2019 RUNNING BACKS - Rookies and Redshirts

Fantasy4um is back! Get ready for this year's draft with 2019's fantasy football rookie and second year running backs.  Value picks, keepers, and sleepers to be had!

Round 1, Pick 24, 24th overall (Oakland Raiders): Joshua Jacobs, RB, University of Alabama
40 games played
RUSHING: 251 attempts, 1491 yards, 5.9 yards per carry (ypc), 16TD
RECEIVING: 48 receptions, 571 yards, 11.9 yards per reception, 5TD

Jacobs is almost a carbon copy of his teammate Damien Harris, right down to Jacobs' size at 5'10", 220lbs (Harris weighs 216lbs at 5'10").  Jacobs runs with the same power, tenacity and elusiveness.  The difference is he's a little less patient and prefers to initiate contact with defenders instead of making them miss.  This could be a detriment to him at the pro level.  However, Jacobs doesn't have much of an injury history other than an ankle injury last year, and he still has plenty of tread left.  His stats aren't quite as good as Harris' because he split time with Harris in Alabama's backfield.  Make no mistake, Jacobs can do everything Harris can.  He can run, juke, and truck his way to the endzone, but he can also protect his quarterback when called upon.  He should be a huge asset to Derek Carr as a rusher, receiver, and in pass protection, and he should immediately slide into the starting spot ahead of Doug Martin, Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington.  Gruden's creative mind and Oakland's need for pass protection should keep Harris on the field for the majority of the time.  This kid's background and upbringing exposed him to plenty of adversity growing up.  He overcame that adversity to become a first round pick in the NFL Draft.  He'll need that mental fortitude to help him overcome the setbacks that come with a team that's rebuilding from the ground up.  Harris is a tough, talented, hard working kid who can rank inside the top 25 fantasy running backs, and top 75 players in the draft.  He could go as early as the 2nd round in leagues of 14 teams or more.

Round 2, Pick 21, 53rd overall (Philadelphia Eagles): Miles Sanders, RB, Penn State University
36 games played
RUSHING: 276 attempts, 1649 yards, 6.0 yards per carry (ypc), 12TD
RECEIVING: 32 receptions, 193 yards, 6.0 yards per reception, 1TD

It's never easy following in someone's footsteps, especially when that someone is generational player Saquon Barkley.  Sanders spent most of his time at Penn State in Barkley's shadow and never really got to shine until he took on the role of lead back during his last year at Penn State.  He seized that opportunity by posting nearly 1300 yards and 9 touchdowns on the ground.  Sanders is a phenomenal back in his own right.  At 5'11", 215lbs, he's big, fast, explosive and elusive.  He's extremely difficult to tackle in the open field and doesn't go down without a fight.  He's usually brought down by a group and falls forward when he finally does go down.  He can run between the tackles or bounce it outside, and he's a great receiver out of the backfield.  He's extremely athletic, has quick feet, and uses jump cuts to get skinny and exploit small openings.  Some teams may see his lack of experience as a detriment and his pass protection can be an issue in some schemes.  Nevertheless, Philly got an absolute steal because his tape says he's one of the most naturally gifted backs in the draft.  Unfortunately he could get lost in the shuffle somewhere with Jordan Howard, Wendell Smallwood, and Josh Adams.  Sanders is in a training camp battle for the starting spot.  However, if the Eagles usage of backs their last few seasons is indicative of future use, there may not be a feature/starting back.  Miles Sanders isn't worth picking up before the third round in most drafts.

Round 3, Pick 6, 70th overall (Los Angeles Rams): Darrell Henderson, RB, University of Memphis
38 games played
RUSHING: 431 attempts, 3545 yards, 8.2 yards per carry (ypc), 36TD
RECEIVING: 63 receptions, 758 yards, 12.0 yards per reception, 8TD

