Yards Created: 2024 Rookie Class Breakdown


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Yards Created: 2024 Rookie Class Breakdown

Welcome back!

This is my seventh season collecting Yards Created (YC) data for incoming rookie running backs since 2016.

The concept of YC is simple — it is the number of yards a running back creates on his own after the offensive line has (or has not) opened up a hole for the runner to get through.

So, let’s say a particular play gains 10 yards on the ground. If the offensive line opens up 3 yards of space and the running back gets through it, makes a linebacker miss, and gains 7 more yards — I chart that play as 3 yards blocked for the line and 7 Yards Created for the running back.

Then, I repeat that process for every single carry in the running back’s final season.

It’s not a perfect process, but Yards Created does correlate to future fantasy production better than any production or athletic measurement.

YC / College Stat / Combine MetricsCorrelation to Career Fantasy Points per Game
Yards Created per attempt0.32
Receiving yards per game0.26
Receptions per game0.24
Rushing yards per game0.23
Yards per carry0.14
Yards per reception0.06
Broad jump0.03
Vertical jump0.00
Three cone-0.01
40-yard dash-0.09

This study covers the 2016-21 RB classes.

The 2024 RB class

From a top-down perspective, this is the weakest RB crop in my time charting Yards Created. Looking further back, the 2024 group is not as bad as the infamously unproductive 2014 class that was filled with busts. Broadly, we’re still looking at a similar outlook in terms of draft capital.

This is a draft where Round 3 and Round 4 are active.

The full 2024 data drop is available for subscribers!

NOTE: These tiered rankings are a blend of Yards Created data first, with an extra bump to backs who are most likely to make an impact in the passing game.

Tier 1

Trey Benson (4.57 YC per carry | 6th-of-14 in class)

In a class filled with running backs with imperfect resumes, Trey Benson stands out as the “1A.”

Benson’s 4.57 Yards Created per carry isn’t a world-beating figure, but he flashed strong elusiveness with 0.36 missed tackles forced on a per-carry basis. That tied with Jaylen Wright as the 3rd-best mark in the class.

There aren’t many running backs who play with the one-cut, slashing run style that Benson possesses. Combined with his incredible athletic ability and elusiveness, he has a mixture of talent that generates big plays.

I’m not usually one for comparisons, but Travis Etienne kept coming back to my mind when I charted Benson. They both win in similar ways. Benson is going to absolutely shred the NFL if he lands in a spot where he’s utilized heavily in an off-tackle, gap-blocking run game. He was a killer in FSU’s pin/pull scheme.

Benson sees the field very well on the edge, but he did show a tendency to freeze a bit or be overly patient when running inside. That did lead to a few negative plays. This is nitpicking, really. Everything else surrounding Benson’s profile is largely positive. For every play that Benson kind of spaces out, he has two runs where he’s creating yards that most running backs wouldn't.

Jonathon Brooks (4.79 YC per carry | 3rd-best in class)

A torn ACL last November cut short what was a breakout campaign for the talented Brooks in his one year as a starter in Texas. After playing behind Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson for years, Brooks decided not to transfer. And it paid off.

Brooks posted top-3 marks in the class in both YC per carry (4.79) and missed tackles forced per carry (0.39). He has developed the ability to somehow teleport in his jump cuts and that skill, paired with his quick feet, makes him an ideal fit in a zone-blocking scheme.

Brooks has the quickest feet in the class in that he does not waste movement, and he has the athletic ability to shake defenders consistently. When he’s back healthy, Brooks is the most NFL-ready RB in this class. The only smaller red flag is that Brooks does not have great long-distance speed. He got caught from behind a few times when running in open space, but I don’t view homerun speed as a top trait. Burst and elusiveness in tight spaces are far more important in the NFL.

Although it lasted only three quarters of a season, Brooks was the most consistent blocker in the class. He posted the top mark in the class by pass protection execution rate (90%). I don’t want to overinflate the importance of blocking, but Brooks ticks that box with basically a perfect score.

I will not argue with you if you have Brooks as the RB1.

MarShawn Lloyd (5.66 YC per carry | best in class)

Even though he had just 116 carries last season after transferring from South Carolina the year prior, MarShawn Lloyd made the most of his opportunities.

With 5.66 Yards Created and 0.43 missed tackles forced, Lloyd posted the top marks in the class.

Lloyd is an explosive runner with excellent start/stop acceleration and ideal size as a compact 221 lbs. He ran with terrific vision in USC’s gap-blocking scheme and showed a unique ability to create on his own in the second level once he got through his blocks.

