Fantasy Football Dynasty Running Back Rankings: Analyzing the situations for Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon and other rookies in crowded backfields

We were hoping for more clarity at the running back position from the NFL Draft. We got far less than we'd hoped.

Sure, there were encouraging things like Leonard Fournette locking down the Jacksonville job and the New York Giants not drafting a replacement for Paul Perkins . But there were also a ton of running backs drafted into what look like they may be committees early in their career. 

Talent matters more than opportunity in Dynasty, but opportunity is still a big piece of the pie. Dalvin Cook and Joe Mixon were two of the best running backs coming out. Now they're both in very crowded situations. Sure, I anticipate Mixon and Cook are the running backs of the future for their respective clubs, but their 2017 workload isn't irrelevant either. With that in mind, let's take a look at some of these crowded backfields before we get to the updated Dynasty rankings.

Cincinnati Bengals

Joe Mixon is viewed by many as having as much on-field talent as any running back in this draft class. He may have also landed in the most crowded spot. Jeremy Hill has one year left on his contract (and at least 220 carries and nine touchdowns each of the past three years). Giovani Bernard is recovering from a torn ACL, but he's averaged 44 receptions per year each of the past three seasons. 

Mixon has a brighter future than either but I don't think it's reasonable to assume he'll take over a workhorse role in his rookie season. Assuming all three backs are on the active roster Week 1, I see a reasonable case for Mixon being limited to 10-15 touches early in the season.

 If his talent shines through, he'll take more of the role as the season goes on. But as it stands right now, I'd project him for right around 200 total touches. That makes it tough for him to be better than a low-end No. 2 as a rookie, especially if the Bengals offensive line is as bad as some fear.

Minnesota Vikings

I had Dalvin Cook entrenched as the No. 4 back in this class before the draft and kind of on an island in terms of tier. He needed to land in the perfect spot to have a chance to pass anyone above him and the dropoff in talent below him made it unlikely he slid. Well, he did slide on Draft Day to Round 2, and his landing spot was far from perfect.

The Vikings already had Jerick McKinnon on the roster when they added Latavius Murray in free agency. I thought that could be an interesting split because McKinnon's production has always lagged behind the perception of his talent, and Murray has been the polar opposite. Adding Dalvin Cook to the mix is a major headache. Like Mixon, I expect Cook to eventually emerge as the running back of the future for the Vikings, but I have very little confidence in his ability to rack up No. 2 RB touches in 2017 and even less confidence in the situation. 

Cook is still my fourth favorite running back in this class, but he's now closer to the tier below him than the top three.

Green Bay Packers

The Packers were one team we all felt certain would add a running back. They added two of interest --   Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones . Williams immediately started getting hype as the future running back of the Packers, and I'm not sure I totally buy it. I see this developing into more of a committee.

Williams, who ran for 1,375 yards and 12 TDs as a senior at BYU, is the favorite to split touches with Ty Montgomery. He may even get the lion's share of the coveted red zone work. But he had all of seven receptions in his senior season. Montgomery's role seems safe. I see Montgomery as a back that gets 8-10 carries per game and 4-6 receptions. Even if you assume he won't match last year's 5.9 YPC, he still looks like a solid bet for 1,000 yards. 

Williams gets a bump form his landing spot because of the potential payoff, but in 2017 I have a hard time seeing him as more than a low-end No. 3 RB.

Kansas City Chiefs and Washington Redskins

Just a quick note on a pair of similar situations. There is not a great talent disparity between Spencer Ware and Kareem Hunt. I think Ware is more talented, others disagree. Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine also seem very similar to me in that both are acceptable as starting running backs but neither is irreplaceable. These are true training camp battles that will be both fascinating and maddening to predict.

Initially I projected both Ware and Kelley to keep their jobs to start the year, and didn't really expect Hunt or Perine to show enough to seize a starting role without an injury. Then beat writers in both cities speculated that the rookie would win the job. The rankings of these four are going to be fluid throughout the summer, but in Dynasty you would rather have the younger guys. Even with that youth, I don't see much more than No. 2 RB potential from any of these guys. 

Here are the updated Top 60 Dynasty Running Backs:

Dynasty Running Back Rankings
Rank Player Team
1 Ezekiel Elliott DAL
2 David Johnson ARI
3 Le'Veon Bell PIT
4 Devonta Freeman ATL
5 Melvin Gordon LAC
6 Todd Gurley LAR
7 Leonard Fournette JAC
8 Jordan Howard CHI
9 Jay Ajayi MIA
10 Carlos Hyde SF
11 LeSean McCoy BUF
12 DeMarco Murray TEN
13 Lamar Miller HOU
14 Derrick Henry TEN
15 Christian McCaffrey CAR
16 Tevin Coleman ATL
17 Joe Mixon CIN
18 Paul Perkins NYG
19 Ty Montgomery GB
20 Isaiah Crowell CLE
21 Dalvin Cook MIN
22 Ameer Abdullah DET
23 Kenneth Dixon BAL
24 C.J. Anderson DEN
25 Mark Ingram NO
26 Eddie Lacy SEA
27 Giovani Bernard CIN
28 Samaje Perine WAS
29 Kareem Hunt KC
30 Doug Martin TB
31 Spencer Ware KC
32 Robert Kelley WAS
33 Jamaal Williams GB
34 Mike Gillislee NE
35 C.J. Prosise SEA
36 Thomas Rawls SEA
37 Marshawn Lynch OAK
38 Alvin Kamara NO
39 D'Onta Foreman HOU
40 Duke Johnson CLE
41 Bilal Powell NYJ
42 Matt Forte NYJ
43 LeGarrette Blount PHI
44 Adrian Peterson NO
45 James White NE
46 Theo Riddick DET
47 Joe Williams SF
48 Jeremy McNichols TB
49 Latavius Murray MIN
50 Jamaal Charles DEN
51 Dion Lewis NE
52 Rex Burkhead NE
53 Charles Sims TB
54 Jalen Richard OAK
55 DeAndre Washington OAK
56 Jeremy Hill CIN
57 Danny Woodhead BAL
58 Marlon Mack IND
59 Frank Gore IND
60 Terrance West BAL
Senior Fantasy Writer

Heath Cummings is a Senior Fantasy Writer that covers Daily Fantasy Sports of all types. Before coming to CBS Sports he was a staff writer for Footballguys and the host of The Fantasy Football Show on... Full Bio

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