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How did NFL rookie running backs perform in Week 1?

We take a look at how NFL rookie running backs performed in Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season.

Najee Harris #22 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is hit by Justin Zimmer #61 of the Buffalo Bills during the first half at Highmark Stadium on September 12, 2021 in Orchard Park, New York. Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

The first Sunday of the 2021 NFL season is in the books and several rookie running backs got an opportunity to showcase their skills right away. Let’s take a look at how each running back did and what to expect from them in Week 2.

Steelers RB Najee Harris: 16 carries, 45 rushing yards, 1 catch for 4 receiving yards

As expected, Harris received a lot of work as the lead running back for the Steelers. The efficiency wasn’t great, but Harris was going up against a tough Buffalo Bills front in Week 1. Expect bigger things for the Alabama product in Week 2 against a softer Las Vegas Raiders front.

49ers RB Elijah Mitchell: 19 carries, 104 rushing yards and 1 TD

The rookie emerged after Raheem Mostert went down with a knee injury. Trey Sermon was inactive before the game, meaning Mitchell had a great opportunity to make noise. He did just that with 104 yards and a score. If Mostert and Sermon are unable to go next week, expect more of the same from Mitchell in a strong 49ers run game.

Broncos RB Javonte Williams: 14 rush attempts, 45 rushing yards

For fantasy owners who have Williams, this is an encouraging stat line despite the low efficiency. Even with the presence of Melvin Gordon, the North Carolina rookie got 14 carries to lead the backfield. Gordon had the big touchdown run, but the Broncos are clearly invested in Williams being the lead back going forward. Expect more of the same in Week 2 against a struggling Jacksonville Jaguars team.

Jets RB Michael Carter: 4 carries for 6 rushing yards, 1 catch for 14 receiving yards

In a crowded backfield, Carter got five total touches for 20 total yards. He’s behind Tevin Coleman and Ty Johnson in the pecking order on a team looking to throw the ball more with rookie quarterback Zach Wilson. Carter is a good player to hold onto in keeper and dynasty formats, but might not carry much value otherwise. He’ll have to contend for touches again in Week 2 when the Jets face the New England Patriots.