As you rigorously prepare and research leading into each fantasy football season, you’ll always find some new/less familiar names near the top of the list. “Introducing” will be a series that features these lesser known players who are expected to begin the season in heavily featured roles for the very first time. Never shy away from players just because they’re yet to make a name for themselves … yet.


Carlos Hyde — RB, San Francisco 49ers

Last summer Hyde’s name was one to know if you were drafting for a season long team. As Frank Gore’s backup, many expected him not only to earn himself a shared workload, but even overtake Gore on the depth chart. And if that didn’t happen, well, Gore’s been relevant on the fantasy scene for a decade now, surely a dinosaur like him wouldn’t be able to stay healthy.

In the end, if you invested in Hyde, you likely regretted it.

Gore played in all 16 games in 2014, and although he didn’t boast elite status, Frank the Tank still managed to rack up over 1,200 combine yards and five total touchdowns. Gore’s solid season meant that Hyde was predominantly an afterthought in San Fran’s offense. His four rushing touchdowns helped him stay somewhat relevant (the same amount as Gore), but Hyde’s 333 rushing yards in 14 games made him pretty tough to ever take a flyer on.

2015 figures to be a LOT different for the second year RB from Ohio State.

Gore is taking reps in training camp as a colt these days — his first time not sporting 49er gear. He’s likely to take over whatever mess of a backfield remains from the failed Trent Richardson experiment. That leaves Hyde as the man in San Fran, though, a team that loves to pound the rock. The 49ers ranked fourth in the NFL in rushing yards in 2014, and Hyde will be the head of the monster in 2015.

However, this doesn’t mean Hyde will be uncontested — Reggie Bush is a big addition for San Francisco as a weapon out of the backfield. But Reggie also isn’t the type of RB that threatens to take over a feature role at this stage of his career. Bush has never been a between the tackles runner, he’ll be worked into the offense in creative ways as he always has. That’s good news for Hyde on the whole, though.

Although Bush will be frustrating at times — whether it be taking an end around 80 yards to the house, or scoring on a nifty screen pass — Hyde is the RB that will consistently be moving the chains and scoring at the goal line. His fresh legs in the backfield are exactly what the 49ers need in their first Gore-less season since 2004.

1,200 yards and 10 TDs seem very reasonable to expect from Hyde in his first season in the spotlight. Draft him with confidence.

Find me on Twitter @julianedlow