Saquon Barkley, Derrius Guice, and Rashaad Penny headlined the 2017-18 fantasy running back class and are now off to the NFL. With this in mind, let’s look into the top 10 returning starters from last season.
10. David Montgomery, Iowa State
David Montgomery’s 1,000+ yard season may have been overshadowed by the next-man-up situation the Cyclones had at quarterback in 2017. Mongomery finished just outside of the top-30 in running backs last season, with 1,146 yards and 11 touchdowns, but he couldn’t score through the air. Iowa State’s pass-heavy offense may hinder Montgomery from truly reaching his full potential, but there’s no doubt that he will be a top-tier fantasy option yet again this season.
9. Justice Hill, Oklahoma State
Justice Hill put himself on the map two seasons ago after giving the Pokes their first legitimate rushing attack since Joseph Randle in 2012. Hill improved on his freshman season in 2017 with a 1,467-yard and 14-touchdown season. Hill’s value would’ve likely fallen with Mason Rudolph leaving, but the addition of Hawaii QB Dru Brown will keep Oklahoma State Big 12 relevant and put Hill amongst the best returning fantasy options.
8. Alexander Mattison, Boise State
Alexander Mattison was expected to fall in line with Boise State’s streak of fantasy talent, and he was almost unable to do so last season. In his first four weeks, he averaged seven fantasy points per game because he was splitting reps with Ryan Wolpin. After his slow start, he went on to average 17 fantasy points per game and was an incredibly consistent option in the backfield for most owners. Mattison ran for 1,086 yards and 12 touchdowns with 284 receiving yards and a score. Mattison will be worth the higher draft pick this season with Wolpin completely out of the picture.
7. Myles Gaskin, Washington
Myles Gaskin surprised many by passing on the draft to return for the 2018 season. In 2017, Gaskin ran for 1,380 yards with 21 touchdowns on his way to a top-five fantasy finish. With Dante Pettis off to the draft, the run game will be the strength of the Huskies offense, which means Gaskin will get the ball often this season.
6. A.J. Dillon, Boston College
Freshman sensation A.J. Dillon made a splash after a 120-rushing yard game against Central Michigan. Dillon finished with just under 1,600 yards and 14 touchdowns while averaging 23 carries per game. Boston College has a habit of finding players and using them until they fall off (Examples: Andre Williams, Tyler Murphy, Alex Amidon), and Dillon is the next man up in that role. Expect him to top 1,000 yards again, with his toughest matchups late in the season against Clemson and Miami.
5. Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin
The fact that Jonathan Taylor wasn’t a Heisman Finalist in 2017 is a shame. Taylor ran for 1,977 yards and 13 touchdowns with a top-10 fantasy finish in 2017. Serving as the anchor of the Badgers offense in 2017, Taylor feasted on the Big Ten’s weaker defenses. He may not break 2,000 yards with Alex Hornibrook at QB, but there’s no doubt that he remains a top-10 fantasy option again in 2018.
4. J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State
One person who will benefit greatly from J.T. Barrett graduating is J.K. Dobbins. After stealing the starting job away from Mike Weber in Week 1, Dobbins’ play seemed inconsistent. This isn’t due to his own play, but rather the play of Barrett, who called his own number frequently in most games. With Dwayne Haskins taking over at quarterback, Dobbins will be the premier rusher for the Buckeyes and will benefit from the talented passer.
3. Bryce Love, Stanford
Bryce Love’s return to Stanford was incredibly surprising considering they still do not have a consistent passer. Love rushed for 1,938 yards and 18 touchdowns last season and for most of the season averaged 10+ yards per carry. He even received an invite to New York for the Heisman trophy ceremony last season. Bryce Love’s play next season will resemble previous seasons but will likely lack improvement unless someone can step up in Stanford’s passing game.
2. Rodney Anderson, Oklahoma
After weeks of an RBBC situation in Norman, the Sooners decided to ride with Rodney Anderson. Anderson took over in Week 7 and had six straight 100+ total yard games and was a hot add in Week 8. Baker Mayfield may be gone, but the likely spread option attack that Kyler Murray’s skill set requires will make Anderson a top option at his position. He would likely be my No. 1 returning back if not form…
1. Devin Singletary, FAU
Devin Singletary finished last season with 32 rushing touchdowns, which is third all-time in a single season behind only Barry Sanders and Montee Ball. Singletary is only getting better, and Lane Kiffin won’t waste the talent that he has at his disposal. He will unlikely score 32 times on the ground again this season, but I would be surprised if he doesn’t lead the nation again in rushing touchdowns. No running back deserves to be picked higher in fantasy drafts this season. He is only getting better as time goes on.