What to watch: The other rookie running backs

Christian McCaffrey has a chance to be a fantasy star, but will he bust loose in his first NFL game? AP Photo/Mark Zaleski, File

Eight running backs were chosen in the first three rounds of the most recent NFL draft, and one of them debuted Thursday night with considerably more fanfare than when he was originally drafted. The Kansas City Chiefs rocked the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots in the first game of the 2017 regular season, and Kareem Hunt, selected No. 86 overall, looked the part of fantastic fantasy asset with his 246 total yards and three touchdowns, and he was able to do that because starter Spencer Ware wrecked his knee and presented the opportunity.

A year ago, there was merely one rookie running back fantasy owners relied on in Week 1. Dallas Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott definitely proved to be worth it, but the only other rookie running back to even make our rankings that opening week was Derrick Henry of the Tennessee Titans. Few owned eventual breakouts Jordan Howard or Rob Kelley. This year is obviously different, and that’s one of the bigger fantasy themes of the weekend, as we pay extra-close attention to the first-year running backs who have yet to succeed or fail -- so most of us can, obviously, overreact.

In each case, there’s enough to believe the rookies we did rank at running back could be awesome and great weekly fantasy options, but it’s also easy to see how things could go awry. Of course, after the historic performance by Hunt, now everyone will expect every rookie to go nuts. I’ll go one by one, if you don’t mind.