2015 Fantasy Football: Rookie Running Backs

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Ameer Abdullah, Lions – I thought Abdullah was the 3rd best RB in this year’s draft and reports from Lions OTAs seem to back that up. As Joique Bell struggles to recover from knee and Achilles injuries, Abdullah is making a serious push for his job.  He has all the tools to be a 3-down back, but is a little undersized (5’9 | 205) and had fumbling issues in college. Abdullah is the most explosive back on the Lions roster and if he gets a chance to play could be an impact fantasy player. He’s currently going way too late in Yahoo drafts (106 overall), and I’m willing to roll the dice on Abdullah in the 6th-7th round right now. If Bell is still less than 100% by the time the season starts, bump Abdullah up a round or two.

Tevin Coleman, Falcons – Keep an eye on the battle between Coleman, 2nd-year back Davonte Freeman and explosive back-up Antone Smith. I’m expecting a committee approach which hurts the value of all three in fantasy, but if Coleman wins the job outright and gets 15+ touches per game he has the talent to be a dangerous flex option in fantasy lineups. Coleman doesn’t have one skill that stands out, but showed a knack for breaking long runs in college despite defenses being stacked against him as the Hoosiers only weapon. I think he’s the most talented back on the Falcons roster and am drafting him accordingly in the 5th-6th round which is a round or two higher than he’s going in standard Yahoo leagues.

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David Cobb, Titans – The Titans used a 2nd round pick on RB Bishop Sankey last year, but he failed to make an impact in any aspect of the game. Sankey is projected to be the starter this season, but running backs that don’t show either speed or power generally don’t get too many chances. Cobb at least should be a good short-yardage back with the size (5’11 | 229) to be the favorite for goal-line duties early in the season and enough shiftiness in the open field to be a 3-down back if Sankey struggles again. He could be a solid FLEX option by the 2nd half of the season and is worth a dice roll in 8th-9th round.

David Johnson, Cardinals – One of the surprises of draft process, Johnson has an exciting combo of size (6’1 | 224) and speed (4.5). The Cards struggled to run the ball last year and have little talent at the position besides Andre Ellington. They tried to make Ellington a 3-down back last year and it failed miserably so somebody will be getting 12-15 touches to spell Ellington this year and I think it will be Johnson. He has the athleticism to be a solid back and is also one of the best receivers in the draft. In PPR leagues, Johnson could end up having FLEX value by mid-season with the potential for much more if the injury prone Ellington gets banged up again.