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College Fantasy Football: Top 50 Running Backs

Two weeks ago, I released my Top 50 Quarterback Rankings for the 2018 season. Now after hours of research, I present to you my Top 50 Running Backs for the 2018 college fantasy football season with analysis for the top 25 players.

Top 50 Running Backs for College Fantasy Football

50. Reggie Gallaspy, NC State

49. Jason Huntley, New Mexico State

48. Jeremy Cox, Old Dominion

47. Mulbah Car, Houston

46. Olamide Zaccheaus, Virginia

45. AJ Oullette, Ohio

44. Jamarius Anderson, Troy

43. Darius Anderson, TCU

42. Travon McMillan, Colorado

41. LJ Scott, Michigan St

40. Tony Brooks-James, Oregon

39. Darrin Hall, Pittsburgh

38. Andrew Clair, Bowling Green

37. Jeremy Larkin, Northwestern

36. Aeris Williams, Mississippi State

35. Miles Sanders, Penn State

34. Patrick Taylor Jr., Memphis

33. Stephen Carr, USC

32. Damien Harris, Alabama

31. Jamauri Bogan, Western Michigan

30. Kennedy McKoy, West Virginia

29. Karan Higdon, Michigan

28. Travis Etienne, Clemson

27. Thomas Lexington, UNLV

26. Spencer Brown, UAB


Top 25 RBs for College Fantasy Football

25. Xavier Jones, SMU

With a transition into Sonny Dykes’ Air Raid offense, it would come as a surprise that Xavier Jones comes in as the 25th best running back for college fantasy football. The Mustangs lost NFL talents in Courtland Sutton and 114-reception receiver Trey Quinn from last season and are in desperate need of weapons. SMU’s strength in 2017 moves from the pass to the run as Jones serves as their most reliable skill position player. Expect improved numbers this season for Jones in his final season as a Mustang.
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24. Trayveon Williams, Texas A&M

Trayveon Williams’ total yards slipped last season, but that is due to the increased production of Keith Ford who outscored Williams in his unheard of sixth season of college football. Is Williams alone in Texas A&M’s backfield in 2018? Yes. Is his current coach notorious for producing stud running backs? Yes. There are two things that could hinder Williams from a breakout season; First, his schedule is the fifth hardest in the nation with matchups against Clemson and Alabama in the first four weeks. Second, Kellen Mond is more likely to keep the ball to himself so Williams’ upside is far greater if Starkel starts for the Aggies.

23. Travis Homer, Miami

Not many experts are especially high on Travis Homer for this season after his miserable late-season production. He has shown flashes of greatness, starting off with 170 yards against Georgia Tech in his starting debut and 146 yards in a blowout of Notre Dame. His worst games came against Pittsburgh, in which he was only given seven carries for 12 yards and against Clemson’s unmatched defensive line, where he mustered just 41 yards. Homer’s schedule starts off with a bump against LSU but doesn’t face anything he can’t handle until week 12 when they take on Virginia Tech. Expect Homer to easily top his 966 yards from last season as he gets the reigns for a full 12 games compared to eight games last season.

22. Rodney Smith, Minnesota

So get this, P.J. Fleck is notorious for producing fantasy rushers with what we saw out of Jarvion Franklin in his three seasons as a Bronco. Rodney Smith split carries with two other players and still managed 977 yards on the ground. His downfall was the three touchdowns total last season. Kobe McCrary graduated and Shannon Brooks is gone for the season with an ankle injury, leaving Smith alone in the driver’s seat of the Golden Gopher offense. I fully expect 1,000-plus yards and 10 or more touchdowns from the Jonesboro product in his final season.

21. Darrell Henderson, Memphis

Darrell Henderson somehow managed to put up 1,154 yards and nine touchdowns despite playing with Riley Fergusen at quarterback and Patrick Taylor Jr. out carrying him. Henderson’s explosiveness makes him a threat every time he touches the ball and he’s the quicker and more elusive back in the Memphis backfield. His one downfall is Taylor, who outscored him with 14 touchdowns compared to Henderson’s 11, but his volume and production make him a far better fantasy player than Taylor. Memphis returns the best offensive line in the AAC in 2018 with four of the five starters from last season returning.

