2015 Fantasy Football: Rookie Running Backs

1 of 3

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2015 NFL season less than 3 months away, it’s time to start doing prep work for your fantasy football draft. Over the next few weeks I will be breaking down every position with a primer, rankings, sleepers, busts, and rookies.

No rookie running backs were drafted in the first round of the 2013 or 2014 NFL drafts, but that didn’t stop 4-5 rookie RBs from making a significant fantasy impact both seasons. It has historically been the easiest NFL position to step in right away and succeed. With a handful of rookie RBs producing from two draft classes without 1st round talent, this year’s rookie crop with two 1st rounders and eight backs in the top three rounds could provide a deep batch of fantasy assets for the 2015 season.

More from Bears Fantasy Football

Below I listed the rookie running backs in order of projected fantasy impact and not order drafted. I only listed rookies that I think will have the potential to make your starting fantasy lineup at some point this season and left off backs who probably need an injury to provide fantasy value  (Langford, Allen, Davis).

Rookie Running Backs:

Melvin Gordon, Chargers – Yahoo has Gordon listed as the 18th best fantasy RB this season, which I think is way too low. My RB rankings will be out soon, but Gordon will be significantly higher than that. Gordon is a special runner, with the total package of acceleration, power, vision and breakaway speed. Just as importantly for Gordon, the Chargers have just 3rd down back Danny Woodhead, Donald Brown and his 2.6 YPC, and the diminutive Branden Oliver with him on the depth chart. Gordon has virtually no competition for playing time and with 20+ touches per game could easily be a top ten fantasy back. He’s going early in the 4th round of Yahoo drafts, but he wont make it past the 3rd in any draft I’m involved in.

T.J. Yeldon, Jaguars – He’s not the 2nd best back in the class (not even top 5 imo), but opportunity is almost as important for fantasy purposes. Yeldon’s competition for the lead back are just the plodding Toby Gerhart and the former QB/WR Denard Robinson.  Gerhart is too slow and Robinson too small, which make Yeldon and his potent mix of size (6’1 | 226) and speed (4.61) the clear option for the Jags. If Yeldon can hold on to the ball and the Jags line improves, he has the ability to surpass 1,000 yards with double-digit TDs. He isn’t being drafted until the 6th-7th round in most leagues, but I think Yeldon will be a 4th-5th round pick by the end of the preseason.

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Todd Gurley. Rams – The first back drafted (10th overall) and the best mix of power and speed to come into the league since Adrian Peterson. Gurley is less than a year removed from an ACL tear though and I think the Rams will be extra cautious with him during his rookie season. They have a decent lead back in Tre Mason and their O-line is still a work in progress. I expect Gurley’s snaps to increase gradually as the season goes on, and he could be an impact player by the 2nd half and for the fantasy playoffs. He’s currently being drafted in the 4th round which to me is too high for a player that might start the season on the PUP list, but if if he’s around once my primary starters are in place I won’t hesitate to stash him.