KG Gordon
Rookie Running Backs Most Likely To Succeed

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Of the many factors that determine the success of a running back’s rookie season, talent and opportunity are generally the most important. We’ll take a look at a few talented guys who will have the opportunity to get meaningful carries in 2014.

Terrance West, Cleveland – Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s zone blocking scheme has a reputation for turning unknown rookie running backs into fantasy All-Stars (see the aforementioned Alfred Morris in 2012). The Browns will have to depend heavily on the run this season without wide receiver Josh Gordon and two inexperienced quarterbacks in Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel. I’m also confident that the oft-injured Ben Tate will not be able to handle the beating he will take in the physical AFC North. Tate has missed 24 games due to injury during his first four seasons in the NFL as a backup for Houston. West has the talent and opportunity to have a very good year.

Bishop Sankey, Tennessee – Sankey will have the greatest opportunity for success out of all rookie running backs. The Titans drafted Sankey in the second round to be the starter this season. Sankey will be a pass-catching threat out of the backfield in head coach Ken Whisenhunt’s scheme that produced 76 receptions for Danny Woodhead in San Diego last year. His only threat for touches is Shonn Greene, who has a well-deserved reputation in fantasy leagues for being a “touchdown vulture,” but Greene is coming off of two knee surgeries. Chris Johnson had 279 carries last year. Sankey is a lock to have 200-plus touches this season.

Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati – Giovani Bernard will get the preseason hype, but Hill will contribute in the Bengals’ two back offense. Hill has already surpassed BenJarvus Green-Ellis on the depth chart for the backup running back duties. Green-Ellis had 220 carries last year compared to Bernard’s 179. Bernard will get the majority of the carries this year but there will be plenty of action for Hill. Hill’s size alone should get him most of the goal line carries. He’s a sturdy 6-foot-1, 235 pounds compared to Bernard at 5-foot-9 208 pounds.

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