Final Running Back Pre-Draft Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings
With the 2019 NFL Draft rapidly approaching, it has come time to finalize rankings at each of the positions. With the publication of each position, this will be my final landing spot-agnostic evaluation of each player. Running backs have the most to gain and lose with landing spot and draft status so I expect that these dynasty fantasy football rookie rankings might look quite different after the 2019 NFL Draft.
Final Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings
1. Darrell Henderson, Memphis
Henderson is the best running back in this class. He was more productive than any other running back in the country, averaging almost nine yards per carry in his college career. Henderson than ran a 4.49 40 at the combine and was one of the few running backs in this class that actually did not disappoint in athletic testing. Darrell Henderson is a better prospect than any other running back in this class and I wouldn’t laugh if an NFL team took him in the second round.
2. David Montgomery, Iowa State
Unlike Henderson, David Montgomery did let his backers down at the NFL Combine. You can see his 4.63 40 yard dash impact him on film as he is fairly consistently brought down from behind by safeties and even linebackers. Evaluators I admire, like Thor Nystrom from Rotoworld, have Montgomery as their top back in the class. To me, Montgomery has almost no upside of becoming a running back that an NFL offense would develop a system around. His most likely outcome is a 200-carry per year role which will certainly hold value and I think he is fairly safe in terms of floor. It should give you some indications of the strength of this class that my second-ranked prospect has fairly serious athletic concerns.
3. Josh Jacobs, Alabama
If these rankings were done on merit, Josh Jacobs would be far lower. In terms of production and athleticism profile, Jacobs is not even close to one of the five best running backs in this class. I know that if I would just #WatchTheFilm, I could see all of the special things that Jacobs does. The fact of the matter is that he barely played in college, was slow on his pro day yet was the only running back invited to the first round of the NFL Draft green room. Draft status is so important for projecting running backs and this class is so weak that I am left to throw my hands up and rank a running back with 251 college carries third in my rankings.
4. Miles Sanders, Penn State
Sanders was a peripheral draft prospect for me before the combine but his performance in Indianapolis was fairly impressive. Of course, Sanders’ big wart is that he played for only one season at Penn State because he was Saquon Barkley’s backup. His single season of starting was impressive (5.8 yards per carry, 24 receptions) and he was second in the Big 10 in total yards. While a 75th percentile athletic testing performance would not vault a prospect in most years, the 2019 RB class is weak enough that Sanders finds himself inside the top five for me.
5. Justice Hill, Oklahoma State
If I was told that Justice Hill had the most impressive rookie season of any of these running backs, I wouldn’t be surprised. He will have an immediate role for whatever team drafts him because he fits such a specific role. Hill can catch passes and play as the change of pace back for any NFL team right away. His 4.4 flat 40 yard dash time leaves him standing alone in this class in terms of speed and he caught 49 passes in three seasons at Oklahoma State. Relative to consensus, I feel the highest on Justice Hill more than any other RB in this class.
6. Damien Harris, Alabama
Another “meh” Alabama running back who will get drafted highly and therefore deserves our attention in fantasy football. Harris was a plodding runner at Bama, although he was at least productive compared to Josh Jacobs. He had 477 carries in college while averaging 6.4 yards per carry and caught 22 passes in his senior season. His combine was unspectacular as is his running style but he is consistent and solid as a downhill runner. I expect him to be selected in around the fourth round of the NFL Draft and become an in-between the tackles runner.
7. Trayveon Williams, Texas A&M
I am betraying myself a little bit by ranking Williams this low. As a pure running back, I believe that he is a better player than Harris but unsure if his draft status will reflect that. Williams’ junior season at Texas A&M was something to behold with 2,038 total yards, 6.8 yards per touch and 19 touchdowns. Additionally, he had a fairly solid performance at the combine though his agility scores were quite low and could limit his pass-catching upside at the NFL level. Williams is likely to become a player that gets selected later in the draft who I hold on to in dynasty leagues for several years, waiting for him to realize his upside.
8. Alex Barnes, Kansas State
Barnes received almost no attention until he was the true standout at the 2019 NFL combine. Barnes had the highest SPARQ score of any running back in this year’s class. Barnes dominated the Kansas State ground game in 2018, with only 56 other running back carries doled out compared to his 256. I suspect that Barnes is one of the most undervalued running backs in this class because he carries little pedigree and doesn’t run in a flashy way but I will be betting on him long term in dynasty.
9. Benny Snell, Kentucky
Woof, Snell really did not do himself any favors in athletic testing. I was prepared to like Snell more than consensus after his performances at Kentucky. He averaged over five yards per carry in the SEC while playing for an average team and scored 48 touchdowns on 737 carries. That is the sort of production profile that gets me excited about a player for dynasty fantasy football rookie rankings. Unfortunately, Snell ran like a fullback at the combine with a 4.66 40. He will still find a role as a complementary runner in the NFL and will be worth drafting/holding in dynasty but I think the ceiling is pretty low.
10. Devin Singletary, Florida Atlantic University
When I wrote my prospect profile for Singletary, I expected him to be one of the five best running backs in this class. There was an outside chance he could have even been the best running back prospect in the class, given his production at FAU. However, his combine testing basically put him outside of every threshold there is for projecting running backs. Singletary ran a 4.66 at 203 pounds and is only 5’7″. His agility and SPARQ scores are both sub-20th percentile. There are not very many stories I can tell where Singletary ends up as a multi-year starter in the NFL but I do suspect some team may draft him as high as the third round based on the Rotoviz Rookie Scouting Index.
11. Mike Weber, Ohio State
Weber has his devotees in the dynasty fantasy football rookie rankings community, though I can profess that I don’t really see it. He split work for most of his time at Ohio State with other runners (both running backs and quarterbacks) which is a troubling sign. Weber was quite fast at the combine which should bolster his stock up some but his long-term projection is a change of pace back for me.
12. Bryce Love, Stanford
It is not 100% clear what happened to Bryce Love and the version of him that existed in 2017. Injuries played a part to be certain but his 2018 tape and stats are just flat bad. In 2017, he had 2,151 total yards and 19 touchdowns. I am putting him in my dynasty fantasy football rookie rankings just based on the small possibility that he finds himself able to become that player again though I have little faith in it.
13. Rodney Anderson, Oklahoma
Anderson is a better player than this, he is. When he was healthy at OU with Baker Mayfield, he was a legit threat that opposing defenses had to plan for. However, the list of injuries that he sustained is scary enough that I don’t think any team will want to take on too much risk to acquire him. Anderson injured his neck and tore his ACL, the latter of which caused him to not be able to run at the combine. If he is somehow drafted in the second round, he’ll vault up my rankings but I don’t consider that likely.
14. Devine Ozigbo, Nebraska
A non-athlete who comes into the NFL at the age of 23. He has his truthers amongst the draft community but had only one 1,000 yard season at Nebraska while splitting carries with a talented running quarterback. Not my style of player and is increasingly outdated for the pass-first NFL.
15. Travis Homer, Miami
A pure athletic gamble, Homer had some of the best running back testing numbers at the NFL combine. He ran a 4.48 40 and his Burst Score is 94th percentile. He split carries in both his sophomore and junior seasons but caught 37 passes. Homer is a workable ball of clay for a willing NFL team and deserves to be in my dynasty fantasy football rookie rankings.
2019 NFL Draft Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings Prospect Profiles: