3 Rookie RBs to Target Late in Fantasy Football Drafts


The RotoExperts discuss whether or not Spencer Ware will be passed on the depth chart by Kareem Hunt this season.

In the past few years, there have been multiple rookie running backs who proved to be vital fantasy options. In 2015, Devonta Freeman and Todd Gurley were weekly starters who could have won you your league. In 2016, Ezekiel Elliott was an elite fantasy option. Heading into 2017, there are various rookies who could be fantasy options, including Leonard Fournette, Chrstian McCaffrey, and Joe Mixon. But, who is being drafted late that could turn into an RB1, like Jordan Howard in 2016?

Kareem Hunt (RB37/8.09/91) - Kareem Hunt is being severely undervalued. Yes, I know he is currently the backup to Spencer Ware. But as we all saw in 2016, Ware was not the ideal back in Kansas City. Another positive element about Hunt being the backup is how different they play. Ware is a powerful trucking back, while Hunt is an elusive, pass catching back (41 catches in 13 games in his senior year at Toledo). For reference, 41 receptions would have ranked 16th among running backs in 2016. This could create a situation where Hunt is the third down back, and I fully expect him to outperform Ware and creep into starter status. The Chiefs are also known for their trickiness and usage of backups, which is ideal for Hunt. Overall, Kareem Hunt is a high upside player who could easily finish top 20 if he gets the opportunity.

Joe Williams (RB53/13.01/149) - Joe Williams is in one of the best situations that any rookie running back could be in. He was drafted by a completely fresh and new coaching staff, he's behind an injury prone running back, but most importantly, he's a running back in Kyle Shanahan's system. Remember Tevin Coleman in 2016? That's the type of season I predict Joe Williams to have, on a slightly lesser scale. A borderline RB2 in PPR formats with big play ability. In the years since the beginning of Pro Football Focus, both of the highest graded rookie running back seasons came from backs under Shanahan's control. In large PPR leagues, I'll be targeting Joe Williams for my bench 100% of the time.
James Conner (RB68/14.10/204) - I've been reading up on fantasy football a lot this year, and have not seen James Conner's name anywhere. My only guess is that people think Deangelo Williams is still in Pittsburgh. Spoiler alert - he's not. Conner is the backup to Le'Veon Bell. As we know, Bell is often off the field, having played in only 73% of games throughout his entire career. Like we saw with DeAngelo Williams in 2015, a Steeler running back who replaces Le'Veon Bell is in for huge success. According to Pro Football Focus, Pittsburgh's offensive line grades out as 3rd in the league. If you take Bell, grabbing Conner is a must. I might be taking Conner in some of my leagues regardless of my situation because of the immediate RB1 he turns into if Bell were to go down.
Fantasy Football Rookie RBs