Who’s the best rookie running back for 2016? Let’s Dive In!
1) Ezekiel Elliott (Dallas Cowboys)
Is there any question? He is extremely talented and a true every-down back. He may start the season splitting carries with Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris, but will take over somewhere in the middle of the season when the Cowboys need to make a statement in the NFC East to try and make the playoffs. He is the future #1 back in the NFL and fantasy football for a long time.
2) C.J. Prosise (Seattle Seahawks)
He was the 4th running back taken, but will be used more effectively than the two drafted in front of him in the draft (Derrick Henry, Kenyan Drake). He is versatile and can win from the backfield as a runner or pass-catcher, but his biggest asset may be his ability to play the slot receiver position and win matchups against linebackers. I think he will be used in different formations and be a guy that sees plenty of opportunity this season in the post Marshawn Lynch era in Seattle.
3) Wendell Smallwood (Philadelphia Eagles)
He faces a weak depth chart in his rookie year in Philadelphia and could find the field sooner rather than later. Ryan Mathews is injury prone and Darren Sproles is a change of pace back that isn’t used more than an open field pass-catcher. The Kansas City Chiefs under new Eagles coach Doug Pederson implemented multiple backs in the game plan to attack the defense. Smallwood will get touches early in his career and possibly take over as more of a feature back possibly this season as the offense transitions from Chip Kelly’s system.
4) Kenneth Dixon (Baltimore Ravens)
He may see the bulk of the carries in the run game this season for the Ravens. Justin Forsett is recovering from surgery and entering the last years of productivity for a veteran running back. The reason he is not #2 on this list is the because of Javorius Allen’s influence in the passing game. Allen has a year under his belt and will most likely be a better pass protector for Joe Flacco on passing downs and has very good hands out of the backfield. Kenneth Dixon will be their “rushing” running back while Allen will be their “pass-catcher” back this season creating this young duo.
5) Jordan Howard (Chicago Bears)
He only truly has Jeremy Langford in front of him on the depth chart. Jacquizz Rodgers and Ka’Deem Carey are depth chart fillers but not starter-worthy players. The starting position is Jeremy Langford’s to lose and Howard may be the guy that can overtake him on the depth chart. He has an outside opportunity to make an impact for this Chicago Bears offense that will focus on the run game with run-oriented head coach John Fox leading the team. He is one to keep an eye on during training camp and see how he is progressing in the offense and the depth chart.
Players to Watch during Training Camps:
Derrick Henry (Tennessee Titans)
Devontae Booker (Denver Broncos)
Josh Ferguson (Indianapolis Colts)
Paul Perkins (New York Giants)
Kenyan Drake (Miami Dolphins)
Kelvin Taylor (San Francisco 49ers)
DeAndre Washington (Oakland Raiders)
Alex Collins (Seattle Seahawks)
Devon Johnson (Carolina Panthers)
Marshaun Coprich (New York Giants)
Peyton Barber (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)