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Well-known Pro Wrestling broadcaster Josh Mathews joins RotoExperts.com this season to chronicle his Fantasy Football exploits. This week, Josh introduces himself and talks about what to expect from him this season. Follow him @realjoshmathews on Twitter.
Remember last week when we talked about my love for The PGA’s “Young Guns?” The guys who will be taking golf to the next level for the next 3 to 5 to 7 years and allowing us to forget about Tiger and Phil and become excited for Major Championships on Sunday afternoons? Well, the same can be said for my excitement about rookie running backs in the NFL. College Football is my first love and even though we had a slate of 5 games, it was a welcomed site on my TV. It didn’t hurt that I went 2-0 with Stanford hitting their total game over at 50 on their own and Oregon State and Colorado State scoring in bunches to put that game over by almost halftime. Which brings us to the Josh Mathews Fantasy topic for this week, rookie running backs in the NFL.
Just to put everything in perspective, Ezekiel Elliott would be my number 1 pick this season, but he is busy in New York appealing a 6 game suspension
and even if it gets reduced, you have to know he falls drastically. So that pushes Le’Veon Bell to number 1, David Johnson to number 2, but then I go DeMarco Murray at number 3 and round out my Top 5 with LeSean McCoy and yes, Carlos Hyde. Jordan Howard is removed from my Top 5 for two reasons –The Bears are terrible. They will be behind in most games to the point where whoever is playing quarterback for them will have to pass the ball,a lot. The other reason is more personal — I loathe the Chicago Bears.
As for DeMarco Murray, I am a Titans fan and sat in the blistering heat on Saturday to watch my beloved franchise play a preseason Week 3 game against Chicago this past Saturday and to say I drove home nervous would be an understatement. This team is Bruce Banner and The Incredible Hulk. You never know what you are going to get on any given Sunday and that is scary. In preseason Week 1, it was a lackluster offensive line that made fans worry. In Week 2, they looked great and then in Week 3, the defense didn’t show up. It is time to get it together and that starts up front and with establishing the run. So let’s get the ball to DeMarco Murray and the rest can sort itself out.
Now onto my favorite subject, rookie running backs, and 2017 has a very solid crop. There are three that I have higher on a draft board than most. We start with Leonard Fournette. While at LSU it looked more often than not, that Fournette was a beast among boys and pretty much did whatever he wanted in certain situations. I know he has foot and ankle issues, but this is a dude who is NFL-ready and ready to make an immediate impact for Jacksonville. The offensive line has improved (slightly is still an improvement) and Fournette should be money in the red zone. It has been around half decade since Jacksonville produced a 1,000 yard back and that should change this season with Fournette running the football. If he stays healthy, Fournette will have an incredible rookie year.
You can put that caveat on anyone right? “If he stays healthy, he should…” If Ezekiel Elliott stayed out of trouble… If this… If Joe Mixon didn’t get in trouble where would he be right now? Well, Joe is in Cincinnati and recently talked about how electrifying this offense can be. The biggest thing about Joe Mixon for me, is what he can do and where he can do it from. It is called being versatile. It is that Reggie Bush ability that makes running backs come to life for me. Joe has that ability, you might see him out in the slot, they can incorporate more options into the offense and Joe said it best, there are a lot of home run hitters on the Bengals right now and they might outscore a lot of teams.
Did we mention versatility? Somewhere near Charlotte, North Carolina, Christian McCaffery is jumping up and down. While in Stanford playing for the Cardinal, Christian McCaffery became one of my favorite players, I would point him out before a play to my wife and tell her to watch what this dude was about to do. Go back and watch what he did in 2016 against Iowa in the Rose Bowl. It was a joke. He abolished that team. It was video game funny. While most people didn’t see much of him due to playing late out west, I was watching his career unfold and the Rose Bowl in 2016 was a coming out party for Christian. He can be very explosive in the NFL with open field, space and opportunity.
So you’ve got Leonard Fournette, Joe Mixon and Christian McCaffery all to think about, but you still have Dalvin Cook, Kareem Hunt and Samaje Perine to consider. Running back is the most important piece to the puzzle and there are a ton of conversations to be had out there, mainly this week as drafts are happening all over the counrty. I suggest not sleeping on these “Young Guns” as we get ready for football season.