / 1 receiving touchdown (159 points)
Outlook: Suspended for the first four weeks of this season, perhaps no player was a bigger bust in 2016 than Doug Martin. After losing the final few weeks of last season due to an addiction problem, Martin returns to a backfield that really didn’t add much in 2017. He appears to have a renewed focus on both football and fitness, and has historically played well when playing for more guaranteed money. With no guarantees left on his current deal, Martin has all the motivation – and opportunity, in the world, to win many teams some championships. A value at his current ADP (as of mid-June.)
29. Spencer Ware, KC
2017 Projection: 140 attempts / 630 rushing yards / 4 rushing touchdowns; 28 receptions / 280 receiving yards / 2 receiving touchdowns (155 points)
Outlook: Ware has proven to be a pretty good NFL running back in his career. After being a late-round pick by Seattle, he established himself in Kansas City and earned an extension as a stop-gap running back to whoever the Chiefs may find next. A bigger back, Ware lacks the speed and elusiveness to be a lead NFL runner. However, he is an excellent back-up and all-around weapon for the Chiefs. I believe he starts the year as the starter, and then gives way to upstart rookie Kareem Hunt. Still will be useful if Hunt gets injured, and on his own, not a bad option some weeks.
30. Frank Gore, IND
2017 Projection: 160 attempts / 576 rushing yards / 4 rushing touchdowns; 30 receptions / 228 receiving yards / 2 receiving touchdowns (154 points)
Outlook: Another ho-hum year for the ageless wonder Frank Gore. Gore led the Indy backfield in usage again last year, and seems to have settled in as a guy the Colts can rely on for a bunch of carries per game and a few receptions as well. The Colts drafted Marlon Mack in the fourth round this year to take some heat off of Gore, and I believe this has the makings of a full-blown committee in Indy. I like Mack as a runner, and I also don’t trust Gore’s durability. In an aerial-attack oriented offense, I’d leave Gore to be someone else’s problem.
31. James White, NE
2017 Projection: 35 attempts / 140 rushing yards / 0 rushing touchdowns; 57 receptions / 558 receiving yards / 4 receiving touchdowns (151 points)
Outlook: Last year’s Super Bowl hero, White returns to a New England backfield that stocked up on runners this offseason, resigning Brandon Bolden and signing Mike Gillislee to an offer sheet. Even with Dion Lewis already in tow (but reportedly on the way out,) White is still the primary passing down weapon in New England and will be the go-to guy for receptions. I don’t think he’s a great NFL runner, but he has the trust of Brady and the coaching staff in the passing game, which I believe will make him valuable most weeks, and especially in games where the Patriots fall behind.
32. Paul Perkins, NYG
2017 Projection: 170 attempts / 731 rushing yards / 5 rushing touchdowns; 20 receptions / 220 receiving yards / 1 receiving touchdown (151 points)
Outlook: Perkins returns for his second year in New York with no real competition for carries. Selected by the current front office regime in New York, Perkins will have an opportunity to run away with the job in training camp. The incumbent #1 running back on the depth chart, it’s up to Perkins to determine the pecking order at the position. Will he cash in? Even if he does, Shane Vereen looms for passing formations on a team that throws it more than most in the NFL. He will have value and be worth a roster spot, however New York passes the ball so much, and it’ll be tough to predict when Perkins will be startable.
33. Mike Gillislee, NE
2017 Projection: 160 attempts / 800 rushing yards / 10 rushing touchdowns; 6 receptions / 36 receiving yards / 0 receiving touchdowns (149 points)
Outlook: A touchdown dynamo during his time in Buffalo, Gillislee signed with rival New England in pursuit of a feature back role. Gillislee projects to be the running back when the Patriots are ahead and also on early downs, which is a role that carries huge fantasy value. Gillislee will get his opportunities to pound the ball into the end zone and grind clock. He could easily outperform these yardage projections this year, but the Patriots figure to involve the swiss army knife in Rex Burkhead on early downs as well. He will produce scores in this offense.
34. Rob Kelley, WSH
2017 Projection: 140 attempts / 644 rushing yards / 8 rushing touchdowns; 15 receptions / 105 receiving yards / 1 receiving touchdown (143 points)
Outlook: Kelley burst onto the scene last year and had a few good weeks of fantasy production. However, the new Redskins regime selected running back Samaje Perine in the fourth round of this year’s draft, and he is naturally more quick, elusive, and plainly talented than Kelley. Jay Gruden is always a fan of incorporating multiple runners in his history as an NFL coach, and I expect this backfield to be pretty evenly cut between Kelley and Perine. Chris Thompson will also have a role as well, which leads me to believe that Kelley regresses a bit from last year’s stats (through no fault of his own.)
