Post Draft Rookie RB Rankings

Post Draft Rookie RB Rankings

Tiered RB Rankings
By: Pete Davidson : May 25, 2017 8:19pm

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This is my list of draftable running backs for 2017 and I have them broken down into tiers. Landing spots have been taken into account so you will notice some changes compared to my pre-draft rankings. I may make some minor tweaks to this list as we move forward, but this is representative of how I have drafted in my rookie drafts so far.

As I have said throughout this offseason, I like this draft class plenty at the RB position. I have been able to find backs that I like in just about all rounds during my rookie drafts. I truly doubt you will be in any drafts where this list will get exhausted. It’s gotten me through 96 and a 84-player rookie drafts, so you should be well armed.

Look for updated rankings for the receivers tomorrow and I will update the quarterbacks and tight ends over the weekend.

I will also be doing a rookie draft strategy podcast this weekend, which will be a nice companion piece to the rankings and to the pod I am recording tonight with Rotoworld’s Evan Silva.

The measurables for these players are listed at the bottom of the page.

Tier One

These are the studs. Along with Corey Davis, these four backs rightfully fill out the top five slots on most draft boards, including mine. I have very little separation between these four backs. Draft the one you are comfortable wth. To me, McCaffrey is the safest play—particularly if you are in a full PPR format. He’s such a great receiver, that he could change positions if he has any issues as a running back. Not that he will. Fournette is the volume back while Cook and Mixon are dynamic talents both worthy of being selected as high as number one. If you are in the top five and you do not want one of these backs, you should trade down.

1 - Christian McCaffrey, Panthers

My only real concern is durability. That has to be proven for any back, but especially for smaller backs like McCaffrey. The landing spot is mediocre for the short term, but I expect great things once he’s fully installed in both the ground game and the passing game. McCaffrey’s route work is something special but he’s also a diverse runner with top shelf ability. This guy can run inside or out and he can do it in any scheme. He is a perfect fit for the modern NFL and he has monster upside in all scoring formats.

2 - Leonard Fournette, Jaguars

He’s a traditional bell cow—and that’s a great thing considering who he will be coached by. Doug Marrone is from the Paul Hackett school of football. Heck, he’s even got Hackett’s son Nathaniel as his OC. Get ready, jags’ fans. There is power running and plenty of dump-offs in 3rd and long situations coming your way. If LF plays on those third downs, he has huge potential for fantasy purposes. Seriously, I was ready to fade this player if he went to the wrong team, but he has plenty of value as a Jaguar under the current regime—with guys like Tom Coughlin and Marrone around, not to mention a Hackett calling the plays. The magic question, for the long term, is, can the Jags become a winner? If they do, Fournette could prove to be the most valuable fantasy back in this class.

3 - Dalvin Cook, Vikings

I love the way he runs and he has plenty of diversity to his game. Dalvin can be a force as a receiver and he can be a bell cow runner. Ball security and shoulder surgeries are my only concerns unless you want to get into the off-field stuff which is plenty unsavory, especially if you love dogs. His combine has affected his stock in many places, but not here. I’m drafting him with confidence. He’s a back who should prove impervious to game flow over the long haul, though he could have issues with Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon in the near term. My guess is that it’s McKinnon who steals more touches.

4 - Joe Mixon, Bengals

A huge talent, but also a player with a well known past. My concern is that, anybody who does what he did, and pays so small a price, could have future problems. If you are willing to look past that, Mixon is an outstanding talent who is worthy of being taken in any draft slot. He’s a damn good runner whose inside ability is being undersold by some. He’s just as good in the passing game and he obviously got quality coaching at Oklahoma. The Bengals’ OL will be trumpeted as a reason for worry, but the skills players they have will keep teams from loading the box to the extreme.

Tier Two

I like this tier enough to use a late first rounder and if either of these players slip into round two, I will make attempts to move up if I can find a reasonable trade partner. Perine’s appeal is his solidity and all-around game. He can catch some passes and he’ll own the stripe in time. Hunt won the landing spot lottery and we liked him plenty before that. While I would not bet the ranch on it, he has a chance to become the lead back for Any Reid—a job that has returned strong historical value.