20. Jonathan Ward, Central Michigan

Out of all returning running backs, Ward finished 10th overall behind the likes of AJ Dillon, Lexington Thomas, Rodney Anderson, Benny Snell, Justice Hill, Jonathan Taylor, Myles Gaskin, and Devin Singletary. Ward finished as Central Michigan’s top rusher and their second-leading receiver with 48 receptions and 470 yards. His production, especially in the passing game, is likely to take a dip with Shane Morris graduating. His increased volume on the ground should help make up for some of that loss. Ward has tough matchups against Kentucky and Michigan State in weeks one and three but outside of that Central Michigan boasts the 109th hardest schedule.
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19. Zack Moss, Utah

Zack Moss followed in a line of thousand yard rushers with a 1,173-yard season of his own. His final two weeks of the season gave college fantasy football owners something to look forward to as he accounted for 346 yards against Colorado and West Virginia. Moss’ schedule isn’t exactly favorable with road games against Washington State and Northern Illinois early on and another Road game against Stanford in the middle of the season, but Moss benefits from having one of the better Pac-12 quarterbacks in Tyler Huntley. Moss isn’t overly involved in the passing game but his ability to produce on the ground puts him in the top 20 on this list.

18. Jalin Moore, App State

There were few running backs better than Jalin Moore in his final four games. Moore averaged 26.5 fantasy points and if he can keep up that production he easily has a Top 5 fantasy ceiling. Given that App State is replacing arguably the second best quarterback in App State history in Taylor Lamb, Moore will see more attention from defenses until Zac Thomas picks up production. A tough matchup against Penn State is likely a week to sit Moore, but outside of that the Sun Belt powerhouse Troy has its weakest defense in years. I can’t wait to see what he does in a shootout against Arkansas State.

17. Patrick Laird, California

After three seasons of almost nothing, Patrick Laird broke out last year with 1,127 rushing yards and nine total touchdowns. Two things greatly benefit Laird this season. First, Tre Watson, who was in for a big season last year, has left for Texas, giving Laird the backfield all to himself this season. Second, we will either see an improved Ross Bowers or talented dual-threat transfer Brandon McIlwain take over at quarterback which opens the run game up with a solid passing game. Laird will undoubtedly top 1,100 yards again this season and barring injury could even take it much higher.

16. Shamari Brooks, Tulsa

Shamari Brooks was stuck behind D’Angelo Brewer for nine games before an injury and still managed ten touchdowns. Brewer accounted for 1,517 rushing yards as the lead back last season and Brooks is the heir apparent in 2018. Tulsa returns a lot of experience on the O-line with six upperclassmen on the two-deep depth chart. Brooks has RB1 upside and has the potential to come close to 1,300 yards against an easy schedule in which they avoid defending champion UCF.

15. Cam Akers, Florida State

Cam Akers could easily end up higher among the top running backs for college fantasy football based off of a multitude of factors. First off, Willie Taggart has the Midas touch for running backs. The last running backs under Taggart have ran for over 1,000 yards since 2010 with one exception and five of those topped 1,300 yards rushing. Cam Akers also broke Dalvin Cook’s freshman rushing record last season despite splitting carries with Jacques Patrick. DeAndre Francois is likely to return before the season and should he claim the starting job Akers could be in for an even bigger year than expected. Akers has the floor of an RB2 and the ceiling of a monster RB1.
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14. Shakif Seymour, Toledo

Toledo was expected to take a step back with the loss of running back Kareem Hunt but they ended with a 1,300-yard rusher and a MAC Championship in Jason Candle’s second year. Even with Terry Swanson going for 1,363 yards, Shakif Seymour managed to account for 702 yards and average a half yard more than Swanson. Seymour also managed to score 12 times as the second back for the Rockets which will undoubtedly go up with a surplus of carries. Logan Woodside’s departure leaves a gaping hole in the Rockets offense but the return of Cody Thompson and Diontae Johnson will open up the passing game regardless of who is throwing the ball. Seymour will be the best back in the MAC and sits comfortably in the Top 15 of the best running backs for college fantasy football.

