5. Spencer Ware, Kansas City Chiefs
Spencer Ware is in an interesting situation in Kansas City. The Chiefs moved on from longtime face of the franchise, Jamaal Charles, in order to get a younger healthier backfield. This looked to bode well for Ware, as he took over the starting gig last season and was penciled in as the starter this season as well. However, throughout training camp there has been talk of rookie Kareem Hunt and 4th year player Charcandrick West getting more playing time this season.
Last season, Ware’s production was not outstanding either. In 14 games he ran for 921 yards and only three touchdowns. In fantasy football, touchdowns matter a whole lot more than yards, and as the full time back last year Ware had less rushing touchdowns than his quarterback, Alex Smith. If West and Hunt do take more snaps away from Ware, then he might not have the breakout season that many in the fantasy world are expecting.
4. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals
Typically, it has been hard to trust rookie running backs in fantasy football, simply because rookies take time to adjust to the NFL. There are a few exceptions, but those running backs are taken in the top 10 of the draft, not the 2nd round like Mixon was this year. The speed of the game is much faster and players cannot always rely on their extreme physical talent to make plays because all the players on the field are gifted.
There has been a lot of talk of Mixon being the lead back in what I already considered the most talented backfield in the league. Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard make the best one-two backfield with Hill being the physical downhill runner, and Bernard being the speedy pass catching back. These two backs complement each other so well that unless one is traded, I don’t see how the Bengals make room for Mixon to be fantasy relevant.
3. C. J. Anderson, Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos backfield is quickly turning into one of the most crowded positions on the roster, unfortunately for them it’s just not full of talent. Over the offseason, the Broncos signed both Jamaal Charles and Steven Ridley, both of whom are former starters that have rushed for over a thousand yards, something Anderson has never done. They also drafted De’Angelo Henderson in the 6th round of the 2017 draft, and he has been turning heads and rising up the depth chart ever since. In fact, Henderson took first team reps in the Broncos practices against the 49ers.
The Broncos offensive line was near the bottom of the league last year in terms of rushing attack, but they have replaced four of the five linemen going into this season. I’m not sure it would be safe to trust the high turnover for the offensive line, especially with how directly it correlates to success in the running game.
C.J. Anderson has been underwhelming his entire Broncos career, but has shown enough flashes of greatness for Denver to pay him like a Pro Bowl talent. C.J. might rush for 1,000 yards, but he also might be replaced midway through the season.
2. Eddie Lacy, Seattle Seahawks
Eddie Lacy has met all the weight requirements going into the 2017 season with the Seahawks, but that is the reason he is overrated. Every running back and every player in the NFL must meet some sort of weight standards for their unique situation, but it is never a good thing when the only news the media covers about a player is their weight. Lacy might end up having a better season than last year, purely based on physical condition, but he will have a lot of competition to deal with.
One of the deepest positions on the Seahawks roster besides their defensive secondary is the running back position. As the depth chart stands now; Thomas Rawls is the starter, followed by Lacy, Alex Collins, and C.J. Prosise. Rawls will end up being the starter for week one of the season, but any of the other three backs have the ability to take the starting job at any point.
1. Marshawn Lynch, Oakland Raiders
Perhaps one of the most intriguing players in football this year is Marshawn Lynch. After retiring from the Seahawks in 2015, “Beast Mode” sat out the entire 2016 season; then in the spring of 2017, rumors were floating around that he wanted to return to the game, but only if he could play for his hometown team. The Raiders made it happen, and then the expectations started growing.
The Raiders offense is going to be very good this year, but their defense won’t be anything spectacular. Last season the Raiders offense was near the top of the league with 26.0 points per game, but the defense was near the bottom with 24.1 points allowed per game. Most games that are shootouts tend to be pass heavy in today’s NFL, so do not expect the Raiders to rely on the run game more.
For these reasons, Marshawn might be able to be a serviceable back for the Raiders this year, but we should not expect him to be the All-Pro running back that he was 3 years ago in Seattle.