Fantasy Rookie Profile: Bishop Sankey
Former Washington Huskies running back Bishop Sankey was the first running back taken in this year’s NFL Draft. The Tennessee Titans selected Sankey with the No. 54 overall pick in the second round.
The 5-foot-10, 210 pound Sankey was dominant for the Huskies in 2012 and 2013. He totaled 3,309 yards and 36 touchdowns on the ground while adding 61 catches and 553 yards through the air in those two seasons. Also of note is that Sankey scored at least one touchdown in every game last season.
Fellow Titans running back Shonn Greene recently underwent surgery on his right knee and will be held out of practices until training camp begins in late July. Greene had surgery on the same knee last year, which resulted in a five game absence. The Titans acquired former Kansas City Chiefs running back/wide receiver Dexter McCluster this offseason, but McCluster hasn’t proven himself as a starting NFL running back and is too small to carry a heavy load. In fact, he was used more as a wide receiver in Kansas City and is listed as a wide receiver on Tennessee’s depth chart. McCluster figures to be a change of pace player, used primarily in passing situations. Jackie Battle, Leon Washington and undrafted rookie free-agent Antonio Andrews seem to be role players at best; with Washington likely receiving most of the team’s kick return duties.
With former Titans running back Chris Johnson now in New York and Greene’s less than favorable injury history, Sankey seems to be the Titans RB to own. Johnson and Greene totaled 356 carries and we don’t know if Greene will ever be at 100 percent again. Opportunity is knocking loudly for Sankey.
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With Sankey’s physique comes an opportunity for him to be a valuable asset in the receiving game and subsequently in PPR scoring format leagues. He won’t run people over, but he does have good vision and agility – essential attributes for any player’s success in the open field. That being said, McCluster will take away some looks in the passing game, but shouldn’t be too much of a nuisance to Sankey’s fantasy value.
Sankey won’t be able to dominate opposing defenses on the ground like he did at Washington. For perspective, Sankey broke Corey Dillon’s single-season school rushing mark last season with 1,870 yards. This isn’t to say that Sankey can produce the way Dillon did in the NFL, but it is something to consider. The point is, he won’t overwhelm opposing defenses. Sankey “only” averaged 5.4 yards per carry (YPC) in the two seasons he started at Washington. That would be elite in the NFL, but his average could easily dip well below 5.0 YPC against bigger, faster professional defenses.
As far as Sankey’s blockers are concerned, the Titans mediocre offensive line of yesteryear should be improved this season, particularly with the addition of the team’s first-round draft pick, former Michigan offensive tackle, Taylor Lewan.
In my opinion, Sankey looks and plays like a poor man’s Maurice Jones-Drew or Doug Martin. Jones-Drew and Martin won’t overpower an opposing defense, but they’re agile and elusive with good vision in the open field and more than capable pass-catchers.
ADP and Outlook
Sankey’s current standard average draft position sits at RB24 (early Round 5), between Chris Johnson and Rashad Jennings, according to fantasyfootballcalculator.com. Obviously, at this point it’s hard to tell exactly how involved Sankey will be in the Titans’ offense, but they did spend a second round pick on him and we know new offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt likes to utilize running backs in his scheme. At this point, it’s safe to say Greene is over the hill. Sankey provides the best chance for success in Tennessee’s running game and is the superior pass-catcher to Greene (just six catches in 2013). Greene may take away some short yardage and goal line carries. Still, Sankey should end up seeing the majority of touches out of the backfield.
Sankey is primed to be the top rookie running back taken in 2014 fantasy drafts. He has the best opportunity and greatest potential (at least until Ben Tate gets injured in Cleveland and rookie running back Terrance West takes over). Until then, Sankey’s ADP should continue to rise, especially with Greene’s knee issues. We still have three or four months of watching and waiting, but as it stands, I really like Sankey’s potential. Right now I’ll pencil him in as a Top 25 2014 RB.