It is a badge of honor when a college fantasy football owner hits paydirt with a true freshman. It shows that you're more than just a casual football fan, but an expert in the intricacies of the game, and certainly someone to be respected. Even if it is just between you and your group of beer-guzzling, beer-pong-playing, tailgating friends. Since the running back spot provides the highest percentage for early success, no group of true freshman will get picked over like the running backs. So it is time to take a second look and refresh our post-signing day running back rankings.
South Carolina’s Jarvis Giles and Michigan State’s Edwin Baker still hold down spots in our top 3. Pitt’s Dion Lewis joins the group as he exits the spring as the likely Panthers' starter.
Baker takes a bit of a tumble in the overall rankings. There is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Michigan State backfield. Will Baker’s knee be ready? Can he hold off an eventual workhorse in Larry Caper? Will Ashton Leggett vulture goal line carries? Is Glenn Winston gone for good? Still, we view Baker as a solid draft day investment for both keeper and non-keeper league owners. Fall camp in East Lansing will be an interesting one. If all goes as planned look for Baker to move up our board by mid-August.
Steve Slaton, LenDale White and Rodney Stewart…what do those three have in common? Each played the role of "oh yeah, that other running back" to the top incoming running back recruit in the country his freshman year. Slaton vastly out-performed Jason Gwaltney. White had a fine career just outside of Reggie Bush’s spotlight. And the jury is still out on who will be better, Stewart or Darrell Scott? But I’m giving round one to Stewart. This year David Oku finds himself chilling in the shadow of his more highly-acclaimed classmate Bryce Brown. However, we should note that Brown's handler says his young advisee is looking good this summer...
Picking out a couple of other names from the freshman list, Chris Whaley and Christine Michael will get heavy looks in August camp. The speedy Brandon Wegher suddenly becomes more valuable with Jewel Hampton's knee injury. And in my humble opinion the straight-ahead David Wilson poses more of a threat to Darren Evans' carries than the change-of-pace Ryan Williams.
A super sleeper of the bunch? Arthur Burns of Washington State. There is no questioning the Cougars' need for a playmaker, and I like this kid's wiggle.