13. Benny Snell Jr., Kentucky

I’ve never been the biggest fan of Benny Snell due to the team he plays for but it’s hard to ignore his stats. The Junior running back ran for 1,333 yards and 19 touchdowns. In seven of his 12 games, he went for more than 100 yards and accounted for 94 against Georgia’s phenomenal 2017 defense late in the season. Snell’s schedule sets up great for 2018 with difficult games in the midseason and easier games during the college fantasy football playoffs with Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, and Louisville in the final three weeks. Snell could easily be the best fantasy back in the SEC if it weren’t for one other player.

12. David Montgomery, Iowa State

Matt Campell has proven in the past to produce killer fantasy running backs with Kareem Hunt and David Fluellen both finding huge success in his system. Montgomery ran for 1,146 yards and 11 touchdowns in his sophomore year, showing that he is getting better the more he plays. His contributions in the passing game are hard to ignore as well, with 36 receptions and 296 yards through the air. Montgomery finished behind Rodney Anderson and Justice Hill in rushing yards last season, but he caused 109 missed tackles which is unheard of. He doubled his rushing stats from 2016 last season and it’s unlikely that he does the same in 2018, but it wouldn’t be unreasonable to say that he breaks 1,200.

11. Justice Hill, Oklahoma State

I know that Mike Gundy may have mentioned a dip in carries for Justice Hill this season but it seems unlikely to happen. Hill is the first Cowboy running back to top 1,000 yards in consecutive years since Joseph Randle’s 2011 and 2012 seasons. There’s no reason to think that Justice Hill isn’t the focal point of the Cowboys offense in 2018, even with Dru Brown transferring in this Summer. I wouldn’t expect him to go for 1,400 again but something in the 1,200-1,300 range wouldn’t be out of the question. Hill scored less than 15 fantasy points only three times last season, with two of those being blowouts and the other being a fluke against Texas, making him one of the most consistent backs in college fantasy football.

10. D’Andre Swift, Georgia

Considering Kirby Smart produced two 1,200-plus yard rushers in his first season with Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, there’s no reason to believe that D’Andre Swift won’t follow in their footsteps. As the third leading rusher for the Bulldogs, Swift went for 618 yards on 81 carries for 7.6 yards per carry. Swift’s leading competition is Zamir White who likely won’t challenge until he gets healthy later in the year. Georgia has one of the easiest SEC schedules and has a nerf-soft out of conference schedule with Austin-Peay, Middle Tennessee, UMASS, and the toughest challenge in Georgia Tech. I expect Swift to top 1,300 yards with more than 15 touchdowns in 2018 as he leads all SEC rushers.
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9. Alexander Mattison, Boise State

I had mixed feelings for Alexander Mattison last season. I loved him in preseason enough to take a chance on him, dropped him after Week 3 when Ryan Wolpin cut into too many of Mattison’s carries. Then I loved him when he was finally established as the top back for Boise and I scooped him back up. Mattison finished with 858 yards in his eight games of fantasy relevance and was the go-to guy in the red zone with ten touchdowns in the same eight-game stretch. Boise State still has to face the same giants in Fresno State and San Diego State but has favorable matchups in all other weeks including the game against Oklahoma State in Week 6.

8. AJ Dillon, Boston College

This was a tough one for the seventh and eighth spots but, due to his schedule, I had to put AJ Dillon at the lower spot. Possibly the second hottest waiver add behind Jonathan Taylor, AJ Dillon deserved the 2017 ACC Rookie of the Year. Dillon’s 1,589 yards seemed to come out of nowhere and I especially didn’t complain when he took my team to the championship game. His one downfall is that he faces every difficult ACC team at least once this season. At week six BC’s schedule goes as follows; @NC State, Louisville, Miami, @ Virginia Tech, Clemson, and @ Florida State. Dillon is a phenomenal player but will likely underperform in the backstretch.

7. Myles Gaskin, Washington

The schedule problems that AJ Dillon runs into this season are something that Myles Gaskin won’t come close to seeing. Gaskin has been the model of consistency in the past three seasons, with 1,300 yards in each season since 2015. After the departure of John Ross, Gaskin became the key scorer for the Huskies despite Jake Browning staying his full tenure. The Pac 12 isn’t as strong as it has been in recent years defensively and the only real trouble that Gaskin may run into is week one against Auburn.

