*All projections, rankings, and results are based on ESPN PPR Standard rules*
1: Saquon Barkley
As many predicted, Saquon is having a stellar rookie season so far. He is currently averaging 25 fantasy points per game in PPR leagues and his lowest point total came two weeks ago against the 49ers when he put up 14. Last week he put up 35 points in a game where he broke 100 yards and scored on the ground and through the air.
Barkley is currently third in scrimmage yards with 1,268 as he trails only Zeke and Todd Gurley for the league title. Barkley is also tied for the league lead in rushes of 40+ yards with three and tied for first in rushes of 20+ yards with eight so far. He is also tied for fourth in rushing touchdowns with seven and has done it all while averaging a lofty 4.6 YPC and without fumbling once.
His #1 ranking this week comes from a combination of his talent, his role in the Giants’ offense, and his soft matchup against the Eagles this week. In case you have been hiding under a rock for the last few weeks, the Eagles defense has been getting absolutely gashed by running backs lately.
The Eagles defense has given up 35 or more fantasy points to opposing RBs in three of their last five weeks. They are also coming off back-to-back weeks where they allowed opposing RBs 39 fantasy points as they faced the Cowboys and the Saints.
— New York Giants (@Giants) November 18, 2018
2: Melvin Gordon
Like Barkley, Gordon’s high ranking comes due to the combination of his talent, role in the offense, and soft matchup. Gordon is also among the league’s leaders in a number of categories as he is sixth in scrimmage yards with 1,189, tied for fourth in rushing TDs with seven, and like Barkley is tied for first in rushes of 20+ yards with eight. Gordon is also averaging an impressive 5.2 YPC and like Barkley has yet to fumble this year.
Gordon has also been remarkably consistent as he has at least 16 points in every game he has played this year. He is currently ranked as the fifth-best PPR RB and is facing a Cardinals defense this week that is atrocious against the run as they have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing RBs this season.
HE WILL GO ALL THE WAY!@melvingordon25.
— NFL (@NFL) October 29, 2017
3: Alvin Kamara
Kamara is currently ranked as the second-best RB in all of fantasy football, has scored at least 15 points every week since the Saints’ bye, is in one of the best offenses in the NFL, and is facing literally the softest possible matchup this week.
Kamara is one of the most talented running backs in the NFL, and he just so happens to be in one of the best offenses in the NFL as well, allowing him plenty of scoring opportunities. Kamara is second in rushing TDs with 11 behind only Todd Gurley and has scored four additional TDs through the air in 2018.
Add in that the Falcons have surrendered the most points to opposing fantasy RBs this season and this game could turn into a shootout between two high-octane offenses, and Kamara looks to be sitting pretty for another 15+ point game.
4: Mark Ingram
It is no coincidence that Ingram and Kamara are right next to each other on this list. Ingram’s projection this week is high for many of the same reasons that Kamara’s is. Ingram has broken 100 yards and scored 20+ points in back-to-back weeks now, and like Kamara is facing the worst defense against fantasy RBs.
Ingram’s role in the Saints offense is also especially helpful for his fantasy value. Right now, Ingram is the Saint’s goal-line back and primary “chew clock” power-back once the team is up, and he is coming off a two-TD week as direct result of that redzone/goal-line work. As we saw from LeGarrette Blount during his time with Patriots, being a goal-line back for one of the league’s top offenses makes a player incredibly value itself. The Saints use Ingram a hell of a lot more and a hell of a lot more creatively than the Patriots used Blount too. Check out this play where Ingram jogs into the end zone while the defense was busy chasing Kamara on a fake motion:
Ingram obviously has even more value than Blount once had with the Pats considering Ingram’s high involvement with the Saints’ offense, his first-rounder status and talent level, and the fact that outside of the maybe the Rams or Chiefs, the Saints have the most explosive offense in the NFL.
5: David Johnson
David Johnson is one of the few every down backs left in the NFL, and his value is trending upwards. He has looked like the David Johnson of the past during the last two weeks as he had almost 200 total yards and 40 points against the Chiefs two weeks ago, and he rattled off 137 yard last week against the Raiders.
Johnson has a rare combination of size, speed, and athleticism which his coaches have been trying to use more lately. His 25 rushing attempts were his most of the 2018 season, and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich has publicly stated his desire to get Johnson more touches.
In fact, when asked about his increased production under Leftwich and if it will continue, Johnson recently said, “I think it will as Leftwich gets more comfortable being the OC and everybody gets more comfortable playing together and hopefully, staying healthy. If that happens it will definitely lead to that”. For an abysmal 2-8 Cardinal team, David Johnson remains one of their lone bright spots and one of the few matchup-proof RBs in fantasy.
