Fantasy Football

2019 Fantasy Fantasy Rookie Running Backs


Fantasy football is as much art as it is a science. It takes preparation and savvy to make it to glory, but it also takes luck. I hope to reduce some of that luck. To do that I’m going to analyze the 2019 Fantasy Fantasy rookie running backs.

Running backs are one of the main keys to success when drafting your championship squad, but are often extremely volatile when it comes to production. One of the best ways to gain the upper hand on your competition is by going for rookies. Rookies are untested at the professional level, but often have an immediate impact, right out of the gate.

In recent memory, there is an abundance of rookies that crept out of the woodwork and onto the rosters of trophy teams. Alvin Kamara, Kareem Hunt and even the undrafted Phillip Lindsay, to name a few, all played integral roles on fantasy teams that brought home the bacon for fantasy owners.

Before putting all of your chips on red, knowledge of depth charts and relative value are vital.

2019 Fantasy Fantasy Rookie Running Backs

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Josh Jacobs, RB, Oakland Raiders

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With Josh Jacobs being the number one running back off the board in the 2019 NFL draft, it seems logical that he’s the first ball carrier to be mentioned on the list. The running back from Nick Saban’s gargantuanly potent offense at the University of Alabama has contributed statistics that don’t exactly jump off the page. During 15 games in his junior year, Jacobs accumulated  887 scrimmage yards.

This level of production can be attributed to the pass-heavy offense Saban employs. Secondly, throughout the season, when Alabama’s offense was discombobulating offenses through sheer talent in the first half of the majority of their games, their skill players took a backseat to their up-and-comers.

Nonetheless, Jacob’s size and ball carrier skills were enough to warrant the young back a first-round contract and the driver’s seat the RB1 spot in Oakland.

With Marshawn Lynch out of the equation and Doug Martin, into his 30’s look for Jacobs to become one of the most focal pieces in the Raiders offensive scheme.

The biggest issue for Jacobs is Oakland’s offensive line, which ranked a sub-par 20th in the NFL in run blocking.

Outside of a less than mediocre offensive line, Jacobs and the Raiders have a tall mountain to climb in the first five weeks of the season, facing the Bears, Vikings and Broncos, which are the three most dominant run defenses in football according to Pro Football Focus.

Despite the fact that Jacobs faces a tough streak of tests early on, expect him to be a viable mid-round option at the RB2 position within your lineup with his ability to shed the first tackle and burst into the secondary.

David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears

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Coming out of Iowa State, David Montgomery is quietly one of the best backs to enter the league. Despite going under the radar for most teams, his combination of strength and moderate speed makes him viable within the Bears offense.

Jordan Howard was shipped to the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason. This left a gaping hole in their rushing attack. As a result, the Bears traded up to the 73rd overall pick. Chicago selected Montgomery, who is no stranger to taking a heavy offensive load. In the last two seasons, he ran the ball for over 500 carries.

Tarik Cohen is the most dynamic back in Chicago, but the most carries will likely go Montgomery. Cohen, who is an explosive pass-catching back, lacks the size to be a true bell-cow option.  Cohen has yet to register over 100 carries in any NFL season.

This makes way for the rookie to step into a regular role within the Bears’ offensive scheme.

In college, Montgomery put up solid numbers across the board. During his final two seasons in college, he had 2,815  scrimmage yards in 25 games. During this time, Montgomery added 24 rushing touchdowns for the Cyclones.

Montgomery’s frame: 5’9, 228 pounds, makes him the optimal every-down back for the Bears. Cohen, on the other hand, is 5’6, 181 pounds. This simply isn’t conducive for hard-nosed rushing.

Despite Cohen’s presence through the air, fantasy owners can confidently select Montgomery as the primary weapon in the Bears running game.

Darrell Henderson, RB, Los Angeles Rams

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Todd Gurley is one of the top running backs currently in the league. His dynamic ability as a ball carrier for the Rams is one of the main reasons they were able to make it to the Super Bowl last year.

