St. Louis Rams cornerback E.J. Gaines will miss the entire 2015 season after undergoing foot surgery, according to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Gaines suffered a Lisfranc injury early in training camp when a teammate stepped on his foot. He did not play in the Rams’ first preseason game against the Raiders Friday night.
Jenkins and Johnson, both entering their fourth season in the league, are solid players, but Gaines’ injury is still a big loss for the Rams.
So, that left 28 upstart breakout-type running backs vying for a place at or near the top of their roster’s depth charts in reality and on fantasy football teams. Of those 28, exactly half (14) of them got more than 50 carries during the season, with ten of them breaking the 4.0 yards per carry mark (meaning, most kept pace with their preseason performances). I don’t know if a 50% “hit” rate on my benchmarks is good or bad, but that’s about where I landed.
Of course, if we’re talking about true “breakout” players, we need to narrow this list down to the cream of the crop.
Hill came in to Cincy as a second-round pick and made a quick impression, capped by a solid outing in preseason Week 4 against the Colts where he carried the ball 20 times for 90 yards while adding six catches for 70 yards. He eventually unseated Giovanni Bernard as the starter for the Bengals, finishing the second half of the season as the NFL’s second-leading rusher in that timeframe behind only DeMarco Murray (775 yards in Weeks 9-17).
The undrafted rookie out of Buffalo had an impressive preseason for the Chargers — 64 yards on seven carries in Week 1 then 71 yards on 16 carries in Week 4. When Danny Woodhead went down for the year, Oliver got his shot. He made the most of it, showing surprising power on his way to a team-high 582 rushing yards at 3.6 YPC. His average gain per carry was a little disappointing but he made up for that with 36 catches for 271 yards and a touchdown.