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2017 Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings

NFL rookies ranked by their potential to help you win your fantasy football league.

1. Leonard Fournette  RB   Jacksonville Jaguars

  Rushing Stats Receiving Stats
Year Att Yds TD Avg Rec Yds TD Avg
2017 Projections View Leonard Fournette's 2017 projected stats.

Ankle injuries limited Fournette to seven games in his final season at LSU but didn't cost him on draft day, as the Jaguars pounced on him with the fourth overall pick to be their new lead running back. At 6-1, 235, he's a dominant physical runner who terrorized college defenses with his combination of speed and burst, not to mention the willingness, even the desire, to run over and through would-be tacklers. Fournette does have a little finesse to his game, showing good balance in traffic and some receiving skill, but his angry, downhill style is best suited for a running game designed to wear down the opposition over four quarters. Such a scheme would be a departure for a Jacksonville offense that previously was built around Blake Bortles, but head coach Doug Marrone and new executive VP Tom Coughlin both prefer an old-school, smash-mouth style, so such a change wouldn't be surprising. If there's one concern with Fournette it's his ability to hold up under the punishment his running style exacts over a 16-game NFL schedule, but he'll head into camp fully recovered from last year's ankle woes. Even with T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory still on the roster to share the carries, Fournette is expected to see a heavy workload right away to justify his draft slot, and he could emerge as the league's next true bell cow.

2. Christian McCaffrey  RB   Carolina Panthers

  Rushing Stats Receiving Stats
Year Att Yds TD Avg Rec Yds TD Avg
2017 Projections View Christian McCaffrey's 2017 projected stats.

The versatile McCaffrey was taken eighth overall in this year's draft and found a nearly perfect landing spot with a Panthers offense in desperate need of playmakers. At 6-0, 200, the Stanford product lacks ideal size for an every-down NFL back, but he proved himself as a threat in the open field in his sophomore season when he set an NCAA record for all-purpose yards with 2,019 rushing yards, 645 receiving yards and 1,200 return yards. McCaffrey's soft hands, elusiveness and crisp route-running should make him one of the top receiving options in the pros out of the backfield as soon as Week 1, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him split out wide or lined up in the slot in certain formations, but he can also produce on the ground thanks to his exceptional vision and patience. As the lightning to Jonathan Stewart's thunder, McCaffrey should quickly work his way into a significant role in Carolina and could supplant the veteran as the starter well before the team's Week 11 bye. He might not see many goal-line touches in a backfield that contains Stewart and Cam Newton, but otherwise the sky would seem to be the limit for the second-generation NFL player.

3. Joe Mixon  RB   Cincinnati Bengals

  Rushing Stats Receiving Stats
Year Att Yds TD Avg Rec Yds TD Avg
2017 Projections View Joe Mixon's 2017 projected stats.

Arguably no running back taken in the 2017 draft has more to prove than Mixon. On talent alone he should have been a first-round selection, as he showed a complete package of skills at Oklahoma. The 6-1, 226-pound back has elite burst, exceptional elusiveness and the strength and bulk to thwart tacklers with stiff arms or simply lower his shoulder and grind out extra yards. He also flashed soft hands and plus route-running ability, along with a willingness to pass protect, making him a true three-down option. Overshadowing his on-field skills is a volatile off-field reputation, and a 2014 incident in which he punched a female student led to a suspension for that entire season. The Bengals drafted Mixon in the second round and have a history of taking on talented players with similar risk profiles, but as Vontaze Burfict has shown, they aren't always able to keep such players on the straight and narrow. With Jeremy Hill struggling the past two years and Giovani Bernard recovering from a torn ACL, the door is wide open for Mixon to take on a large workload for Cincinnati right away, but he'll be on a very short leash if further off-field troubles surface.

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