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2013 Fantasy Football: Impact Rookies – Running Backs (RB)

By Brent Namejko

Fantasy Analyst

(photo by Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

Montee Ball could get the opportunity to be a key contributor in the high-powered Broncos offense. (photo by Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

With the NFL Draft behind us, it’s time to take a look at which rookie running backs have the most potential to make an impact on your 2013 fantasy football team. It seems many of the running backs that were drafted early went to good situations with nice offenses, but tread carefully. All too often they do not live up to the hype. Regardless, there are always a few backs that breakout (Doug Martin last year) and there might be a couple of gems in this class as well.

Montee Ball DEN | RB

Here is a prime example of a guy that will be over-drafted in my opinion in any early draft. I have seen him in recent mocks (yeah there are crazy other sites that start mock drafts now) going as early as pick 12. Are you kidding me? There is a chance Denver cuts McGahee but that is not a lock and if they do not do that then he is still the man in Denver. On the flip side of the argument, Ball is an impressive back with good hands and great pass blocking. I can understand why people are showing him love.

If you think he is going to start right away as a three down back he has a great chance to excel but at this point there are still too many hurdles for me to be drafting him over a guy like Matt Forte. Even if McGahee goes away, I suppose everyone has forgotten about Ronnie Hillman. When Denver drafted him he got the same hype that Ball is getting right now. (Hillman went pick 67 overall to Denver compared to pick 58 for Ball) I do not hate Ball by any mean but the hype has gone too far. I see him, right now, as a great RB3 maybe even a low end RB2 but if this crazy hype continues there is little to no chance of him being there late to get him at that spot.

Le’Veon Bell PIT | RB

Fantasy rookie production is often as much about opportunity as it is about talent and I believe Bell has a great opportunity to be the best rookie running back this season. I am not sure how Lacy and Ball are getting all the love and this guy is being left out. Bell, in my opinion, has the best chance to be that three down back and based on how the Steelers offense works he should be a lock for double digit touchdowns. The Steelers did resign Redman and have Dwyer but we saw what they did last year as the Steelers missed the playoffs.

All we hear about is how Montee Ball is this great pass blocker but Bell is clearly the best pass blocking running back coming into the NFL this year. Just look at the guy, he is over six feet and 230 pounds. Every draft when the Steelers pick you will hear how whatever player was selected “perfectly fits their team” but in Bell’s case I truly believe this. He should average a decent amount of yards per carry and find the endzone quite a bit this year. I see him as a solid RB2 that you can get later in your draft. Bell will be on all of my teams this year.

Eddie Lacy GB | RB

Prior to the draft Lacy was supposed to be the only running back that might be taken in the first round and he ended up dropping to the second and being the fourth back off the board. Early reports are saying it was due to an injury scare with his toe but I think there is more to that story. If you look at Lacy’s offensive line last year they were basically all drafted early and the only one not drafted is still in college and expected to be a top five pick next year. Still, he could not have landed in a better spot. Benson as an every down back was somewhat productive on the Packers simply since all defensives have to be most concerned with their passing attack.

Lacy is projecting as the starter but later in the draft the Packers took Jonathan Franklin so it might be a little of a timeshare and a mess out there. I think the upside is there with Lacy but similar to Ball the hype is getting out of control. If you can get him as a RB3 that is great value but that might be tough to do.

Giovani Bernard CIN | RB

So the first back taken in the draft is getting the least amount of love but for good reason. Giovani Bernard is a quick back but not seen as anything more than a change of pace back and a great return man. Early reports are saying that the Law Firm will still get the majority of the carries with Bernard coming in for the homerun scare. I am not a huge fan of Bernard however, I think he is a great later round gamble. Bernard reminds me of Charles and early in Charles career he was not the “starter” but in limited touches had a huge fantasy impact. This speedster could surprise people this year.

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