6: Christian McCaffrey
Like David Johnson, this ranking has less to do with McCaffrey’s matchup and more to do with his versatility and overall production.
McCaffrey’s usage and touches has almost put him in the David Johnson/Barkley/Melvin Gordon tier in terms of bell-cow RB status. In fact, Todd Gurley is the only running back with more offensive snaps per game since Week 8. McCaffrey’s receiving ability buoys his fantasy value as well as he has at least four catches in every game since the Panthers’ bye.
…. WOW. pic.twitter.com/kbq1jn2jmY
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) October 28, 2018
Thus far, McCaffrey has scored at least 14 points in PPR leagues in every game, and has scored over 20 in just over half his games this year. Since week 8, McCaffrey ranks second in RB fantasy points per game. This week he faces a middle of the road Seahawks defense that ranks 15th against opposing RBs in 2018. Look for McCaffrey to put up another 20+ point performance by using either his legs, his hands, or a combination of the two.
7: James Conner
One might ask, how can one of the league’s top five rushers possibly be all the way down here at number seven? Yes, Conner is still one of the leagues leaders as he is fourth in rush yards with 796, third in TDs with 10, and is tied for first in rushes for 20 yards or more with eight.
The only reason Conner is down here at number seven is because of his dip in production the past two weeks and the fact that the Broncos have allowed the third-fewest points to opposing fantasy RBs since week seven.
After scoring 25+ points during weeks five through nine, Conner has failed to score more than 15 points in either of the past two weeks. Last week, Conner had only 25 rushing yards on nine carries in a win over the Jags.
Despite the recent dip in production and tough matchup, consider Conner still a solid RB1 this week against the Broncos. He still occupies the Le’Veon Bell role in Pittsburgh as a runner and receiver, so he still has the potential to put up Bell-esque numbers every week. Throw in the fact that he has scored at least ten points in every game this year and you will have no problem sliding James Conner into your starting lineup once again as your RB1.
8: Ezekiel Elliott
Zeke and the Cowboys have been rolling lately, as Zeke is coming off back-to-back weeks where he ran for over 100 yards on less than 25 carries and scored over 30 points in fantasy. His receiving production has also increased lately, as he has at least four catches in each of his last three games.
In fact, Zeke has already set a career-high in reception with 42 so far in 2018. While the Redskins present a somewhat tough matchup (10th-fewest fantasy points surrendered to opposing RBs), Zeke’s status as an every down back and centerpiece of the Cowboys offense keeps him firmly in RB1 status every week.
9: Tevin Coleman
With Devonta Freeman out, Tevin Coleman has become the primary ball-carrier and receiving back for this offense. While Ito Smith has been vulturing goal-line work and occasional carries, Coleman has steadily produced in Freeman’s absence.
Since Freeman went down for the year, Coleman has scored at least 10 points in every game and has been involved in the passing game each week. While Coleman has not exactly wowed many this year (one 20+ point performance), his top-10 ranking this week is a product of his role with Freeman out, and the matchup this week.
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) November 4, 2018
The Falcons play the Saints on Thursday, and if they want to keep up offensively they will need to use Coleman. If they want to dominate on the ground Coleman will get his touches because he is still their primary ball-carrier, and if the Falcons get behind and are forced to throw a ton to get back in the game it will be Coleman who gobbles up the screens, check-downs, and wheel routes as the Falcons favor him in the passing game over Ito Smith.
Basically, because of Coleman’s versatility he will be a factor in this likely high-scoring affair regardless of the shifts in the Falcon’s game script.
10: James White
With Kareem Hunt and Todd Gurley on byes, James White makes the list this week as a bounce-back candidate. Prior to the Patriots garbage play against the Titans, White was ranked as a top five PPR running back, and is still ranked as a top 10 running back in ESPN PPR standard scoring despite that game against the Titans and the zero he put up last week as a result of the Pats’ bye.
In fact, with the exception of the Titans game White had scored at least 14 points in every game he played this year, and has 10 total TDs. White is also one of Tom Brady’s favorite targets in this offense and has at least five catches in every game since week four as a result. He even had five in his terrible game against the Titans.
Following a bye, look for the Patriots and James White to get back on track against a Jets defense that has allowed 25 PPR points per game to opposing RBs. Not to mention, offensive lineman Shaq Mason and Trent Brown are slated to return this week which bodes well for the offense as a whole.