Last season, standouts like Ezekiel Elliott, Jordan Howard and Derrick Henry were just a few of the rookies to put up solid numbers for fantasy owners. As we head towards the NFL Draft, let’s take a look at the incoming rookie class of running backs and their potential fantasy contributions. After the Draft, we will re-evaluate rookie fantasy value based on the teams that select them.
Leonard Fournette (LSU): Fournette’s injury issues kept him from playing a full final season, but he still managed 843 yards and eight touchdowns in 2016 to follow up a 2015 season where he racked up 22 touchdowns and nearly broke 2,000 yards. His ability to create plays, coupled with this speed and athleticism, will allow him to contribute immediately to an NFL team and a fantasy roster.
Dalvin Cook (Florida State): Cook is near uncatchable in open space, thanks to exceptional speed and impressive footwork. His ability to create plays and escape defenders makes him incredibly valuable. He had 1,765 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2016 after posting 1,691 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2015. He is a big play back with the potential to contribute to the receiving game as well.
Joe Mixon (Oklahoma): Despite his off-field improprieties, Mixon is a dual-threat option who can make plays anywhere on the field. He had 1,274 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns in 2016, along with 538 receiving yards and five receiving touchdowns. The right team taking a chance on Mixon could allow him to develop into a huge fantasy asset.
Christian McCaffrey (Stanford): McCaffrey might be the most versatile back in this draft class. He tallied 2,019 yards and eight touchdowns in 2015 after 1,603 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2016. He also contributed to the receiving game and special teams as a punt and kick returner. In the right scheme, McCaffrey could be explosive and impact nearly every facet of the game.
Alvin Kamara (Tennessee): Kamara is another back that creates his own plays. He had 596 yards and nine touchdowns on only 103 attempts in 2016, along with 392 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns. Injuries kept him from competing at 100%, but he could be hugely successful at the next level if he can stay healthy.
D’Onta Foreman (Texas): Foreman broke free for 2,028 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2016. Slimming down to 234 lbs. for Texas’ pro day, Foreman ran an impressive 4.45 in the 40-yard dash. He is a big back, elusive and quick for his size. He is dangerous in open space and has good vision. (Plus, he ran for the good guys in college. Hook ‘em.)
What are your thoughts, Texans fans? Are there any other running backs you’re keeping an eye on in the 2017 NFL Draft? You can discuss in the comments section below.