5- Samaje Perine, Washington

Nothing changes here. Perine holds on to his predraft rating with a nice landing in Washington. While displacing Fat Rob Kelley could conceivably take some time, Perine is a complete player for a big power back. That diversity should eventually get him past the more limited Kelley. Perine’s ability as a pass protector could get him more snaps on passing downs than many seem to think. This guy is a very good football player—a guy coaches will want to keep on the field.

6 - Kareem Hunt, Chiefs

I really like this player and Coach Turner likes him too, though with a bit less enthusiasm. He gets a solid bump based on the landing spot, but be careful not to overdraft him. He’s not a JC or even a Westbrook level talent in the passing game. He has the potential to be the long term lead back in KC, but he’s not special and that makes him vulnerable if a special talent is added at a later date.

Tier Three

The third tier is comprised of backs who I am very comfortable targeting once my elite tier is dried up. I am happy to land anybody in this tier from the mid second round on.  I'd go even a bit earlier to land Kamara, if he falls out of round one, which is where he's getting drafted or perhaps overdrafted.

7- Alvin Kamara, Saints

Gets a slight bump due to his landing spot, but be careful about anointing him as the next lead back for the Saints. N.O. could easily have an even better talent on board in 2018. Oh, and the AP/Ingram combo could easily dominate things in 2017. Kamara’s receiving ability gets him a larger bump if your league is full PPR. I agree on the upside that most people seem to see with this player, but more credence should be given to the notion that he could be a specialist as Reggie Bush was back in the day. For this, I see him as a shaky pick in the middle of round one. If he gets into the second, which is unlikely based on what I have seen in drafts so far, then I’d be more interested.

8 - Joe Williams, 49ers

Williams is a good fit for the scheme he was drafted into. I can absolutely see him as a Shanahan back. What I don’t understand is the way people are giving up on Carlos Hyde, who could shine in the system and become a star. If Williams does get a shot at major playing time, he has the ability to post very nice fantasy stats. He’s legit fast and can be explosive at times. There are off-field concerns that almost assuredly took him off of some NFL draft boards. The counter to that is that SF really wanted him and moved up in the 4th round to obtain him. The rumor that Carlos Hyde could be one-and-done with the new regime adds to Williams’ dynasty appeal. Personally, I find it hard to fathom that Williams is great right out of the box. I see year one for him as a growth year—playing behind Hyde. I like the idea of targeting him in round two once my elite targets (Ross, Shuster, Engram and Samuel) are off the board.

9 - James Conner, Steelers

He’s going to back up Bell, who is obviously more talented, but Bell has a propensity for injury and has some risk in terms of future suspensions. Bell’s long term value has some sneaky appeal and I love him as a long term hedge if you are a Le’Veon owner. The thing to understand with Conner, is that he has three down ability. He’s a diverse player whose work ethic is beyond proven. There’s not much he can’t do as far as skill is concerned.

10 - Marlon Mack, Colts

Mack is a player where you need to watch all of the film. He’s a dangerous player if you go by highlight reels because the highlights are on the intoxicating side. However, snap-to-snap, there is a disconnect between the film, the highlights and the measurables. So, while I like the player, I think that the expectations in year one should be conservative. Don’t draft him to fill an immediate need. He’s a player with a high ceiling who landed in a very good spot—a roll of the dice with a big potential payoff.

11 - D’Onta Foreman, Texans

A slight downgrade because we like Lamar Miller here. Foreman has some exciting measurables, but his film shows a player with weak instincts in the passing game. There’s also a disconnect between his size/speed combo and his film. He gets stopped in his tracks too often by a singular defender. He has some of the same strengths and weaknesses as backs like Knile Davis and Latavius Murray. He has big play potential, but on a snap-to-snap basis, he leaves us wanting.

Tier four

Tier four underscores the depth of this class. I like all of these backs enough to roster them in most dynasty leagues. I expect all of these guys to have significant NFL careers. Ideally, I am drafting this group in round three. Hill is a back that I’ve taken in the fourth three times so far. He’s a nice late value.

