The most important NFL dress rehearsal is now in the books. Preseason Week 3 featured the longest amount of action from the starters and showed which teams are really ready to go in regular season Week 1. This was also a big week for rookies. Those players that are on fantasy radars saw their toughest competition to date. So how did they fare? We take a look at how rookie running backs on the fantasy radar held up in preseason Week 3 and what that means for owners.
Kareem Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs
The tides turned dramatically for Hunt when Chiefs starter Spencer Ware went down for what could be the season with a torn PCL. The third-round pick was named the starting rusher in Kansas City in Ware’s absence. Hunt rushed nine times for 39 yards against Seattle and has a total of 18 carries for 79 yards threw three preseason games. He also has four catches for 32 yards this preseason.
Hunt went from not on fantasy radars to a potential RB1 when Ware went down. He is not the most explosive rusher, but he has versatility and is hard to tackle. Hunt’s ADP should rise considerably especially in PPR leagues. Chiefs head coach Andy Reid puts a lot of responsibility on the running game. Hunt will pay off big for owners based on touches alone.
Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks
Carson is knocking on the door for the starting role in Seattle. The rushing core is plagued with injuries leaving Carson to battle for the top spot with veteran Eddie Lacy. The seventh-round pick came into the third preseason game on the second play and dominated. He rushed eight times for 46 yards and caught two passes for 44 yards against Kansas City. Carson has earned 156 yards on 25 touches so far this preseason.
Carson has to take advantage of this playing time while he can. The Seahawks expect to have starter Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise back at some point this season, and that will push him down on the depth chart. However, while they are out, Carson is sharing a lot of time in the backfield with Lacy. Owners looking for a late-round pick or waiver pick up with a lot of upside should have their eyes on Carson.
Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals
Mixon moved down the depth chart with the return of Giovani Bernard, however he still got some snaps on the opening drive. The second-round pick finished the night with eight rushes for 31 yards. Mixon has 20 carries for 78 yards and three catches for 32 yards through three preseason games.
Mixon has looked like the best rusher in Cincinnati so far this preseason. Veteran Jeremy Hill has gotten all of the starts so far, but Mixon has outpaced Hill and Bernard in touches and has really impressed early. There looks to be a lot of upside to Mixon in fantasy. Owners should pay close attention to how playing time shakes out between the running backs for the Bengals, Mixon will be an interesting piece in that puzzle.
Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings
Cook went through some growing pains in the third preseason game against San Francisco. The 41st overall pick rushed five times for 17 yards and lost five yards on one catch. Cook has been the starting rusher in Minnesota since preseason Week 1. His backup, Latavius Murray, was active for the first game this season, but did very little to threaten Cook for the starting job.
Cook’s fantasy stock remains high considering the Vikings are fully invested in their rookie back. As he matures, especially in the passing game, his fantasy ceiling will only get higher. Cook’s owners easily have a low-end RB1 on their roster.