The 2018 NFL Draft was thick with good running backs, which means they're the position to go after early this year in your dynasty rookie drafts. There are eight running backs who will have a great shot at winning the lead-back job of their new teams, while there are just a few wide receivers who you can realistically see as fantasy producers in their rookie seasons. I prefer wide receivers in dynasty, as they have a much longer shelf life than running backs, but if you don't have those no-doubt No. 1 receivers to choose from, then you can easily make a case to take running backs, especially this season.
Saquon Barkley, RB, Giants
Barkley has no competition for touches and got a nice upgrade to the offensive line when the Giants drafted guard Will Hernandez with their second pick. The addition of Pat Shurmur, who gave Dalvin Cook 74 rushing attempts and 16 targets in the first four games of his rookie season last year, should calm any fears of Barkley's workload. He'll get 20-plus looks per game, and with his ability, he'll produce.
Derrius Guice, RB, Redskins
I don't love the landing spot in D.C., but Guice is a stud who should be able to carve out a big role based on talent. Chris Thompson will hurt Guice's receiving upside to start, but Guice has the early-down work sewn up. His ability is what will keep him as my No. 2 pick, although he does get closer to the pack with just first and second down duties at the moment. I also haven't seen anything that makes his slide in the draft feel like it was warranted or that he's a ticking time bomb. Go with the obvious talent in this case.
Rashaad Penny, RB, Seahawks
Penny is a strong prospect and landed in a good situation as far as opportunity goes. Seattle has been awful running the ball, but has also had some awful running backs and injury on top of injury to the position. Penny should right the ship as long as he can stay healthy, and Pete Carroll has already said that Penny is a three-down back, meaning that he should have more opportunity than most running backs in the league. I had Nick Chubb and Sony Michel ahead of him based on talent, but Penny wasn't far behind and landed in a spot where he can make his own way.
Sony Michel, RB, Patriots
Michel landed in one of the best, and worst, spots in the league for fantasy. If he can carve out the lead-back role and see over 200 touches, he's a fantasy stud on Bill Belichick's team. If he fumbles, however, as he has had trouble with, he could be inactive on game day. The good news is that Michel was a first-round pick and looks to be a direct replacement for Dion Lewis, who was the lead back last season and put up strong fantasy numbers. Don't be scared away by the big number of running backs the Patriots have. Over the last three season, New England has had a lead back see over 40 percent of the work, and Michel could be the best of those backs for 2018.
Ronald Jones, RB, Bucs
Jones landed in a good spot and should quickly take over the majority of the running back work in Tampa Bay. He could lose out to some of the veterans early on in the passing game, but I don't see that lasting, as the Bucs will want him on the field as much as possible. Their passing game should continue to improve with DeSean Jackson in his second year with the team and Chris Godwin and O.J. Howard going into their second year as NFLers, which should give the running game a bit more room. We also can't hang Tampa Bay's rushing trouble all on the offensive line or offense, as Doug Martin was horrible during the last two seasons. I expect Jones to quickly see 15 touches a game with room for more.
Nick Chubb, RB, Browns
Chubb landed in a tough spot for quick fantasy greatness, as his competition, Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson, aren't slouches. Chubb is the best back on the team, however, and I believe that will show, but this league is built on getting the most out of young running backs and then tossing them to the side. Chubb has staying power and could be a steal this late in your rookie draft, but his upside could also be held in check for a couple years, as Duke Johnson likely isn't going to be let go anytime soon.
Royce Freeman, RB, Broncos
This was a great landing spot for Freeman, who isn't high on my list as far as talent, but there is no doubt he was drafted to be the lead back on a team that has a great defense and an average quarterback. Those facts should push the Broncos to try their best to establish the run with Freeman and hold onto close leads that were probably precipitated by the defense.
D.J. Moore, WR, Panthers
Moore is one of the few receivers drafted who is set up well to be his team's No. 1 receiver sooner than later, as his ability should outpace that of Devin Funchess. Unfortunately, Moore is on a team that doesn't have your normal drop-back quarterback in Cam Newton. I worry about Newton being able to help Moore become a true top-end fantasy player, but I think Moore has the most ability out of the top rookie wide receivers and has a clear path to playing time in a weak receiving group.
Kerryon Johnson, RB, Lions
Johnson should get plenty of opportunity to take over as the lead back after the Lions traded a fourth-round pick to move up eight spots to pick him. LeGarrette Blount is the biggest concern for those backing Johnson, as they are both good runners between the tackles and Blount could be used as a goal-line and short-yardage specialist. Blount won't be in Detroit forever, however, and Johnson could still beat him out.
Lamar Jackson, QB, Ravens
I rather not draft a quarterback this early, but Jackson could very much be an outlier due to his abilities. The NFL is catching on to new offensive concepts slowly, yet they are catching on and Jackson will get Marty Mornhinweg to help him along. Mornhinweg is the same guy who made Michael Vick an unstoppable force in Philadelphia for a season. This rookie crop is also pretty weak after the top running backs, and if you have a successful dynasty team that has also given you a pick toward the end of the first round, grabbing a player like Jackson is a risk I'm willing to take. Joe Flacco is likely done in Baltimore after this season, so Jackson should get his shot as a starter after being drafted in the first round, which means you will have a starting quarterback no matter what but with upside that could win you matchups all by himself.