We’re currently working on our Day Three roundup and updating our rookie rankings feverishly behind the scenes. Meanwhile, the draft is unfolding and running backs are going off the board all over the place. With so many running backs going to great locations, I felt it was a good time to perform a little experiment.
Here’s how it worked.
I simply asked Team DLF to rank the running backs (PPR format) who are no sure bet to go in the first round of rookie drafts. It seems clear that list is not going to include the likes of Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook or Joe Mixon as it seems they’re near locks to go in round one in virutally every rookie draft out there. The results were interesting as three very distinct tiers below those top four surprisingly started to form. These players either have a lot of talent and landed in some less than desirable spots or may have marginal talent but a landing spot that seems to provide real opportunity. Regardless, dynasty owners need to do their homework (or wait, perhaps we already have it done for you) on these players as a few of them are bound to be rookie draft bargains.
Editor’s Note: Make sure click on each player to read our exclusive DLF Rookie Profile. We’ve already done extensive research on all these players so you don’t have to!
These are players to surely target in your rookie drafts if you miss out on the top tier that includes Fournette, Cook, McCaffrey and Mixon.
1.) Alvin Kamara, RB NO (2.86 average ranking)
Kamara was a hot name going into the draft but he ended up in New Orleans, who few believed was in the market for a running back. With Adrian Peterson and Mark Ingram on the roster, it’s hard to see a definitive role for Kamara early on. However, it’s clear the Saints like him and were willing to move up in the draft to get him. It’s possible they eventually envision him in the role they used for Reggie Bush or Darren Sproles in past years. He was never likely going to be a bellcow so the New Orleans landing spot may not be as bad as it initially may seem.
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2.) Samaje Perine, RB WAS (2.93 average ranking)
The Redskins were rumored to have interest in several backs, including Dalvin Cook. Instead, they waited until round four and took Perine, who was incredibly productive at Oklahoma. With Matt Jones looking to be on the way out and the very average Rob Kelley ahead of him, Perine may have a nice opportunity as early as this year. Keith Marshall owners had to sigh at this pick.
3.) Kareem Hunt, RB KC (3.0 average ranking)
The former Toledo back had a great year as he rushed for 1,475 yards and ten touchdowns while also posting up 41 catches for 403 yards and a score en route to All-MAC honors last season. He also landed in a nice spot with Kansas City and could give incumbent starter Spencer Ware a serious run for his money. Hunt may very well have the highest upside of anyone on this list. Remember, he can really break tackes and shredded the Senior Bowl with 118 yards on just 15 carries.
These players each have a chance but the bust rate here is going to be high as well.
4.) Marlon Mack, RB IND (5.13 average ranking)
Mack landed in a great spot with an aging Frank Gore ahead of him. He has great athleticism and can really make plays. This is a player who scored 15 touchdowns last year with six of them going for nearly 50 yards. He should carve out a role early on with the Colts and could be an explosive weapon if he can learn how to be a more patient runner and stop trying to hit the home run on every carry.
5.) Jeremy McNichols, RB TB (5.73 average ranking)
Much like Mack, McNichols landed in a great spot. Could he possibly bump another former Boise State player off the roster and challenge the embattled Doug Martin? At worst, McNichols looks like a great pass catching option for a Tampa offense that suddenly looks pretty explosive. He’s a smaller back but one who really has a good feel for the game and doesn’t mind running on the interior.
6.) D’Onta Foreman, RB HOU (6 average ranking)
Foreman is built like a tank and should give Lamar Miller a break now and then early in his career. It remains to be seen if he’s dynamic enough to be a real difference maker in fantasy or reality but he’s a good looking prospect who landed in a less than desirable spot (many were hoping for Green Bay). Was last season at Texas a fluke? We’ll find out soon enough.
7.) Jamaal Williams, RB GB (6 average ranking)
Here’s a case of situation over talent. Williams has injury concerns and may only be a two down player but this is a prime landing spot. The drafting of Aaron Jones puts a little damper on the excitement around Williams, though. Still, Williams is a player who could ascend up the depth chart quickly. He may have the highest risk and reward factor of the backs on this list.
8.) Wayne Gallman, RB NYG (6.26 average ranking)
Gallman isn’t overly exciting but he’s a solid runner. If Paul Perkins fails to impress early on, Gallman could have a chance to be contributor in an explosive offense. While he isn’t spectacular in any aspect of his game, Gallman is pretty solid in everything and doesn’t have too many holes in his game.
Hit on one of these players late and you’ll be the envy of all your leaguemates.
9.) Joe Williams, RB SF (8 average ranking)
Williams has had a crazy journey to the NFL after being kicked out of UConn, then actually retiring during the season before coming back at Utah and producing crazy numbers. He’s 24 and that limits things a bit, however, Kyle Shanahan can do wonders with running backs and he has great speed. Williams is truly intriguing as a late round flyer.
10.) James Conner, RB PIT (8.46 average ranking)
If there’s a player on this list I want to see succeed, it’s Conner. After battling and defeating cancer, Conner was rewarded by having his home team select him. He could take the DeAngelo Williams role in Pittsburgh which won’t do much with Le’Veon Bell healthy. However, if Bell was to get injured, Conner could get a chance to show what he has. The challenge here is Conner plays like a battering ram and doesn’t offer much in the passing game.
Others receiving at least one vote: Aaron Jones (GB), Donnel Pumphrey (PHI).
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