By Ajallade Hennis
RB Fantasy Football News
Rookie running backs are to fantasy football owners what presents are to kids at Christmas: New, exciting and hopefully something you play with for a while, but at times the interest wavers quickly. Here's an early look at five of the first-year back owners worth jumping for joy over, at least come draft time.
Overall player rankings from "The Machine" are listed next to each fantasy RB.
Todd Gurley, St. Louis Rams (No. 44)
Gurley was a top ten pick in the NFL draft and has tremendous talent. He's still suffering from an ACL tear he suffered when he was playing for the Georgia Bulldogs in college, but the Rams running back says he hopes to be ready for full participation in practice at the beginning of St. Louis' training camp, which starts in July. Trading away Zac Stacy opened up some depth chart space, but Gurley will have to compete with Tre Mason and Benjamin Cunningham for playing time. Mason is the currently the starter for St. Louis but isn't as big and strong as Gurley, so they could possibly compliment each other as a lighting and thunder type of duo. Over time, expect Gurley to become the lead runner. That might not happen until 2016, but the talented back should be worth the wait.
Melvin Gordon, San Diego Chargers (63)
Gordon is another player with a lot of talent that seems to be in a better position to make RB news than Gurley. The former Wisconsin star has drawn raves from coaches about his tremendous performance and work ethic. The coaches still admit that the young running back still needs work though. Gordon is expected to start but he has to share carries in a crowded backfield with Brandon Oliver, Danny Woodhead, and Donald Brown, which may limit his fantasy production in passing downs. High end upside and good bet to finish as the top rookie RB this seaon.
Tevin Coleman, Atlanta Falcons (93)
Of all the names on this list, nobody landed in a better spot than Coleman. The Falcons offense can score plenty of points thanks to the Matt Ryan-Julio Jones led passing game. Devonta Freeman never really got going last year as a rookie. Steven Jackson is gone from the roster. Meanwhile, the 5-foot-11 back from Indiana became the third player in Big Ten history with over 2,000 rushing yards in a season. Coleman is also good in the passing game. Even if he does not start at the start, expect Coleman to get a shot at taking over the backfield at some point.
T.J. Yeldon, Jacksonville Jaguars (101)
Consider the Alabama product as something of a sleeper, but only because he's not generating headlines like Gurley and Gordon. The Jaguars have Denard Robinson who performed very well at times, and still have Toby Gerhart. However, it is widely expected that Yeldon will get the start and he's viewed as a future every-down back. Head coach Gus Bradley even stated that Yeldon is good in the passing and running game, and that they will emphasize more on the running game this upcoming season. if the Jags can win enough games or at least remain competitive into the second half, Yeldon should receive enough work for sincere fantasy production.
Ameer Abdullah, Detroit Lions (146)
Abdullah may have trouble finding his role in the Lions crowded backfield, but don't sleep on the ex-Nebraska Cornhusker force. Starter Joique Bell is good in both the run and pass game, and the Lions coaching staff say they have high expectation for Theo Riddick. Yet the Lions spent a high pick on Abdullah for a reason. The 5-foot-9 sparkplug compiled 7,186 total yards at Nebraska, including 4,744 on the ground. Crowded backfield, sure, but Abdullah clearly knows how to run to daylight. Sneaky later round pick.
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