In case you haven’t noticed, rookie running backs are officially fantasy relevant. Not only that, they could decide your league. Last season we saw Leonard Fournette, Alvin Kamara, Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, and Joe Mixon jump on to the scene. This year’s crop may not have quite the impact, but there could easily be some league winners mixed in. Let’s take a look at this year’s class.
Saquon Barkley- Barkley is the cream of the crop. He will be a first-round pick in all leagues, and the upside is enormous. Take him and watch the points roll in.
Royce Freeman- Freeman has been flying up draft boards following a good first preseason games and positive reports from camp. He is a good physical runner, who should be in line for a lot of work in Denver’s revamped offense. Expect him to be the second rookie back off the board somewhere in the fifth round.
Sony Michel- Michel is tough to gauge because he’s injured and play’s for the Patriots. However, Bill Belichick did move up to get him. His ADP is quickly falling because of the injury, which may make him a value on draft day. Take Michel with confidence, but don’t expect him to help you a lot in the first half of the season.
Ronald Jones- Jones is in complete free fall after two rough preseason games. Peyton Barber is playing surprisingly well, but I’m confident Jones will eventually get this job. Again like Michel, don’t expect a whole lot early on. Jones will certainly get a chance at some point, you just have to be patient.
Kerryon Johnson- Johnson has been rising steadily after a good training camp and a solid preseason debut. The Lions running game has been suspect for years, but Johnson may be the one to turn that around. He will probably get a lot of the work early on, but Theo Riddick, LeGarrette Blount, Ameer Abdullah are all lurking just waiting to take touches away. Johnson has a wide range of outcomes. He could be a top 20 running back, but he could also be completely irrelevant.
Rashaad Penny- Penny is also dealing with an injury. He should be ready for Week 1, but Chris Carson will likely start. Penny was a first round pick, so his opportunity is coming, but the waiting game will likely be frustrating.
Nick Chubb- Chubb is really good, but being a backup on the Browns is not an ideal situation. If he get’s a chance he should be fine, but he may not get that chance in 2018.
All things considered, there is a lot of talent here, but a lot of the situations aren’t ideal. There will be a lot of waiting, which many owners don’t like to do. If you can handle the waiting feel free to invest, but save yourself the frustration if you can’t. Just keep in mind that the fantasy playoffs aren’t until December. A lot will change between now and then, and most of it will be for the positive when it comes to these rookie running backs.