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Top NFL Draft Rookie Landing Spots: Running Backs (Fantasy Football)

Top NFL Draft Rookie Landing Spots: Running Backs (Fantasy Football)

On the surface, the 2024 NFL draft was a bit underwhelming for rookie fantasy football running backs. We expected teams like Dallas and the LA Chargers to invest in one of the top backs but we’re met with zero investment or late-round picks. But, don’t let this draft fool you! There’s hidden upside in this class.

2024 Dynasty Fantasy Football Guide

Best Matches for Fantasy Purposes

Here are our top fantasy football rookie running back landing spots following the 2024 NFL Draft.

Jonathon Brooks (RB – CAR)

My pre-draft dream landing spot for Jonathon Brooks was the Dallas Cowboys. Jerry Jones publicly gushed over Brooks and it felt like destiny. Much to my chagrin, the Panthers sniped the Cowboys. While Carolina isn’t the fantasy goldmine of a team like Dallas, it’s still a strong landing spot and an excellent match for Brooks.

Brooks is coming off a torn ACL but is on track for training camp and should be the Panthers’ RB1 for 2024. Miles Sanders lost the role in 2023 to Chuba Hubbard and, although the Panthers have a new coaching staff, Sanders was outperformed by Hubbard across all metrics and it’s unlikely that Sanders would challenge for the lead-back role.

New head coach Dave Canales has a strong track record as an offensive coordinator, and Brooks will be a big beneficiary. Brooks has three-down back capabilities and can handle the receiving work Rachaad White had within the Bucs’ offense last year under Canales. White had 64 receptions on 70 targets. If Brooks sees that workload and is more efficient on the ground, year one could be a massive breakout for him.

Trey Benson (RB – ARI)

Jonathon Brooks was the only back to outright land in a lead-back role, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t other advantageous landing spots. Trey Benson’s landing spot in Arizona could offer value in his rookie season and beyond.

James Conner is heading into his eighth season at age 28, coming off a career-high of 1,040 rushing yards and five yards per carry. Breaking 1,000 yards for the first time in his career is outrageous for a guy who’s been a lead back for 7 straight seasons.

But Conner has struggled with minor injuries throughout his career, and while he’s played in most games in most seasons, missing several games has been common for Conner and hindered his overall production.

Benson will be Conner’s direct handcuff and offer RB1 production if Conner suffers an injury. Benson offers three-down back capabilities and could even contribute immediately on third downs.

Jaylen Wright (RB – MIA)

At first glance, this might feel like a terrible landing spot when you consider Jaylen Wright is the RB3 on the Dolphins at best. RB3 on any other team is a bad scenario. But on the Dolphins, Wright could have immediate fantasy relevancy.

Wright perfectly fits in the Miami offense and Mike McDaniel’s preferences. And despite being a committee backfield, Miami’s offense is the ideal environment for running backs to thrive – an elite passing attack that creates opportunity for the run game and ample red zone attempts.

While the backfield is extremely crowded, Miami’s offense can produce two top-12 backs with ease. This creates a unique situation for Wright where reaching RB2 within Miami’s offenses can yield big fantasy results.

Raheem Mostert’s career has been plagued with injuries and, although he’s had two healthy years in a row, he’s 32 and nearing the end of his career. De’Von Achane dealt with multiple injuries in 2023. Wright is one spot away from a fantastic fantasy situation both long-term in dynasty and redraft for 2024.

Kimani Vidal (RB – LAC)

Similar to Wright’s landing spot, Kimani Vidal could have a year-one impact even if he’s third in the pecking order in Los Angeles. The Chargers intend to be a run-heavy team and Vidal could see action early and earn a larger role behind Gus Edwards and JK Dobbins.

Edwards is coming off a career season with 13 touchdowns. At this point in his career, we’re very familiar with his capabilities and potential output. He’s an early-down and goal-line back who doesn’t see extreme volume and will not participate in the receiving game.

Unlike Edwards, Dobbins’ role in this offense is a bit of a mystery. His career has been plagued with injuries and it’s tough to trust any running back coming off a torn Achilles. Dobbins is a well-rounded back but has had limited receiving work.

Vidal’s production at Troy was impeccable with proven volume on the ground and consistent receiving work. He’s not a prolific back – hence the Day 3 draft capital – but he’s a workhorse running back with over 4,000 career rushing yards and can contribute on all downs and win at the goal line.

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