Get ready for your season with theScore’s 2017 Fantasy Football Draft Kit.

Running back is the most volatile fantasy position from year to year, as injuries and ineffectiveness can turn early-round picks into instant regrets while stars emerge from the deepest spots on the roster.

Let’s take a look at the rushers who are currently undervalued and will continue to be until public perception catches up to the reality of their situations.

Who will exceed expectations?

  • Quarterbacks
  • Running Backs
  • Wide Receivers (Aug. 7)
  • Tight Ends (Aug. 8)

Paul Perkins

Why is no one talking about Perkins? The Giants running game was among the league’s worst ground attacks in 2016, but that wasn’t Perkins fault. His role in the offense was extremely limited behind veteran Rashad Jennings, until the end of the season when Perkins averaged 4.8 yards per carry over the final three outings and delivered the team’s only 100-yard rushing performance on the year.

Securing volume is the first step towards fantasy relevance and Perkins checked that box when the coaching staff made it very clear he’ll be the lead back in New York moving forward, with Shane Vereen and others sprinkled in.

Now the former fifth-rounder will get his chance to start on a team with an upgraded offense and quality defense that will keep games close. The result should be favorable game scripts for Perkins.


Perkins isn’t an elite athlete, but he has good field vision and is a smooth runner who isn’t afraid of contact. If he’s going to break out, he’ll need help from the offensive line, which was a weak link for the team last season. Changes on the right side, including the arrival of D.J. Fluker, could help, along with the addition of blocking tight end Rhett Ellison. There’s also reason to believe defenses will be focused on slowing down the Giants’ talented receiving corps, leading to soft fronts for Perkins to take advantage of.

With such a small sample size of NFL work on a team that’s struggled to run the ball in recent years, it’s easy to dismiss Perkins on first look. The G-Men only scored six rushing touchdowns a year ago and if Vereen stays healthy, Perkins likely won’t be asked to do much in the passing game.

However, that’s all baked into his current ADP, which ranges from RB27-RB31. A middle-round pick isn’t much to invest in a back with a clear path to RB2 production for fantasy owners.

Bilal Powell

I’m convinced fantasy owners associate the name Bilal Powell with the concept of a pedestrian back. There’s no other reason why he should be going off the board as the RB32 in drafts.

Prior to last season, Powell didn’t make much of an impact during his first five years in the league. His best campaign came in 2013, but he only found the end zone once that year, limiting his fantasy appeal. That changed last season when he piled up 722 rushing yards, 388 receiving yards, and five scores playing for a disappointing Jets squad.

The bad news is the team didn’t get any better during the offseason, in fact they may outright be tanking, but that could actually work in Powell’s favor.


Despite playing in a subpar offense, Powell earned high grades from Pro Football Focus, finishing with the sixth-highest overall grade among running backs in 2016.

So it’s logical that the Jets are expected to give Powell the larger share of backfield touches this season, especially given that Matt Forte is already sidelined with a hamstring injury. New York released several veterans this offseason, so 31-year-old Forte might not be around to compete with Powell come opening week.

Even if Forte does stay, Powell caught 58 passes to Forte’s 30 last season and with the Jets likely to be trailing every Sunday, Powell will be the more active back. If last year’s stats were good enough to be the RB16 in PPR and RB22 in standard leagues, it’s conceivable Powell will reach new heights this season, making him shockingly underrated by mock drafters.

Jamaal Williams

Williams is the first player on our list who isn’t currently atop his team’s depth chart. The Packers top back at the moment is Ty Montgomery, who has the potential to exceed expectations himself, if he can overcome a couple significant hurdles with his durability and pass blocking.

Montgomery’s issues in pass protection have already opened the door for Williams to see work with the top unit, and some beat writers believe the rookie might challenge for more work thanks to his strength as a blocker.

If nothing else, it’s evident Williams is above fellow first-year back Aaron Jones, putting him in position to take over if Montgomery is unable to stay on the field.


Williams is a tough runner with a quick burst for a player his size. He may not have the elite skills of some of the other rushers in this year’s draft class, but the Packers’ running backs rarely face extra men in the box as defenses are preoccupied with stopping Aaron Rodgers.

So the opportunity exists for a breakout season from Williams, if Montgomery falters or can’t carry the load of a starting back, a legitimate concern for a player who has only seen 12 carries or more in one NFL contest.

Owners not interested in paying the early-round price tag for Montgomery, should target Williams at his ADP as RB51.

Deep Shots

DeAndre Washington – The Raiders offensive line is one of the NFL’s best, and Marshawn Lynch was brought out of retirement to run behind them. Unfortunately, Beast Mode is 31 years old, increasing his risk for an in-season injury. If that were to happen, Washington is the next man up over Jalen Richard and rookie Elijah Hood.

D’Onta Foreman – Last season was proof that Lamar Miller is not capable of being a workhorse back in the NFL. Recognizing this, the Texans drafted Foreman, who will compete for touches immediately and could emerge as a goal-line option. He’s also available at a discount due to his recent legal issues.

De’Angelo Henderson – This is the longest shot of anyone on this list, but if Jamaal Charles is unable to cut it in Denver, Henderson could be the main beneficiary. The rookie is a solid pass catcher and could carve out a role for the Broncos sooner than expected.

Who will exceed expectations?

  • Quarterbacks
  • Running Backs
  • Wide Receivers (Aug. 7)
  • Tight Ends (Aug. 8)

(Photos Courtesy: Getty Images)

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