Last year we saw a great rookie running back class explode onto the scene. This year they are ready to show that it was no fluke. Get to know these guys below well as you will want them on your team come fantasy season.
1. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
This guy is going to win some championships this year. With the news of Mark Ingram on the sidelines for the first four weeks, you should begin to drool. As a rookie, Kamara rushed for 728 yards and had 81 receptions for 826 yards for a total of 14 touchdowns (one Kick Return TD). Even if he replicates these numbers exactly, you are getting a guy who was Top 3 at the end of season in fantasy scoring. This year his ceiling is even higher. It is crazy to think, but this touchdown number COULD go up! He only had 35 touches and targets inside of the 20 compared to Ingram’s 45. Inside the 10-yard line, Kamara saw even less at 12 to Ingram’s 21. He had a 92.3 percent catch rate inside of the 20 and don’t think that Drew Brees will let that go ignored. The sky is the limit for Kamara and he could wind up unseating some of the players that are being picked before him with his current average draft position of 7th.
2. Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars
Fournette had a great rookie season where he rushed for more than 1,000 yards and scored 10 touchdowns all while only playing in 13 games. I think that we can set the floor for him at last year’s numbers as he should only get better. He also has one thing going for him that is starting to fade out of fantasy existence – he’s their bell cow. Jacksonville did nothing at the draft to make us think that this will be any sort of time share and Fournette will be sharing carries. Jacksonville also cut Chris Ivory, so the only other big back there last year is gone. We all know his Achilles’ heel is Blake Bortles. After their playoff run last year, I see this team coming into 2018 with a little more swagger. Fournette also has the luxury of having a great defense that should keep games close and forego the need to air it out late in the game.
3. Kareem Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs
Hunt was one of last year’s steals of the draft. This year, his price tag has risen significantly, but that shouldn’t stop you from paying up and grabbing an electric player on one of the hottest offenses for 2018. Kansas City had a tough stretch in the middle of the season that saw Hunt only receive 96 carries and 23 receptions through seven weeks where they went 1-6. In the other eight weeks (only played one series in the last game as they had clinched playoff seeding), he had 175 carries and 30 receptions, and the Chiefs’ record was 8-0. Kansas City quickly learned that it needs to lean on Hunt to win games. Mix in the fact that there is a new quarterback in town who has a safety net in Hunt, and there is potential for him to be the best running back on this list. I only temper expectations knowing that the Kansas City offense will be high-powered. He could lose some touches because of long gains with two speedsters on the outside.
4. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings
One of the hardest things this year will be how to value Cook. Could he be better than the three names in front of him? Of course. Do we know what to expect from Cook this year? Kind of. It is tough to judge. What we do know is, Cook looked great in a small sample last year (was an RB1 prior to going down) and the offense should be Top 5 this year with Kirk Cousins in town. Last year in four games we saw him rush for 354 yards and average four targets a game. He graded as a fantastic pass catcher in college, so this gives him a boost in points per reception leagues. With Jerick McKinnon in San Francisco he does gain an uptick that might see him in on more third down plays. We know that Cousins loved to check down to Chris Thompson in Washington but we don’t know if Cook can be that guy. Very high hopes for this young man but many questions surround him as well.