Even with Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette off to the NFL, the talent in the backfield this season is terrifc. With 10 weeks till the season starts, it’s time to look at the best scoring running backs to put your fantasy team over the top.
These rankings focus on a standard league format with no points-per-reception.
10. Mark Walton, Miami (FL)
Miami’s squad of running backs averaged 4.5 yards per carry last season and they get back lead rusher Mark Walton. Walton rushed for 1117 yards last season while also accounting for 240 receiving yards. Mark Richt’s offensive system thrives with a good running back and that’s just what he has in the product from Booker T. Washington. With an improved offensive line, Walton has the potential to go over 1200 yards this season.
9. Rashaad Penny, San Diego State
Penny ran for 1005 yards last season behind Donnel Pumphrey, the current NCAA career rushing leader, who ran for 2,133. San Diego State has shown how much they rely on the run for their offense, and Coach Rocky Long has said that Penny will see 25-plus carries a game this season. Don’t expect Penny to be Pumphrey, but the Aztecs may not miss Pumphrey as much as they thought they would.
8. Justin Jackson, Northwestern
Justin Jackson just gets better and better with every season. His rushing yard total has increased every year since his freshman year (Freshman: 1,187; Sophomore: 1,418; Junior: 1,524) and with a 224-yard performance against Pitt in the Pinstripe Bowl, it doesn’t appear that he’s slowing down anytime soon. Another plus for Jackson is that he doesn’t have to go up against one of the best Ohio State defensive lines during the regular season.
7. Devin Singletary, Florida Atlantic
Singletary had the second most rushing attempts for FAU last season and finished with 193 more yards and the 235-yard game he had against Middle Tennessee shows that he’s the offensive weapon that Kiffin should build around this season. It also helps that Kendal Briles, who coached Baylor to 5.45 yards-per-attempt last season, is in charge of the Owl offense. With a full season as the starter, nothing should stop Singletary from eclipsing 1,000 yards once again.
6. Jalin Moore, Appalachian State
Moore found a way last season to rush for over 1,400 yards while starting the season off as the backup for Marcus Cox. With Cox out of the picture, Moore is the sole back for the Mountaineers, and there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be able to do it again this season as the primary back. Appalachian State’s offense revolves around the run, and Moore will be the one to carry the rock this season.
5. Phillip Lindsay, Colorado
Lindsay isn’t the biggest guy on the field at 5-foot-8, but he’s the first Buffaloes running back to rush for 1,000 yards since Rodney Stewart in 2010. His ability to break and dodge tackles makes him a force to be reckoned with when he has the ball in his hands. Lindsay will see touches this season whether on the ground or through the air, and seeing how he only gets better every game, it would be a mistake to pass on Lindsay.
4. Royce Freeman, Oregon
Oregon will look moderately different under new coach Willie Taggert, but not that much different. With Taggert taking the team over, you can expect the Ducks to do what they’ve done well in the past – score – a lot. Until his last season at USF, Taggert featured one signature back and with Royce Freeman on the verge of several Pac-12 records, Royce will roll again this season.
3. Ito Smith, Southern Mississippi
Smith has racked up back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons and operates in an offense that averaged 32.8 points-per-game last season. He also accumulated 308 receiving yards last season, putting him close to 2,000-yards from scrimmage. Going into his senior year, Smith is looking to make some money in the NFL, and another 1,000-yard season could be written in the stars. Look for the Southern Miss product to do just as well, if not better than last season.
2. Derrius Guice, LSU
LSU had a guy who played like Adrian Peterson and now they have a guy who plays like Reggie Bush. Guice is making sure LSU didn’t miss Leonard Fournette in 2017 with his 1,387-yard season in 2016. Matt Canada would’ve had back-to-back thousand yard rushers in his system at North Carolina State and Pittsburgh had Matt Dayes not gone down in 2015 against Clemson. Look for Guice to embarrass SEC defenses again this season as LSU looks to finally unseat Alabama from the top of the West.
1. Saquon Barkley, Penn State
Coming in at No. 1 is the man who torched Southern Cal’s defense in the Rose Bowl with 194 yards and two touchdowns and put up 1,896 total yards from scrimmage with 22 touchdowns. The most elusive back in the Big Ten is most likely going to be the first back off the board in most College fantasy drafts, as well as in the NFL Draft come next April. Barkley was a steal in most drafts last season, but he won’t be near as easy to acquire in 2017.
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