6. J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State

Most college fantasy football owners drafted Mike Weber last season and panicked after Ohio State’s Week 1 matchup against Indiana when Dobbins ran for 181 yards. I like Dobbins’ upside a lot more this season with J.T. Barrett gone because Dwayne Haskins is less likely to keep the ball as often. Barrett’s fantasy upside was also the Buckeyes downfall as the quarterback took carries away from the incredible duo of Dobbins and Weber. The run game is going to be far more consistent for the Buckeyes which bodes well for Dobbins as an RB1 whereas last season he was too inconsistent to trust.

5. Juwan Washington, San Diego State

Plain and simple with Juwan Washington, he’s the next man up for the Aztecs. Recent running backs for San Diego State have been fantasy studs from week to week dating back to Ronnie Hillman in 2010 and given that Washington ran for 759 yards behind a 2,000-yard rusher in Rashaad Penny last season, it’s safe to assume he’s good to go in 2018. Washington will give the Aztecs a similar look to the Pumphrey era with his short stature and quickness and given that they’ve had huge success with that type of player we know he’s a safe bet now. Washington will top 1,500 yards this season and play a strong role in the receiving game.
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4. Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin

Jonathan Taylor went from unknown to Heisman contender out of nowhere and was the biggest free agent acquisition not named Khalil Tate in 2017. Taylor finished third in rushing yards nationally last season with 1,847 yards but had only 13 touchdowns which is alarming for someone with that many yards. With Troy Fumagali gone to the NFL, Taylor’s touchdown numbers should increase even though his schedule will prove to be more difficult than last season. Taylor is undoubtedly a Round 1 pick despite being listed at four on this list.

3. Bryce Love, Stanford

There was almost no NFL draft snub greater than Bryce Love’s last season. He was considered the second best in the draft behind Saquon Barkley and he also made many mock drafts before deciding to stay. Love topped 1,900 yards and was only outrushed by Rashaad Penny who cracked the top five in single-season rushing yards. Love didn’t come back without a goal in mind. I’m sure he’s aiming for the Heisman trophy and will look to put up huge numbers as long as he can manage to stay on the field.

2. Rodney Anderson, Oklahoma

With the news on Monday that Kyler Murray was drafted to the MLB, Rodney Anderson is in for a huge year. In the few weeks that Anderson took over, he accounted for over a 1,000 yards and was an absolute game-changer for most college fantasy football teams in the final weeks of the season. Murray will be looking to stay healthy and cash in on that $5 million contract with the Oakland A’s at the end of the season, which only means more touches for Anderson. Anderson is a touchdown threat anytime he touches the ball and with a full season as Oklahoma’s guy, he’s undoubtedly in for 1,200 yards on the ground and above average numbers in the passing game. His schedule is also weak defensively with the only challenges coming from an improved Texas defense and a TCU team that looks primed to win the Big 12 championship.

1. Devin Singletary, FAU

Meet 2018’s top running back for college fantasy football. Of course it’s Devin Singletary. Who else would it be? Singletary accounted for 33 total touchdowns last season while running for 1,918 rushing yards in his sophomore season. Singletary is likely the first or second player off the board depending on when Khalil Tate is picked and it’s not hard to see why. FAU only looks to get better in season two under Lane Kiffin and they start off with a Week 1 matchup against Oklahoma that I can’t wait to see. If you have the second pick and you don’t pick Singletary or Tate then you’ve already messed up your 2018 season and deserve to lose all season long.
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If you missed it please check out my Top 50 QBs for College Fantasy Football. And if you’re ready to add the NCAA to your fantasy repertoire head on over to Fantrax where you can customize every aspect of your college fantasy football league.

Also be sure to join me, John Laub (@GridironSchol91), and Scott bogman (@Bogmansports) every week with the CFF:On Campus Podcast.

Episode I: Roster Construction

Episode II: ACC/AAC

Episode III: BIG10/Big 12

You can also find the Podcast under the Fantrax Podcast Network on ITunes.

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