Darrell Henderson is one of the most explosive, most electrifying back in some time.  He rushed for over 1900 yards and 22 touchdowns, dominating the competition during his senior year.  During that time, he rushed for 188 yards or more in 5 games, averaged 146.8 yards per game, 8.9 yards per carry and nearly 2 total touchdowns per game!  He's also a proven route runner and receiver as well, adding 758 yards and 8 scores on 63 catches during his time at Memphis.  That puts him at the top, if not near the top of this year's crop of running backs.  At 5'8", 208lbs, he could be described as a bowling ball.  The legs on this shifty runner are a blur.  He can stop on a dime and cut it back to make defenders miss, turning good tackling angles into bad ones.  He's tough, stout, patient, and a proven weapon.  He'll be a true sleeper this year if he flies under the radar and gets an opportunity to start.  For now he's a late round handcuff to Todd Gurley.  However, he does run with power and style similar style to C.J. Anderson, who saw success late last year.  He could post similar fantasy numbers if Gurley goes down again.

Round 3, Pick 10, 73rd overall (Chicago Bears): David Montgomery, RB, Iowa State University
37 games played
RUSHING: 624 attempts, 2925 yards, 4.7 yards per carry (ypc), 26TD
RECEIVING: 71 receptions, 582 yards, 8.2 yards per reception, 0TD

At 5'11", 216lbs, David Montgomery is the typical size of a big league back.  He's done a nice job of running for the cyclones, compiling roughly 2500 of his nearly 3000 rushing yards and 24 of his 26 scores on the ground in his last 2 years.  He's a shifty, athletic back who loves using jump cuts and stop-stutter-sidestep combos to make defenders miss, forcing the most missed tackles in college football in 2017 and 2018.  He also runs tough and he's great after contact.  If he's at the goal line, he'll go up and over a wall of defenders if he can't go through them.  Either way, his athleticism is undeniable and he has a nose for the endzone.  Give him the ball and he'll fall forward to gain those extra one or two yards after he's stopped, which could mean the difference between a punt, a first down, or a touchdown in a game of inches.  While Montgomery is a perfect fit for the Bears' offense, his opportunities remain to be determined.  However, he should get more opportunities than his predecessor, Jordan Howard.  Howard was the sledgehammer who pounded the ball between the tackles.  He was the thunder to Tarik Cohen's lightning.  Montgomery is a hybrid of the two who can run with power when he needs to, but he's also a pass catcher who prefers to make guys miss instead of lowering his shoulder.  Jordan Howard's departure leaves 200 touches to be reassigned to the Bears' backfield, and David Montgomery could get the majority of those.  Yes, Chicago's running back situation is starting to look more like new England's, but Montgomery's chances should come sooner rather than later.  He's certainly worth taking as early as round 4 in leagues of 12 teams or more.

Round 3, Pick 11, 74th overall (Buffalo Bills): Devin Singletary, RB, Florida Atlantic University
38 games played
RUSHING: 714 attempts, 4287 yards, 6.0 yards per carry (ypc), 66TD
RECEIVING: 51 receptions, 397 yards, 7.8 yards per reception, 1TD

Two words: Pocket Hercules.  For those who aren't familiar, Pocket Hurcules aka Maurice Jones Drew paved the way for all of the small backs that followed him.  At 5'7", 203lbs, Devin Singletary will try to carry on the lineage of small, elusive, powerful backs like Tarik Cohen and Phillip Lindsay.  He dominated the competition during his career at Florida Atlantic by carrying the ball over 700 times for nearly 4300 yards and an eye-popping 66 touchdowns through 38 games in 3 years.  He even posted over 1900 yards and 32 touchdowns on the ground through 14 games during his sophomore campaign.  Those numbers demand respect no matter what conference he played in.  He has plenty of juke and looks every bit the part of an NFL scat back.  Chances are he'll be efficient with the ball with the limited touches he does get, and he'll try to mimic the successes of Lindsay and Cohen.  Those touches might come sooner rather than later though because he's the heir-apparent to future Hall of Famer and oft-injured LeSean McCoy.  Now entering his 11th season, Shady turned 31 this year and saw a significant dropoff in his production partially due to the horrendous play of his offensive line and plenty of eight-man boxes.  There's also a real threat of a timeshare developing in the Bills' backfield.  Singletary might need to fight off T.J. Yeldon and future hall-of-famer Frank Gore for the backup spot behind Shady.  With so many variables in play, Singletary is a high risk high reward prospect whose chances could come sooner rather than later. He's certainly worth a dart throw in all formats and all but the smallest leagues.