The bad news? Well, Lloyd rarely carried the ball with any consistent volume last season. It wasn’t his fault. USC’s Air Raid scheme emphasized Caleb Williams, and the Trojans were the 9th-most pass-heavy offense in college. As a result, Lloyd handled 10 or more carries in just 4-of-11 games last season.

His 5.66 YC per carry is impressive, but the smaller sample does help him a bit. Their offensive scheme helped lighten up boxes, too. Not only were defenses always aware of Williams’ arm talent to all levels of the field, but USC ran a very RPO-heavy offense that gave Lloyd a ton of lighter fronts. He only saw eight or more defenders in the box on just 15% of his carries (3rd-lowest rate).

All of this is the context behind his production. At the end of the day, Lloyd’s sample shows a back capable of much more than getting just 10-12 touches per game. Beyond his production profile, the only minor red flag is that Lloyd is a major work in progress as a pass protector. His 50% pass protection execution rate is the worst mark in the class.

Jaylen Wright (5.44 YC per carry | 2nd-best in class)

Working as a part of the Volunteers three-man committee with Jabari Small and Dylan Sampson behind him, Jaylen Wright led Tennessee’s backfield with 133 carries last season. It was a small sample of work that needs context, but Wright’s bag is full of moves at the second level of the defense.

At 5.44 YC per carry, Wright scores in the 80th percentile all time. I don’t grade on a curve, but his creative ability really does stand out in this group. Wright is a rare breed of speed, power, and elusiveness – he can win all three ways. He has explosive speed to the edge to blast by defenders, and then he can consistently churn his legs forward for 2-3 extra yards.

The thing is, Tennessee’s offense isn’t real. Sorry, Vols fans! Their spread-based attack heavily uses condensed WR splits and bunch formations to the wide side of the field, resulting in one of the most contrived offenses that I’ve ever seen. This is not an excuse for Wright at all, but instead, it offers an important bit of context.

Overall, Wright saw six or fewer defenders in the box on exactly 80% of his carries. That’s unreal. You can nearly count on one hand how often he saw eight or more defenders stacked (9% of the time). As a result, Wright saw nearly 2.0 yards blocked every time he took a carry — the second-best mark in the class.

I believe he will face a learning curve at the next level just to get used to a “normal” offense. The good news is that he’s very young – Wright just turned 21 years old.

While he will not be an every-down runner to start his career, Wright is going to be a threat in the passing game immediately. He catches the ball very cleanly and has excellent athleticism to cut upfield quickly and string moves together in space. Unfortunately, he wasn’t consistently featured in Tennessee's passing attack. Half of his receptions came in two games — vs. Alabama and Florida.

Wright is absolutely nasty. His ceiling is as high as any RB in this class if he develops more consistency.

Tier 2

Audric Estime (4.62 YC per carry | 5th-best in class)

Estime turned out to be one of my favorites to watch in this class – a throwback of sorts. He has a surprising blend of nimble feet and excellent vision for a back at nearly 6’0”, 220 pounds. Estime plays even bigger than his size as he routinely shoves off smaller defenders and shows natural power to fight through contact to gain extra yards.

In a weaker class, Estime’s 4.62 Yards Created per carry on 210 attempts really stands out. Trey Benson, Jonathon Brooks, Jaylen Wright, and MarShawn Lloyd are more creative runners, but they’re all coming from totally different schemes. Wright and Lloyd basically never ran with the QB under center and rarely saw heavy boxes as a result of their spread-based scheme. Benson and Brooks were almost exclusively in the shotgun for all of last year.

Estime was in the opposite situation. He saw eight or more defenders in the box on 44% of his carries (2nd-highest rate), and he actually has experience running with the QB under center.

The big question here is how often he mixes in on passing downs. Estime had one or fewer receptions in half of his games last year, and he recorded more than 2 catches only twice. Unlike Braelon Allen, though, Estime actually uses his size to his advantage as a pass blocker. His 75% pass protection execution rate is tied with Blake Corum for the 2nd-best mark in the class. His blocking will absolutely earn him some trust early as a rookie.

Blake Corum (3.35 YC per carry | 12th-of-14)

After a very productive two-year stretch as the Wolverines’ starter, with 505/2708/45 rushing in 27 games, Corum’s Yards Created profile is a huge disappointment.

Overall, his 3.35 YC per carry grades out in the 3rd percentile since 2016. Corum has enough speed to get to the edge and decent contact balance for his size, but he wasn’t elusive at all in 2023. He averaged just 0.15 missed tackles forced per carry – the 2nd-worst mark in this class. It’s a huge worry.

