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Early 2018 Breakouts - Running Back

As we slowly get closer to the 2018 NFL Draft, we are beginning to get an idea of where players are landing. There are plenty of question marks out there still between free agency and the 2018 NFL Draft, but there are definitely some places where the starting lineups are beginning to take shape.

In the last few years, the running back position has re-taken the fantasy world by storm after suffering a poor run. With workhorse backs like David Johnson and Ezekiel Elliott demonstrating that having a large workload and high level of talent will almost guarantee fantasy success, the running back position has been restored to its rightful place atop the fantasy totem pole.

However, with the upcoming NFL Draft just around the corner, it remains to be seen how the running back depth charts will shape up for the majority of the teams prior to the upcoming season. With plenty of potential for standout performances from the men between the trenches in the league, let's take a look at some of the early breakouts going into the 2018 fantasy football season.

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Early Running Back Breakouts for 2018

Derrick Henry (RB, TEN)

After spending the first two seasons of his career as an understudy to Demarco Murray, Derrick Henry should finally be given the reins to be a true workhorse back in his third professional season. Although Murray is still on the roster, he looked far from his best at the end of last season, and it was Henry who ran rampant for the Titans during the playoffs. With 744 yards and five touchdowns on the ground last year, it could be argued that Henry technically has already broken out. However, we haven't seen Henry when he has the full keys to the running back room; remember, in his final season for Alabama, Henry rushed for over 2,200 yards and had 28 rushing scores.

If you play fantasy football, you have likely been waiting for this moment for a few years. Don't be afraid to pay the premium cost to acquire Henry in any format this season. From this point in the offseason, even before any developments on Demarco Murray's role heading into the 2018 season, Henry should be viewed as a top-tier candidate for a monster breakout season as the main running back in the Titans backfield this year.

Joe Mixon (RB, CIN)

With just over 900 total yards from scrimmage in the 2017 season, Joe Mixon was the leading rusher for the Bengals. However, after averaging just 3.5 yards per carry and being replaced down the stretch by fellow running back Giovanni Bernard, Mixon's 2018 outlook is far from secure given the overall poor year of the highly touted back coming out of college. With Mixon's ability on the ball in full display in Oklahoma, expectations were high going into last season. However, Mixon disappointed many of the fantasy owners who took him early in drafts with several mediocre and underwhelming performances.

Despite his seeming lack of appeal going into the 2018 season, Mixon still showed at points that he has the talent to be a true workhorse in the NFL at the next level. With the Bengals firing head coach Marvin Lewis, Mixon could solidify his status as the undisputed starter going into the season; his only competition would be Giovanni Bernard with Jeremy Hill set to test free agency. If Mixon is able to win the starting job and Cincinnati is able to improve their offensive-line play, the young running back could have a true breakout season and emerge as one of the premier backs in the NFL for years to come.

Marlon Mack (RB, IND)

Operating primarily as a third-down back for the majority of the 2017 season, rookie Marlon Mack posted mediocre stat lines across the board. With just under 600 yards working behind Frank Gore, Mack was often called upon to produce a big play and delivered on several occasions. With reports out of Indianapolis suggesting that they will not re-sign Frank Gore, it is Mack's job to win as his only source of competition looks to be Robert Turbin. However, the Colts could end up selecting a running back in this year's draft (perhaps even Saquon Barkley). If they do not draft a high-profile name, however, Mack could end up being a difference maker at the position and experience a breakout season in his sophomore campaign. Keep an eye on the speedy tailback as the season approaches, because the former USF man could provide huge returns on his value if he is able to become a workhorse running back in the 2018 season.


More Breakouts & Draft Values