Round 3, Pick 24, 87th overall (New England Patriots): Damien Harris, RB, University of Alabama
54 games played
RUSHING: 477 attempts, 3070 yards, 6.4 yards per carry (ypc), 23TD
RECEIVING: 52 receptions, 407 yards, 7.8 yards per reception, 2TD

Harris is a complete back.  Runner, receiver and in pass protection, Harris has it all and he does it all.  At 5'10", 216lbs, he has great size, speed, and power.  He has quick feet which makes him elusive, but he'll also drop his shoulder and truck a defender.  He's patient enough to wait for a gap to open up, and then he'll hit it with a quick burst when it finally does.  He runs with great vision, which should help him stay healthy at the pro level.  He's tough to bring down and must be gang-tackled.  Not only does he have the power to hit a hole hard, but he can also catch the ball coming out of the backfield.  He comes from a long line of runners like Mark Ingram, Derrick Henry, and Kenyan Drake, so fantasy owners can bet the pedigree will be there.  The thing is the opportunities might not be.  New England loves to delegate to a stable of backs.  Harris will be in the mix with Michel, White, Burkhead and Bolden, but the Patriots usually go to fresh legs later on in the season, so Harris could get more opportunities as the season wears on, especially if they have a playoff spot locked up, making Harris a decent pick especially in the middle or later rounds of 12 team leagues.

Round 3, Pick 39, 102nd overall (Minnesota Vikings): Alexander Matteson, RB, Boise State University
38 games played
RUSHING: 581 attempts, 2829 yards, 4.9 yards per carry (ypc), 33TD
RECEIVING: 60 receptions, 511 yards, 8.5 yards per reception, 1TD

Matteson is the underrated back who wasn't on anyone's radar heading into the combine.  At 5'11", 221lbs, the Boise State product fits the bill.  His 4.67 40 time is slightly slower than average and doesn't have breakaway speed, but he has just enough juice to get it done.  He's not spectacular at one particular thing, but he does everything well.  He's twitchy yet powerful.  He can drop his shoulder to run someone over, but he can also hurdle defenders.  He takes plenty of handoffs but he's also involved in the passing game.  There are questions about whether or not he can get it done at the next level, where guys are bigger, faster, and stronger.  The Vikings drafted Dalvin Cook 2 years ago, but Cook hasn't played a full season.  Mattison was drafted presumably for depth, but there's a very real possibility of a timeshare happening here.  At the moment, Cook assumes the lead back role, making Mattison a handcuff to be drafted in the later rounds in deep leagues.  However, his chances could come sooner rather than later with Cook's injury history.

Round 4, Pick 10, 112nd overall (Washington Redskins): Bryce Love, RB, University of Stanford
49 games played
RUSHING: 569 attempts, 3865 yards, 6.8 yards per carry (ypc), 30TD
RECEIVING: 49 receptions, 465 yards, 9.5 yards per reception, 2TD

Bryce Love might be the latest running back to join the Redskins' backfield curse.  For one reason or another, Washington's running backs haven't produced for years now.  Adrian Peterson, Matt Jones, Samaje Perine, Chris Thompson and Derrius Guice have either struggled or haven't seen the field.  Love is the latest in a line of running backs to be drafted to replace Alfred Morris.  The speedster and former track star out of Stanford has plenty of ability as evidenced by his 2017 campaign when he rushed for over 2,100 yards and averaged over eight yards per carry.  He can catch it out of the backfield too.  He reeled in 20 passes for 99 yards during his 2018 campaign alone.  Sadly, the best ability in fantasy football is availability.  Love produced 866 yards from scrimmage or less during each of his other 3 seasons partially because he was hobbled by injuries.  This could be the case in Washington as well.  Love could struggle to work his way up the depth chart, if he can stay healthy.  His offensive line might not do him any favors either.  The Redskins had fourteen different offensive linemen play snaps in 2018 and did little in the draft or during the off-season to address their needs.  Love can be left on the wire unless Peterson, Jones, Perine, Guice, and Thompson all get hurt.

