Are Rookie RBs worth Taking Early In Fantasy?
Everyone knows what Elliott and Howard did last year. They combined for 2,944 rushing yds. And 21 rushing TDs. Now I know what you are saying “But Pop, this has to be an outlier no way do rookies come in and dominate like that?” my answer is, maybe. Way to take a hard position Pop. In fantasy stats are king, but can be misleading. They can tell you something that looks great but is just an illusion. Yes, these players had fantastic years. Elliott lead the league and dominated behind that offensive line. He was also expected to do that well based on his ADP he was going in most places in the second round. Howard not as much. The Bears were a dumpster fire and never got much better yet Howard managed to finish second. If you managed to grab him on your waiver wire you were very happy. Still two players do not make a trend we will have to look at previous years.
2015 rushing leader … Adrian Peterson. AhHa!!!! See Pop Peterson is 800 years old no rookie impact here. That is true, however, at #4 on the list with 1,106 yards and 10 is the rookie with the Rams Todd Gurley. And let’s not forget quite possibly the most versatile RB in football David Johnson finished with a puny 676 rushing but you throw on 568 recv. and his 13 total TDs I would say a successful rookie year. So, two years in a row, must take a rookie RB now, right? Call me a doubting Thomas but I like to be a minimum 0f 90% before I commit.
2014 rushing leader … Demarco Murray. The rookie that had an impact in 2014 Jeremy Hill with 1,124 and 9 The other rookie that had any kind of impact was Tre Mason with 765 and 4.
2013 Rushing Leader … LeSean McCoy. The best rookie Eddie lacy with 1,259 and 11.
Ok that is 4 years with at least one impact rookie running back, but let’s look at the larger picture, remember I said I need to be at least 90% I am like 75%. As of this writing arguably the best Running back of all times and certainly the best of his generation is without a job. Just 2 seasons from leading the league. What does this say? It sys franchises are not going to invest large portions of their cap on what they consider to be a disposable position. The key player in today’s NFL is the QB. Teams will over pay bend over grab their ankle and bark like a dog for guys like Joe Flacco, but will not throw a dime at a 30 plus RB who is at the top or near in almost every meaningful career stat.
I am at 80% now. Jeremy Hills best season was his rookie year. My bet is Howards best NFL year was last year. Lacy had 2 good years one of them was his rookie year. It will fall off quick for a running back and teams are just not going to mess with long term high dollar contracts. It is the way of the NFL. I am at 85%.
Let’s peek at the rookie class for 2017. We have some very interesting players who will be coming up. Fornett from LSU. This guy is a linebacker with speed who thinks he is a RB. Is he right? My answer is yes for at least his rookie year. Most draft experts are mocking him to go to Carolina. With the fragile nature of Stewart I suspect he will have an impact right away if the Panther can improve that line and Cam gets a little closer to MVP Cam and not what we seen in 2016. Cook FSU more of a scat back with a above average receiving game. He should see some playing time but I don’t think he will be an impact guy. The one player I am most interested in and possibly the only rookie I will take in Redraft is McCaffrey out of Stanford. I heard a quote from a OC that said McCraffery wasn’t a running back he was an offensive weapon. Stanford is one of the few collages that run a pro-style offense. At McCraffreys pro day he impressed not with his RB skills but doing the wide receiver drills. He can kill you with a return game and will be an outlet valve for a Quarterback lucky enough to have him. The true wild card out of this crop of rooks is Mixon OU. I have heard a lot of experts say Mixon could be the best of the crop. By now everyone is aware of what he did, assaulting a female, and while this is troubling and I damn sure wouldn’t want him within 10 miles of my daughter or Granddaughter it still comes back to can you perform. When Ray Rice had his issue that was splattered all over TV he was gone from the NFL. But let’s be honest if Ray Rice had done that at say 24 after a huge rookie year, I bet he would have got a job, but he was at the end of the road anyway and I suspect he would have only had maybe 2 more years anyway. I am 90%.
With the last things, we talked about I want to give some old man advise to a couple of guys. I am speaking Directly to Mixon and Elliott. The NFL is a hard way to make a living if you are a RB. Life expectance is about 4 or 5 seasons. Oddley enough the length of most rookie contracts. Zeek you have a chance to be part of something huge and while you have not done the same things as Mixon you have come closer than you should have. Teams will not deal with a distraction at Running back. Joe Mixon, what you did was way over the line and it will cost you a ton of money. You will not be the #1 back more likely around 5 or 6 and a late second round. The only way you can get paid now is to live like a monk and work harder than you ever have. In hopes of a second contract in a few years.
My recommendation for a rookie running back, as of this date and all subject to change depending on draft, is Christian McCraffery. I think he will be a huge guy in PPR leagues in standard I guess Fornett, but if his landing spot is indeed Carolina he will only be a fill-in for Stewart, if he gets hurt. Strike that when he gets hurt. So yea he will have an impact too. My advice in a general sense and for redraft is this I like RBs that are between 1 and 4 seasons in anything over that I have only be successful with once.
Stay tuned I will be taking a closer look at the rookies for 2017 in the next few weeks sometime after the draft when we have a much clearer picture.
Thanks for reading,