6 Fantasy Football Running Backs Primed to Break Out
The RB position has made a transformation this season, from the ugly duckling no one wanted to tango with at the school dance, to the hot chick in high demand. Running backs are flying off the board in the first round at a fever pitch, so much so that if you’re picking from the back end of a draft you get legit FOMO (fear of missing out).
Don’t fret though. There are plenty of backs in the later rounds with legit potential, so you can feel confident about grabbing a top receiver or two, and still roll with a Zero-RB strategy, or something similar, if desired. For this piece, a breakout running back is a player who has the potential to outperform his average draft price (ADP), regardless of age, time in the league, or backfield status. Below you will find two tiers of breakout running backs: Fresh Start and Post-Hype.
Fresh Start Breakout Running Backs
The following RBs find themselves in an enhanced situation this season, giving them the opportunity to outproduce expectations for a variety of reasons.
Tarik Cohen, Bears
Stifled by the John Fox regime in Chicago last season, Cohen gets a new lease on his backfield life with Matt Nagy at the helm. We should see a rise in both floor and ceiling for the sophomore back this season, as he’s rumored to be all over the field in Chicago’s offense thus far.
Despite being underutilized last season, Cohen still managed to finish 10th at the position in targets (71) and 15th in targets per game (4.4). His 53 receptions from 2017 should be Cohen’s floor under Nagy, translating to more fantasy points in PPR formats. Posting just 8.8 touches per game last season, that number should also increase as Cohen becomes more involved in this new-look Chicago offense.
Even with Jordan Howard as the starter in the Bears backfield, Cohen’s ability as a pass-catcher sets him apart and earns him the breakout moniker for me this season. At his current RB31 ADP, the second-year back makes an excellent RB2 candidate with upside, particularly in PPR leagues.
Kenyan Drake, Dolphins
After Dolphins starter Jay Ajayi was traded to the Eagles during Week 8 of 2017, Drake was thrust into the lead-back role and delivered. From Weeks 9–17, the sophomore posted 134.1 PPR points, the seventh-highest among all RBs in that time frame. The Dolphins record was a paltry 2-7 during that run, and Drake was able to overcome negative game scripts to produce in the fantasy realm.
This season he comes into training camp with a bit more meat on his bones and the title of starting RB, but he could have rookie Kalen Ballage breathing down his neck. If Drake can assume a workhorse role in Miami’s offense, he should outperform his RB17 ADP, possibly creeping into the top-12 conversation.
Rex Burkhead, Patriots
Continue reading to see why Jen has Rex Burkhead pegged as a fresh start breakout running back and three more post-hype breakout running backs...
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