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It took a quarter of the NFL Season, but there is finally some consistency at the top of the running back rankings. My Week 5 running back rankings reaction was of astonishment: the Top 9 running backs are the same nine players for back- to-back weeks.

Week 4 brought us the first weekend without a significant starting running back going down. Combine that with LeVeon Bell and DeMarco Murray looking like the 2014 versions of themselves, and we might finally have a consistent group of elite backs.

I feel as if my Top 5 of Bell, Murray, David Johnson, Ezekiel Elliott and Melvin Gordon will stay that way for the rest of the season. As far as the back half of the RB1s, that could be a different story.

Here is my Week 5 Running Back rankings reaction.

Week 5 Running Back Rankings Reaction

Guys I Like More

  • I think Melvin Gordon has entrenched himself as an elite option by sheer happenstance. If Danny Woodhead is not injured, I think he is a Top-12 PPR back. With no replaceable option, Gordon has taken over all of the third down and goal line duties. Through sheer volume, he will continue being ranked highly.

  • I am the highest on Jordan Howard of any of our rankers. This has more to do with how bad the Colts’ defense has been. Indy is giving up 31-plus PPR points per game to opposing running backs and Howard looks to be the 3-down option in Chicago going forward.
  • I am also the highest on Terrance West. With the release of Justin Forsett and Kenneth Dixon still working his way into playing time, West will get a heavy workload Sunday. What makes it even better: Baltimore is playing the Redskins this weekend. The same Redskins that are giving up the most rushing yards and second most Fantasy Points to running backs.

Guys I Like Less

  • I’m the lowest ranker for Todd Gurley and I might push him lower the more I look at it. I have him 10th as of now, but at some point defenses are going to truly make Case Keenum beat them. When they do, it could be 9-man boxes for Gurley.
  • Latavius Murray has yet to crack 15 carries (only more than 10 in Week 1) and only has more than 2 targets once. Oakland is going to throw a ton, and switch their backs out. If Murray does not score, he is not worth starting.
  • I had been ranking Tevin Coleman above Devonta Freeman, but I did not know about the sickle-cell trait Coleman carries. This is a factor in Denver, whether he ends up playing or not. Combine that with an ankle injury and decreased workload against the Broncos’ top-rated defense makes Coleman a non-start this week.

 

Other Observations

  • The consistency is really seen in the PPR rankings where the Top 10 backs received all but one of the Top-10 votes.
  • Theo Riddick has the widest gap among rankers for all starting-worthy backs. He is as high as an RB1 with Joe Bond and me, and as low as border-line RB2 with John La Presto.
  • La Presto is also by far the lowest on James White. I think he is Flex-worthy in PPR leagues, while La Presto has him as RB56. With Tom Brady back, that entire offense is start-able this week.

  • The Miami backfield is both a question and a mess. None of the three lead backs are ranked inside the Top 42.
  • David Johnson should lead all backs in rushing this week against San Francisco. Navarro Bowman tore his Achilles against the Cowboys. Before he was injured, Elliott and Alfred Morris had 57 yards on 13 carries. After Bowman went out, the two combined for 115 yards on 17 carries.

That’s it for my Week 5 Running Back Rankings Reaction! Check out our Quarterback Rankings ReactionsWide Receivers and Tight Ends, too.

Good luck with your running backs this week and be sure to check out my weekly picks against the spread.

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