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Fantasy Players - Rookie Watch
By Mike Beacom

Rookie Watch – Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers

At one time, Carlos Hyde was thought of as the only NFL feature-back type in the 2014 draft class, and probably the only back who could crack the first round. As it turned out, no back accomplished the latter, and Hyde fell behind Bishop Sankey and Jeremy Hill in round two. Poor health? Off-the-field concerns? Hard to say, but Hyde’s falling draft stock is less a worry for fantasy owners than his landing spot. The 49ers are loaded at running back.

If Hyde does find a spot on the field expect it to include some short-yardage responsibilities. At 235 pounds (6-foot), Hyde is the biggest back on the roster.

Dissecting the depth chart: Hmmm, where to start? Most fantasy owners know Frank Gore to be the 49ers’ starting back, a job he’s held now for nine seasons. However no one will dispute the fact that Gore is coming to the end of a career that started on the bad knees he brought with him from the University of Miami-Florida. Gore’s 4.1 yards per carry last year was the worst season average of his career. Kendall Hunter is the next most experienced back on the roster, but probably has the least amount of upside. Lamichael James is the wild card of the bunch. He was rumored to be on the trading block, but could stay for his versatility (easily the best receiving back of the bunch). Marcus Lattimore would be a 20-carry featured back already if not for a horrific injury that ended his collegiate career; now he’s trying to become the next Willis McGahee. Among all of this Hyde must find his spot…

Just the stats: Hyde averaged better than 5.0 yards a carry all four years at Ohio State, including 7.3 as a senior. And while he entered the school as’s No. 2 ranked fullback prospect in the country, he served as a lead back for the bulk of his time in Columbus. It should be noted, though, that Hyde’s carries were limited (208 in 2013, 185 in 2012). He had 31 rushing touchdowns his final two seasons and almost 2,500 yards. He logged six 100-yard games in his first three seasons and added nine more in 2013. His biggest game – statistically – came against Illinois last season: 246 yards on 24 carries, two receptions and five touchdowns.

2014 Projection: 67 carries, 292 yards, 3 TDs

2013 rookie comparison: Knile Davis, Kansas City Chiefs
Hyde enters the league with way more potential than Davis, but the two share the same predicament of having to fit into a crowded situation. Davis was a big body to save Jamaal Charles from absorbing a few too many blows; Hyde can do the same for the San Francisco backs as a short-yardage back.

Interesting fact that won’t help you: Hyde is one of four Ohio State backs with multiple 200-yard games. The others include a pair of Heisman winners (Archie Griffin and Eddie George) and Beanie Wells.

What he’s worth: Not much. Anywhere else Hyde would be a third or fourth round consideration in fantasy drafts, but mixed in with this backfield he’ll be lucky to get drafted. Even still, some back will emerge as Frank Gore’s heir apparent. Could be Hyde.

Follow Mike Beacom on Twitter @mikebeacom
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