Running backs are the lifeblood of your fantasy football team. It also happens to be arguably the most volatile position in the NFL. Every year at least 2-3 running backs that are drafted as starters will go down due to either injury or under performance. The key to winning fantasy is picking up the players that step up in their place.
This list will help you get an idea of who to keep an eye on come kickoff.
Dalvin Cook, MIN:
Cook was an explosive player at FSU and has plenty of potential to hit the ground running. He may have big shoes to fill in Minnesota, but his skill set is sure to transfer over to the NFL. Cook is an excellent option in PPR formats and could be had relatively late for a running back in the sense that the position is thin this season.
The biggest issue with Cook is total lack of NFL experience. Since he’s a rookie, we simply don’t know how Cook will do in the NFL. All the signs point to success, but there is still risk involved until we know for sure. Cook is an excellent option just don’t bank on him to shoulder your running game.
C.J. Prosise, SEA:
Prosise had a decent showing in his rookie year although it was over in the blink of an eye due to a season ending injury. A versatile player at Notre Dame, he will likely get touches in Seattle as they will look to share the workload between him, Thomas Rawls, and the newly acquired Eddie Lacy. Prosise can be had quite late for a running back and could prove quite valuable in 12+ team formats.
The biggest issue with Prosise will be durability. He has nursed a groin injury this preseason and missed the end of last season with a fractured scapula. The pass catching ability is there, and if he stays healthy he is a breakout candidate.
Derrick Henry, TEN:
Henry had a relatively quiet rookie season but the potential remains high. A punishing rusher, Henry’s value is mostly capped due to the fact that his skill set is very similar to teammate Demarco Murray. If Murray goes down due to injury or under-performs, look for Henry to step in and rack up goaline touchdowns.
James White, NE:
You never really know with Patriots running backs, but the potential is always there. White has proven himself especially valuable in PPR formats when he is producing over the years.
Consistent production is the main question with White. New England is known for making any running back look good so it really just depends who is back there. Legarrette Blount is no longer with the team, and although they have different skill sets it does create a somewhat clearer picture.
Wendell Smallwood, PHI:
Smallwood is a back who can be had late in most formats and is rather unproven. The second year man out of West Virginia will be vying with Legarrette Blount and Darren Sproles for touches. Smallwood’s value will come from his youth. Sproles is 34 and there has been talk that he will retire at season’s end. Blount is 30 and is mainly known as a goal line running back.
Smallwood will likely see touches as he is the only back with a potential long-term future in Philadelphia. If he can produce early on his value may sky rocket.
Theo Riddick, DET:
Riddick has seen his stock rise somewhat in the past couple seasons. He is by no means a top tier running back but can be quite useful in PPR formats. His receiving ability is what he is most known for and he sees quite a bit of time on the field. Look for the veteran to be a decent flex option or potential starter in deeper formats.
Darren McFadden, DAL:
McFadden still has something left in the tank as he suits up with the Cowboys for another season. McFadden’s value will come purely during weeks 1-6 while Ezekiel Elliot serves his suspension. Anything past that he will be more of a handcuff but high level production could make him a valuable asset.
Dion Lewis, NE:
Basically the same exact situation as James White. Can be had relatively late, has had past success, but we really never know with New England. He is at least worth watch listing.