Last year it was the trio of rookie QBs who stole the fantasy spotlight, while rookie RBs Trent Richardson, Alfred Morris and Doug Martin stamped the tickets for fake football owner’s trips to fantasy title-town.
Who are the 2013 rookie RBs to target?
If only there was a simple answer. Instead, this season’s rookie RBs are largely cast into support roles, or committees.
Le’Veon Bell looks like the only one set to grab 3 down touches as of right now, but the rookie RBs in the news today are Joseph Randle and Giovani Bernard, who also hold intriguing fantasy relevance.
The Cowboy finally had the cast removed from his thumb and is focusing on the positives after missing time on the field. Randle has suggested that he’ll come into the season in the best shape he has ever been in and has been grinding on the plays in the playbook.
Joseph Randle’s immediate fantasy impact is likely limited, but he is more than just a DeMarco Murray handcuff, because of Murray’s inability to stay on the field. If at any time Randle becomes the Cowboys starting running back he’ll have significant value.
Furthermore, if the Cowboys spell Murray in an effort to limit the wear on his body and keep him healthy, Randle could have deep league value immediately. Make sure to keep Randle on your fantasy-radar throughout training camp and move him up and down your draft list as his role in the potent Cowboys offense becomes clearer.
Many scouts had Bernard pegged as the top back in the 2013 NFL Draft, so when he was the first off the board at 37th overall, there should have been little surprise. With only the much criticized BenJarvus Green-Ellis standing in Bernard’s way, there is plenty of fantasy appeal to the Bengals’ rookie rusher.
The news today is that the Bengals plan to utilize Bernard in the passing game and allow him to capitalize on his ability to make people miss at the second level. With A.J. Green capable of spreading the field and needing frequent double coverage, there may be plenty of opportunities for Bernard to scamper for yardage in chunks.
It is likely that as the season progresses the Bengals will not be able to keep Bernard on the sidelines, as talent usually trumps all in the NFL. So if Bernard can get on the better half of the committees’ touches count, you can expect big things from the rookie. It is likely asking too much for him to gain the stranglehold of the goal line opportunities though.
Update: Per a report from PFT citing the team’s website Bernard has seen time at receiver with the Bengals this offseason and could get some regular season snaps there as well. While this isn’t necessarily going to have an impact on his fantasy value, it does suggest that the team is interested in getting the ball in his hands, which is never bad news when projecting fantasy value. Additionally, he gets a PPR uptick just from the mere mention of catches.
And more positive propaganda:
#Bengals RBs could get interesting in camp. Bernard way more talented than BJGE. Could be like Martin/Blount where Gio just blows him away.
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) July 3, 2013
July 5th Update: The reports from the Bengals keep getting better, from Bengals.com