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In the world of fantasy football, there isn't a position more important or as directly linked to the success of a team as the running back position.

Nowadays, there are a ton of young running backs that are producing on RB1 /Elite levels. Here we're going to sift through the players whose stock in dynasty leagues is increasing, followed up by part two, which will pertain to players whose stock is falling.

The following three players listed are guys whose shares have risen the most this offseason at this position. When the stock is up on a player, it can often lead to people reaching on draft day. I'm here to tell you if you pull the trigger earlier then projected on a running back, make sure you pick one of these three.

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Stock Skyrocketing

Jerick McKinnon, San Francisco 49ers

No NFL player's stock has risen more this offseason than Jerick McKinnon. He went from a backup role and no more than a flex play in fantasy to now potentially being a centerpiece in Kyle Shanahan's 49ers offense. Shanahan's offense places a huge emphasis on his running backs running routes from the backfield. This is evidenced by the fact that in his tenure with the Falcons, Devonta Freeman accrued 127 receptions total in the 2015-2016 seasons. With a new franchise quarterback, it makes sense to go get him a trustworthy security blanket. Expectations are high as he's being drafted in the second round in startups, and with good reason. He's a matchup nightmare with the athletic ability to line up all over the field and hurt you whenever he has the ball in his hands. If you plan on entering a PPR league, Mckinnon should be looked at as a low-end RB1 with upside.

Looking back on his Minnesota days, Mckinnon's stats don't paint a picture of a three-down workhorse back to be. Especially considering the fact when Shanahan was in Atlanta, the offense was most dangerous when the duo of Freeman and Coleman were both involved. As far as who the Robin to Mckinnon's Batman will be, look to Matt Breida to have a role that will spell McKinnon during the season. In his last season as a Viking, Mckinnon played in all 16 games and rushed 150 times for 570 yards and three touchdowns. Through the air is where he shines though. He caught 51 passes for 421 yards and two more scores through the air. Kyle Shanahan should find several ways to put this talented back into favorable situations.

Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals

This very well could be a breakout year for Joe Mixon. The departure of Jeremy Hill reaffirms that Mixon is unquestionably going to be the Week 1 starting running back, barring an injury. Mixon has the potential to be a three-down workhorse, and with an improved offensive line that includes Cordy Glenn, a talented left tackle when healthy. Expect an increased workload and production from this former Oklahoma Sooner. In the previous year, Mixon struggled in the 14 games he played, with 178 carries for 626 yards and four touchdowns. He also tallied up 30 receptions on 34 targets for another 287 yards receiving. Underwhelming as those stats Mixon is not the sole source of blame. Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler were both lost in free agency which lead to the Bengals fielding one of the worst offensive lines in football last year. They ended up finishing 29th in rushing and let up 40 sacks. The future is bright for Mixon in 2018 and if this offense can find some balance, we may have a fantasy stud in the making. Still just 22 years of age, there is a lot of tread left on these tires. If you can nab him in a dynasty draft early on, you will not be disappointed.

Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans

The Bruiser, Henry seemed to be in line for a massive workload in a run-heavy offense with no competition for touches in sight. That all changed when Dion Lewis got PAID. The addition of Lewis doesn't destroy Henry's fantasy value, but it certainly doesn't help either. I expect Derrick Henry to still finish as a top-15 running back, most likely on the lower end. Think of Jordan Howard for a fantasy production comparison. It's not out of the question that Henry exceeds expectations due to his massive frame and impressive speed. He will be a lot for defenses to handle for 60 minutes. His stats from last season read: 176 carries for 744 yards and five touchdowns. He also added 11 receptions for 136 yards and one touchdown. Last year the Titans scored 33 touchdowns on offense and 18 of those were on the ground, and with Demarco Murray now gone Henry should be in line for all running plays inside the five.

Keep your eyes on these guys come draft day, or even in trade talks if you can acquire one of these players before the season, you will add tremendous upside to your roster. Not just for this season either as all three of them are 26 or younger. It's not as hard to find young productive running backs in this day and age, but you could do worse than landing these players on your squad.

 

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