It’s important to stock your fantasy team with depth at every position, especially at tailback. The elite backs, and most starters will be taken within the first 6-7 rounds, but there should be some hidden gems available in the later rounds. When it comes time to round out your roster, these are some neglected talents with breakout potential for the upcoming season. – ADP rankings powered by FantasyPros.com
Tre Mason, STL (ADP: RB #37)
Tre Mason is being recognized as a much less appealing fantasy running back since the Rams drafted Georgia’s Todd Gurley, but his potential should not be ignored. Mason established himself as a force in the league last season, flashing signs of greatness during his 12-week, 765 yards and 4 TD rookie campaign. In addition to building off a strong showing a season ago, Mason should benefit from Gurley’s recovery from ACL reconstruction surgery. All indications show that Gurley will be eased into action, and could potentially sit out the first couple games. Expect Tre Mason to take on a full workload initially, and to continue to play a prominent role in the Rams offense this season.
Ryan Mathews, PHI (ADP: RB #36)
Mathews had quite the offseason, accepting a role behind DeMarco Murray in his move to the Philadelphia Eagles. Murray is coming off his best NFL season, as he led the league with 1,845 yards, and 13 TDs (tied with Marshawn Lynch), but is expected to lose some rotational carries to Mathews. Normally, a RB behind a top back like Murray wouldn’t be looked at with any promise, but with Chip Kelly’s fast-paced offensive attack, Mathews should be able to have his presence felt. Not only will the up tempo offense put him in a position to succeed, DeMarco Murray’s injury history could lead to Mathews starting at least a couple games on his own. Ryan Mathews’ value should be evaluated as a flex option, with a potential spike in production should Murray fall to injury.
Matt Jones, WAS (ADP: RB #63)
Matt Jones is one of the more intriguing options at tailback this season, as his role with the Redskins isn’t completely certain yet. The rookie out of Florida has already carved out a role with Washington as the third down running back, and he has the potential to take over as the starter as the season progresses. Jones has exhibited his explosiveness this preseason, as he has rushed for 6.95 yards per carry on 20 carries, as he has been working in with the first-team offense as well. In addition to Jones’ high level of ability, he should be targeted due to the Redskins’ uncertainty in the passing game, as Kirk Cousins should have a hard time acclimating to being the team’s sole starter after the benching of Robert Griffin III. Look toward Matt Jones as a weekly RB3 to start, with major upside if he passes Alfred Morris on the depth chart as the season progresses.