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Since the year 2000, the game of college football has changed dramatically. With more and more offenses going with a spread attack, 16 of the last 18 Heisman Trophy winners have been quarterbacks with the other two were running backs. Even with that being so lopsided the running back is still a key position in having a competitive fantasy football team.
- Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State
There’s huge potential here taking over for Justice Hill. Oklahoma State has pumped out big-time fantasy running backs in recent seasons and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. When Hubbard took over after Hill was injured, he was basically “the man” in the Cowboys’ running game over the last four games of the season. He had 79 carries for 425 yards and five touchdowns. He is in for a big year.
- Spencer Brown, UAB
Brown is entering his junior season and I feel like most people are sleeping on him. With back-to-back seasons of 1,225-plus rushing yards, he’s been a workhorse at UAB for two consecutive seasons. Brown’s a big body at 6″0″ 220 pounds and can handle a heavy workload. With 522 carries over the past two seasons, I would be willing to bet he will see between 250 and 275 carries again this year.
- Zach Moss, Utah
Moss is coming off of a season-ending knee injury, but he should pick right back up where he left off. When healthy, he was one of the most consistent backs in the country week in and week out. Moss has posted back to back 1,000-yard seasons and was well on the way to 1,500 and 15 TDs last year had he not been injured.
- D’Andre Swift, Georgia
I am reluctant to put Swift this high because I’m not sure what the split in carries will be this season. He is up this high for the fact that if he carries the ball 65 percent of the time, he could have a monster season. The Bulldogs can support two fantasy-relevant running backs and have used the dual back system in recent seasons. If Swift can get 20 carries a game, watch out.
- Jermar Jefferson, Oregon State
Jefferson was a stud in his first season for the Beavers. He jumped at his opportunity and never looked back when he replaced injured starter Artavis Pierce. Jefferson totaled 1,300 yards, 12 touchdowns and added an additional 25 catches out of the backfield. He is a great young talent for those of you in keeper leagues.
- DeAndre Torrey, North Texas
Torrey didn’t get much love the first five or so games last year, but from that point forward he killed it. In those games, he had 849 of his 977 rushing yards. The final four games of the regular season he went for 130, 145, 184, and 155 yards with nine total touchdowns. Torrey will undoubtedly be the “go to guy” from the first snap this season.
- Patrick Taylor, Memphis
I don’t typically rank a first-year starter this high, but even with backing up Derrell Henderson – who went for 1,909 and 22 touchdowns – Taylor had a great year with 208 carries for 1,122 yards and 16 touchdowns. Memphis wants to run the ball early and often and with Henderson gone, there is vacated production up for grabs. Someone is going to take a big chunk of that, and I think it will be Taylor.
- JK Dobbins, Ohio State
Dobbins led Ohio State in carries, rushing, and rushing touchdowns last year. Mike Weber chewed up almost another 1,000 yards but has since gone to the NFL. Dobbins will be the guy this season in a high-powered offense under first-year coach Ryan Day.
- Michael Warren II, Cincinnati
Warren was a stud from week one last season. He had 224 attempts for 1,329 yards and 19 touchdowns. He will be a key component on a Cincinnati team that is on the rise in the American Athletic Conference under coach Luke Fickell.
- Juwan Washington, San Diego State
Washington was just the next man up at San Diego State, a school that has pumped out Fantasy Football gold at the running back position in recent seasons. Washington was dinged up for a handful of weeks and it seemed like he had a hard time getting back to 100 percent. After week Three he was on pace for 348 carries, 1,808 yards, and 20 touchdowns. That’s on par for a typical Aztecs running back.
- AJ Dillon, Boston College
Dillon had a hard time staying healthy last year. Even slowed by injuries, he was better at 70 percent than the next man up. With a full off-season to recover, Dillon should be back to 100 percent and dominating the Atlantic Coast Conference. I can see him easily reaching 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns if he stays healthy.
- Travis Etienne, Clemson
Not much to say here, Etienne is the lead guy for the defending national champions that will arguably be the top team in the country. He’s going to flirt with 1,500 yards and 20-plus touchdowns again this season. The only downside is the Tigers will beat most teams so badly there may not be a ton of fourth-quarter work for Etienne.
- Joshua Kelley, UCLA
Kelley is on my top 10 overall players list. He is a stud running back that ran 225 times for 1,243 yards and 12 touchdowns while adding another 27 catches out of the backfield. Second-year coach Chip Kelly will have to feature him heavily again this upcoming season if he wants to get UCLA back on track. There is a big year in store for this young man.
- Eno Benjamin, Arizona State
Again, just like Kelley, Eno will be a featured part of the Arizona State offense. With a new starting quarterback, Benjamin will be leaned on even more than last year. He is looking at a minimum of 20 carries per game. The Sun Devils relied on their ground game last season under first-year coach Herm Edwards.
- Johnathan Taylor, Wisconsin
Taylor is both my number one running back and my top overall player this year for college fantasy football. With over 4,000 yards and 29 TDs in two seasons, he is the sport’s premier running back. Taylor should be knocking on the door of gaining 2,000 yards for the ground-oriented Badgers.
Let me know what you think and what your opinions are on Twitter.
Credit “The Devy Watch” and ESPN for the statistics.