Fantasy football owners are getting ready to draft, and rookies can be major difference-makers for many teams. The NFL draft happened months ago, but unless you were really bored because of lack of sports or a super-savvy fantasy owner, you likely forgot which players ended up on which teams. But don't sleep on many of these rookie running backs. Some should be drafted in redraft formats as they will likely help your team this year.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City Chiefs
CEH was the only back selected in the first round of the NFL draft and had immense fantasy potential even before Damien Williams opted out of the 2020 season. With Williams out of the picture, he is the top rookie running back. CEH should be off the draft board as one of the top 10 running backs. In some drafts, he is going at the end of the first round. He'll definitely be gone by the time the second round is through.
Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts
In fantasy drafts, Taylor is being drafted as a high RB3 somewhere in the fifth round. It actually is a bit low for someone who will likely be the starting running back for the Colts before October. Marlon Mack is currently listed as the starter, and Taylor will be mixed in. However, the job is Taylor's as soon as Mack either falters or gets injured.
D'Andre Swift, Detroit Lions
The Lions nabbed Swift in the second round of the NFL draft. However, the team still has Kerryon Johnson as their running back. It appears that this will be a situation where both backs get work, as long as both are healthy. Swift already suffered a leg injury in practice, but it shouldn't cost him time. Johnson has been spotted in a knee brace already and missed eight games in 2019 and six in 2018. It seems that this backfield can be Swift's if he can prove himself and stay healthy. He's being drafted as an RB3, and that seems about right.
Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams
Akers has the talent, but he's in a messy situation in Los Angeles after Todd Gurley's premature exit. Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson Jr. are still in the picture, and all three running backs are going to get work. He's being drafted in the sixth round as a low RB3, which is about where he should be drafted. The potential for Akers to have a role in fantasy leagues is certainly there, but it won't be right away.
J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens
Dobbins is being drafted in the eighth round of fantasy leagues, mostly because his path to fantasy relevance is behind Mark Ingram II. It seems logical that the Ravens would give Dobbins some work and an opportunity to see what he could do. Ingram will turn 31 this season, so the Ravens need a plan for the future. That will likely be Dobbins, but fantasy owners may have to wait a year.
Zack Moss, Buffalo Bills
Moss is being drafted in the later rounds of fantasy drafts, but that seems too low based on the potential that he poses. Devin Singletary is ahead of him on the depth chart, but the buzz out of the Bills facility is that Moss has been looking good and will add to their offense. He obviously is a great player to draft in keeper formats, but he may provide value to fantasy owners this year.
Ke'Shawn Vaughn, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Vaughn is the 54th running back taken off the board on average, but that may actually be a bit too low. He had a chance to compete with Ronald Jones II, but the Bucs also signed LeSean McCoy at the end of July. This now becomes a three-back committee, with no one looking like they will have the clear lead in touches. Any back may do well, but any may also be a bust.
Antonio Gibson, Washington Football Team
Gibson is being drafted right around the same time as Ke'Shawn Vaughn but has a better chance of playing. He is behind Adrian Peterson and potentially fellow rookie Bryce Love, who spent all of last season on the IR, but Derrius Guice is no longer in the picture. Additionally, Gibson's strength will be in the passing game. In PPR formats, he should be considered in the later rounds on draft day. In standard formats, he can be left alone in regular redraft leagues.
AJ Dillon, Green BayPackers
Dillon is being drafted at the very end of fantasy drafts, as someone to fill the end of the bench. He will be behind Aaron Jones and possibly Jamaal Williams on the depth chart in Green Bay and likely won't have a ton of fantasy value this year. However, for those in deeper leagues, he is someone to stash just in case.
In deeper leagues, Darrynton Evans (Tennessee Titans), Joshua Kelley (Los Angeles Chargers), and Anthony McFarland Jr. (Pittsburgh Steelers) are options that may have some value.
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.
(Top photo by Steve Sanders, courtesy of chiefs.com)