Round 4, Pick 11, 113th overall (Baltimore Ravens): Justice Hill, RB, Oklahoma State University
36 games played
RUSHING: 632 attempts, 3539 yards, 5.6 yards per carry (ypc), 30 TD
RECEIVING: 39 receptions, 304 yards, 6.2 yards per reception, 1TD

Justice Hill is a speedy, shifty, explosive back that can take handoffs and catch it out of the backfield.  He's an extremely balanced runner who uses his quick feet and stiff arm to make guys miss.  Defenders typically end up in a foot race with Hill and, when he finally is tackled, he typically falls forward to fight for that extra yard or two after contact.  However, this particular back does prefer  to bounce it outside and work in open space rather than run between the tackles.  At 5'10" and 190lbs, he's roughly 20-30lbs lighter than his fellow running backs in this year's class.  In theory, he could pack on some extra weight and get up to 200 even, but his speed and agility could suffer as a result.  He should find a complimentary role with the Ravens.  Unfortunately Baltimore has a stable of backs that includes Mark Ingram, Gus Bradley and Kenneth Dixon.  Opportunities could be hard to come by.  He should only be drafted in later rounds or left on the wire.

Round 4, Pick 20, 122nd overall (Pittsburgh Steelers): Benny Snell Jr, RB, University of Kentucky
39 games played
RUSHING: 737 attempts, 3783 yards, 5.3 yards per carry (ypc), 48TD
RECEIVING: 29 receptions, 216 yards, 7.4 yards per reception, 0TD

For potential NFL teams and fantasy owners that question the toughness of Snell's competition, it should be noted that he dominated that competition by posting nearly 50 TD's on just 39 games played and averaged 5.3 yards per carry during that span.  He made the Wildcats' offense go.  Sure, Kentucky is known more for for basketball than for football, but that shouldn't nullify his body of work.  At 5'10", 223lbs, he fits the mold of an every-down back in the NFL and he's proven he can do just that.  He's had nearly 1.5x as many attempts as Damien Harris and has posted the stats to match, doubling Harris' touchdown total.  Snell has the burst and power to run between the tackles but he also has the speed to get around the edge and use his stutter step to make defenders miss.  While he may lack lateral quickness, he's still shifty enough and shrugs off single-arm tackles.  Snell slots in behind Conner and Samuels though, which means he may never get on the field.  Moreover, the Steelers really haven't figured out what they're going to do with Samuels because he's so versatile.  Snell can remain on the wire thanks to all of the question marks.

Round 4, Pick 26, 128th overall (Dallas Cowboys): Tony Pollard, RB, University of Memphis
40 games played
RUSHING: 139 attempts, 941 yards, 6.8 yards per carry (ypc), 9TD
RECEIVING: 104 receptions, 1292 yards, 12.4 yards per reception, 9TD

At 6'0", 210lbs, Pollard is built more like a stocky receiver than an NFL running back because he was a receiver during his career as a Memphis Tiger.  It's tough to pigeonhole Pollard into just one position though.  He's a receiver who can run, but he's also a running back who can catch.  He's taken handoffs, pitches, and caught passes out of the backfield, but he also runs routes.  The best way to describe him is a playmaker.  He averaged nearly 7 yards per carry and a healthy 9.2 yards per touch.  He has enough speed and burst to get around the edge and cut it upfield.  Perhaps his biggest contribution is on special teams as a returner.  He's absolutely electric in the open field with the ball in his hands.  Some have argued that the Cowboys reached for Pollard in the 4th round.  However, it's safe to say the Tavon Austin experiment as a returner has failed and there isn't much depth behind Zeke at running back.  Dallas needed backfield depth and return ability when they drafted Pollard.  Unfortunately that doesn't bode well for his fantasy potential unless he's drafted in a league that counts return stats and miscellaneous touchdowns.  Otherwise Pollard can be drafted as a Zeke handcuff or simply left on the wire.

