2014 Fantasy FootballFantasy Football

2014 Fantasy Football: Checking In On The ADP of Rookie Running Backs

Andre Williams

With just over two week left until the start of the 2014 NFL season, I felt compelled to look into the average draft position (ADP) of rookie running backs for the home stretch of fantasy football drafts. Average draft position and statistics were taken on August 20, 2014.

Rookie RB ADP

Bishop Sankey | Titans (4.12)

Throughout the preseason, fantasy football pundits have been riding the Bishop Sankey train thanks to an excellent opportunity for the former Husky to excel as a member of the Tennessee Titans. The Sankey/Titans marriage seems to be as-close-to-a-perfect-opportunity for a rookie running back as one could hope — for fake football purposes, but will he get the work? Sankey may be the best running back of the bunch in Tennessee — although that doesn’t really say much considering he’s only battling Shonn Greene, Leon Washington and to an extent Dexter McCluster — and could emerge as the primary ball carrier at some point during the season. The Titans did pay a pretty penny for McCluster’s services this offseason so they will find a way to get the ball into this hands, which is also something important to consider.

Sankey experienced some early preseason (yes, I know, preseason) thus far. He’s carried the ball 19 times for 68 yards and added three receptions for 38 yards and a score. But the conern seems to be the botched handoff in the first game, then the fumble in the second game against the Saints. But the coaching doesn’t seem to be all that worried about the Sankey’s ability to hold onto the rock just yet. He’s missed some time due to Washington’s quarter system, then the time catching up on the playbook along the the Titans’ many blocking schemes likely resulted in some footwork issues and the mix-ups.

With that in mind, Sankey in the late-fourth round of 12-teamers, even if you decide to go with a Zero RB strategy in a redraft format, seems to be too high for a guy who’s a bit buried on the depth chart. If you do choose to grab him that early, you’ll want to pair him with a few other middle rounds bell cows to ensure you have enough backs that could put up some solid production. If Sankey falls to the late-fifth or beyond of twelve team redrafts I’d consider him. Otherwise, let someone else reach.

Terrance West | Browns (8.06)

Terrance West’s name can be found on “sleeper” lists across the interwebs and on magazine stands around the country. It’s well-known that West is explosive with the ball in his hands and could be a great pass-catching option out of the backfield for the Browns. But West may have a difficult time getting touches if the rookie ball carrier doesn’t improve his pass protection in a hurry. Through two preseason games, West has carried the ball 18 times for 53 yards (2.94 y/c) and hauled in just one reception on one target for eight yards. West is a great option in rookie, keeper, dynasty league formats and is fine insurance solution for those who invested in Tate earlier in their redrafts, but the early-eighth round is a bit rich for me unless you’re simply building middle round running back depth.

Carlos Hyde | 49ers (8.07)

Carlos Hyde becomes the immediate beneficiary of a series of unfortunate injuries that recently decimated the stable of running backs in San Francisco. He’s a workhorse type back that could step in immediately and contribute — or if more bad luck would happen to strike the 49ers backfield — he could take on the bulk of the carries for San Francisco. Through two preseason games, Hyde has handled the ball nine times for 50 yards (5.6 y/c). And despite a few short runs with Blaine Gabbert under center, Hyde has been rather impressive. He’ll carry more value in standard than PPR leagues and should be considered in the early eighth round.

Devonta Freeman | Falcons (9.02)

With Steven Jackson out for the second consecutive preseason game against the Texans, the rookie out of Florida State was the third ball carrier used by the Falcons. He saw action after both Jacquizz Rodgers and Antoine Smith, which may be an indication that he’ll be the fourth back for the Falcons — usage and depth chart indicate as much — or, he’s still adjusting to the leap to the NFL. At any rate, heading into Saturday Freeman has carried the rock 16 times for 81 yards (5.1 y/c) and hauled in two passess on three targets for 68 yards. Impressive. If Freeman is able to creep up the depth chart, he has the ability to be something special. Steven Jackson’s age and health should make you want to reach a little bit to grab Freeman in all formats. I’ll be looking for him after the late-eighth round in 12-team leagues.

Andre Williams | Giants (9.08)

The rookie out of Boston College is listed third on the Giants’ depth chart behind the newly acquired Rashad Jennings and veteran Peyton Hillis, but appears to be the second-string back heading into week one. If he can be anything close to the 6.1 yards per carry, 18 touchdown guy that he was during his senior year in college, he should be able to make somewhat of a splash in ‘14. Through the four preseason games, Williams carried the ball 33 times for 151 yards and two touchdowns, but failed to be targeted a single time out of the backfield. Knowing this, Williams obviously makes for a better play in standard leagues, but should be considered in all formats after the eighth round depending on your team’s needs.

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