ACC Fantasy Position Rankings: Running Back


ACC fantasy football isn’t really a thing yet, except for a select few rabid followers of the conference who do it old-school style and comb through box scores to manually allocate points. (I’m doing this, by the way, so email me at cmoore@curtismedia.com if you’re interested).

But ACC fantasy totally should be a thing. It would give us a reason to watch the waning moments of a blowout Thursday night game, and it would give you a reason to check ACCSports.com regularly (last pitch, I promise).

In the event you do have an ACC fantasy league, we’ve got you covered for your draft. We’re ranking the top 12 players at every position, as well as giving you a few names to check out on the waiver wires.

On Tuesday, we rolled out our ranking of ACC quarterbacks by their fantasy value.

The next position up is running back. I used standard fantasy scoring while making these rankings. That is:

  • 10 rushing yards=1 point
  • 1 rushing touchdown=6 points
  • 10 receiving yards=1 point
  • 1 receiving touchdown=6 points

Alongside each name, you’ll notice the abbreviation FPPG. That stands for Fantasy Points Per Game, and it was calculated using their season stats divided by the number of appearances for each player. Obviously, this isn’t fair to players who were backups last season, but that number is far from the be-all, end-all of this ranking.

The rankings were made considering a) The amount of fantasy points that player scored last season, b) The offense that player is in, c) The room for improvement for that player, and d) My gut.

1. Kevin Parks, Virginia

FPPG: 17.25

Spin: Parks is the conference’s lone returning 1,000-yard rusher, and his workload is higher than any returner, too. His offensive line might take a step backwards this season, but with questions still remaining at the quarterback position, he should be the focal point of this offense every week of the season. 

2. Duke Johnson, Miami

FPPG: 16.88

Spin: The most talented running back in the league is also a fantasy stud. He’s almost a lock for 100 yards and a touchdown each week, which is about the best you can hope for from your running back. He is injury prone, so he carries some risk if you’re selecting him high. But Johnson should still be coming off draft boards in the first round.

3. Karlos Williams, Florida State

FPPG: 10.36

Spin: Williams finally gets a chance to be the Seminoles’ featured back, the position from which Devonta Freeman posted 15.57 fantasy points per game last season. Williams averaged an astonishing 8.0 yards per carry last season, and if he receives Freeman’s workload (12.36 carries a game), he would average about 100 yards per contest. It’s hardly possible, but Florida State’s offensive line should be even better this season, too.

4. Myles Willis, Boston College

FPPG: 5.27

Spin: Andre Williams’ numbers were so gaudy last season because he was great, but it also helped that he played in a system designed for running backs to flourish. Now Myles Willis gets to be the featured back in that offense. His 5.8 yards per carry last season indicates how productive he can be, and his workload will likely be higher than any other running back in the league. Really, you’re drafting Steve Addazio’s system here more than you’re drafting Willis, a largely unproven sophomore.

5. Trey Edmunds, Virginia Tech

FPPG: 12.83

Spin: Virginia Tech still doesn’t have a starting quarterback, so the Hokies will be running the ball heavily for at least the beginning of the season. That means drafting Edmunds could be a boon for fantasy owners. He’s the third-best returning running back by FPPG, and he should see an increase in his numbers due to experience alone.

6. Dominique Brown, Louisville

FPPG: 11.77

Spin: Brown won the starting running back job halfway through last season and soon started putting up monster numbers. There’s some concern that he’ll carry a diminished role in a running back corps that’s loaded with playmakers, but he’s still the most dependable back in this offense. He’ll get double-digit carries each game and will find the end zone, too.

7. James Conner, Pittsburgh

FPPG: 10.83

Spin: Conner is far from the most electrifying running back on this list, but he’s absolutely one of the most consistent. He ran for 799 yards and eight touchdowns in 12 games last season, and he should see a slight uptick in his workload this year. Handcuffing him with fellow Pitt running back Isaac Bennett would give you a heck of a productive running back tandem.

8. T.J. Logan, North Carolina

FPPG: 9.89

Spin: Logan emerged as the Tar Heels’ top running back once he finally got over his preseason injury in 2013. The upside of Logan is obvious: He’ll get to the end zone on the ground, through the air and in the return game, and he should be steady yardage-wise, too. The problem is that there’s no way to determine where he’ll stand on Larry Fedora’s volatile depth chart. There’s a chance he gets more than a dozen touches a game, but there’s always a chance he’ll get three carries and a screen pass.

9. Shadrach Thornton, NC State

FPPG: 9.91

Spin: Fantasy owners would like to see Thornton reach the end zone more this season, but that should come as a byproduct of better quarterback play under Jacoby Brissett. He’ll likely have one of the higher workloads in the conference, and he’s proven that he can rack up the points any given week. NC State’s nonconference schedule will allow him to be a top running back choice through the first third of the fantasy season.

10. D.J. Howard, Clemson

FPPG: 3.93

Spin: Howard didn’t do much last season, averaging fewer than four fantasy points per game, but he should have the opportunity to accumulate big-time numbers this season. Last year, Rod McDowell averaged 12.54 fantasy points per game as the Tigers’ starting running back. With Zac Brooks out for the year, Howard should get a few more carries than originally expected.

11. Prince-Tyson Gulley, Syracuse

FPPG: 7.27

Spin: Gulley was solid but not spectacular in his junior season. But it wouldn’t be surprising to see him jump a notch or two this year. If he assumes Jerome Smith’s role in the offense from 2013, he’ll have the third-highest workload in the ACC. Smith averaged 13.54 fantasy points per game last season, and Gulley has impressed enough this offseason to suggest he can wind up in that range, too.

12. Zach Laskey, Georgia Tech

FPPG: 7.77

Spin: Finding the end zone shouldn’t be a problem for Laskey, who tallied seven touchdowns in 2013. He has to split carries with the rest of the Georgia Tech army, but he returns as the most consistent of all the Yellow Jackets’ backs. 

Best Available On The Waiver Wire: Isaac Bennett (Pittsburgh), Cam McDaniel (Notre Dame), Josh Snead (Duke), Shaq Powell (Duke), Mario Pender (Florida State), Michael Dyer (Louisville), Orville Reynolds (Wake Forest), Tarean Folston (Notre Dame), Elijah Hood (North Carolina), Taquan Mizzell (Virginia), C.J. Davidson (Clemson), Dalvin Cook (Florida State), Matt Dayes (NC State), Gus Edwards (Miami), Synjyn Days (Georgia Tech)

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