Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte, Marshawn Lynch, Edgerrin James, Jerome Bettis, Joseph Addai, Maurice Jones-Drew, Warrick Dunn, Corey Dillon, Marshall Faulk, Kevin Smith.
What do the players on this list have in common?
Already know because of the title of the article?
Well they all had great rookie seasons in the NFL! What does this mean for you, the fantasy owner?
The Colts have a great history of turning first round RB selections into fantasy sweethearts. Don't miss out on Donald Brown in the sixth or seventh round.
The problem fantasy owners face with these rookies is picking the ones who will prosper and avoiding the busts. There is one factor that heavily determines a rookie running back's success and that is the number of carries he sees a game. It is important to try and find the rookies who will get the most carries to show off their skill set. Even if a guy has a world of talent, he can't do much with only 80 carries.
Which rookie running backs will teams rely on this year?
Donald Brown IND - Forget everything you know about fantasy sports and look at the Brown/Addai situation in the Colts' perspective. They just came out of a year where their running game was shameful and the whole offense suffered because of it. The Colts took the bull by the horns and drafted a guy in the first round.
Here is the thing about the NFL draft: A team does not draft a first round player to be a backup. The Colts quietly expect Brown to carry a very important role in this offense this year. Even first round QBs are expected to produce in their first year. The Colts will give 12-15 touches a game for Brown and he will be a fantasy stud this year. Having Brown available in the middle rounds in fantasy drafts gives owners the chance to grab a couple of elite wide receivers early on before going for their running backs corps.
Beanie Wells ARI - The only thing missing from Arizona is a power running game. Wells brings that to Arizona. Now that Edge is gone, Arizona will need someone to lean on. Don't be foolish to think Tim Hightower is the future of that franchise. Hightower lacks the general explosiveness that Wells has and is better suited as a short yardage back. Wells will be the go-to guy by the fourth week and will see 20 touches a game...as long as he stays healthy. I'm skeptical Wells can stay healthy the whole year but his upside makes him worth a shot.
Knowshon Moreno DEN - The new kid in Denver's backfield might be the most talented rookie rusher this year but he also has the biggest logjam to navigate through to become the go-to guy. Moreno has Correll Buckhalter, LaMont Jordan and Peyton Hillis to beat out in training camp. Moreno definitely has the biggest skill set out of these guys but it isn't a sure thing that he will get the starting job. It is important for us to watch the team in the preseason to see who performs the best.
In years past, drafting a RB from Denver has been a death sentence because of Shanahan's game planning. With McDaniels, it may stay that way. During McDaniels' time in New England, there was never really a featured running back. I wouldn't be surprised if there were two or three guys running the ball for Denver.
LeSean McCoy PHI- McCoy may be the least saught-out rookie from this group but he has the potential to have the biggest impact on our fantasy teams. As you know, Westbrook has a lot of miles on him and his durability is questionable. If Westbrook ever goes down this year, McCoy would not only start in his place but he'd get around 22 touches per game until Westbrook came back. Even better, if he performs well in those games where Westbrook is absent, the team may decide to steal carries away from Westbrook when he comes back and give them to McCoy. McCoy is a great upside pick in the 10th round.
It seems like every year there is a rusher who emerges from the rookies and becomes a hero. It is a viable strategy this year to go for wide receivers early and depend on the running backs available in the 3rd-6th rounds. Don't be afraid to draft these unknown names because you could get lucky and strike gold.