By: Mike Blewitt
So we’re settling into the offseason. Wistful of Sundays spent glued to the television, tablets and smartphones for 10 hours at a clip – you know who you are, especially if you’re reading this. Our collective goal now is to trudge ahead towards the 2014 Fantasy draft season, but let’s do so with new information in hand; analysis on everybody’s favorite breakout players, the Fantasy rookies.
Over the next several weeks, we will give an overview of each relevant position and assess who can impact Fantasy rosters in a meaningful way in their first year in the league. We’ll even take a look at some defensive players for those who play in IDP (Individual Defensive Player) leagues. Clearly, projections and values can change depending on which teams draft these youngsters, but we will lay it out and see who has a chance to legitimately impact Fantasy Football next season.
This week, we look at the running back position. Last year’s NFL Draft saw 23 running backs selected overall and zero in the first round – the first time that happened since 1963. After 2012’s big Fantasy performances from Trent Richardson, Doug Martin andAlfred Morris, speculation ran rampant as to who could make the biggest impact in the backfield in 2013. The honor went to the Packers’ Eddie Lacy, but he was one of six rookie running backs to crack the top 50 in Fantasy performances at the position along with Giovani Bernard, Le’Veon Bell, Zac Stacy, Andre Ellingtonand Montee Ball.
So, let’s look at the soon-to-be new additions to NFL running games. We will look at those who we feel could impact the Fantasy landscape in the 2014 season and continue to update our readers throughout the NFL and Fantasy draft processes; we’ll make sure you have the best insights on the current set of factors for these players.
Carlos Hyde (Ohio State)
Hyde topped 1,500 rushing yards in just 11 games in his senior season. While we may not see any running backs go in the first round yet again, Hyde is probably the top back that could threaten to halt that streak at one. He has shown he can be a workhorse back with very good size and adequate speed. Ultimately, Hyde will need to knock some teams off of their feet at his pro day to creep up high into the first round, but he has the best shot on this list of being in the starting mix in Week 1 of the 2014 season. Along with the top three QBs and Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins, Hyde will be in the conversations to be a top Fantasy pick in dynasty leagues.
Ka’Deem Carey (Arizona)
Carey was twice named first-team All-American and snagged the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year in 2013. An extremely productive career yielded nearly 4,000 rushing yards and 42 touchdowns in the last two seasons. His skill set is as complete as anyone’s in the draft, but he may be limited as to which teams will take him due to some off-field distractions during his career. Carey could be the first RB off the board in dynasty leagues depending on his landing spot, and will be one of the top rookies taken in yearly leagues.
Andre Williams (Boston College)
Williams busted onto the college football scene, leading the country with over 2,000 rushing yards in his senior campaign. He is a bruising back at 230 pounds and can be a workhorse for any team in the league. His explosiveness shined through at the combine (38” vertical, 4.54 40 time) and that burst can set him up as a goal-line option. He has little value in the passing game but is known to be an intelligent player, which could get him on the field right away. Williams has sneaky value long-term because of his ability to punch it in from close, so consider him in the Top 5 or 6 in dynasty leagues.
Dri Archer (Kent State)
Not everyone gets a chance to watch “MAC-tion” but everyone knows Dri’s name now that he blistered the combine in Indy with a 4.26 40-yard dash. Archer’s speed and quickness will make him an immediate big-play threat, especially in the passing game and on special teams, but his size (5’8”, 173 lbs) will almost certainly limit his snaps at the NFL level.
Bishop Sankey (Washington)
Sankey cracked the 1,800-yard mark and 20 TDs in his All-Pac-12 season at Washington in 2013. Despite not being known as a power runner, Sankey helped his stock in Indianapolis and could be one of the Top 3 backs off the draft board. While Sankey can contribute right away, he lacks some experience and could be part of a committee going into 2014. That’s not necessarily a bad thing long-term (hello, Zac Stacy!) but consider that scenario in one-year leagues as you determine who he will time-share with throughout the season.
Our next set of running back previews will feature: Jeremy Hill (LSU), Lache Seastrunk (Baylor), De’Anthony Thomas (Oregon), Tre Mason (Auburn), Charles Sims (West Virginia)