With the fantasy football draft season upon us, owners are quickly realizing the lack of workhorse running backs in the NFL this season. After the production from rookie Eddie Lacy last year, everyone is searching for the next breakout star.
Bishop Sankey might just fill both of those voids for fantasy owners this season.
The rookie running back was already projected to get touches with the Tennessee Titans, but a recent injury to Shonn Greene might bump him up to guaranteed-starter status. The Titans' official Twitter account reported the injury from a preseason game against the New Orleans Saints:
Shonn Greene is down on the field being treated by the medical staff. The Saints recovered the fumble and will take over in Titans territory— Tennessee Titans (@TennesseeTitans) August 16, 2014
Adam Levitan of Rotoworld also provides some background on the injury for Greene:
Shonn Greene hurt his right knee Friday night. That's the same one he's had scoped twice in last 12 months: http://t.co/Cb4Ig2zP1J— Adam Levitan (@adamlevitan) August 18, 2014
Paul Kuharsky of ESPN updated Greene's status from Monday's practice:
Greene is fine. Practiced today. #Titans— Paul Kuharsky (@PaulKuharskyNFL) August 18, 2014
Sankey has been productive during the preseason. The rookie has 19 carries for 68 yards and three receptions for 47 yards.
As for looming concerns over the former Washington tailback, he fumbled late and turned the ball over. Even with all of the production, John Glennon of The Tennesseean suggests that Sankey "won't be getting on the field too often if he can't be trusted to hold onto the football."
Whether it's a rookie mistake or a sign of things to come, Sankey's ability has still drawn acclaim from coach Ken Whisenhunt. The first-year Titans coach noted Sankey's progress so far, per Glennon:
I'm impressed with a lot of the things about Bishop, but he's a rookie, and a lot of things that are causing these problems are things that he needs time with and he's got to get better at — whether it's footwork, whether it's how he's taking the balls on handoffs, understanding the protections.
He's got to continue to get those things, because there's no question he's a talented player.
The former Arizona Cardinals coach sounds like he's taking the good with the bad for now. That's also something fantasy owners will likely have to do with Sankey.
For comparison's sake, there's no better player to correlate Sankey with than Lacy. With the explosive Green Bay Packers back winning leagues for teams everywhere last season, some owners might hope Sankey can do the same.
While there are no regular-season NFL stats for Sankey yet, here's a look at their final seasons in college:
|Player||Rush Att.||Rush Yds||Rec.||Rec. Yds||Total TD|
|Eddie Lacy (2012)||204||1,322||22||189||19|
|Bishop Sankey (2013)||327||1,870||28||304||21|
Sure, Lacy played in the SEC and Sankey was facing Pac-12 defenses, but the numbers are strikingly similar. If the rookie is handed an equivalent role, he could shock with his ability.
Regardless of how quickly Greene returns from injury, it's clear some analysts believe Sankey will play a huge role. Michael Fabiano of NFL.com believes he'll be the top rookie, per NFL:
What is the fantasy potential for Sankey this season?
Sankey holds an average draft position of 4.11 in 12-team standard format leagues, according to FantasyFootballCalculator.com. With that type of value, Sankey might just live up to Fabiano's hype as the No. 1 rookie.
Depending on the league, Sankey might have even more value. In both dynasty and keeper leagues, the Titans back serves as a potential breakout star for this year and seasons to come. Likely a flex option early on, Sankey has a ceiling of an RB2 this year.
Currently ranked as the No. 23 overall running back by FantasyPros.com, Sankey is projected ahead of players like Chris Johnson and Ben Tate. If he does take over the No. 1 job in Tennessee, that ranking will likely rise.
As fantasy owners fill out their big boards ahead of the draft, Sankey might have already been high on the list. With his fantasy stock rising yet again, the 21-year-old has a chance to help owners win their league.
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