Saquon Barkley is so good (how good is he?), dudes in your fantasy league who don't even watch college football will clamor to draft him this year. The recent success of Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott and Alvin Kamara have many fantasy enthusiasts jockeying for position on the platform for rookie runners as the hype trains pull into the station. The "he hasn't played a down yet" subculture has gone back to the underground, where they will overdraft curtain-jerker veterans like Frank Gore (I don't mean to drag him) before they look at rookies.
But shoot. I'm getting off the point here. Because I want to talk about the best fantasy fits for some rookie running backs. But I'm not going to spend your valuable time talking about the perfect fit for Barkley. Every team works for him. Yes, even if he went to the Rams, smart aleck. You don't think Sean McVay would find a way to make the most of his talents? Stop trying to sidetrack me, fictitious reader I've conjured up in my mind. I'm just trying to say there really isn't a bad spot for Barkley to land in the top 10. If you're curious, I have him tabbed for the Broncos in my draft consultant piece I did for our original content team. Yes, I've been cheating on the fantasy community for more than a year now.
The point being, Barkley fits everywhere. Let's run through some of the other top prospects at the running back position, which is surprisingly deep. Like there is a revolution or something. Or maybe revival.
I had the Lions take Guice in that aforementioned piece. I thought about the Lions going with Sony Michel to be a complement for LeGarrette Blount. Give them a 1-2 combination similar to what the Saints do with Mark Ingram and Kamara. But you don't pass on Guice because you have a veteran running back on a one-year contract. Going Guice would be akin to the way the Vikings added Dalvin Cook last year with Latavius Murray.
My bottom line is you draft the best running back outside of Barkley. He gives you an inside runner that should remind coach Matt Patricia of having a younger version of Blount in New England. You still have Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick as complementary backs. I could see Guice have an immediate impact here with the Lions.
The Buccaneers have an immediate need at running back, and Michel would fit in nicely with this team. He has the ability to get to the house any time he touches the ball, be it as a receiver or as a runner. He's drawn comparisons to Kamara, but Michel was a better running back in college. Though, that might just be because Kirby Smart didn't want to bury him on the bench. (Looking at you, Butch Jones!)
I love Penny in this draft and really feel he could help out the Colts in a multitude of ways. I see him as a game-breaker. Even against Power 5 schools, I saw Penny carve up teams like Arizona State. I know, not the premiere defensive team in the country, but Penny ran past those guys. He ran past dudes in the Mountain West. He had a very nice catch-and-run 73-yard reception in the Senior Bowl where nobody could get him. Penny is very nice. And, he adds some value as a returner.
He's going to draw some comparisons to Jamaal Charles because he's from Texas, wears the No. 25 and he's admitted that he's patterned his game after Charles. So you can definitely see it. I wonder if he's a better receiver than Charles, who was admittedly very adept at catching the football. Draft SZN has knocked him because of his workouts. But I've long been more concerned with who dudes play during games, and less about what they do in track-and-field events in February. The Giants just might pass on Barkley, but end up with a difference maker in the second-round.
I'm guilty of falling in love with West Coast running backs (or Big Ten runners who play in that 9 a.m. PT window) and overhyping them. So take it with a grain of salt when I start talking up Freeman. But I love his game. I'm drawn to those running backs who are kind of good at everything, but not exceptional at one thing. Freeman can walk in and make an immediate impact for a team as a short-yardage back. And it would be maddening for managers starting Le'Veon Bell to see Freeman steal some goal-line looks. But it's inevitable. Bell had more than 400 touches last year. The Steelers will already be looking at their future. And Freeman would be a great fit.
I don't want to admit Samaje Perine was a mistake. I still believe! Well, sort of. It appears the Redskins will look to add a running back early. Chubb would be a perfect candidate for the early-down work with the team, and have Chris Thompson get like 200 targets from Alex Smith as the receiving back.