With the first 2 days the NFL Draft in the books, it’s time to take a look at how well some of the rookie RBs fit into their new systems. We will look at the landing spots of each RB selected in Rounds 1-3. In total, there were 7 RBs selected and their roles fall from instant starter to uncertain to see the field. Let’s analyze the fantasy fits of the NFL’s newest rushers.
Josh Jacobs – Oakland Raiders
Round 1, Pick 24 (24th Overall)
Coming into the draft, Jacobs was largely the consensus #1 RB. The Raiders are one of, if not the most, RB-needy teams in the NFL right now. It’s a match made in fantasy football heaven. Jacobs should be in line for at least 200 carries and could easily eclipse that number. He has the talent to turn that into a 1,000-yard season but it should be noted that he never saw more than 120 carries in a single season at Alabama. The Oakland passing attack should be much improved in 2019, which should free up some running room for the Raider running backs that they did not have last season. Jalen Richard’s prowess as a pass-catcher somewhat lowers Jacobs’ ceiling but he should have a solid floor as an NFL rookie.
2019 Competition: Isaiah Crowell, Jalen Richard
Miles Sanders – Philadelphia Eagles
Round 2, Pick 21 (53rd Overall)
Doug Pederson does not care about your fantasy team. After trading for Jordan Howard, the Eagles immediately add a guy to steal touches. Sanders was stuck behind 2018 ROY Saquan Barkley until last year, so we only have one year of stats to digest what he may be able to do. He had a solid 2018 at Penn State, eclipsing 1200 yards and 9 TDs. He also added 24 catches, which could translate well to a 3rd down role for the Eagles. The Philadelphia backfield is quite crowded right now, but Sanders should set himself apart and fall into the primary backup role to Howard by Week 1. The way Pederson has used RBs to this point limits his fantasy upside.
Darrell Henderson – Los Angeles Rams
Round 3, Pick 6 (70th Overall)
Henderson ended his 2018 season at Memphis as the 2nd leading rusher in the country with over 1900 yards and 22 TDs. He enters a situation where he will not be asked to be a workhorse or even a starter right away but could start the season as Todd Gurley‘s handcuff. Gurley’s 2018 ended with inconsistent usage and injury concerns, so that could still make Henderson an excellent fantasy value…or Gurley could be Gurley and he may never see the field. While his speed and home-run ability make him a formidable pass-catcher, he isn’t exactly built for pass-blocking and that could limit in a 3rd down capacity.
David Montgomery – Chicago Bears
Round 3, Pick 10 (74th Overall)
When the Bears traded Jordan Howard and signed Mike Davis, the thought process seemed clear: Get the ever-dangerous Tarik Cohen more carries and give Davis whatever Cohen couldn’t handle. The addition of Montgomery muddies things. Montgomery is built for the NFL grind and is coming off of back to back 250+ carry, 1100+ yard, 10+ TD seasons at Iowa State. He led the team in rushing in all 3 of his season there. He is not a speed threat, but to be fair that’s not what the Bears will ask of him. Tarik Cohen is there to be the home-run threat pass-catcher, Chicago wants a runner to compliment him. If Montgomery can outplay Davis in the preseason, he has a chance to be the primary runner in an up-and-coming offense.
2019 Competition: Mike Davis, Tarik Cohen
Devin Singletary – Buffalo Bills
Round 3, Pick 11 (75th Overall)
It is fair to say that Devin Singletary has a nose for the endzone. In his 3 seasons at FAU, Singletary amassed a massive 66 rushing TDs, including 32 endzone visits in 2017. He’s not very big and not especially fast but his rushing production simply cannot be ignored. His best receiving season was his freshman year but he could play in a 3rd down role if the Bills wanted to rest their veteran RBS. If Buffalo starts the season with both Shady McCoy and Frank Gore on the roster, it will be hard for Singletary to find his way to the field but a year of learning behind those 2 veterans could set him up for long-term success.
2019 Competition: LeSean McCoy, Frank Gore
Damien Harris to the New England Patriots
Round 3, Pick 24 (88th Overall)
Harris is a solid running back that finds himself in an unfortunate situation…and one that he is used to. He is not the most talented RB on his roster and will have trouble carving out any type of consistent role. In college, he split time with Derrick Henry at first and later with 2019 1st Rounder Josh Jacobs. In New England, he will be behind 2018 1st round pick Sony Michel, who was solid as a rookie, and pass-catching stalwart James White. Harris is a good runner, he rushed for over 1000 yards in both his Sophmore and Junior years and averaged over 7 YPC in both of those seasons. If either Michel or White was to suffer an injury, Harris could put up formidable numbers in one of the league’s premier offenses. If they don’t, he will likely steal just enough carries from Michel to kill both of their fantasy values.
2019 Competition: Sony Michel, James White
Alexander Mattison to the Minnesota Vikings
Round 3, Pick 39 (103rd Overall)
Alexander Mattison was drafted to be a compliment to Dalvin Cook, not a replacement. During his final season at Boise State, Mattison ended 2018 with over 1400 yards and 17 TDs. He also caught 60 passes during his time in college. With Latavius Murray leaving for New Orleans, Minnesota is a perfect landing spot for a young RB. Mattison has almost no competition to enter the year as Cook’s primary backup and if Cook misses time, as he did in both of his first 2 seasons, then Mattison could see significant time on the field.