The 2016 rookie running back class was a mixed bag for Fantasy Football production. A few surpassed expectations and showed promise despite limited playing time, while others underwhelmed in their NFL debuts. Still others are looking ahead to the 2017 season, which could bring new opportunities to seize a larger share of their team’s offense. These second-year running backs
Derrick Henry– Tennessee Titans – After playing in 14 games during his rookie season, Henry finished with almost 500 yards on 110 carries. While that isn’t much to talk about, he did score five touchdowns and post double-digit Fantasy points in four of his last seven games to end the season. Henry may be worth a mid-to-late round draft pick and will see his value skyrocket if DeMarco Murray gets injured at some point.
DeAndre Washington– Oakland Raiders – While the demise of Latavius Murray was greatly exaggerated, Washington didn’t get as large a share of the workload most thought he would. He only saw 86 touches and scored just twice. Murray was the workhorse for the season, but Washington is clearly the next man up for Oakland. Without a major bump in opportunities, though, Washington will be an afterthought for Fantasy purposes, as he did little to impress owners in his rookie year.
Devontae Booker – Denver Broncos – The final game of the season was Booker’s biggest, as he posted nearly 23 Fantasy points. He averaged more than seven Fantasy points per game during his rookie campaign, but still played second fiddle to C.J Anderson for most of the season. If given the starting job in 2017, Booker may just show Fantasy owners why the Broncos spent a fourth-round pick on him and why he may be worthy of a mid-round pick in Fantasy.
Kenneth Dixon – Baltimore Ravens – While an injury caused him to miss one-fourth of the season, Dixon did finish in a somewhat impressive manner, scoring double-digit Fantasy points in two of his last four games while averaging 6.0 FPPG. If he can lock down the starting job next season, he has the potential to be a Top 10 Fantasy running back.
Robert Kelley – Washington Redskins – After taking over the starting job from Matt Jones in Week 8, Kelley rushed for 601 yards on 151 carries, averaged 3.99 yards per carry and scored six touchdowns over the final nine games of the season. He treated Fantasy owners to an average of 11.6 FP/G as the starter. Kelley is in line to keep the starting job in his second year and could be a middle-round steal in drafts.
Paul Perkins – New York Giants – While his numbers left Fantasy owners scratching their heads, there’s a chance the Giants find more of a run game in 2017, or at least incorporate more of a run threat. Perkins will have the starting job now that Rashad Jennings was sent packing. However, the G-Men must get Perkins going in the passing game as well to get his Fantasy value moving in the right direction. Perkins was targeted 24 times for 15 receptions and 162 yards, so the potential to be part of the Giants’ prolific passing attack is definitely there.
Wendell Smallwood – Philadelphia Eagles – Darren Sproles and Ryan Mathews were firmly ahead of Smallwood in 2016, leaving the second-year man out of West Virginia awaiting an injury to get an opportunity to play. Indeed, Smallwood only received 87 touches during the 12 games in which he was active. Sproles will be 34 years old when the 2017 season begins and Mathews has been “less than durable,” to put it kindly, so Smallwood should get more opportunities to shine in his second season with the team, making him worthy of a pick in the middle rounds.
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