35. Derrick Henry, TEN
2017 Projection: 130 attempts / 624 rushing yards / 6 rushing touchdowns; 18 receptions / 180 receiving yards / 0 receiving touchdowns (134 points)
Outlook: Derrick Henry is a bad man. He runs so angry and is impossible to take down one on one. Unfortunately, Demarco Murray has a stranglehold on the lead back job in Tennessee, leaving Henry as just a change of pace guy and grinder. He is a very talented runner who showed skill in a variety of situations during his rookie year last year, and he will find ways to maximize his opportunities in the Tennessee offense. If Murray goes down, Henry is an instant RB1. One of the only handcuffs worth actually rostering. Henry will surprise in a starting role.
36. Latavius Murray, MIN
2017 Projection: 120 attempts / 480 rushing yards / 7 rushing touchdowns; 25 receptions / 163 receiving yards / 0 receiving touchdowns (131 points)
Outlook: From one of the best offensive lines in the NFL to one of the worst, no player made out as well in free agency this year than Latavius Murray. A completely mediocre running back with no real quickness (who also can’t break tackles,) Murray enters a backfield with rookie Dalvin Cook, who is naturally much more talented. Murray was a beast on the goal line last year though, and figures to have a similar opportunity for production in this new Vikings offense. I don’t believe he holds the starting job all season, but I believe he finds his niche on the goal line for sure. Not a threat in the receiving game, let someone else draft Latavius Murray, even at his falling ADP.
37. Carlos Hyde, SF
2017 Projection: 160 attempts / 672 rushing yards / 6 rushing touchdowns; 18 receptions / 90 receiving yards / 0 receiving touchdowns (130 points)
Outlook: Carlos Hyde is on his way out of San Francisco. An injury-prone enigma, Hyde enters Year 4 with San Francisco with his role in flux. The new front office brought in rookies Matt Breida and Joe Williams to compete with Hyde, and early reports are that both look impressive and are fixing to have roles. I don’t feel like Hyde makes it to the season with the 49ers, truthfully. I think he will be moved for a pick to an AFC team. He’s not a reliable running back as far as durability goes, and on a team that projects to be very, very bad offensively, I’d let him be someone else’s headache.
38. Jalen Richard, OAK
2017 Projection: 100 attempts / 500 rushing yards / 2 rushing touchdowns; 32 receptions / 240 receiving yards / 2 receiving touchdowns (130 points)
Outlook: Jalen Richard is a playmaker. He won’t have the opportunity this year with Marshawn Lynch in town, but this kid can play. Settling in as the third down back and passing game contributor, Richard is a force in the passing game and has elite quickness. Lynch is obviously the back to own, but in games that project to be shootouts, Richard has some sneaky value. Will be a better DFS piece than season-long piece for owners, but he will make some noise in the league this year. A great piece for the Raiders offense.
39. Chris Thompson, WSH
2017 Projection: 55 attempts / 275 rushing yards / 2 rushing touchdowns; 45 receptions / 324 receiving yards / 2 receiving touchdowns (128 points)
Outlook: Chris Thompson will always have a role on the Redskins. A true passing down weapon, he will be in the game when the Skins are behind and airing it out. The problem is, they are usually in some close games and like to grind the clock, and project to run more with the loss of passing down weapons Pierre Garcon and Desean Jackson. Thompson will have good weeks and have very bad weeks. Players like him are great weapons for teams, but practically unusable unless you know something the general public doesn’t know. A much better real-life player than fantasy player.
40. Jeremy Hill, CIN
2017 Projection: 120 attempts / 456 rushing yards / 8 rushing touchdowns; 18 receptions / 135 receiving yards / 0 receiving touchdowns (124 points)
Outlook: No player is more efficient at scoring touchdowns over the last 3 years than Jeremy Hill. He leads the league in touchdowns scored at his position, thanks in large part to owning the feature back role in Cincinnati over that time. However, Hill struggles a bit between the 20s and this inefficiency caused the Bengals to select the all-purpose runner Joe Mixon in the second round of this year’s draft. I expect Hill to take a back-seat to Mixon but still retain his role down near the goal line. I also expect this Cincinnati offense to score a lot more than recent years, with some new passing game weapons and a continued dedication to running the ball. I like Mixon a lot more, but in touchdown-only leagues, much like Latavius Murray before him, Hill can have some sneaky value.