5 Rookie Running Backs for Your Fantasy Draft

PALO ALTO, CA - NOVEMBER 26: Christian McCaffrey
PALO ALTO, CA - NOVEMBER 26: Christian McCaffrey /

Drafting rookie running backs in fantasy football is typically a touch and go situation. Not every rookie will excel his first year in the league. 

This season could be very different for fantasy football owners. In a top running back class, these players could excel.

Running backs seemed to be a dying breed in the NFL over the past few years. In fantasy football, the first round used to be dominated by running backs. Now wide receivers are dominating, but that opens the door to take high producing running backs at different stages of the draft. This was a great rookie class for running backs and it should be a great fantasy year for 5 backs in particular

1. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers

McCaffrey is a stud. And at the end of the season the numbers will prove it. McCaffrey is fast, elusive and can catch the ball extremely well. The Panthers gave Cam Newton a great weapon and should take some carries away from the star quarterback.

All he needs is 16-20 carries a game.  It wouldn’t be surprising if he led the league in carries for over 20 yards. Not to mention he’s instantly one of the team’s top receivers. He has great hands and in open space he’ll kill defenses in open space. It’s hard to judge where he’ll fall in the draft, but I’d be surprised if he doesn’t go early. If backs are being taken early, it wouldn’t be a stretch if he’s gone in the late second round, or early third.

2. Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars

Fournette has been the best running back in this draft class since he stepped foot on LSU’s campus. The highly touted back is a big, strong, physical running back who will punish defenders this season. Last season he was hit by the injury bug, but it wont effect him this season. In fact now he’s healthy and didn’t take the hits he would have if he was healthy last season.

The rocky offensive line of the Jags should concern the fantasy owners. But with the volume of carries he’ll have, it wont effect his fantasy output.  Fournette could be gone as early as round 3, depending on how fast backs are taken in your league. Ideally, you’d take him in round 4 or 5.

3. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings

Many thought Cook could have went in the first round of the NFL draft, instead he fell to the second round. Also, he fell to the perfect team. With Adrian Peterson down in New Orleans, it opens up the starting spot to the talented rookie. He’s quick, physical and has tremendous break away speed.

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Sam Bradford, who played well last season, needs a solid running game to be productive. With that said, the Vikings need Cook to produce in a big way. He’ll be carrying the rock early and often. Expect the rookie to be taken in the mid rounds of your fantasy draft.

4. Kareem Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs

Kareem Hunt could very well be the starter for a play off team that no one knows about. However, people might recognize him quickly as the season creeps upon us. He’s a quick back who could steal the show in Kansas City this season. With Jamal Charles out, someone needs to step up on the roster and the depth chart. It wouldn’t be shocking to see Hunt take that starting spot and not let go. Also, Hunt’s equipped with a great set of hands.

With Alex Smith still engraved as the team’s quarterback, Hunt could see a lot of passes thrown his way. Smith is the check down king, and given open space Hunt will make his fantasy owners very happy.  As a rookie with a non guaranteed role in the offense, he should be taken in he mid-late rounds.

5. D’Onta Foreman, Houston Texans

The third round running back could provide fantasy owners with flash backs of “The Vultcher” Mike Tolbert. Although he’s not going to pass starting running Lamar Miller, he could see plenty of red zone carries. He’s a big, powerful back at 6 foot and 230 pounds. He could steal a few of those touchdowns from Lamar Miller. As a wild card, it wouldn’t be smart to pick him up before the very late rounds of your fantasy draft.

Without a defendant role in the Texans offense, his production could vary. However, if in need of running back depth he could be a late round snag. Also he could be someone to look for in free agency.

As always, the training camp injury bug is out there. In that case there’s a few other backs to consider on a week to week bases.. In that case, other rookie running backs to keep an eye out for: Jeremy McNichols (Tampa Bay), Marion Mack (Indianapolis), and Wayne Gallman (New York Giants).