Dynasty League Football


Throughout the season, the Rookie Report Card has covered some of the biggest rookies and not only looked at their performance to date – but also their long term upside. Now that the regular season has wrapped up and fantasy owners are looking towards the future, we have an opportunity to take one last look at the 2015 season and assess the rookies – A final report card if you will. I already covered the quarterbacks so let’s move on.

We covered 25 rookies throughout the season, including nine running backs. Let’s put a bow on the season by taking one more look at those signal callers’ first shot running the ball on Sundays, as well as a quick glimpse into their futures in part one of the Final Rookie Report Card – Running Backs.

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Ameer Abdullah, RB DET
Season Stats: 143 carries, 597 yards (4.2 YPC), two rushing touchdowns, 25 receptions, 183 receiving yards, one touchdown reception

After being a hot rookie draft pick back in August due to a strong pre-season, Abdullah’s dynasty value cooled considerably due to a rather mediocre regular season where he averaged just 37.3 rushing yards per game and only found the end zone three times. The lions’ coaching staff seemed intent on using Abdullah as a part-time tailback and rarely looked to him in the red zone due to his slight frame (5-foot-9, 205 pounds) and ball security issues. It’s difficult to see that continuing to be the case but with Detroit retaining its coaching staff, it may be likely.

Even with all that said, Abdullah still has RB1 upside due to his decisiveness, speed and skills as a pass catcher. It’s certainly no guarantee but with the return of Joique Bell unlikely, he has a chance to take leap forward in his second season similar to that of Devonta Freeman in Atlanta this year – which makes him an excellent buy this off-season.


Jay Ajayi, RB MIA
Season Stats: 49 carries, 187 rushing yards (3.8 YPC), one touchdown, seven receptions, 90 receiving yards

Ajayi has seen his dynasty value take a massive hit in the last year. Once considered a lock to be a top pick in rookie drafts, he slipped to the fifth round of the NFL draft due to concerns with his knees and fell in rookie drafts because of it. After suffering a hamstring injury as well as some broken ribs in the preseason, his dynasty value took another hit. When he finally got healthy enough to play, he averaged just 3.8 yards per carry but showed glimpses of the potential he had coming out of Boise State.

Lamar Miller is a free agent and has said he’s interested in returning to Miami but that’s certainly no lock. Of the tailbacks on the roster, Ajayi is easily the best option to take over as the primary ball carrier if Miller signs elsewhere. Currently being drafted in the eighth round at number 94 overall and as the 31st running back off the board, his price tag appears to still be quite low.

With RB2 upside and the potential to be the lead runner in Miami, Ajayi’s an excellent trade target early this off-season considering the price.


Javorius Allen, RB BAL
Season Stats: 137 carries, 514 rushing yards (3.8 YPC), one touchdown, 45 receptions, 353 receiving yards, two touchdown receptions

After inheriting the starting job from an injured Justin Forsett, Buck Allen had a couple good fantasy games due to getting a heavy workload but failed to impress in the slightest over his final four starts.

Although he has good quickness, Allen lacks power despite his size (6-foot, 221 pounds), regularly choosing to run around tacklers rather than through them. He also struggles to find open running lanes, often times slamming into the back of his offensive lineman rather than finding a backside rushing lane.

When I wrote about Allen in the week 13 Rookie Report Card I mentioned that even if the 30-year-old Forsett isn’t back, the Ravens should be looking for a better option than Allen in the off-season and that second year tailback Lorenzo Taliaferro is likely a better option when he returns from his foot injury.

If I owned Allen, I’d be looking to sell him as quickly as possible – whether it be for a draft pick or a player going in the same range as his eighth-round ADP, like Ajayi.


Cameron Artis-Payne, RB CAR
Season Stats: 45 carries, 183 rushing yards (4.1 YPC), one touchdown, five receptions, 58 receiving yards

Despite his lack of breakaway speed or flashy moves in the open field, Artis-Payne proved himself as a strong inside runner with excellent cutback skills in limited playing time during his rookie season. Showing good burst and tackle breaking ability in limited playing time, he displayed RB2 upside – particularly in standard leagues.

When I wrote about him in the Rookie Report Card after week 16, I mentioned that Artis-Payne was likely to be a better football player than fantasy football player. His RB2 upside is contingent on getting 15-20 carries per game which is unlikely at this point playing behind Jonathan Stewart, and makes him nothing more than a handcuff for the near future.


David Cobb, RB TEN
Season Stats: 52 carries, 146 rushing yards (2.8 YPC), one touchdown, one reception, -2 receiving yards

Cobb’s rookie season was full of disappointment. After suffering a calf injury during training camp, he finally returned late in the season only to struggle to overtake Antonio Andrews and average just 2.8 yards per carry in limited work while running behind an awful offensive line.

