How not to get fooled by rookie RBs again in fantasy football

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Part of being a successful fantasy football owner is to go back and take stock of the mistakes you made during the season. Win or lose, everyone makes them from time to time.

Whether it was your overall draft strategy, the lack of depth on your roster or maybe just errors in judgment regarding your weekly lineup decisions, learning from your mistakes helps pave the way for your next title. This season, one of the biggest mistakes fantasy owners made was underestimating the impact of not having a preseason, particularly with regard to the rookie running backs.

When the NFL draft finished up, fantasy owners were salivating over the prospects of Clyde Edwards-Helaire in an Andy Reid offense, Cam Akers finally getting to run behind a solid offensive line and Jonathan Taylor bruising defensive lines as the featured back for the Colts. J.K. Dobbins was feeling the love after landing in Baltimore, D’Andre Swift was the best back in Detroit since Barry Sanders and Antonio Gibson was going to be Ron Rivera’s new Christian McCaffrey.

Though some may have emerged late in the season, none of them dominated in the way many fantasy owners expected.

If there is one thing this season taught us, it is that the NFL needs its preseason. It needs OTAs in May, it needs June minicamp, it needs training camp in July and it needs preseason games in August. As great as any of these running backs were in college, none of them were prepared for the NFL game without a solid four months of training. The speed of the pro game alone takes months of getting used to, but on top of that, coaches were routinely disappointed in basics such as pass-blocking and ball-protection. As a result, many turned to veterans who may not have had the preferred skill set, but they could play the NFL game.

Fantasy owners failed to realize this early on and drafted these players as if they had been thriving in the NFL for years. Edwards-Helaire was a first-rounder while Taylor and Akers went as high as the third. When evaluating rookie running backs next year, spend less time focusing on what they looked like in college and more on what will be asked of them at this level. If they don’t prepare the right way, they won’t be much good to you until it’s too late.

Howard Bender is the VP of operations and head of content at FantasyAlarm.com. Follow him on Twitter @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award-winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays from 6-8 p.m. Go to FantasyAlarm.com for all your fantasy football advice.

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