Round 5, Pick 2, 140th overall (Jacksonville Jaguars): Ryquell Armstead, RB, Temple University
46 games played
RUSHING: 573 attempts, 2812 yards, 4.9 yards per carry (ypc), 34TD
RECEIVING: 29 receptions, 175 yards, 6.0 yards per reception, 0TD

Ryquell "Rock" Armstead is one of those guys that runs much bigger than his size.  He's an aggressive runner who loves to run through defenders instead of around them.  At 5'11", 215lbs, he's a stout, well-built runner through and through.  He has great footwork that keeps him moving long after contact, but he's also a shifty runner who can make guys miss.  His meager numbers are explained by his backfield situation.  He wasn't truly the Owls' bellcow until his senior year, during which he posted nearly 1100 yards and 13 touchdowns on 210 carries, averaging 5.2 yards per carry.  However, there are some defects in his game.  His hyper-aggressive running style means he doesn't always let blocks develop in front of him.  Instead, he'll run into a pile and prefer to push it with his power like DeAngelo Williams.  This makes Armstead an old-school power back who can pound the rock up the middle.  Although he's smaller than Leonard Fournette, Armstead's running style makes him a very similar back.  At the moment, Armstead is simply a Fournette handcuff.  However, he could get the start sooner rather than later with Fournette's injury history and not a lot of depth in the Jaguars' backfield.

Round 5, Pick 14, 152nd overall (Atlanta Falcons): Qadree Ollison, RB, University of Pittsburgh
49 games played
RUSHING: 529 attempts, 2859 yards, 5.4 yards per carry (ypc), 29TD
RECEIVING: 50 receptions, 375 yards, 7.5 yards per reception, 3TD

At 6'1", 228lbs, Ollison is an absolute basher.  He's a hard-nosed battering ram who runs between the tackles.  He turns small openings into big gains by using his brute strength.  He knows how to leverage his size to gain extra yards after contact and he's tough for any single defender to bring down on their own.  While he doesn't have the wheels to house it, he knows how to power forward and he can drag defenders with him.  He's an old school power back in every sense, but he's just elusive enough to cut it back or make the first guy miss.  He's shown he can catch it too, posting 375 yards and 3 touchdowns on 50 receptions.  So what's not to like?  The issue here is Atlanta's backfield and offensive line.  The Falcons already have Devonta Freeman and Ito Smith, who are both smaller, hard-running scatbacks.  Tevin Coleman's departure left a role of a one-cut, downhill power back who can catch it out of the backfield that needed to be filled, and Ollison does exactly that.  Buyer beware: the Falcons' backfield is a timeshare so Ollison might fill a role, but his chances are limited.  The play of his offensive line might also be a bit shoddy, but the Falcons Hope they've addressed this issue with a couple of draft picks.  The Falcons averaged 98.3 rushing yards per game, which was fifth worst in the league.  The additions of fellow rookies Chris Lindstrom at guard and Kaleb McGary at Tackle are supposed to help address the issue, but it remains to be determined how big a difference they'll actually make.  These unknowns make Ollison a late round flier who could end up in a 3 way timeshare.

Round 5, Pick 16, 154th overall (Carolina Panthers): Jordan Scarlett, RB, University of Florida
35 games played
RUSHING: 344 attempts, 1846 yards, 5.4 yards per carry (ypc), 12TD
RECEIVING: 15 receptions, 108 yards, 7.2 yards per reception, 0TD

Jordan Scarlett is possibly one of the best athletes in the draft.  At 5'11", 210lbs, he has unusually quick speed for his size.  He has phenomenal footwork and can spin, twist, stutter, or shake his way out of any trouble.  He's a patient runner who knows how to use his blocks, and he often pushes the pile by using those quick feet and strong lower body.  He's tough to bring down and easily slips out of tackles.  There were a couple of factors that contributed to his uninspiring numbers.  First, he was a part of a Gators backfield that was a full-on timeshare.  There just wasn't enough to go around.  Second, he was sidelined by a suspension for all of 2017 due to a credit card fraud scheme involving former Florida teammate Antonio Callaway.  Scarlett has power, speed, and the incredible athleticism needed to make it in the NFL.  However, the best ability is availability which will lead pro football to question whether or not he can keep himself out of trouble and on the football field.  At the moment he's stuck behind Christian McCaffrey on the Panthers depth chart and probably worth leaving on the wire unless the Panthers make the playoffs.  Scartlett might not get touches until then, given McCaffery's durability.