The effects of torn meniscus and sprained MCL sustained at the end of the 2022 season certainly seemed to linger year over year.

Corum does have one calling card – an important one – and it’s his vision. No matter the blocking scheme, he’s rarely out of place. While he’s limited and undersized as a runner, Corum will be ready to handle carries in Week 1 due to his extensive understanding of both gap and zone-blocking concepts. He’s very good at making sure the 3-4 yards blocked are earned.

As a direct result of Michigan’s scheme, Corum did run into more 8-man boxes than any RB in the class last season (50%).

At the end of the day, volume is the most important factor when projecting fantasy football outcomes. On the upside, maybe Corum will be a Devonta Freeman clone.

Tier 3

Will Shipley (3.89 YC per carry | 10th-of-14)

Last year, Shipley split carries (178 to 167) in favor of the hulking Phil Mafah to form a good one-two punch for a Clemson team that sputtered due to poor QB play and awful blocking up front.

The Tigers offensive line didn’t live up to their usual standard last season, and that’s part of the reason why Shipley’s production dipped in 2023. Overall, Clemson opened up just 1.15 yards blocked per carry for Shipley. That’s the lowest mark in the class.

Quickness and decisive cuts upfield are Shipley’s main calling cards. His ability to knife through holes and maintain his acceleration is impressive. However, he’s never going to rack up a ton of missed tackles due to his smaller frame. Shipley has a little power, but elusiveness is his game.

Shipley is one of a few in this class with extensive experience as a three-down player. He finished fourth in the class in routes run per game – behind Bucky Irving, Ray Davis, and Dylan Laube. He’s a tough cover for underneath linebackers and consistently showed strong separation skills on option routes.

His rushing metrics aren’t anything special, but the context surrounding him matters. Shipley often saw prohibitive blocking in front of him.

Given better offensive line play in the NFL, Shipley has some hidden upside. His blocking was so inconsistent that it really hindered his ability to get into the second level of the defense. Shipley is a jack of all trades – but a master of none.

Ray Davis (4.41 YC per carry | 7th-of-14)

After transferring out of Temple and Vanderbilt, Ray Davis played his fifth and final year of eligibility with Kentucky, and he had his best season yet.

I was impressed with Davis’ quick processing pace and agility as a runner, although he lacked the patience to allow his blocks to develop at times. He ranks out smack dab in the middle of the class in both YC/A (4.41) and missed tackles forced per carry (0.26). Davis doesn’t have elite speed, and he relies on a blend of elusiveness and contact balance to make you miss.

In fact, 44% of Davis’ missed tackles were forced via elusiveness (cuts, jukes, etc.), while another 31% were from power alone.

This is not to say that Davis can’t run behind zone blocking effectively. However, he ran almost exclusively in gap/pulling blocking schemes last season.

Davis played a three-down role for the Wildcats last season, and he trailed only Bucky Irving in routes, targets, and receptions in this class. Due to his age — he turns 25 in November — I don’t expect that he will be drafted earlier than Round 4.

Bucky Irving (4.08 YC per carry | 9th-of-14)

Irving benefited greatly by running behind Oregon’s offensive line led by C Jackson Powers-Johnson and two mauling tackles. The Ducks cleared a class-high 2.19 yards blocked per carry for Irving.

Coupled with a spread scheme, Irving ran into mostly light boxes. He saw eight or more defenders in the box on just 18% of his carries last season. A great offensive line and light fronts are a big part of the reason why Irving averaged over 6.25 YPC in back-to-back seasons.

Even with that context, it’s not all doom and gloom. Irving has some moves in the open field with his quick, dicing cuts. Overall, 0.32 missed tackles forced per carry is respectable. That’s the 5th-best mark in the class.

Irving offers consistent hands as a receiver after he led all college running backs in receptions (56) last season, but that figure also needs context. Oregon runs so many designed screens that just won’t happen as often at the next level. The Ducks called a screen on nearly one-quarter (23%) of their passing plays last season.

Tier 4

Tyrone Tracy (4.77 YC per carry | 4th-of-14)

A sixth-year breakout after he switched from WR to RB in his transfer from Iowa to Purdue in 2022, Tyrone Tracy has one of the most interesting profiles in this class.

On the one hand, he and MarShawn Lloyd have the fewest carries in the class, with 113 apiece. We’re also working with a small sample here, but Tracy showed enough to get a little bit excited.

His 4.77 Yards Created and 0.35 missed tackles forced per carry rank fourth-best in the class. He showed excellent elusiveness and quick feet to make instant cuts, as 57% of his total missed tackles forced were caused by his elusiveness alone — like jukes.