12 - Jeremy McNichols, Bucs

I really like his ceiling for fantasy purposes. He’s a damn good receiver for a RB and he can run it too. The thing is, Doug Martin is being discarded by too many people and there are many other quality backs on the TB roster. McNichols, coming off of labrum surgery, feels like a long term play to me, but a long term play who could really pay off because this is an offense that will be able to throw the football and the running backs will have plenty of favorable running situations. Just don’t ignore Jacquizz Rodgers, Charles Sims and obviously Martin. Most of the Bucs’ 2017 RB stats will come from them.

13 - Jamaal Williams, Packers

There’s plenty of potential here, but Williams is being snatched up very early and I’m not sure if I want him in the mid second round area. First of all, Ty Montgomery is more talented than Williams by my eyes. Second, Aaron Jones (he is up next) is a serious threat as well, and I can get him a little later on in rookie drafts for the most part. Having said that, Williams has the ability to play in all situations and the Packers’ offense is a nice platform to work from. He’s got a long thin frame, which concerns me a bit, but he looks like a guy who will stick in the league for a while. He’s just not special to me. It’s hard to envision him taking the gig over this year or next.

14 - Aaron Jones, Packers

As I just said, I like Jones as much as I like Jamaal Williams, so if I am targeting a GB runner, I am more likely to end up with Jones. He is an exciting back who makes an impact in all phases of the game. He had a monster senior year at UTEP. Jones runs will great balance and quick feet. He runs through contact well for a smaller back. He could be a consistent play-maker in an offense like Green Bay’s.

15 - Brian Hill, Falcons

He gets a post-draft downgrade because Devonta Freeman and because Tevin Coleman. Having said that, we like Hill as a talent and both Freeman and Coleman have injury histories. Hill’s a nice depth guy if you own either one of them. The dude runs very hard and he does it consistently. He’s got underrated cutting ability and is generally tough to bring down. You won’t see him arm-tackled very often. He has an all-around game and can play on all downs. He could be a factor as a rookie fi there are any injuries in Atlanta.

16 - Elijah McGuire, Jets

I liked this pick for the Jets, which is a rare thing. Bilal Powell is probably a better back, but McGuire could develop into a solid contributor in time. He has a bit more size than Powell and he’s a very nice receiver out of the backfield. He played hurt as a collegian and showed some legit toughness. He’s a nice value once the bigger names are off the board. You are getting a lot of the qualities you get from a guy like McNichols, but at a reduced cost.

Tier Five

This is the last group of backs on my draft list. In deeper leagues, I can find room for most of these players on my taxi squad or the like.

17 - Tarik Cohen, Bears

We absolutely love this kid. Is he going to be a star? Who knows. His size says no, but when you watch his game film, he does nothing but make plays—explosive plays. He has some Darren Sproles to him and could excel in a hybrid role in the right scheme. We’ve seen tiny backs like Dri Archer fail in the past, but Cohen is a different cat. He’s very tough in confined space like Sproles is and he’s not a long-strider like Archer. I’d have been seriously jacked if this kid had landed in New Orleans. John Fox’s team was not what I was hoping for. On the positive side, the Bears used relatively early pick (113 overall) on him. He was taken before Joe Williams, Jamaal Williams, Marlon Mack and Brian Hill among others so the Bears must have plans for him. I like him as a deep pick if you play in a deep league with full PPR scoring.

18 - Matt Breida, 49ers

While everybody and their Mother is snatching up Joe Williams, I offer you an alternative course. Breida is a legit talent who is nearly free at this time. Draft him with your last pick in deep formats and keep tabs on him in all others. He fits the new Shanahan scheme and has explosive athletic traits. People have given up on him after a rough 2016 season, but it had a lot to do with his team disintegrating around him. If he can add just a few pounds, he could be a committee option for the 49ers in tandem with a guy like Williams, and Breida would have some value in deeper fantasy leagues if that happens. He’s a very worth dice roll if you play in a deep enough league.

19 - De'Angelo Henderson, Broncos

He’s small but compact and we’ve seen how those little backs with low centers of gravity can excel in the NFL. Denver took a chance on him in round six, so they obviously have some love for his game. The Broncos obviously have a deep backfield with the addition of Jamaal Charles to a depth chart that already had CJ Anderson and Devontae Booker, so Henderson’s rookie season will likely be quiet, but he could be a solid player in time. His film looks great and he shows a nice nose for the goal line, but the level of competition is light so he’s probably not as fast or quick as he looks on game film. He did run well at the combine though. Henderson fits nicely into this tier. He’s definitely a back I’d like to own in deeper formats.

