For my first offensive article, and first article in over a year (yes, I took a year off), I will be touching on some of the running backs (RBs) and tight ends (TEs) I deem could make immediate impacts as rookies. I will be honest: as a defensive guy, this was a bit more challenging for me to write, but also more interesting and gave me a new perspective on the positions from a rookie standpoint. My initial reaction was shock when I saw only one running back go off the board in the first round. Not only that, two tight ends were taken ahead of that running back. I think this has to do more with the lack of top end talent at the running back position this year as opposed to seasons’ past, but there were some pretty impressive tight ends taken, and I could easily see two of the three TEs covered making fantasy impacts this season. While I said running back wasn’t deep talent-wise, that doesn’t mean I think there was only one surefire RB1 taken in the draft. I could see at least two of the RBs taken making immediate impacts, and others could in the future. My goal here is to merely put these guys on your radar come draft time.
Josh Jacobs (1-24/OAK)– Jacobs averaged 5.9 yards/carry at Alabama and is a physical runner. His top competition will be Doug Martin and Jalen Richard, who figure to compete for touches behind first year workhorse, Jacobs. Jacobs is a do-it all running back, who was under-utilized due to Bama’s running back by committee approach. He is by far the top rusher in the draft and should approach 900-1000 yards rushing, to go with 5-6 touchdowns. His strength and great burst should enable him to power into the second level and be hard to track down. The sky could be the limit for Jacobs, and the Raiders have their RB of the future.
Miles Sanders (2-21/PHI)– Sanders, his first two seasons at Penn State, played behind Saquon Barkley, but when given the opportunity, showed he could be a feature back one day. His rookie campaign will be overshadowed by the Eagles signing of Jordan Howard, who is in a contract year. But the Eagles will find ways to get Sanders the rock. He has good top end speed and balance and has the ability to make defenders miss in space and in the hole. He is one of the more underrated RBs in the draft and could be a steal if he can produce in the role he’ll be given this year in Philly. If Howard falters, or Sanders shows promise early on, Sanders could become the feature three down back in Philly sooner than expected.
David Montgomery (3-9/CHI)– The Bears traded up to get the Swiss Army knife running back in Montgomery, and while the price was steep to move up, the rewards could be reaped as soon as this season. An effective route runner out of the backfield, the Bears will line him up in receiver formations and set him up for success. He has good contact balance and field vision. It may not be immediately, but the Bears could have a complete, three down back in Montgomery. But initially, he will be lined up in formations where he can get the ball quickly and then use his versatility to make defenders miss. He understands the game, and will be a weapon for Mitchell Trubisky sooner than later. He did not garner the attention of Sanders or Jacobs, but Montgomery has a high ceiling and his rookie season will be telling as to the type of running back he could ultimately could be.
Damien Harris (3-23/NE)– Harris, a shifty backer, will compete for touches in a crowded backfield., but the Patriots will find a way to best utilize his skill set. He may begin his career in a special teams role, or third down/goal line role, but the Patriots are crafty and know how to utilize their talent. No one expected Sony Michel to excel in New England last season, but he did. Whatever niche Harris finds, the Patriots are confident he will excel and will set him up for success. Harris hits holes hard, but occasionally has pad level too high, leading him to miss holes. His legs, due to the RBBC in Bama are fresh and he could be another diamond in the rough for the Pats.
T.J. Hockenson (1-8/DET)– Expectations will be lofty for Hockenson. While TE is seldom a position where many rookies thrive, Hockenson was by far the most complete end in the draft and could be undervalued. Yes, while the Lions struggle for an identity in the run game, and Hockenson will be asked to block a good bit, he could be a nice end zone target for Matthew Stafford. His stats may not be flashy this season, but he brings a toughness and another good hands receiver to target in tight spaces and he can go up and get the ball. He could approach 6 touchdowns in his rookie season, with upside for more, if the Lions can get a decent run game going, and Hockenson proves he needs to be a three down player.
Noah Fant (1-20/DEN)– Fant, the other Iowa Hawkeye (Hockenson), could be the better pass catcher of the two, and while he enters a more shaky offense, Fant could emerge as the top rookie tight end, offensively when it is all said and done. He has good acceleration, can create challenges for linebackers and creates separation with ease, for his size. A great red zone target, if Joe Flacco and he have chemistry early, or if Emmanuel Sanders falters, Fant could put up sneaky numbers for a rookie tight end.
Irv Smith Jr. (2-18/MIN)– Kyle Rudolph is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) after
2019, and with Laquon Treadwell sputtering, Smith Jr could step in and provide a
much needed punch for a Vikings offense looking for an identity. At Alabama, he
averaged a gaudy 12 yards/target and while his hands and blocking skills could
limit him somewhat, he is able to break away from linebackers and has the speed
to create in space and downfield. He is more of a work in progress than the two tight
ends above him, but he could quickly find a nice offensive niche in Minnesota, no matter how he is utilized.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Cole Freel live on Sunday May 5th, 2019 from 8pm-9:30pm EST for episode #157 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. You can listen live on blogtalk, majorleaguefantasysports.com, or download the podcast on I-Tunes or any Android podcast app. We will discuss spot starters for the coming week, plus a weekend update, and look ahead to next week.
Our guest this week is Kyle Klinker. Kyle is an experienced Major League Fantasy Baseball owner with a championship under his belt.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Cole Freel, and Kyle Amore live on Thursday May 9th, 2019 from 7:30-9pm EST for episode #158 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. You can listen live on blogtalk, majorleaguefantasysports.com, or download the podcast on I-Tunes or any Android podcast app. Cole and Kyle will discuss the latest happenings in the world of MLB and fantasy. They will take a look back on the previous few days and a preview of the coming weekend. Including spot starts, bullpens, offense, and minor league players.