There was some inconsistency with Tracy’s processing in his first real year as a running back. There were more than a handful of plays where he missed easy cutback lanes and open holes, and those negative plays hurt his Yards Created figures. I tend to lean more on the positives — what can you do well, and will that skill work repeatedly at the next level? His elusiveness in the open field really stood out. When he strung moves together, he sent defenders flying.

As a recently converted WR, Tracy is going to face a steeper learning curve, and he’s going to have a little less time than most rookies. As a result of getting 6 years of eligibility, Tracy will be an “older” rookie. He turns 25 in November. He’s worth a dart late in PPR dynasty leagues.

Isaac Guerendo (4.27 YC per carry | 7th-of-14 in class)

After sitting behind Braelon Allen at Wisconsin, Guerendo transferred to Louisville for the 2023 season, splitting carries with Jawhar Jordan (181 to 132 – in favor of Jordan).

At 221 pounds, he’s an absolute unit to bring down when he gets into his top gear. His angle-erasing speed is his calling card. However, he showed inconsistent decisiveness in the Cardinals' zone-based run game. A class-high 70% of Guerendo’s carries were off-zone blocking.

Overall, Guerendo’s Yards Created profile is nothing special and ranks in the 32nd percentile since 2016. He’s certainly a speed and power runner. Guerendo has stiffer hips, which gives him very little elusiveness in the open field. In fact, 65% of his missed tackles were forced by his speed alone. He certainly has the top-end gear to make for a potential home run hitter.

His elite performance at the Combine will earn him extra attention in the Draft.

Braelon Allen (3.66 YC per carry | 11th-of-14)

Unlike most of the running backs in this class, Braelon Allen stuck with one college squad. However, after a nice freshman season, Allen plateaued as a sophomore and junior in Wisconsin.

Allen’s Yards Created profile was very disappointing. For being so well built at a shade over six feet and 235 pounds, Allen goes down on first contact entirely too often. Due to his size, Allen doesn’t have much lateral quickness. His 0.21 missed tackles forced per carry ranks 3rd-worst in the class and ahead of only Blake Corum (0.15 MTF per carry) and Dillon Johnson (0.14).

The Badgers did change their scheme entirely year over year — going from a heavy under-center attack to way more shotgun and zone blocking concepts. Allen does not possess the lateral quickness to bend around linebackers to work outside zone effectively.

Allen’s future fantasy upside will come down to how often he’s scoring TDs at the goal line. With his size, you’d think Allen would be a great pass protector, at least. That’s not really the case. His 53% pass protection execution rate just shows more inconsistency.

Tier 5

Dylan Laube (3.22 YC per carry | 13th-of-14)

Laube’s main appeal for fantasy football will come on passing downs. His ridiculous 68/699/7 receiving in just eight games turns your head a bit.

New Hampshire is an FCS school – so there is that. The level of competition is bad, and FBS opponent Central Michigan forgot that screen plays existed when they played against Laube. For what it’s worth, Laube led the Wildcats in every receiving category last season – targets, catches, yards, and TDs.

While Laube does offer some upside as a receiver, he’s a very limited runner. His Yards Created outlook is pretty bad. Laube’s 3.22 YC per carry is the second-worst in the class. He’s got quick cuts in his bag, but Laube is undersized and lacks natural power. His 0.23 missed tackles forced per carry ranks 10th-of-14th in the class.

Dillon Johnson (3.19 YC per carry | 14th-of-14)

After transferring away from Mississippi State, Johnson had a productive 2023 season (233/1195/16 rushing) attached to Washington’s loaded offensive skill group led by Michael Penix. He also greatly benefitted from a strong offensive line that generated 1.88 yards blocked per carry – the third-best mark in the class.

Overall, Johnson’s Yards Created profile is extremely lacking. His 3.18 YC per carry is the worst mark in my entire database, and he ranks last in the class in missed tackles forced per carry (0.14).

Tier 6

I didn’t chart any of these RBs, but I will go back and collect their Yards Created if any of them pop up earlier in the Draft than expected. I expect this group to go Rounds 6-7.

RB15 Cody Schraeder

RB16 Raseen Ali

RB17 Daijun Edwards

RB18 Kimani Vidal

RB19 Isaiah Davis

RB20 Jase McClellan

Graham Barfield blends data and film together to create some of the most unique content in the fantasy football industry. Barfield is FantasyPoints’ Director of Analytics and formerly worked for the NFL Network, Fantasy Guru, and Rotoworld.