1. Clyde-Edwards Helaire, Kansas City Chiefs
If you reached for Kareem Hunt in fantasy leagues a few years ago, there is a good chance you went home with a championship trophy. CEH has the same sort of potential as a rookie. Jonathan Taylor is my favorite back in this class, but Edwards-Helaire is a close second and now joins one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. Honestly, it is a tad bit strange that Andy Reid, a known running back guru, especially for fantasy purposes, finally won his first championship when he had the worst run game arguably of his whole career. However, that was more about personnel than anything. Damien Williams is not big enough to be a three-down back, and father time caught up with LeSean McCoy. Edwards-Helaire has RB1 potential right off the bat!
2. Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts
Assuming Taylor can take over the starting job early, he has true RB1 potential behind the Colts’ elite offensive line. Taylor rushed for over 2,000 yards his last two seasons in college, and he will be a big-time target of mine and potential league winner. The only thing that may work against him is his tendency to fumble. However, he is a workhorse, and Marlon Mack is a bit undersized, so he may be demoted to backup duties sooner rather than later. Taylor is a star in the making, and we could see that as early as 2020. It is a toss-up between Taylor and CEH for my top rookie RB this season, but it is darn close.
3. Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams
I am operating under the assumption that Akers will be the starter in Los Angeles, and frankly, the workload is why he lands on this list. The question is whether Sean McVay can work out the kinks on offense. Todd Gurley was only able to average 3.8 yards per carry last season, but Akers knows all about producing in a less than ideal situation from his days at Florida State. If the Rams can turn things around on offense, Akers has low-end RB1 potential. For now, assuming he gets the workload, I think Akers is an RB2, which could provide value in drafts depending on where he is projected.
4. J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens set the record for the most rushing yards in a season last year and were able to retain the mastermind of the offense in Greg Roman. Mark Ingram II will surely start the season as the starter, but keep in mind that backup Gus Edwards was still able to rush for over 700 yards last year. This production may not be enough to warrant a bench spot, but I expect there to be more of an even split here. Keep in mind, with the way Lamar Jackson runs the ball, a split with Ingram may only result in 35% of the team’s carries, but the potential of Dobbins taking over in his rookie season is hard to ignore, and the Ravens run it more than any team in the history of the sport. He was a dynamite player in college, and Ingram will turn 31 this season — father time may catch up with him. If Dobbins can take over as the full-time back, he can be a top 10 option, but fantasy owners may have to wait until 2021. Still, he is worth a bench stash.