Nease’s Insights—10 Impact Rookie RBs

For the last few months, I have been heralding the return of the Stud RB to fantasy football. With younger players like Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott, Le’Veon Bell, David Johnson and Mel Gordon being joined by a great 2017 draft class and another one this year, the RB pool is stronger and deeper in 2018 than in a long, long time.

 In 2017 we saw rookies like Alvin Kamara, Kareem Hunt, Leonard Fournette, and Christian McCaffrey all achieve Top 10 status in RB scoring. Dalvin Cook was on his way to joining them until he was injured.

Today we will talk about 10 RBs drafted this year. Some of them will have a major influence on the value of RBs in our game. The 1990 Stud RB ran hard, had about 1,200 yards rushing and 15 TDs. The 2018 version has more versatility. They not only rush for that same 1,200 yards and score TDs, but they also catch passes by the bushel and are a duel-threat, with 1,800-2,000 combined yards. Not all 10 of these new RBs will be successful, but enough will to make this another big year for players at this position.

QBs love RBs that can catch the ball. They can generate yardage and keep the downs markers moving. without having to risk injury exposure waiting for a long pass play to develop. RB passes are becoming a more frequent call by coaches. These guys are taking some of the glitter from TEs because they have good hands and get into open spaces quicker.

         1. Nick Chubb, CLE (Pick 2.03)

Chubb is competing against Carlos Hyde who never really lived up to his potential with the 49ers. Duke Johnson, who is one of the best 3rd down backs in the league, will also be part of the RBBC.

Fantasy impact—Chubb will be part of a RBBC in 2018 and will have little value at first. He has an opportunity to outduel Hyde for playing time, but will probably be at about RB4 status when the season begins  

2. Royce Freeman, DEN (Pick 3.07) 

Devontae Booker has not exactly taken Denver by storm. He was expected to win the job there, but has failed to produce.

Fantasy impact—I cannot believe that Booker will be able to win a competition against Freeman. Look for Royce Freeman to win the job and be the RB1 for the Broncos in Week 1. The job is his to lose

3. Kerryon Johnson, DET (Pick 2.11)

The Lions have not had a 100-yard rushing game since 2013. They have had RBs hit the 1,000-yard level twice since 2004. LeGarrette Blount, Abdul Ameer and Zach Zenner cannot do the job. Last year they had the #32 ranked rushing attack.

Fantasy impact—Theo Riddick is an outstanding pass-catching RB and will get his touches, but Kerryon Johnson will have a likely RB1 status for the Lions by Week1.  

4. Nyheim Hines, IND (Pick 4.04)

The RB door has been left wide open in Indianapolis this season. Unfortunately for Hines, Marlon Mack, who had a strong rookie season as a backup, is expected to win the RB1 job by Week 1.

Fantasy impact—Hines is a RB5 or so and is a solid handcuff for Mack owners. Of course, he, like so many players, will be an injury away from probably starting.

5. Jordan Wilkins, IND (Pick 5.32)

With Marlon Mack the probable starter and Nyheim Hines likely to be his backup handcuff, for the moment Wilkins does not figure to have much playing time initially.

Fantasy impact—I have seen Wilkins being drafted late frequently this summer. Personally, I would not draft him in a re-drafter league at all. I would make him a late pick though in a dynasty format. If he blossoms this year, he will best be obtained through waivers.

6. Saquon Barkley, NYG (Pick 1.02)

Normally we might think that a RB taken with the second pick in the draft is a certain superstar. Football history shows us that Trent Richardson, the 1.03 pick in the 2012 draft by Cleveland was a complete bust. The Giants have Wayne Gallman and Jonathan Stewart to play behind him.

Fantasy impact—At this point we have to accept the assumption that Barkley will be about a Top 8 RB and a mid to late 1st round pick. Nothing is certain in fantasy football (Richardson bust), but Barkley appears to be what the Giants expected when they drafted him.

7. Sony Michel, NE (Pick 1.31)

The annual RBBC situation with the Patriots is a fantasy football owner nightmare every year. Not since the days of Corey Dillon, have they had a player really worth drafting by fantasy owners as an RB1. With Michel’s “minor” knee injury and the presence of Rex Burkhead and James White who will get their touches, I have trouble ranking Michel real high.

Fantasy impact—Prior to his injury, I had him ranked as a late 2nd. Early 3rd round fantasy pick. Now I would downgrade him just a tad. Dynasty wise though, I would still take him in about the mid-1st round. 

