Alfred Morris (San Francisco)
After bolting for for San Francisco during the 2018 offseason, Jerick McKinnon seemed destined to breakout and prove he could handle the load as a starting tailback. Tragedy stuck roughly a week before the campaign opener as the running back tore his ACL on the last play during a team practice. Enter Morris, who served as Cowboys bellcow Ezekiel Elliott’s replacement in 2017, rushing for 547 yards on 115 carries (4.8 ypc). Familiar with 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan’s zone-blocking scheme, having played in his offense with the Redskins, Morris rushed for a career-best 1,613 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2012. With fresh legs, a one-cut running style that bodes well in Shanahan’s system and plenty of opportunity, the veteran has a chance to eclipse 1,000 yards once again. He is a prime RB2 option in most leagues.
Rex Burkhead (New England)
Getting caught up in New England’s backfield vortex is a waste of time considering how Bill Belichick changes his rotations constantly. Though the Patriots’ are once again stacked at tailback, Burkhead is slated to be the team’s top option. Representing for Caucasian ball carriers across the globe, the gritty Burkhead (I had to call him gritty, it was a layup) has the perfect blend of power and pass-catching potential. If healthy, he’s a shoe-in to carry the load and is an extremely valuable weapon as a flex option.
Jordan Wilkins (Indianapolis)
Marlon Mack is oft-injured and may not be able to suit up in Week 1. Veteran tailback Robert Turbin is suspended for the first four games of 2018. The team’s fourth round pick, Nyheim Hines has a wealth of potential, but isn’t sturdy enough to be a three-down back and fumbled four times during the preseason. With no clear cut leader in Indianapolis’ backfield, the stage is set for Wilkins, the team’s fifth-round pick to emerge. Listed at a chiseled 6-foot-1, 216 pounds, the rookie runs with force, makes defenders miss in the open field and has the hands to be an effective pass catcher. I personally wouldn’t draft him, but as the season wears on,Wilkins has the potential to be a quality free-agent pickup.
John Kelly (LA Rams)
The Rams held auditions for their backup running back during the 2018 preseason. With a slew of dazzling dashes through dazed defenses, Kelly secured the gig and solidified himself as one of the rookies to watch this upcoming season. With offensive mastermind Sean McVay running the show in Los Angeles, the ball carrier will be employed in a variety of ways. Look for Kelly in the later rounds of the draft or the free-agent wire. If the offseason was any indication of what the tailback can do, he’s destined to make fantasy owners very happy.
Adrian Peterson (Washington)
Once Derrius Guice went down with a season-ending ACL injury, the Redskins jumped into the free-agent pool and wound up landing a big fish in Peterson. Despite what his detractors may say, Peterson still has the juice it takes to get the job done as a lead back, is in fantastic shape and has a massive chip on his shoulder. During the 2017 season, he eclipsed 100-yards rushing twice and proved he had plenty more monster outings left in the tank. Take him in the middle rounds as an RB2.