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2017 Draft Tiers -- RB (PPR)

By Matt Schauf | Updated on Tue, 23 May 2023 . 1:27 PM EDT

Picking at the top of Round 1? Then you know the decision.

It’s Johnson vs. Bell. Perhaps you want to consider Steelers WR Antonio Brown in that mix, but the top shelf at RB is quite clear.

But what about after that? How short are the other shelves, and how might they shape your mid-round approach in your fantasy football draft?

Here’s where we see the biggest splits among our PPR RB rankings. (You can check the non-PPR RB tiers here.)

David Johnson, Cardinals
Le’Veon Bell, Steelers

Johnson drew 26 more targets than any other RB; 34 more than any RB not named Bell. The Steelers RB, meanwhile, ranked 6th among all NFL players in receptions per game. If these guys didn’t play RB, you’d start them at WR.

Melvin Gordon, Chargers
Devonta Freeman, Falcons
DeMarco Murray, Titans

Barring injury, all 3 of these guys will catch the ball a lot. Each averaged more than 3.0 receptions per game last year. Gordon and Murray beat Freeman on rushing volume, but Freeman balances it out after scoring more efficiently over the past 2 years and beating them on yards per carry in 2016.

Jay Ajayi, Dolphins
LeSean McCoy, Bills

Ajayi falls a tier when you add reception scoring, though he has the upside to jump in that category this season. He caught 50 passes in his final season at Boise State and averaged 10.7 yards per catch for his college career. McCoy carries as much upside as anyone short of Johnson and Bell, but his injury history and risk-laden supporting cast pushes him down our rankings compared with ADP.

Todd Gurley, Rams
Jordan Howard, Bears
Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys
Ty Montgomery, Packers

Volume helps Gurley more here than on the non-PPR side, where it’s tough to like his TD outlook. Elliott should probably get his own tier, as it’ll be up to every fantasy drafter to decide how to treat him.

Isaiah Crowell, Browns
Lamar Miller, Texans
Christian McCaffrey, Panthers

It’s easier to like McCaffrey’s ceiling on the PPR side. And a more volume-driven format makes Miller a bit easier to bet on.

Leonard Fournette, Jaguars
Joe Mixon, Bengals
Dalvin Cook, Vikings
Mark Ingram, Saints
Carlos Hyde, 49ers

We’ll see what Jacksonville’s passing-game plans are for Fournette. The 4 guys immediately behind him have less to prove as receivers. Similarly, Hyde isn’t likely to win on receiving volume, but workhorse-level carries will always help.

Bilal Powell, Jets
Doug Martin, Buccaneers
Danny Woodhead, Ravens
Ameer Abdullah, Lions
C.J. Anderson, Broncos
Frank Gore, Colts

These 6 suffer a bit more than the group above for available workload or situation. Gore’s receptions increased last season over the year before, but he saw just 12 of his 47 season targets over the final 6 games.

Marshawn Lynch, Raiders
Theo Riddick, Lions

Stats put Lynch and Riddick together here, but the Raiders back should really stand alone. He’s another “you decide” pick, as our ranking will find him long gone before he’ll come into play on your MVP Board.

PPR obviously pushes Riddick up the rankings. He ranked 11th and 10th in the NFL in receptions per game the past 2 years, regardless of position.

Kareem Hunt, Chiefs
Spencer Ware, Chiefs

Hunt's about to get a big boost from this spot if Ware's Saturday MRI goes as poorly as many expect. If you happen to be drafting before those results come out, then skip over Ware completely.

Paul Perkins, Giants
Tevin Coleman, Falcons
Duke Johnson, Browns

Johnson has turned into the most exciting fantasy option in this range after a buzzy summer that found him running regularly as a slot WR. Coleman would beat Johnson on that front but sees his ceiling capped by Devonta Freeman and his recent contract extension.

Terrance West, Ravens
Mike Gillislee, Patriots
Matt Forte, Jets
C.J. Prosise, Seahawks
Adrian Peterson, Saints
Giovani Bernard, Bengals
Eddie Lacy, Seahawks
Darren Sproles, Eagles
Derrick Henry, Titans
James White, Patriots

All of these guys should be in for significant work. White will be a good matchup play when New England faces tough run defenses and/or shootout matchups. The rest would gain upside with injuries to backfield mates. White, by the way, finished 3rd among all RBs – behind only David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell – in targets last season.

Rob Kelley, Washington
Shane Vereen, Giants
Jonathan Stewart, Panthers
LeGarrette Blount, Eagles

Blount’s in a good situation for rushing volume, but he won’t catch many passes and might be a poor fit for the scheme. Either way, he’s not exciting. And neither is this tier. Vereen, however, presents more upside than his draft treatment so far would seem to indicate.

Darren McFadden, Cowboys
Jacquizz Rodgers, Buccaneers

Welcome to the September All-Stars tier. Don’t expect McFadden or Rodgers to offer much value after their suspended starting teammates return, but each could be weekly fantasy starters over the season’s 1st month.

Alvin Kamara, Saints
Rex Burkhead, Pariots
Charles Sims, Buccaneers
Chris Thompson, Washington
Samaje Perine, Washington
Thomas Rawls, Seahawks
Jeremy Hill, Bengals
Jonathan Williams, Bills
Latavius Murray, Vikings

There’s lots of upside in this late tier. And there’s Latavius Murray, too.

DeAndre Washington, Raiders
Jalen Richard, Raiders
Jamaal Williams, Packers
Joe Williams, 49ers

Handcuff time, whether you drafted their starting teammates or just like to target such scenarios with your late RB picks. The Raiders and Packers present good situations for whoever leads the backfields week to week.

Everyone else

Matt Schauf Author Image
Matt Schauf, Editor
Matt has earned two Fantasy Pros accuracy awards for IDP rankings and won thousands of dollars as a player across best ball, dynasty, and high-stakes fantasy formats. He has been creating fantasy football content for more than 20 years, with work featured by Sporting News, Rotoworld, Athlon, Sirius XM, and others. He's been with Draft Sharks since 2011.
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