20 - Wayne Gallman, Giants

Gallman is not a back I am all that excited about, but he should be able to carve out a role with the Giants, and he could post some decent numbers if he gets enough work. There are no studs on the NYG depth chart, so Gallman did well in terms of landing spot. He gets a modest bump in the post draft ranks.

21 - Matthew Dayes, Browns

Days did not win in terms of landing spot because the Browns have two very good Res at the top of the totem pole. Having said that, Dayes is a solid late round flier and he is a player to keep tabs on in case there are injuries in Cleveland. He plays a bit bigger than his listed weight and he catches the ball very well.

22 - Elijah Hood, Raiders

He hit a home run with his landing spot, so I am paying attention despite not loving his film all that much. The Raiders ave a strong offensive line and Marshawn Lynch is a short term deal.

23 - TJ Logan, Cardinals,

He’s exciting for sure. Logan can really fly and he’s got legit quickness to go with that speed, but he projects as a special teamer for the time being. In time, if he takes to the scheme, he could play a role in passing situations, because he’s got good hands, but that’s just one more area where David Johnson eats. The good news is that, since Johnson is a big back, the Cards may have no problem with Logan as his complement. This year, that player is most likely the underrated Rotobahn favorite, Kerwynn Williams.

24 - Corey Clement, Eagles

He’s not a guy we love as he looked like a product of the offense at Wisconsin, but he should be in the league for a few years. Philadelphia is not a bad landing spot as there are no alpha backs on the roster.


Rank PLAYER TEAM College Height Weight Hand 40 time Bench Vertical Broad 3 Cone
1 Christian McCaffrey CAR Stanford 5112 202 9 4.48 10 37.5" 10'1" 6.57
2 Leonard Fournette JAC LSU 6004 240 9 1/4 4.51 28.5"
3 Dalvin Cook MIN Florida State 5103 210 9 1/4 4.49 22 30.5" 9'8" 7.27
4 Joe Mixon CIN Oklahoma 6006 228 10 1/4 4.43 35” 9’10” 7.00
5 Samaje Perine WAS Oklahoma 5105 233 10 4.65 30 33" 9'8" 7.26
6 Kareem Hunt KC Toledo 5104 216 9 5/8 4.62 18 36.5" 9'11"
7 Alvin Kamara NO Tennessee 5102 214 9 1/4 4.56 15 39.5" 10'11"
8 Joe Williams SF Utah 5110 210 9 3/8 4.41 14 35" 10'5" 7.19
9 James Conner PIT Pitt 6014 233 9 7/8 4.65 20 29" 9'5"
10 Marlon Mack IND South Florida 5113 213 9 4.50 15 35.5" 10'5"
11 D’Onta Foreman HOU Texas 6000 233 10 1/8 18
12 Jeremy McNichols TB Boise State 5085 214 10 4.49 35.5" 10'1" 6.93
13 Jamaal Williams GB BYU 6000 212 10 4.59 30" 10'3" 7.25
14 Aaron Jones GB UTEP 5094 208 9 1/2 4.56 16 37.5" 10'7" 6.82
15 Brian Hill ATL Wyoming 6010 219 8 7/8 4.54 15 34" 10'5" 7.03
16 Elijah McGuire NYJ Louisiana-Lafayette 5096 214 9 4.53 15 36" 10' 7.26
17 Tarik Cohen CHI NC A&T 5064 179 10 1/8 4.42 11 31.5" 9'10"
18 Matt Breida SF Georgia Southern 5’11” 190 4.37 42”
19 DeAngelo Henderson DEN Coastal Carolina 5’8” 208 9 1/2” 4.48 20 34” 10”
20 Wayne Gallman NYG Clemson 6004 215 9 1/8 4.60 21 29.5" 10' 7.17
21 Matthew Dayes CLE NC State 5090 205 10 1/2 18 28" 9'1"
22 Elijah Hood OAK North Carolina 6000 232 9 3/8 18
23 TJ Logan ARI North Carolina 5090 196 9 4.37 17 33.5" 10'1"
24 Corey Clement PHI Wisconsin 5101 220 9 3/4 4.68 19 28.5" 9'7"