Top 16 Fantasy Football Rookies: Zach Sudfeld, Cierre Wood impressive

by Nicholas Minnix on August 28, 2013 @ 08:15:00 PDT

 

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Running Backs

FANTASY FOOTBALL-RATED

  1. Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers
    Considered the best back in the draft by many, Lacy (5-foot-9, 230 pounds) is strong from head to toe and could be the first workhorse of head coach Mike McCarthy's seven-year tenure. He slipped because of a spotty health history at Alabama, however, and Green Bay loves to throw it. Still, it's a great situation.
  2. Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals
    Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell
    The Bengals surprised onlookers by making this North Carolina product the first back selected, but they love his entire skill set. The 5-foot-8, 208-pound runner isn't speedy, but he is elusive. Cincy wants to put his hands to use early on. BenJarvus Green-Ellis should feel the heat, and PPR fantasy owners should consider reaching a little.
  3. Montee Ball, Denver Broncos
    This second-rounder didn't enter training camp as the No. 1 running back, but he'll get chances to be. A lot depends on whether his supposedly solid pass-blocking skills show up. The 5-foot-8, 215-pound TD machine in college is a solid pass-catcher, but Knowshon Moreno and Ronnie Hillman threaten to steal touches, at minimum, and perhaps play ahead of him.
  4. Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
    Pittsburgh drafted Bell in the second round with the idea that he could be the featured back of tomorrow ... and probably today, as long as his heft and hefty college workload don't continue to result in a string of injuries that keep him in the trainer's room. The big bruiser (6-foot-1, 244 pounds) has nimble feet and can catch it.
  5. Joseph Randle, Dallas Cowboys
    Jerry Jones believes his team drafted something close to a DeMarco Murray clone here. Randle may be a better receiver but isn't as fast. As the backup to the somewhat injury-prone Murray, Randle should get opportunities, however, and he's a playmaker. Lance Dunbar is a potential roadblock, though.
  6. Zac Stacy, St. Louis Rams
    The Rams may unleash a three-headed monster from the backfield now that Steven Jackson is gone. Stacy (5-foot-7, 216 pounds), an accomplished back at Vanderbilt, has an opportunity to contribute. He could prove to be a late-round gem that complements second-year man Daryl Richardson. Slashing soph Isaiah Pead may also be ahead of him, though.

DEEP SLEEPERS

  • Stepfan Taylor, Arizona Cardinals
    Ryan Williams' health woes prompted the Cards' new staff to draft two backs to insure Rashard Mendenhall. Taylor, a north-south rusher, may be suited to fill in if something happens to the starter. He'd almost surely share touches in that event, though, so at best he's deep redrafter material.
  • Christine Michael, Seattle Seahawks
    Seattle Seahawks RB Christine Michael
    For the second straight year, Seattle has drafted a dangerous running back capable of handling a featured role to back up Marshawn Lynch. Robert Turbin showed well in limited duty last year, though, and should have dibs as long as he's healthy.
  • Mike James, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    The Bucs appear to be higher on this former Hurricane than draft pundits were. He should win the job as backup to Doug Martin. James is an overachieving leg-churner who should be adequate in that role. In deep leagues, which tend to encourage handcuffs, he's a target.
  • New - Cierre Wood, Houston Texans
    Wood targeted Houston after he went undrafted because his one-cut style fit. It has, so far, like a glove. It's unclear whether he'll supplant Deji Karim as the No. 3 ball carrier this year, but the Texans will surely try to keep Wood around. Ben Tate is a free agent after this season.
  • Kenjon Barner, Carolina Panthers
    This sixth-round choice, like Mike Goodson before him, faces an uphill battle for touches, but he's a big-time threat in the passing game. Barner, a burner, has impressed, and Jonathan Stewart (delayed recovery from surgery on both ankles) will begin the season on the PUP list.
  • Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals
    This sixth-round speedster is the other addition to Arizona's repopulated backfield. He's a probable pass-blocking liability, but Ellington is a dangerous complementary back, at least, because of what he can do in space. The likelihood of limited touches caps his long-term upside.
  • Johnathan Franklin, Green Bay Packers
    This 5-foot-8, 205-pound UCLA graduate is a bursting cutback runner who's capable of providing a change of pace from Lacy and catching the ball out of the backfield. But Franklin's pass pro and decision-making must improve for him to gain PT now that DuJuan Harris (knee injury).
  • New - Denard Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
    "RB" is just where the Jags list the former Michigan quarterback and wide receiver. "Handcuff to Maurice Jones-Drew" is quite a stretch of the imagination, since they define his position as "offensive weapon." There's some intrigue here, but not until ball security becomes less of an issue.
  • Mike Gillislee, Miami Dolphins
    Some doubt whether presumed starter Lamar Miller is built to remain healthy. A reportedly rejuvenated Daniel Thomas stands between the versatile Gillislee and the No. 2 spot, for now. The rookie must demonstrate decisiveness after the handoff. If Gillislee does, he may be worth monitoring in deep dynasty leagues.
  • Knile Davis, Kansas City Chiefs
    KC will lean heavily on Jamaal Charles, but Andy Reid needs a quality backup. Davis has the frame to be featured material. The Arkansas product would have drawn more draft interest had injuries not derailed his college career. Mistakes stand between him and pro success, although he could be a volume producer.
  • New - Marcus Lattimore, San Francisco 49ers
    His inclusion is a formality, because the South Carolina phenom has no redraft value. Lattimore (dislocated knee, three torn ligaments in college) hopes to play in 2013, but San Fran doesn't intend to let him see the field. In a year's time or more, dynasty owners may get to see why the Niners were willing to wait.
  • Chris Thompson, Washington Redskins
    Mike Shanahan loves this short, stout burner, whose rookie campaign is the backdrop for his return from a torn ACL. Thompson may need time to prove himself but would become interesting if something happened to Roy Helu this year. In dynasty leagues, he may be worth a flier.

Next up: Wide Receivers

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QB | RB | WR | TE

About Nicholas Minnix

Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.

The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.

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