We can now add Joe Mixon to the list of
rookie running backs that are viable starts in fantasy football.
Grab a Helmet
Mixon @ CLE: Marvin Lewis, never one to heap praise
on a lowly rookie, recently described Mixon as “way better than
expected,” … talk he backed up by featuring the former Sooner
to the tune of 21 touches last Sunday at Lambeau Field. That’s
three times as many as either Gio Bernard or Jeremy Hill received
and in Mixon’s third career game, no less. Though it didn’t net
the Bengals a victory they sorely needed, it did offer a glimpse
into the future of the squad’s offense, a future that could be
very bright indeed. The future is now for fantasy owners if the
kid gets 20+ touches per game. The only way the head Bengal doesn’t
burn his ninth life this year is if he gets the ball in the hands
of his most talented players. A.J. Green is one, for sure, but
Mixon is too. Start him now.
Cook v. DET or Christian
McCaffrey @ NE: These two greenhorns have certainly
lived up to their billing as dual-threat game-changers thus far.
Though Cook has done most of his damage on the ground (288 rushing
yards, second overall), he’s on pace for over 50 receptions, something
his more famous predecessor, Adrian Peterson, never did in Minneapolis.
McCaffrey, meanwhile, is on pace for almost double that (nine
receptions for 101 yards just last week) and though he’s not doing
much on the ground yet, it’s probably only a matter of time before
he starts making some more noise there, as well. All things being
equal, you need the guys in your lineup to be a focal point of
their offenses. Check and check for Cook and McCaffrey and if
they can start finding the end zone just a little more often,
look out. Start them both in Week 4.
Fournette @ NYJ: In case you didn’t get the memo, these
rookie backs are GOOD! It’s too early to tell, but the 2017 class
could go down as one of the best RB classes of all time…and we
haven’t even mentioned the most productive one yet. No, it’s not
Fournette despite his lofty draft position (No.4 overall), but
he’s been surprisingly solid. I say “surprisingly” because he
was actually my least favorite of the bunch coming out of college.
Traditional, straight-ahead runners tend to be very TD-dependent
in the bigs as just plowing over NFL defenders isn’t as easy as
it was in college. Moreover, Fournette wasn’t used much as a receiver
at LSU, making him less versatile than his classmates. Or so I
thought. He’s on pace to tally 43 receptions this year and has
already rushed for almost 200 yards and three scores. I stand
Grab a Gatorade
Kamara @ MIA: OK, so not every rookie running back
is worth starting this week. Kamara, a third-round pick from Tennessee,
has been a pleasant surprise down in the Big Easy and could very
well end up being the New Orleans back to own in the longer run.
However, he’s firmly behind Mark Ingram, the solid but unspectacular
starter, and even has significantly fewer carries than Adrian
Peterson, who’s looked neither solid nor spectacular so far. The
former Vol contributes in the passing game, yes, and that role
could expand in time (think Chris Thompson or Tarik Cohen), but
Willie Snead is coming off suspension this week and I suspect
that might put a lid on the rookie’s looks effective immediately.
Six touches per game as a running back aren’t enough to warrant
start consideration, not even in PPR leagues. Pass on New Orleans’
exciting third-down back for now.
Abdullah @ MIN: Abdullah’s one of those fantasy commodities
I’ve never owned and, honestly, never even considered owning.
I guess you could say I’ve never understood what all the fuss
was about. Wanna know how many touchdowns he’s scored in two-plus
professional seasons? Four. Wanna know how many times he’s fumbled
as a pro? Four. Wanna know how many times he’s rushed for over
100 yards? He hasn’t. In fact, if you take away his two best games,
Week 1 in 2015 (his very first game) and then Week 1 again in
2016, Abdullah’s averaging 39.8 yards/contest and has scored just
twice. For the sake of comparison, T.J. Yeldon, also drafted in
2015 and now a ghost in Jacksonville, has averaged 44.6 yards/game
and has scored five professional TDs. Stop waiting for the former
Husker to “break out.” He’d have done it by now if was ever going
Lynch @ DEN: Like the rest of the Oakland offense,
Beast Mode struggled mightily in our nation’s capital last
Sunday night, notching a mere 18 yards on six carries as the Raiders
were buried by Washington. Shake it off and move on to the next
one, right? The problem with the next one is that it’s in
Denver, where the Broncos recently limited Zeke Elliott to a microscopic
eight yards on nine carries. In fact, Vance Joseph’s squad
is limiting opposing rushers to only 2.6 yards/carry and has still
not allowed a rushing touchdown this season, one of only two teams
that can boast of that (Minnesota’s the other). I’d
worry about sample size except the Broncos have faced two of the
game’s best backs already, the aforementioned Elliott and
Shady McCoy up in Buffalo. Lynch used to be in those guys’
class, but no longer. Steer clear Sunday.