However, injury issues with Gurley are problematic for Sean McVay’s offense. Reports swirling around Gurley’s knee and potential arthritic issues have come into play, which can explain his limited usage down the stretch last season.

The Rams desire to keep Gurley fresh and health makes way for Darrell Henderson to soak up some touches in the upcoming season.

Henderson, drafted 70th by the Rams this past offseason, should fill an important role within the offense. While in college, Henderson tore up the American conference with the Memphis Tigers.

Last season alone, Henderson put together one of the best years statistically. His 1,909 yards on the ground (8.9 yards per carry) was ranked second in the NCAA. The only other running back to top Henderson was Jonathan Taylor of Wisconsin, who procured 2,194 yards. Henderson however, had 93 fewer rushes than Taylor.

At the combine, Henderson ran a 4.49 40-yard dash. When looking at his game film however, it can be argued that he runs faster with the ball in his hands.

Home-run hitter doesn’t even begin to describe his ability. Last year, he had numerous touchdown runs at over 40+ yards. In fact, last season, Henderson had a run or catch longer than 40 yards in 10 of 13 games played.

Although it’s hard to predict Gurley’s usage for next season, Henderson might be a player fantasy owners will want to keep an eye on, as a sneaky late-round pick. If Gurley does succumb to injuries, Hendo’s fantasy value will surely skyrocket.

If you’re drafting Gurley, pick Henderson in the later rounds as the hand-cuff.

Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

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For the first two years of his college football career, Miles Sanders stood on the sidelines, overshadowed by one of the best running backs in the NCAA. Sanders went to Penn State. The aforementioned running back is Saquon Barkley.

Last season, with Barkley ripping up the NFL for over 2,000 scrimmage yards, Sanders finally had the ability to churn his way into one of the top runners in this year’s draft class.

For the Nittany Lions, Sanders was finally able to thrive. Taking the lion’s share of the rushing touches, Sanders scampered for 1,274 yards and nine touchdowns on 220 attempts.

Shadowing Barkley could actually prove to be helpful for Sanders because his low mileage (276 college carries) will keep him fresh going into the season.

Sanders, who was the highest running back selection for the Eagles since LeSean McCoy, should begin the year behind Jordan Howard.

The big issue for Sanders and fantasy owners is how crowded the Eagles backfield is. Josh Adams, Wendell Smallwood, Darren Sproles and Corey Clement will all be contending for touches. Despite these issues,  Philadelphia is known for employing a committee backfield, which could land Sanders some touches.

BONUS: Derrius Guice, RB, Washington Redskins

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Sure Derrius Guice is not technically a rookie. But in 2018, his season ended in the first preseason game of the year, where he sustained an MCL tear. So for the purposes of fantasy, this is the first year (barring catastrophic injury) that owners will be able to employ the LSU alumnus within their lineups.

After the injury he sustained last year, Guice comes into the season slated as the third running back, behind Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson.

A.P. turned back time last year, having a stellar year running the football for the ‘Skins. Rushing for over 1,000 yards for the first time since 2015, he looked good. Not the MVP calibre he once was, but still a serviceable running back for fantasy owners.

For a running back, Peterson is old. At 34 years of age, he is the third oldest of any back still in the league (and the only one who is fantasy relevant). Only Darren Sproles of Philadelphia and Frank Gore of Buffalo have made more rotations around the sun.

Washington drafted Guice 59th overall for LSU in the 2018 draft, and he has the potential to be a three-down back. Fantasy owners’ biggest concern ―and it should be ― is his health.

Uncertainty surrounding Guice has led fantasy owners to attribute different draft rankings. Most peg Guice between 30th to 40th at the running back position.

Should Guice remain healthy, he’s likely to fill Peterson’s shoes and ultimately have fantasy value as an RB2 or Flex option for owners. If the Redskins O-line can provide the lanes for a geriatric Peterson to run for over 1,000 yards, Guice should have no problem providing an impact on fantasy squads.

Get prepared for the 2019 Fantasy Football season by checking out the rest of our Fantasy Football content.

About Tyler Mulligan

Sports Journalist from Toronto, Canada. Fantasy hockey, basketball and football aficionado.

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