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Let The Kids Play - A Case For Rookie RBs Over Veterans In Redraft

The common sentiment is to take established veterans over rookies in redraft leagues since we know what we are going to get out of them. If the last few seasons have taught us anything, especially at the running back position, it is that this may not always be the right strategy.

Players with the talent of David Johnson and LeVeon Bell are always going to be attractive at the top of your draft. They are great running backs who can dominate a game both through the rush game and receiving game. But when there are rookies who can provide almost the same value at a much lower draft capital, it makes much more sense to use a high pick at the wide receiver position.

With most leagues being PPR leagues, this can really bring up the value of a player like Antonio Brown or DeAndre Hopkins. Their reception totals are going to fluctuate much less from year to year and, more importantly, in redraft they will fluctuate less on a weekly basis as well. Knowing where to find value in fantasy drafts leads to getting better players and better teams. A great place to find just such value is with rookie running backs over veteran running backs.

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Age Ain't Nothin' But A Number

In both of the last two seasons in the NFL, the leading rusher has been a rookie. First, in 2016, the highly touted and highly drafted was the leading rusher. Well, he was supposed to do so, he was drafted in the first round of both fantasy drafts as well as the NFL to do just this. Well, let us go to 2017 then. Kareem Hunt was not even supposed to be the starter for the Kansas City Chiefs. Had Spencer Ware not gone down in the preseason, he would have been at best a committee back as a third-round draft pick from Toledo.

Due to the injury to Ware, Hunt got his chance to shine and showed what he could do in the run game as well as the receiving game accounting for over 40% of all offensive yards for the Chiefs.

Although you may say these are only a few examples, there are more as well. Todd Gurley had a great rookie season in 2015 after missing the first four games due to injury and still came back to be a top-10 finisher at the position. Last season Alvin Kamara, after starting slowly, exploded in the second half to finish with 120 rushes for 728 yards and eight touchdowns to go along with 81 receptions for 824 yards and an additional five touchdowns. He was drafted with an ADP of 13.12 as the running back 59 behind such players as Paul Perkins, Samaje Perine, Joe Williams and even Eddie Lacy.

With players like Leonard Fournette also finishing in the top 10 in their rookie year, it is not altogether true anymore to take established veterans over the rookies who are just coming into the league. With players being more vigil of injury and sitting out games or even retiring earlier and earlier it is going to be imperative for you to break away from the thinking of the traditional fantasy mindset. Looking at past recent seasons as proof, we can see the value of a Derrius Guice in the third round or a Rashaad Penny in the fourth round more so then we could just five years ago.

Whether it be a rookie or a veteran the most important item to look for in a running back is opportunity. If a player, whether it be veteran or rookie, has the opportunity, you could find pay dirt in taking them. If such paydirt comes later in the draft with a rookie, allowing for a better player to be taken in higher rounds, you’d be crazy not to do it.


More 2018 Fantasy Football Draft Strategy