Round 6, Pick 9, 182nd overall (Cincinnati Bengals): Trayveon Williams, RB, University of Texas A&M
38 games played
RUSHING: 600 attempts, 3615 yards, 6.0 yards per carry (ypc), 34TD
RECEIVING: 66 receptions, 561 yards, 8.5 yards per reception, 1TD

The Bengals parted ways with Gio Bernard and need a replacement to fill the complimentary change of pace back behind Joe Mixon.  Enter Trayveon Williams.  The former Aggie has some impressive numbers.  He averaged six yards per carry and has 66 catches to his name.  At 5'8", 206lbs, he's very similar to Bernard's 5'9, 205lbs and they have similar playing styles as well.  He does have a couple of drawbacks though.  He's not as twitchy as guys like Darrell Henderson or Devin Singletary, which may have dropped him to the later rounds.  He's definitely not as hard-charging as Mike Davis and has average vision.  All of these things could end up hurting his chances of getting on the field.  Mixon is the clear starter, making Tray a speculative pickup or handcuff, but also a decent dart throw in PPR leagues.

Round 6, Pick 13, 186nd overall (Detroit Lions): Ty Johnson, RB, University of Maryland
43 games played
RUSHING: 348 attempts, 2635 yards, 7.6 yards per carry (ypc), 17TD
RECEIVING: 29 receptions, 318 yards 11.0 yards per reception, 2TD

Ty was the man in Maryland for nearly 3 years.  At 5'10" 208lbs, he does come with some size concerns for a starting back in the NFL, but then again so do a lot of the backs in this year's class.  He's a fairly shifty runner who uses jump cuts and his ability to follow blocks and avoid contact in the backfield to rip off chunk yardage.  He has one of the best averages for yards per carry in this year's class and certainly showed he could be a big play threat.  He's versatile as a kick returner as well.  He regularly took on kick return duties and reached paydirt twice during his time as a Terp.  His running style isn't explosive or flashy, but it's subtle and efficient enough to get the job done.  Still, he needs to work on his pass protection and his running at the second level. 

Round 6, Pick 22, 194th overall (Green Bay Packers): Dexter Williams, RB, University of Notre Dame
35 games played
RUSHING: 257 attempts, 1636 yards, 6.4 yards per carry (ypc), 20TD
RECEIVING: 22 receptions, 162 yards, 7.4 yards per reception, 2TD

Williams didn't get the start until his senior year at Notre Dame, which explains his rather pedestrian numbers.  The 5'11", 215lb back certainly made use of his opportunity though.  During his senior campaign, he rushed for 995 yards and 12 touchdowns, and added another 133 yards and a touchdown on 16 catches.  That would've put him on pace for over 4500 yards from scrimmage and nearly 50 touchdowns.  Make no mistake, Williams is a complete weapon who could be a real asset in his new backfield.  He runs tough and he can pound it between the tackles or bounce it outside.  He keeps his legs moving, moves the pile, and carries defenders with him on his back.  He's also quick and explosive.  He has an incredible first and second step and can exploit the smallest running lanes.  He's not the most elusive, but he's shifty enough and has the breakaway speed needed for house calls.  He's an underrated back who could be overloooked because of his stats, but he'll be able to use his size-strength-speed combo to make it at the pro level.  The Packers have been in desperate need of a running back and absolutely stole him in the sixth round.  Williams can do some serious damage if the Packers can get some decent blocking up front.  Moreover, he's a pass catcher who's a good fit for LaFleur's scheme.  He can also be a safety valve that Rodgers so desperately needs.