The Titans have a lot of improving to do and have made the disappointing decision to retain the inadequate Mike Mularky as head coach. While that may point to Cobb having the upper hand to taking over as the lead back in Tennessee because of his familiarity with the coach, that’s not necessarily going to point towards fantasy upside.

Although I kind of liked Cobb coming out of Minnesota last year, overcoming an awful rookie season, inadequate coach and terrible offense is certain to put him in dynasty purgatory – at least for 2016.


Tevin Coleman, RB ATL
Season Stats: 87 carries, 392 rushing yards (4.5 YPC), one touchdown, two receptions, 14 receiving yards

Many fantasy players forget that it was Coleman and not Devonta Freeman that was named the starter coming out of the preseason and got 20 carries in week one against the Eagles, only to get carted off the field in week two. Freeman ran with his opportunity from that point on and dominated touches even when Coleman returned but the rookie showed flashes of brilliance at times during his rookie season.

Coleman displayed great burst and explosive speed as a one-cut runner in limited opportunities late in the year and if not for a couple of fumbles, may have cut into Freeman’s workload. Although the slippery fingers and injuries are a concern, his pedigree as an explosive playmaker make him an intriguing trade target for dynasty owners looking for youthful upside. With an ADP of 101 in January as well as his RB1 upside, he’s one of my favorite buys of the off-season.


Mike Davis, RB SF
Season Stats: 35 carries, 58 rushing yards (1.7 YPC), seven receptions, 38 receiving yards, zero touchdowns

Another tailback that missed time due to injury and struggled when he got onto the field, averaging just 1.7 yards per carry, Davis never got in a rhythm in his first year in the league. With a solid frame at 5-foot-9 and 217 pounds, he was a powerful, downhill runner while at South Carolina who would bounce off tackles and use an excellent stiff arm to ward off defenders at the second level but didn’t get the opportunity to show those skills as a rookie behind a poor 49ers offensive line.

Going into his second season, Davis will likely have the chance to win the primary backup job behind Carlos Hyde but will have to demonstrate the powerful running style he showed as a college runner to do so. He’s enters the off-season as a low end fantasy asset and may be in danger of being cut during rookie draft season in shallow dynasty leagues.


Melvin Gordon, RB SD
Season Stats: 184 carries, 641 rushing yards (3.5 YPC), 33 receptions, 192 receiving yards, zero touchdowns.

Averaging just 3.5 yards per carry and failing to find the end zone even once, Gordon’s rookie year was something to forget for both him and his dynasty owners. Although it’s difficult to have much confidence in him going into 2016, it’s also very hard to forget about the impressive burst and shiftiness he showed while at Wisconsin.

Gordon’s top end pedigree make him an excellent buy low candidate for those looking for RB1 upside at low-end RB2 prices.


Todd Gurley, RB LA
Season Stats: 229 carries, 1,106 rushing yards (4.8 YPC), 10 touchdowns, 21 catches, 188 receiving yards

Gurley was everything anybody could have wanted him to be during his rookie year. Despite playing on one of the worst offenses in the league and facing eight-man fronts on a weekly basis, he dominated at times – running with an impressive combination of speed and power.

At this point, Le’Veon Bell is the only other running back currently worth considering as the top dynasty tailback. Although I’d still prefer any of the top-ten wide outs and Rob Gronkowski, Gurley belongs on the turn between rounds one and two in startups. His owners should only consider moving him for an elite receiver.


Check back in the coming days for part two of the running backs, and over the coming weeks for my look at the rookie class of receivers.


Final Rookie Report Card: Running Backs, Part One
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7 years ago

Superb piece Dan, one of the best in a while. Having the top rookie RB’s in one place with their analysis, past year in review along with their upside is most excellent and highly useful. Look forward to the WR report card.

I’ve been considering going after 1 of Melvin Gordon or Coleman before the next rookie draft. Coleman will obviously be much cheaper. And there’s some nagging quality about Gordon I just can’t put my finger on, where I doubt he ever lives up to his hype. Where would you value each of those guys in rookie picks this year?


7 years ago

I assume he was not in the original piece (although not sure why) but still would like to have read your thoughts on David Johnson.

Dan Meylor
Reply to  Novacane
7 years ago

It’s coming in part two… check back tomorrow.

Dan Meylor
7 years ago

Thanks JohnnyD,

Not many Gordon owners will be selling him at a massive discount after likely investing a top three overall pick in him just 9-10 months ago. If I could get him for a mid-first (1.06 or later) however, I’d consider that (particularly in this draft class.) As for Coleman, his price tag has dipped to the point that he can probably be had for a mid-late second (I’ve seen him go for even less than that) in most leagues and that price tag is dirt cheap, in my opinion.

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