So your fantasy football draft is coming to an end and you are sitting there, scrolling up and down the list of remaining players looking for that forgotten guy to stash on the bottom of your roster in hopes he explodes sometime during the year. Who do you take? Where do you look?
Rest easy, as I have five potential game-changing rookie running backs who very well could be available at the end of your draft. These are guys worth taking that late gamble on, as they sit in positions on their respective depth charts behind aging or injury-prone vets.
Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals — It looks as if Hill is poised to replace BenJarvis Green-Ellis as the between-the-tackles bell cow for the Bengals. I personally expect that move to happen before preseason is over, which means he’ll likely inherit the Law Firm’s touches starting opening weekend. You’re probably talking at least 200 carries at just about four yards a clip — excellent value for a late round pick.
Alfred Blue, Houston Texans — If it looks like he’s going to make the roster, scoop him up. Arian Foster is coming off an injury and not getting any younger — not to mention he has a lot of miles on those knees for only playing five seasons. Blue is the opposite, as he was used sparingly during his collegiate career. There isn’t another back on the Houston depth chart who should challenge Blue for the No. 2 spot.
Ka’Deem Carey, Chicago Bears — The Bears didn’t use a fourth round pick on one of the most dynamic backs in college football just to have him pick mud out of his cleats on the sideline. Carey’s size, speed and versatility are a perfect fit for Marc Trestman’s offense. If the 28 year-old Matt Forte shows any sign of slowing down or suffers any sort of injury, don’t be surprised to see Carey assume the starting role and not give it up.
Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons — Freeman is a bowling ball-sort of back in the Ray Rice-Doug Martin mold. He fits the prototypical body-type we are starting to see at the position across the NFL. He excels between the tackles and as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. Quite simply, he does everything that both Steven Jackson and Jaquizz Rodgers do, but in one package. He’s the back of the future in Atlanta and the future could very well be now.
Tyler Gaffney, Carolina Panthers — It seems like it’s been DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart for so long in Carolina. It looks like both of their careers might be coming to an end — with Williams getting up there in age and Stewart not able to stay healthy. The Panthers already have Kenjon Barner on the roster as a change of pace back. Gaffney has the look and build of a younger version of Stewart — a compact and powerful back with great vision and a great football IQ who can handle a workload of 20 carries or more a game. He’s a low-risk gamble in traditional leagues, but an even lower risk in dynasty leagues.