Round 6, Pick 32, 204th overall (Seattle Seahawks): Travis Homer, RB, University of Miami
35 games played
RUSHING: 257 attempts, 1636 yards, 6.4 yards per carry (ypc), 20TD
RECEIVING: 22 receptions, 162 yards, 7.4 yards per reception, 2TD

At 5'10", 201lbs, Travis Homer has 4.48 speed, giving him a size-speed combination rarer than most.  He's a hard-charging back who turns small gaps into big gains.  He's a patient runner who let's openings and blocks develop in front of him.  He has good power and he can run through or shed weaker tackle attempts.  He falls forward to gain extra yards as well.  There are some things that hold him back though.  He runs with average vision and he doesn't always pick the clearest path to daylight.  His size and speed may have helped him get out of some jams, but that will be tougher to do at the next level.  Perhaps his biggest issue is his drops. He's a bit like Alex Collins in that sense because the running ability and power are there, but his ability to hang on to the ball isn't.  He might not get many chances anyway.  Chris Carson is the lead back in Seattle, and Rashaad Penny and CJ Procise are ahead of Homer on the depth chart.  He can be left on the wire.

Round 6, Pick 39, 211th overall (Cincinnati Bengals): Rodney Anderson, RB, University of Oklahoma
17 games played
RUSHING: 200 attempts, 1285 yards, 6.4 yards per carry (ypc), 16TD
RECEIVING: 17 receptions, 281 yards, 16.5 yards per reception, 5TD

First and foremost, Anderson is a head down, straight ahead, run-through tackles power back at 6'0", 224lbs.  He's an absolute load who's difficult for one defender to bring down.  He easily slips through arm tackles and falls forward or drag defenders with him to gain precious yards after contact.  He's not elusive or shifty, but he doesn't need to be when he can just run through guys.  He's not just power, though.  He's an accomplished pass catcher who caught the bulk of his 17 passes, 281 yards, and three of his five receiving touchdowns during his sophomore year.  He's also a patient runner who allows plays to develop and read his blocks so he can exploit the openings.  Sadly, his production was hindered by leg injuries during his freshman and junior years.  He also struggles in pass blocking and his running style isn't explosive.  He's like DeMarco Murray in that it takes him time and a few steps to get up to his top speed.  He's not a stop and go guy.  Instead, he's a freight train that's hard to stop.  He'll be a complimentary back to Tray Williams if Joe Mixon goes down.  The Bengals were below average rushing the ball last year, and Anderson could help fix that with brute strength.  His chances will be few and far in between though unless Joe Mixon goes down.  He's a deep league flier at the moment.

Round 6, Pick 42, 214th overall (Kansas City Chiefs): Darwin Thompson, RB, Utah State University
13 games played
RUSHING: 153 attempts, 1044 yards, 6.8 yards per carry (ypc), 14TD
RECEIVING: 23 receptions, 351 yards, 15.3 yards per reception, 2TD

At 5'8", 200lbs, Thompson is an undersized back with underrated speed.  He's a bit of a pinball.  He's a small, stocky, powerful back who runs low through the piles and bounces off of the first tackle attempt. He'll then proceed to bounce around inside of the pile until he emerges on the other side of the pile or is taken down by multiple defenders.  Once he finds daylight though, he uses his speed to beat defenders in a foot race to the endzone.  There are a couple of drawbacks to drafting Thompson though. First, he transferred from Northeastern Oklahoma University where he rushed for nearly 1400 yards and 8 touchdowns, but that school and it's division doesn't scream football powerhouse.  The other thing is his lack of vision and ability to sniff out a running lane.  He makes contact with defenders because he must instead of finding the quickest, most open lane to daylight.  The vision and burst aren't always there.  Nevertheless, the Chiefs took him at the end of the 6th round and it's easy to see why.  Andy Reid must have seen something in Thompson that was Shady-esque.  Thompson can be a deep sleeper and make a name for himself if he has the right coaching.  Unfortunately, Damien Williams and Carlos Hyde stand in the way of Thompson's opportunities.  He's a speculative add in PPR or keeper leagues only.


Guys like Saquon Barkley, Nick Chubb, and Phillip Lindsay are no brainers.  They're projected to take the starting jobs on their respective teams.  Barkley was worth every penny whether he was drafted in the first or second round.  Lindsay on the other hand was such a deep sleeper that chances are his owner hadn't heard of him before week 7 of the 2018 season.  He scored touchdowns in multiple games and had a couple of games with more than one touchdown.  Lindsay should be a contributor on all fantasy teams.  What about the rest of the guys who were drafted by NFL teams last year? Where do they stand?

