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Biggest Surprises of 2017 - Running Backs

Every fantasy season is full of surprises - that's what makes fantasy football so exciting. Whether it’s breakout players, veterans who fall off, or rookies shocking the world, there’s always something that just flat-out surprises us.

This year, there were some major shocks at the RB position. The New Orleans Saints moving from their typical pass-heavy offense that they’ve had in the past, to more of a run-first approach, was one of the most unexpected developments at the RB position this year. There were also a few other players that came out of nowhere in 2017 to put up great value.

As we prepare for the conclusion of the 2017 NFL season with the upcoming Super Bowl, here's a look at some of the biggest surprises at running back.

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Surprise Running Backs of 2017

Alvin Kamara/Mark Ingram (RB, NO)

Heading into the 2017 season, there was a lot of speculation about who would be the RB to own in New Orleans. With the signing of veteran Adrian Peterson, there was a lot of hesitation about Alvin Kamara, and it was safe to assume that it would take some time for him to become fantasy-relevant. That quickly changed as just three weeks in, he was cracking double digit fantasy points in PPR scoring leagues. His involvement in the pass-game was clear from early on, and his explosive play-making ability was no joke. Kamara showed us that he’s a threat to score whenever he gets the ball in his hands. His yards per touch was a staggering 7.63 yards per touch this year, and he finished the season as the number three RB in PPR leagues.

Not only was Kamara shocking the fantasy world, but veteran RB Mark Ingram was a major surprise as well. Or was he? Ingram has been criminally underrated over the past few seasons. He finished the season as the number six RB in PPR leagues. In 2016 he was the number eight RB, in 2015 he was number 10, and in 2014 he was the number 15 RB in PPR leagues. Ingram is one of the most consistent RBs in fantasy, and an RB1 on top of that. Don’t be surprised when he gets undervalued heading into 2018 again, but let’s also not be too surprised when he shocks us all again.

Todd Gurley (RB, LAR)

After finishing the 2016 season as the RB15 in PPR leagues, there was a lot of question about Todd Gurley heading into 2017. You probably heard some stats about how Todd Gurley hasn’t rushed for over 100 yards since 2015, so there was definitely some cause for concern. It wasn’t like Gurley wasn’t getting the opportunity to succeed, he had double-digit carries in every game of 2016. Whether you want to credit the Rams offensive success to new head coach Sean McVay or the breakout of Jared Goff, there’s one thing that’s certain - Gurley is a stud. He’s made a strong case as the number one overall RB for dynasty rankings, and rightfully so. From being considered a potential bust in 2016, to being arguably the best RB in fantasy football, it’s safe to say Gurley was a nice surprise this year.

Chris Thompson (RB, WAS)

Chris Thompson has got to be one of the biggest surprises in all of fantasy football this year, which made his season-ending injury all the more disappointing for NFL fans, and fantasy owners alike. In Week 11 against the Saints, he fractured his fibula, bringing his surprisingly fantastic season to a halt. In the first 10 weeks, he was the number 10 RB in PPR leagues. Thompson was a guy that you more than likely grabbed off the waiver wire early on in your redraft leagues, and he was carrying you as a weekly starter.

The Redskins backfield as a whole was one that I wasn’t touching this past off-season during my fantasy drafts. The somewhat of a breakout performance from Rob Kelley at the end of 2015 had some owners intrigued, then the addition of rookie Samaje Perine was even more of a cause for concern. Thompson had his pass-catching role going for him, but it’s safe to say that no one was really expecting this. Thompson was a very nice surprise to fantasy owners, despite his season getting cut short.

Duke Johnson (RB, CLE)

Similar to Chris Thompson, Cleveland RB Duke Johnson put up a good chunk of his fantasy production through the pass game. Last off-season, Isaiah Crowell was getting just as much hype as anyone in the league. There were drafts with Crowell getting se;ected in the second round, as many fantasy teams' RB1. This caused Johnson’s ADP to get low enough that he was giving fantasy owners a nice return on his price. Johnson finished the season with 74 catches for 693 receiving yards. This put him at just over 1,000 yards from scrimmage, and ultimately finishing the season as the 11th RB in PPR leagues. A very nice surprise for fantasy owners this year as well.


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