In my weekly column, we take a long look at impact fantasy football rookies. I compare their performance to date against my original expectations of them. Let’s continue this 2014 version of the series by looking at one of this class’ highest regarded running backs prior to the start of the season, Bishop Sankey. I will look at some of his college production against his performance versus Jacksonville to discern his dynasty value.
Here are my thoughts after watching him in college: The young back received a lot of touches as a collegian and seems to be wearing him down somewhat. Sankey runs mostly between zero and two gaps ( the two guards and center) with good leverage and seemingly enjoys the contact. Sankey doesn’t go down with arm tackles and keeps his feet chopping trying to break tackles. The runner has a strong stiff-arm that helps him keep defenders away from him. His fierceness sets him apart from the other backs in his draft class, but his speed and vision do not.
Sankey is a very patient runner as he follows a pulling lineman or on a counter. It’s not uncommon for him to switch from blocker to blocker down the field. He does not fare well against the run blitz when the play do not go as designed. The back struggles to create space for himself, relying on the kindness of his offensive line. As a run blocker himself, Sankey is a high effort guy when he is not the ball carrier, knocking defenders off their feet. Unfortunately, the back struggles in pass protection. He does not set his feet or square his shoulder to attack the blitzer, instead he tries to cut block almost every time. Sankey has a tendency to catch passes with his body which makes him an even bigger passing game liability. I compared him to favorably to the Rams Zach Stacy, a strong back without much wiggle. Much like Stacy, Sankey looks decent when getting high volumes of carries, but is more of a north and south runner.
Against the Jaguars I saw: The rookie running back started the game, and that might have been his biggest accomplishment of the game. Both Leon Washington and Shonn Greene looked more explosive and ran harder than the rook. His first attempt at pass blocking was no more than him diving at a blitzer’s knees which the linebacker jumped over. The first thing that stood out to me is that he cannot create space on his own. Sankey needs either the offensive line or the offensive coordinator to find lanes for him. There were quite a few times, the young back got smashed near the line of scrimmage waiting for something to open. Despite that, he has good balance, and runs well on the outside of his offensive tackles.
Sankey appears to concern himself with the immediate threat and does nothing to make defenses think he is going anywhere other than the current path he is taking. This makes him easier to defend. Sure the young back uses a spin move or two to try to get away from trouble, but still heads in the same direction. He gets low on his runs, always falls forward, but doesn’t have enough leg drive to break many tackles.
The rookie got replaced on third downs, due to his lack of pass blocking abilities, which is a shame. Sankey has soft hands when he is looking for the ball, but got distracted a few times while running routes. This lack of concentration led to him not factoring much in the game once the Titans fell behind and played in hurry-up during the fourth quarter. When the back did catch the ball, he made the reception in stride and looked good in space. I have my doubts that Sankey will ever become a fantasy factor due to his lack of leg strength and limited vision. If you can unload him for a low 1st round rookie pick or a high 2nd round rookie pick, make the trade quickly!
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