8. Rashaad Penny, SEA (Pick 1.27)

Last year at San Diego State, Penny averaged almost eight YPC and totaled over 2,200 rushing yards with 23 TDs. Many believe that Chris Carson will be the emerging RB1. C.J. Prosise and J.D. McKissic are roster-fillers and nothing more.

Fantasy impact—To hedge my bet, I would draft Penny and then come back and pickup Carson as a handcuff. The fact that there is a legitimate competition here drops Penny’s ranking a tad in re-drafters, but he is still a middle of the 1st round pick in dynasty leagues.

9. Ronald Jones, TB (Pick 2.06)

Like Penny, Jones has a healthy competitor in Peyton Barber. Only 24, Barber had over 600-combined yards and four TDs. While averaging a solid 4.0 YPC in 2017. Sims is at best a 3rd down RB and Jacqizz Rodgers does not factor into the fantasy equation.  

Fantasy impact—I believe that Jones will have every opportunity to win the battle with Barber. He is a decent RB3 in a re-drafter, but he is a dynasty 1st rounder.

10. Derrius Guice, WAS (Pick 2.27)

Last year the Redskins had the 28th tanked rushing offense. The only bright light was their 3rd down RB, Chris Thompson. He was injured and missed several games, but he returns in 2018, Samaje Rerine and Robert Kelley are not RB1s by any stretch of the imagination.

Fantasy impact—Derrius Guice is a solid low 2nd, or high 3rd round pick at a fantasy RB2 level to start out the season.

Ranking players is not scientific and is highly subjective. If you give 10-people 10-players to rank, you will see 10-different permutations of names. With that being said, here is my current rookie RB rankings. It is based on my judgmental criterion, TALENT + OPPORTUNITY = SUCCESS

  1. Saquon Barkley, NYG
  2. Kerryon Johnson, DET
  3. Derrius Guice, WAS
  4. Royce Freeman, DEN
  5. Ronald Jones, TB
  6. Rashaad Penny, SEA
  7. Sony Michel, NE
  8. Nick Chubb, CLE
  9. Nyheim Hines, IND
  10. Jordan Wilkins, IND

Rashaad Penny and Sony Michel could be near the top of this group by early in the season. Watch their playing progress and health as we move into the actual game-playing segment of the pre-season. Make your rookie RB draft selections based on the best information you have available at the time.  

The latest three article before this were about re-drafter, keeper and dynasty drafts. I cut the series short a bit. Quite frankly, there is not as much interest in non-re-drafter leagues. Accordingly, I decided to move on. If anyone has any keeper or dynasty questions, contact me in the manner shown below.

Announcing the Fantasy Index Open-- A free contest to show off your fantasy football expertise.

DEADLINE--Thursday, August 9, 2018

Be sure to add CT after your name when putting in your name.

Several weeks ago, I participated in the expert's version of this contest for publication in their magazine. Many readers commented about the article I wrote about this experience. Several of you challenged my choices and laughed at some. A few told me how wrong I was. I replied with "your time will come."

Well, here is your big chance. All you have to do is pick the season-ending scoring order for the Top. The info you need is all here. Notice the picture of the really BIG trophy in the article. I am proud to say I have one from a few years ago when I won this contest.

When you enter a name for your entry, please add CT after it to be a part of our separate little contest. I will try to get some cool awards for the highest scorers.

Now it is your turn to try and win the whole thing. Follow this link to get all the details. Entries are due August 9, 2018.

Ask the Experts

When my friend Andy Richardson invited me to provide material for his weekly Fantasy Index Thursday morning "Ask the Experts" column, I was thrilled and honored. Here is the August 2 article from our friends at Fantasy Index. This is not anything to buy—it is simply a column I thought you might enjoy. 😊

Training camps are opening now, and we are more than ready for the actual season to begin. Buckle up for the journey. My colleagues and I at Big Guy Fantasy Sports are intent on helping you become the champion you want to be. With our poignant articles and being the home base for the consistency theory, a sound mathematically-based alternative to ADP, we will be with you for the 2018 season in its entirety. What happens then? That my friends, is easy. We start over and do it all again in 2019!

Over the years many readers have contacted me personally for fantasy football questions throughout the year. I look forward to helping you in your quest to win championships this year. You can contact me by email with any questions you may have on fantasy football generally, or on consistency specifically, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., follow me on Twitter @mikeinsights, or join me as a member of Couch Tomatoes, my fantasy football discussion group on Facebook.

Good luck! Have fun!

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