The NFL Draft is behind us, rookie drafts are taking place, and as dynasty owners, we are looking ahead to the upcoming season. In the Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Update series, we break down all the incoming fantasy-relevant rookies, looking at their profiles and where they fit.
Name: Pierre Strong
Position: Running Back
Pro Team: New England Patriots
College Team: South Dakota State
Draft Status: Round Four, 127th overall
Though on the smaller side for a running back at 5’11” and 207 pounds, Strong shined at the NFL Combine. He showed off his elite athleticism by running a 4.37-second 40-yard dash (tied for fastest among running backs) while having a 36-inch vertical jump (sixth among running backs) and a 124-inch broad jump (third among running backs), giving him a 95th percentile speed score and an 86th percentile speed score.
Unfortunately, at this year’s Combine, none of the running back prospects were able to participate in agility drills but this may have been a blessing for Strong, who lacks ideal change of direction ability. He did, however, look comfortable in receiving drills.
- Elite speed and burst
- Big play waiting to happen – had ten touchdowns of over 50 yards in college.
- Great vision to find the hole and hit it.
- Shown the ability to pick up free blitzes in pass protection.
- Flashed good hands and ability as a receiver.
- Change of direction ability is sub-par.
- Isn’t tough to bring down.
- Receiving ability is more of a projection than proven ability.
- Played against lesser competition.
- Lacks patience as a runner.
Opportunities will likely be hard to come by for Strong, with the Patriots as they already boasted a strong backfield of Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, and James White. They added Kevin Harris in the sixth round of the 2022 NFL Draft as well. The Patriots are also known to “redshirt” their rookie running backs most of the time to allow them to learn the offense.
Strong’s best hope for opportunity is that come 2023, Damien Harris and White are on new teams as their contracts expire at the end of the 2022 season and Strong can be in a 1A/1B situation with Stevenson. If there is one thing that can separate Strong from the rest of the backfield it’s that he’s the only one with true home run ability, which could help him ascend the depth chart.
The threats are plenty for Strong. The backfield is extremely cluttered as mentioned above, fourth-round rookie running backs normally don’t have much success (let alone the chance to succeed), especially as rookies, and the Patriots are known for letting their rookie running backs sit on the sidelines for their rookie years. Strong also doesn’t have ideal size for a running back with only a 25th percentile BMI so there is some concern about how much of an NFL beating he can hold up to.
In the short term, it’s fair to expect absolutely nothing other than Strong to make the team. With how much competition there is and the history of the coaching staff, it just isn’t likely that he will be able to make an impact this year without at least one injury to another player. Any production in 2022 should be considered a bonus.
If there’s a reason for hope with Strong, it’s what I mentioned above. Both Damien Harris’ and James White’s contracts are up at the end of the 2022 season and it’s conceivable that neither of them return. In the event of that happening, Strong and Rhamondre Stevenson could make quite the duo as they are the classic “Thunder and Lightning” pairing. Stevenson is the 235-pound bruiser to wear a defense down and Strong is the home run hitter with electric speed. Additionally, there have been reports that the Patriots view Strong as a potential White replacement so assuming he continues to improve as a pass-catcher, we could see him become the Patriots’ third-down back.
NFL Player Comparison
Strong’s combination of size, straight-line speed, burst, and play style reminds me of Tevin Coleman. Both players relied on their electric straight-line athleticism to break big plays but lacked the patience to set up their blocks as a runner. This style of running can work depending on the blocking scheme they’re working within but can be exposed in the wrong offense. Also, each player came into the NFL needing to show their ability to be competent as a receiver out of the backfield.
Projected Rookie Draft Range
According to the DLF Superflex Rookie Dynasty ADP, Strong has remained as RB11/35th overall through April and May. I currently have him as my RB10/29th overall and am willing to take him a good bit earlier than consensus. I think it’s fairly easy to see the path in which Strong becomes a fantasy-relevant player.
I have Strong at the bottom of a tier of running backs that includes Dameon Pierce, Brian Robinson, and Tyler Allgeier, who I look at as players whose profile and/or draft capital leads me to believe there isn’t too much to hope for them to have fantasy success but have a reasonable path to opportunity. These types of players warrant their price even if you are not a believer in them as a player because if a solid opportunity for them arises you can potentially trade them for a return on your investment which is a great way to utilize your late second/early third-round picks.
Hitting on a player in that range is rarer than people would like to admit so it’s a good practice to understand how realistic their fantasy ceiling is and to churn those players into better assets/rookie draft capital.
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