Shuffle Up: Running back rankings, rest of season

Want to make a bunch of strangers upset at you? Rank something.

We’ll back to the hot button of positions, the running backs. This is the one position we all strive to get right, the most beguiling fantasy football exercise there is.

The dollar values below are merely used as a way to compare the players and give you a sense of where the tiers lay (in my opinion, anyway); where talent clusters and where it falls off. Players at the same price are considered even. And honestly, a $1-2 difference isn’t a big deal. I’m not going to pretend some lofty level of certainty with these prices when I know what a snow-globe league the NFL is.

Assume a modified PPR scoring system, a half-point per reception.

I’ll add commentary later on Wednesday, and reserve the right to change things as the day goes along. Win the debate, win the rank. And remember the golden rule, no player gains or loses a chunk of value simply because you roster him or don’t roster him.

Want to take a shot at my knees? Head over to Twitter and let me know what you think: @scott_pianowski.

$47 LeVeon Bell
$45 Todd Gurley
$43 Kareem Hunt
$43 *Ezekiel Elliott
$42 LeSean McCoy
$41 Melvin Gordon
$40 Leonard Fournette
$38 Devonta Freeman
$34 Mark Ingram
$25 Jordan Howard
$25 Jay Ajayi

Mark Ingram’s touches by week: 11, 12, 16, 18, Peterson trade, 30, 26. Not coincidentally, his three touchdowns have all come after Peterson, and his YPC has spiked with a more consistent workload. The Saints also have a Top 5 running back strength of schedule from Week 8-onward . . . Is the prehistoric Chicago offense a feature or a bug for Howard? He’s been mediocre as a receiver, as expected, but he also has 23, 18, 19, 36 and 21 carries the last five weeks. His YPC hasn’t stayed at last year’s lofty 5.2, but a 4.0 rate is fine when you combine it to this type of projectable volume. There aren’t many backs who can be counted to particulate this much every week, which is why Howard stays in this spot . . . I am not a lawyer and have no magic answers on the Elliott situation. We’re all flying blind here. I priced him as if he would play the full season. I obviously can’t guarantee that . . . Bell wasn’t in game shape in Week 1, but he’s clearly toned now, and Pittsburgh is riding him for all he’s worth. Volume from an elite back is almost unfair, especially when you consider the cupcake schedule (Top 5 for sure) Bell has waiting for him in the second half. You can never be sure about durability, but if Bell stays healthy, he’s going to be on a lot of championship teams. Pittsburgh’s dominant defense also plays into this, ensures favorable game script just about every week.

$22 Doug Martin
$22 Carlos Hyde
$21 DeMarco Murray
$20 Chris Thompson
$19 Jerick McKinnon
$18 Aaron Jones
$17 Alvin Kamara
$16 Lamar Miller
$14 Joe Mixon
$14 Duke Johnson
$12 Christian McCaffrey
$12 C.J. Anderson
$12 Ameer Abdullah
$11 Orleans Darkwa
$11 Latavius Murray
$10 Tevin Coleman
$10 Derrick Henry

Steve Sarkisian hasn’t helped Freeman’s fantasy value much, but he’s really killing Coleman, who was a weapon in the pass-receiving game last year. Coleman has just two targets in his last two games, a gift to the opposition. We wanted Coleman to be a stand-alone player, say a flexable piece, in addition to a high-end backup, but maybe he deserves to be priced with the handcuff-only crowd. If the Falcons don’t pump up the volume against the Jets, the team needs to strongly consider a new offensive voice. Heck, why not let Matt Ryan call the plays, or at least take on more game-designing responsibility? He was here last year, right?

$8 Rob Kelley
$8 Matt Forte
$8 Tarik Cohen
$8 Dion Lewis
$6 Theo Riddick
$5 Marshawn Lynch
$5 Marlon Mack
$5 LeGarrette Blount
$5 Javorius Allen
$5 James White
$5 Isaiah Crowell
$5 D’Onta Foreman
$4 Wendell Smallwood
$4 Ty Montgomery
$4 Rex Burkhead
$4 Mike Gillislee
$4 Jonathan Stewart
$4 Jalen Richard
$4 Frank Gore
$4 DeAndre Washington
$4 Bilal Powell
$4 Alex Collins
$4 Adrian Peterson
$4 *David Johnson

Gore is starting to play like a 34-year-old back should, and the Colts have one of the five hardest remaining schedules from a RB perspective. As Mike Salfino always says, the circus leaves town for everyone eventually . . . I’d like to go higher on Powell, but the Jets have three options and don’t show any loyalty to one specific guy. And Powell turns 29 at the end of the month; he’s not as young as many might think. If he was going to be an impact player, it probably would have happened by now . . . Crowell is always a good bet for double-digit touches, but it’s so often a road to nowhere; Cleveland rarely scores touchdowns or breaks big plays in the running game. And now rock LT Joe Thomas is out for the year. Perhaps I should move Crowell down even further, because a respected friend and opponent offered me Crowell for James White and it was a snap-decline for me . . . If Lewis were on a different team, he’d pushed into double digits. But the Patriots still have four backs that are jostling for position, and they’re one of the hardest teams to call the shot on ahead of time. Lewis might have a few needle-moving games to come, but how confident are you that you can predict them ahead of time?

$3 Wayne Gallman
$3 Matt Breida
$3 Giovani Bernard
$3 Chris Ivory
$3 Austin Ekeler
$3 Andre Ellington
$2 Thomas Rawls
$2 Shane Vereen
$2 Mike Tolbert
$2 Malcolm Brown
$2 James Conner
$2 Jamaal Charles
$2 Elijah McGuire
$2 Charcandrick West
$2 Alfred Morris
$1 T.J. Yeldon
$1 Rod Smith
$1 Jeremy Hill
$1 Jacquizz Rodgers
$1 J.D. McKissic
$1 Darren McFadden
$1 Damien Williams
$1 Corey Clement
$1 C.J. Prosise
$0 Eddie Lacy