Did you know that one-third of the “RB1s” last year were rookies? Last year we saw rookie Running Backs make a huge impact. Alvin Kamara (RB3), Kareem Hunt (RB4), Leonard Fournette (RB9), and Christian McCaffrey (RB10) were all elite fantasy options during their rookie campaigns.
The 2018 NFL Draft was proclaimed by many to have the best RB class in recent memory, and there is no doubt this class is loaded with talent at the position. It wouldn’t be crazy to say that the most recent RB class could outperform the 2017 group, not only this year, but also in years to come.
With that said, here are my Rookie RB Fantasy Football Rankings for Redraft and Dynasty. I hope you enjoy.
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1. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants
This is obviously a no-brainer. Saquon Barkley is an elite fantasy option in 2018, and he could easily finish as a top-5 RB. Barkley will benefit from an improved Giants o-line, and he will be featured heavily in Pat Shurmur’s offense. Barkley could see 20-25 touches per game, and he will be a threat as not only a runner, but also a receiver. Shumur had great success in 2017 with Dalvin Cook and Jerrick McKinnon, but Barkley should be even better in 2018.
2018 Projection: 1170 rush yards, 62 rec, 545 rec yards, 13 Total TDs
2. Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks
Rashaad Penny has a big opportunity to succeed in Seattle. The Seahawks were at their best on Offense when Russell Wilson had a reliable running mate next to him, and this will be the case in 2018 & beyond with Penny now in the backfield. Penny best value is his versatility, and he should be a true every-down back for Seattle. Penny has RB1 upside in 2018, and he should be a reliable option, especially in PPR formats. Penny should see a lot of work in the passing game, and will be a hard-nosed runner to help out Seattle’s offense.
2018 Projection: 920 rush yards, 58 rec, 575 rec yards, 11 Total TDs
3. Sony Michel, New England Patriots
If the Patriots and Bill Belichick were willing to invest a First Round pick on a Running Back, there surely is a plan to utilize his skills right away. Sony Michel has exactly the skillset to thrive as a lead-back in New England. Imagine that, a non RB by-committee system for the Patriots. It could happen in 2018. Sony Michel should dominate the Patriots backfield, and he will fill the void left by Dion Lewis. Lewis was the 13th best RB (high-end RB2) in PPR in 2017, and don’t be surprised if Sony Michel does even better than that in 2018. Michel has legitimate RB1 potential, and should be electric in New England.
2018 Projection: 855 rush yards, 49 rec, 505 rec yards, 9 Total TDs
4. Ronald Jones II, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Ronald Jones has a great opportunity in a wide-open Buccaneers backfield. Doug Martin is out, and Jones should prove to be an upgrade in 2018 and beyond. Jones is limited in the passing game, but he should still see a consistent amount of touches to be productive. I project Jones as a solid RB2 option, but he could be even better if the Buccaneers’ offense breaks out.
2018 Projection: 905 rush yards, 32 rec, 285 rec yards, 8 Total TDs
5. Derrius Guice, Washington Redskins
Derrius Guice took an unexpected tumble in the Draft, but he found a great home in Washington. My only concern for Guice is the presence of Chris Thompson. Thompson will keep his role as the third-down back for Washington, and that does limit Guice’s ceiling in PPR. Regardless, Guice is a very talented back who will be productive in his rookie year. Guice has definite RB1 potential, but he also has the lowest floor if he turns out to be a “Touchdown Dependent” RB. Guice should be viewed as a viable RB2 option, but he surely will have weeks where he puts up RB1 numbers.
2018 Projection: 1070 rush yards, 29 rec, 270 rec yards, 9 Total TDs
1. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants
Barkley has the best outlook in not only 2018, but also in the years to come. The Giants offense is filled with explosive weapons, and with a rebuilt offensive line, and Pat Shurmur at the helm, the sky is the limit for Saquon Barkley. Barkley should 100% be the first pick in all dynasty formats. If you have the 1.02 and Barkley is there, throw a party.
2. Sony Michel, New England Patriots
Michel is my RB2 here. While New England recently hasn’t been a very consistent place for RBs, I think Michel will break that mold. Why? Well, the Patriots have not had a blue-chip talent like Michel in the backfield in years, and also we rarely see the Patriots take an RB early in the draft. Michel should be an consistent RB1 in the near future.
3. Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks
Rashaad Penny is just below Sony Michel for me because of the difference in the trends of the two teams. Seattle is undergoing some major changes, and there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding their offense. Penny will undoubtedly be productive, but there is major concern about Seattle’s o-line, and question marks around the team as a whole. With a questionable defense, Seattle could end up playing from behind often. That is good news for Russell Wilson, but not the best for Rashaad Penny. Penny definitely has RB1 upside, but “buyer beware” of the state of the Seahawks.
4. Derrius Guice, Washington Redskins
Derrius Guice was drafted to become the workhorse back for the Redskins, and he will carve himself that role out in no-time. With Guice, there is some concern with his durability, and questions if he can thrive in the passing game. Guice could end up as the second best (or even best) RB in this rookie class. He is that good. But there are concerns that come along with Guice. Regarless, you cannot go wrong taking Guice anywhere in the top five of your Dynasty draft.
5. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns
Nick Chubb has an interesting situation. Chubb is definitely a top-five talent (perhaps top-three) in this RB class, but he may struggle in the beginning of his career to find meaningful playing time. Chubb joins talented backfield already featuring Duke Johnson (PPR RB12) and Carlos Hyde (PPR RB8). It will be very hard for Chubb to become a feature back with those two both around. Eventually, when Chubb gets his shot, he could be very, very good. Chubb has great upside, but he likely won’t get a chance to shine for at least one more season.
Thanks for checking this list out! If you enjoyed this article, let us know by leaving a comment, or sending a tweet to @FrontRowNFL.
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Founder and writer for Front Row Football (2018-present).
Writer for Armed Rodgery (2016-2017).