2017 Rookies To Know: Runningbacks

Last season gave us Ezekiel Elliott who had instant success.  As we look back he should’ve been drafted in round 1.  But it’s always a gamble with a rookie.  I don’t think there’s a rookie I’d touch in the first two rounds at runningback.  But after that it could be a pretty deep class if things fall right with injuries and playing time..  Let’s take a look at the names to know:

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Photo Credit: Panthers.com

Christian McCaffrey

The Panthers needed to surround Cam Newton with better weapons.  They have attempted to do that by drafting McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel.   We haven’t seen how the Panthers will use McCaffrey yet.  But the potential is big.  I firmly believe he will handle some of the return duties this year.  I think he will get touches in the backfield.  Be targeted in the passing game as a runningback and receiver.  McCaffrey has a knack for scoring and creating space to run.  You should draft players who are known performers ahead of him.  But when names that come with risk start finding themselves at the top of your draft board, you may want to gamble on this rookie. Especially in a PPR league.  Not to mention if return yards count.

 

Leonard Fournette

It’s Fournette’s job to lose.  Jacksonville has been searching for a starting runningback for a while and missing quite a bit. I think Fournette will be heavily involved in the Jaguars offense running and receiving.  If Fournette’s running success can open things up for Blake Bortles and hide some of his deficiencies, Fournette could be the best of the rookie runningbacks.  He’s young so I doubt the year off will hurt him. My only worry is Bortles turning the ball over early in games and taking the ball out of his hands. .  But Fournette rush for 1,000 yards and come close to double-digit touchdowns.

Dalvin Cook

Veteran runningback Latavius Murray signed a 3 year 15 million dollar deal.  So he will be getting his share.   But offseason ankle surgery has stopped him from getting on the field with the team and has fallen behind Davin Cook on the depth chart.

Cook has a chance to be a great RB2/Flex play this season. If Murray falls behind on the play book or is slowed by his recovery Cook could really pounce on the opportunity to get the better share of the backfield.  Some may draft Murray ahead of Cook on name alone.  I advice you to favor Cook ahead of him.

Joe Mixon

Joe Mixon is a talented runner with great size, speed and receiving skills.   He could be another Le’veon Bell.  Hell lose carries to Jeremy Hill, but is talented enough to do big things when he gets the opportunity.  I would draft Mixon ahead of Hill and expect him to come up big as an RB2/Flex.

Brandon McNichols

McNichols could be the steal of your fantasy draft.  You’ll most likely be able to take him in the final few rounds.  He has to beat out Doug Martin, Charles Simms and Jaquizz Rodgers which is a doable feat.  None of them have been a consistent part of the Bucs offense.  McNichols is in the Doug Martin mould as far as size.  But faster and with Charles Simms hands.  McNichols could be a 3 down back if he can pick up the offense.

Samaje Perine

Perine was backfield mates with Joe Mixon at Oklahoma. He left the Sooners as the all-time leading rusher with 4122 yards.  Washington is clearly not content with Rob Kelly as the starter.  At worst i think Perine is a reliable flex play.  He’s a tough back to bring down and could be first in-line for goal line carries.  I like Perine as the better fantasy choice over Kelly this season.  Keep a watch on him during the preseason.

Joe Williams

Joe Williams was a very productive runner at Utah.  He has great vision and burst when he makes his cuts and gets up field.  Good overall speed and reminds me of Arian Foster as a runner.  Williams retired for a couple of weeks last season after dealing with injuries. When a few other backs at Utah got injured, Williams came back and seem rejuvenated.  But i question if he can handle the rigors of the NFL. Otherwise i love his game. If things work out for Williams he could have a great year with Carlos Hyde as a back mate.  Hyde hasn’t been the player most thought he’d end up. So Williams has a chance to shine. Draft late and see how he does in preseason and early in the regular season.

Jamaal Williams

Green Bay has been in need of a consistent back for the last couple years.  Ty Montgomery did a solid job after transitioning from receiver.  He’ll be back in the running as the starter this year.  But Williams will be on his heels and if he can take advantage of his time it could lead to a solid rookie year.  Williams can run and catch.  If he can work on his pass blocking it will lead to more time on the field.  Williams is one of those players you may have to wait on.  But patience could lead to a solid player on your roster.

Marlon Mack

At 33 years old Frank Gore still rushed for 1,025 yards and 4 touchdowns.  This season should be the official transition to a younger back.  Marlon Mack should be the guy.   Both Gore and Mack will be involved.  Especially with Andrew Luck coming off an injury which could slow the start f his season. Mack could get some extra valuable work early in the year and may be a good flex bye week option for you.  He should be drafted and could end up an every week player for you by the end of the year.

D’Onta Foreman

I bought into Lamar Miller last season.  I wasn’t overly thrilled with the numbers that matched a 33-year-old Frank Gore. Miller is what he is.  Foreman could unseat him as the starter if he can pick up the offense as a rookie. Foreman is from Texas City, Texas and played for the Longhorns.  He’s a real big back with good speed.  He could quickly become a fan favorite.  I’d draft Foreman late and keep him as long as I can in case things don’t get better for Miller.  He’s not much of a threat in the passing game which will limit his time on the field.  So if he does move up the depth charts he still could be limited.

Kareem Hunt

Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West are both back in KC. Ware will be the starter but Hunt could over take West as the next man up.  Hunt is an injury away from racking up rushing and receiving stats.  He’s a bigger back who would be a good goal line option for the Chiefs also.  Hunt is a late round flyer.  History says he’ll get his chance in KC.

Wayne Gallman

Leading rusher the last 3 seasons in a tremendous Clemson offense. He has size and average speed.  He could earn time in the pass blocking and receiving game.  Paul Perkins finished the season strong and will get first team work coming into the season.  But Gallman is a name to know and could be in for a heavy workload if Perkins goes down. Put Gallman on your watch list or take him as a flyer late if he has a good preseason.

Alvin Kamara 

Kamara is behind Peterson and Mark Ingram.  But the Saints have been known to have runningbacks come out of nowhere to suceed.  Ingram has a history of injuries and Peterson is older now.  Kamara has good hands and can lineup all over the offense.  As long as he isn’t overwhelmed as a rookie Kamara should be next guy up if Ingram or Peterson goes down.  You don’t ned to draft him.  But remember the name.

Donnel Pumphrey 

You’ll hear from Pumphrey at some point this season.  He’s most likely not going to make a huge impact unless there’s a rash of injuries.  But he will be used as a returner and will be Sproles understudy.  He’s a tiny back who plays much bigger than he is.  There’s a lot of players ahead of him on the depth chart but his role will increase if something happens to Sproles.

James Connor

James Connor should be a late round pick of any Le’veon Bell owner.  Bell will be the workhorse and centerpiece of the offense.  But he has a history of injuries and Connor will be in for a big role if Bell goes down at some point.  If your bench is big enough to carry a handcuff then do it. He has a similar skill set as Bell in that he can run and catch.  A bit slower but he makes up for it in size.  He wont steal many carries or goal line opportunities.  Connor is strictly a handcuff

Brian Hill

I like Hill as a rusher.  He doesn’t add much other than that. Hill will sit behind Freeman and Coleman.  Hill wont steal any carries and is a guy to be aware of in case of injuries.

 

 

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