Kerryon Johnson's disappointing rookie campaign  was the  product of 3 things: Detroit's timeshare (Johnson, Blount, Riddick, Zenner), an injury he suffered in week 11 against the Panthers, and his team's horrible offensive line play.  The Lions put him on IR mid December and ended his disappointing rookie campaign.  He had just 2 games where he rushed for over 100 yards, and 3 touchdowns.  At 5'11", 208lbs, he definitely did not play at his potential as a downhill power back.  Hopefully the hiring of Darrell Bevell as offensive coordinator will do some good.  He called the plays that helped the Seahawks finish top five in rushing during 4 of his 7 years as OC in Seattle.  Nevertheless, Bevell has his work cut out for him working with one of the worst offensive lines in the league.  Johnson is worth rolling the dice on, but Riddick threatens to take receptions away, and Blount could vulture touchdowns.  Blount shouldn't go higher than the third round of any draft with 12 teams or more.

ITO SMITH, RB, Atlanta Falcons
Smith should see a lot more action now with Tevin Coleman gone.  The Falcons have gone with a committee approach the past few years.  In addition, Smith's size and playing style are both similar to Devonta Freeman's, who has found success running in his offensive system.  Smith is a tough, bowling ball of a back who can run between the tackles and catch it out of the backfield, much like Freeman can.  He's not the most elusive back, but he can make guys miss.  He posted 315 yards and 4 touchdowns on 90 carries, and added another 152 yards on 27 catches as a rookie.  If he gets all of Coleman's touches, he'd be in a timeshare with Freeman.  If Freeman gets hurt, Smith would be the next man up.

JAYLEN SAMUELS, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
At the moment, Samuel is projected to be the backup to James Conner again this year.  However, some have argued that Samuels is the better back.  He did play tight end during his time at North Carolina State and did well at the position, catching 201 passes for 1851 yards and 19 scores there.  Of course he was drafted in the fifth round last year as a running back and only saw touches after James Conner went down.  If Conner is sidelined at any point again this year, Samuels should get the call to start.  In the meantime he's definitely worth owning has Conner's handcuff in all leagues.  He could also face some tough competition from rookie Benny Snell.

KALEN BALLAGE, RB, Miami Dolphins
Ballage showed flashes last year, pulling up 123 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries against the Minnesota Vikings.  He averaged over 10 yards a carry and dirt against the tough Minnesota front while they were still fighting for a playoff spot. The shows that Ballage does have the makings of an NFL starter. Unfortunately he got stuck behind Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake. This year, with Gore gone, the laws should have more opportunities to showcase his skills. At this point, he appears to be in a timeshare with Drake, but Drake has never shown the ability to be an every-down back. Given Drake's injury history, Ballage could get more opportunities sooner rather than later.  He'll be an interesting mid-to-late round sleeper who can run away with a starting job as soon as Drake gets hurt.

DERRIUS GUICE, RB, Washington Redskins
Guice's 2018 campaign was over before it even began. He tore his ACL during training camp and never got on the field during the regular season. As training camp winds down the season, he'll try to make the most of this opportunity again.  Still, the Redskins backfield curse could hobble Guice again.  Hopefully he can shake the stigma or curse and power his way forward to a successful first NFL season.  On paper, he remains an excellent dual-threat running back who's a great fit in Jon Gruden's offense.

RONALD JONES, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jones didn't do much during his rookie campaign.  He rushed 23 times for just 44 yards and a touchdown, averaging less than 2 yards per carry.  He was forced to shut it down the second half of the year thanks to a hamstring injury.  His offensive line didn't do him any favors either.  The Buccaneers ranked 29th out of 32 teams in rushing yards per game, averaging just 95.2.  They also averaged 3.9 yards per carry which ranked second to last in the league.  Only the Cardinals were worse.  Fortunately a new season brings a new coach and a new offensive system.  David Johnson thrived in Bruce Arians' offense.  Hopefully he can work his magic with Winston, Jones, and the rest of the offense and finally get it on track.  Barber is back on a one year deal, but Jones is clearly the more talented back and the starting job is presumably his to lose.  He's worth scooping up as high as the third round if he's available.

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