by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
We all know rookies carry a little bit of a risk to them, regardless of the position. With that in mind, let’s take a look at where the top rookie running backs are currently being drafted (average ADP courtesy of Fantasy Pros) to try and determine if there is value or not:
Bishop Sankey – Tennessee Titans
Current ADP – 60.0
It’s no surprise that Sankey is the first rookie running back coming off the board, as he’s the only one who appeared primed to open the season as the starter. That said, he’s been playing second fiddle to Shonn Greene all preseason and has also had issues with ball security.
As Jim Wyatt if the Tennessean pointed out recently (click here for the article):
“Sankey looked good overall against the Saints, but he dropped the ball for the second week in a row and has had exchange issues with quarterbacks in practice.”
He’s being drafted as a RB2 and, at this point, and a fifth round selection seems like a risky proposition given what we’ve seen. He’s well worth owning if his price drops, but right now it simply may not be worth it.
Jeremy Hill – Cincinnati Bengals
Current ADP – 142.6
He’s going to be the complement to Giovani Bernard, who himself has struggled this preseason. Remember, though, that the Bengals plan on running the ball more this season and Bernard and BenJarvus Green-Ellis combined for 1,450 yards on the ground last season as it is.
There should be more than enough touches to go around, and in the later rounds to fill out your bench he’s worth the gamble. As long as you are selecting him as your RB4 or worse, there’s no harm in the selection.
Terrence West – Cleveland Browns
Current ADP – 123.0
Does anyone really believe Ben Tate is going to be able to stay healthy this season? Even if he does, would it be a surprise if West were to ultimately overtake him?
West has not been overly impressive this spring (25 carries for 70 yards), but the upside is definitely there. That makes this type of ADP reasonable, especially as a RB4 or RB5 to fill out your roster. Considering he could be one injury away from becoming the most productive rookie running back in 2014, a tenth or eleventh round pick is well worth the investment.
Devonta Freeman – Atlanta Falcons
Current ADP – 144.2
This is a situation we’ve talked about repeatedly, but it’s worth mentioning once again. Steven Jackson is on the downside of his career and already battling injuries, while Jacquizz Rodgers has repeatedly disappointed. That leaves Freeman ready to step in and carry the load.
Freeman has outperformed Rodgers in the preseason, with 20 rushes for 92 yards (Rodgers is at 18 for 62). It really is just a matter of time, making him a home run selection this late in your draft. If his ADP stays around the same, he’s a must draft option in all formats at this spot.
Carlos Hyde – San Francisco 49ers
Current ADP – 126.2
It’s not a surprise that Hyde’s ADP is among the highest of rookie running backs, but it is a little bit of a leap of faith selection. The expectation is that the team is going to transition away from Frank Gore, with Hyde taking a much bigger role than the team’s secondary backs have in the past. Plus, the team has shown the willingness to switch from a veteran to an inexperienced player in the past (see Colin Kaepernick).
That said, is he really a better bet than someone like Freeman or West? I’d be targeting them over Hyde at this point, especially because they could be in better situations to produce immediately.
Andre Williams – New York Giants
Current ADP – 139.8
Like with Hyde, this selection is an expectation that Williams takes on a bigger role with the loss of David Wilson. However, with Rashad Jennings in front of him that may not be a good gamble. The ADP is reasonable, but there are other fliers I’d prefer to take.
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Make sure to check out all of our 2014 rankings: