Running Wild: The 2005 Rookie Running Back Class
Now that dust has settled from latest NFL draft, it’s time to take a step back and take a look at which players out of 2005 rookie class may make biggest fantasy impact. Rookies, on average, fail to make that big of a splash in their first year. Historically, most players tend to need time to develop and learn before they are big playmakers in NFL and key contributors in a fantasy league. Making jump from college game to pros can be an adjustment that takes some players a year or two to get used to physically and mentally.
One position that usually bucks trend of players having a longer adjustment to game and being productive players from get go is running back. A few reasons exist for immediate production you may get out of a rookie running back as opposed to a wide receiver or a quarterback.
One reason is that teams usually draft a running back because there is an immediate need at position. Teams rarely draft a running back as experimental or development player. A few scenarios create need to draft a running back such as when a veteran who is approaching downside of his career, an existing player suffers a serious injury or when a star player blatantly abandons his team…cough, Ricky, cough. These situations almost force a team to find a talented replacement quickly who can step in on day one and carry load of team.
Another reason why rookie running backs produce quicker than other positions is fact that running backs have shortest career span of any position in NFL. An average running back will play under four years in NFL before hanging up their cleats. Teams expect them to come in, make an immediate impact and get most out of them while they are still physically able to produce. The players at this position take such a beating that you generally want a young, physical specimen to carry load instead of a grizzled veteran who may only have a limited number of carries left in his legs.
A small learning curve is yet another reason why a rookie running back can step in on day one and give you a thousand-yard season right away. Other than blocking assignments and short pass patterns, most of a running backs work is instinctive. The best backs in NFL create on fly and have a talent and instincts that cannot be taught in classroom. Other positions such as receiver or quarterback must spend a good deal of their time on practice field and in film room learning complicated schemes and techniques that will help them become a complete pro and future fantasy stud.
If you look at some of bigger names in fantasy football today and take a peek at their rookie production you’ll see that they many of them were very productive in their first seasons
(Fantasy Points based on 1 pt. Per 10 yds and 6 pts. Per TD) Rookie Yr.PlayerTeamRu. YardsTDsFantasy Pts 2004Kevin JonesDetroit1,1335143.3 2003Domanick DavisHouston1,0318151.1 2002Clinton PortisDenver1,50815240.8 2001LaDainian TomlinsonSan Diego1,23610183.6 2000Jamal LewisBaltimore1,3646172.4 1999Edgerrin JamesIndianapolis1,55313233.3 1998Fred TaylorJacksonville1,22314206.3 1997Corey DillonCincinnati1,12910172.9 1995Curtis MartinNew England1,48714232.7 1994Marshall FaulkIndianapolis1,28211194.2 1993Jerome BettisL.A Rams1,4298190.9 . It didn’t take long for these players to make transition to pro game and become significant fantasy producers in their rookie season. There were other rookie running backs that had some pretty good rookie years but faded off into sunset, but we’re not worried about that right now. We are in search of immediate production!