Grading the Rookie Running Backs

This previous NFL Draft was the first draft in 49 years where a running back wasn’t selected in the first round. That made some draw the conclusion that this rookie class of running backs might take a while to develop, if they turn into anything at all. Well now we are 9 full weeks into the season and these young rushers are making one heck of an impact on the league. Rookie runners typically have more value in keeper leagues and should you be in one here are the Fantasy Force rankings for the impressive, undervalued backfield staff.

Giovani Bernard – By now we have all seen Giovani Bernard’s tremendous run where he reversed direction and looped around an entire defense to take it to the house. That isn’t a fluke play, but rather exactly what Bernard does. He is exactly what the Lions thought Jhavid Best was going to be. Every time he touches the ball it could be 6 points. The best thing about Bernard is that he touches the ball in every way possible, he runs it up the gut, he bounces it to the outside, he catches safety valve passes, and he runs routes down the field. In a single game there isn’t a blade of grass on the field that Bernard doesn’t step on. The biggest bump to his value though: He gets goalline work. For his small stature that’s surprising considering that a bruiser like the law firm is on the roster but Bernard is effective nonetheless.

Le’Veon Bell – The man who made us wait a little bit truly does look like the real deal. I need no more convincing than when Bell scored his first TD (http://www.steelers.com/video-and-audio/videos/Steelers-at-Vikings-LeVeon-Bell-8-yard-touchdown/3d532cb5-2ff7-49d5-bc01-7777c93dd155) First there’s the little shake in the backfield which doesn’t look like much but that isn’t a move we’re seeing Willis McGahee or Ray Rice make, point being that if it’s one of those types of guys that’s a tackle for a loss for the defender and the Steelers are facing a 4th down. Then taking a moment to see where he can go he breaks to the outside and dives into the endzone. This is without Levi Brown who the Steelers hadn’t yet acquired and Markuice Pouncey who is one of the finest centers in the NFL. The Steelers will upgrade their O-line in the offseason and Bell will look dominant.

Eddie Lacy – Remember when we saw that picture and said Lacy looked out of shape? Well I didn’t but a lot of people did. Guess he doesn’t look so chunky now. Eddie Lacy is running like a bull breaking through arm tackles that would be clotheslines on me. He’s even running through regular tackles so who knows what will bring him down. Aaron Rodgers being out means a possibly gigantic run for Lacy coming up. As for those who see James Starks as a threat I actually see him as a shield, protecting Lacy from overuse and too much wear and tear. Starks provides Lacy a few seconds to rest up and get ready for another violent run, and that is how Lacy has remained so effective. A parting note, I don’t know what will become of Jonathan Franklin or DeJuan Harris but it is clear that this is Lacy’s backfield.

Montee Ball – It’s hard to tell what is going to happen with Ball. He has had ball security issues and while he was lauded as a solid pass catcher he’s yet to display that on a prolific passing offense. He had a solid game before the BYE, grabbed his first rushing TD but beyond that it’s looking bleak. Moreno isn’t an old back who is breaking down after this season so Ball only has value if Moreno goes down. However, with as ineffective as he’s been Ball would only be a low-end RB2 if he is indeed the guy to start if something happened to Moreno.

Zac Stacy – The surprise of the year comes from Zac Stacy. So how did he work himself into the starting spot? Well to quote my first post on The Fantasy Force, “we’ve seen that no Rams RB can separate from the field, this might lead the coaching staff to give Cunningham some carries and see what he’s made of.” True I was talking about Benny Cunningham there but the reason Stacy got the job was right. St. Louis threw all their RBs at a wall and Stacy stuck. He has done well against the Seahawks and the Panthers, two frightening matchups for RBs and come away successful so the sky is the limit.

There are your fantasy relevant rookie RBs and why I like them. Now to rank them for Dynasty league purposes, this incorporates how they will finish this season and their potential for next season.

1) Eddie Lacy

2) Zac Stacy

3) Giovani Bernard

4) Le’Veon Bell

5) Montee Ball

Let me tell you that I had the hardest time ranking Bernard and Bell. They’re so close but I think Bernard starts next year. If I was doing rankings for all RBs for next season Bernard and Bell would again right next to one another.

Think I totally missed on my rankings? Have any questions about why they ended up where they are? Post in the comments below!

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3 Responses to Grading the Rookie Running Backs

  1. Lacy somewhat reminds me of Marion Barber. He just plows into people, so hopefully he can stay healthy

  2. Pingback: NFL Fantasy Football Help: Should I Start Eddie Lacy or Le’Veon Bell? | NBA MLB Tonight

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