by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Heading into the season Bishop Sankey appeared primed to be the clear-cut, top rookie running back in 2014. That’s not to say he is the most talented, but he certainly had appeal and was ticketed with the best opportunity. When Tennessee cut ties with Chris Johnson, all that was left was Sankey and Shonn Greene. It was a slam dunk that he would open the season as the lead back…
And then he fumbled in the first preseason game. And then, for good measure, he fumbled in the second as well. While it wasn’t a problem in his college career at Washington, two fumbles in two preseason games is an issue that couldn’t be ignored.
As Josh Alper of NBC Sports pointed out (click here for the article), the Titans were able to diagnose the problem:
“Coach Ken Whisenhunt said Sankey needs to show more attention to details like footwork and exchanges with the quarterback because they are the root cause of the fumbles. Sankey appears to have taken the coach’s words to heart.”
He definitely did a much better job in the team’s third preseason game. John Glennon of The Tennessean had the following quote from Whisenhunt (click here for the article):
“He responded to what we asked about,” Whisenhunt said. “There was one where he took a little bit wide of a track on the same thing he had been doing. But we managed to get the exchange off. Overall, it was nice to see Bishop do a lot better in that aspect.”
It’s certainly not hard to imagine Sankey still ultimately taking the lead back role. Prior to the draft Walter Football compared him to Ray Rice saying, “They share the same running style. Both Sankey and Rice have quickness to the hole and are shifty runners with excellent pad level to pick up yards after contact. Both players are tough to bring down.”
We all know Rice was a disaster last season, but prior to that he was routinely viewed as one of the elite running backs in the league. Greene, meanwhile, owns a career average of 4.1 yards per carry (in his last season in New York he averaged just 3.9 yards per carry) and is coming off an offseason that was lost due to knee surgery.
In other words, it’s easy to picture Greene operating more as a short yardage back and touchdown vulture as opposed to a feature back. Sankey clearly has the higher upside and should be the lead back before long.
That’s not to say that he’s not a risk, especially at his current ADP of 63.6. Still, that makes him basically a FLEX option (23rd RB of the board) and with the potential to produce like a Top 15 back that makes him worth the gamble.
Sources – ESPN, NBC Sports, The Tennesean, Walter Football, Fantasy Pros
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Make sure to check out all of our 2014 rankings: