3) Lamar Miller
Miller’s touches began to decrease in 2017 after the Texans found a rookie sensation in D’Onta Foreman. However, Foreman ruptured his Achilles tendon in Week 11 and is still recovering from the injury. His team recently placed him on the PUP list, where he will probably be for most of the season. Due to the lack of depth in their running back group, Miller will receive the bulk of the carries for his offense. Miller has also already proven he can be a successful fantasy running back. He has ranked in the top ten running backs twice and finished 2017 as the 14th most productive back. He is projected to be a fifth or sixth round pick, but could fall depending on the availability of Foreman or other backs that could steal Miller’s touches. Miller has high-end RB2 potential in a now-explosive Houston offense.
2) Isaiah Crowell
Crowell has been productive in his first four years in the league, albeit he spent those four years with the Cleveland Browns. Now on the New York Jets, Crowell gets a chance to show what he can do behind a different offensive line. He received more carries last year than he ever has, while maintaining a solid 4.1 yards per carry. He has had more than a thousand yards from scrimmage in each of the past two seasons, and he is primed to repeat this performance with the Jets. Elijah McGuire’s broken foot should leave a chance for more touches on Crowell’s end. While the third down work will most likely be handled by Bilal Powell, Crowell will be utilized on both first and second down while getting some meaningful goal-line touches. No matter which quarterback starts for the Jets, the offense will need to be balanced by a strong running game. Crowell can be the workhorse back for this offense. Additionally, his fantasy stock has dropped significantly because of his two-touchdown performance last season. He was expected to be a solid fantasy RB2 at least, but he ended up ranking 30th in total fantasy points. His average draft position isn’t until the late 9th round, so he could be a fantasy steal in 2018.
1) C.J. Anderson
Anderson heads to Carolina on a one-year contract after being cut by the Broncos. Anderson has shown his capability to be a reliable running back; he surprisingly had a 1,000-yard rushing season last year and added 224 yards through the air. Now, Anderson fills the hole left by Jonathan Stewart’s departure. He will be the primary back in Carolina’s rushing offense. Ron Rivera, the Panthers’ head coach, has hinted at the importance of a power running game in his press conferences. On top of that, offensive coordinator Norv Turner believes strongly in the importance of running the ball early and often. Anderson, who had 245 carries last year, will see a similar workload in 2018. He will also handle the goal-line work, and he should have 5+ touchdowns this season. He won’t get any work in the passing game, as that will be handled by Christian McCaffery, but his under-the-radar productivity in the run game makes him a fantasy sleeper. He is projected to go somewhere in the 8th round of fantasy drafts, and he could be a solid RB2 if he stays healthy. It’d be wise to take a chance on Anderson in the later rounds of your draft.