This year’s running back class is by far the most unique group I’ve studied in my seven years of charting Yards Created.
At the top, we’ve got two future studs – Kenneth Walker is a standout player and Breece Hall is a bonafide three-down starter. After that, well, you could make an argument for virtually any ranking of the RB3 all the way to RB12.
We’ll try to make sense of a crowded second tier of RBs in this article.
My post-NFL Draft rankings factor in opportunity – these are solely influenced by Yards Created performance. I’ll have way more detail in my breakdown about a week after the NFL Draft and I’m going to chart a few more running backs, so make sure you check out the database again then as well.
RB1 Kenneth Walker – Link: YC Profile
RB2 Breece Hall – Link: YC Profile
Should be the top-2 picks in rookie dynasty drafts. I’m taking them both over all of the wide receivers in this class and ahead of Malik Willis in SuperFlex.
Crowded second tier
RB3 Dameon Pierce
Was never a full-time starter at Florida, but shined in his limited opportunities. There was no rhyme or reason for his usage and the former Gator staff has a history of poorly utilizing their athletes (Kadarius Toney and Van Jefferson also come to mind).
Fourth in the class in Yards Created per attempt (YC/A) and second in missed tackles forced per attempt. When he did get snaps, Pierce made the most of them. Runs with power, fantastic contact balance, and has great hands. A boss in pass protection, too – he gave up zero pressure. Reminded me of a less dominant Kareem Hunt in terms of running style and the way he wins. Hunt (5-10, 216lbs, 4.62 forty) and Pierce (5-10, 218lbs, 4.59 forty) have eerily similar measurables, too.
RB4 James Cook
Second in this class in YC/A. Obvious red flag is that he’s undersized and that could limit his opportunities for fantasy, but he’s a stellar athlete and that showed up all of the time. Split snaps with Zamir White (who did the dirty work), but primarily played passing downs and was used all over the field as a mismatch weapon. Cook ran routes at WR and often got separation on them. Lined up out wide or in the slot on 20% of his routes. I think he’ll be capped at 8-12 carries per game in the NFL, but the team that drafts him will ideally use him a ton in the passing game. Visited with the Bills and I love that fit.
RB5 Brian Robinson
A jack of all trades, but master of none. Good inside runner, good receiver, and strong in pass protection. Wasn’t totally a product of Bama’s offensive line – he’s fourth in the class in missed tackles forced per attempt. Upright runner but has just enough burst to make it work. He’s a quality player who could start for a few teams right now (like Atlanta).
RB6 Jerome Ford
Just like Robinson, Jerome Ford has a three-down skillset but a lackluster YC profile. Ford’s Yards Created per attempt ranks 22nd percentile all-time; Robinson 8th. Ford has surprisingly good speed, but lacks wiggle. Robinson is the better receiver and pass blocker, so I’ve got him a hair higher but I view these guys very similarly. Robinson and Ford are on the James Conner / Alexander Mattison / Wayne Gallman talent spectrum.
RB7 Tyler Allgeier
Monster producer at BYU with 276 carries, 1,601 yards, and 23 TDs last year. Just watch his game against Utah this past year – you’ll know exactly what you’re getting. Basically had the same exact YC/A (4.23) as Jerome Ford (4.21). Always gets what is blocked. Added 28 receptions last year, but wasn’t explosive or elusive on them. Third-worst in class in missed tackles forced per reception.
RB8 Isaiah Spiller
Ranked here because his passing down skills immediately translate. Was used in a ton of crucial situations on passing downs and showed great hands. However, Spiller is simply not a creative or elusive runner. His 3.60 YC/A is 3rd percentile in my database. Also third-worst in this class in missed tackles forced per carry. Tested poorly, too. 7th percentile in the vertical jump, 22nd percentile in the broad jump, and ran 4.63 at 217lbs at Texas A&M’s Pro Day (which is more like a 4.7).
RB9 Rachaad White
Excelled as a receiver, but leaves a lot to be desired as a runner. White just doesn’t have the vision to be a primary back. He missed wide open holes and cutback lanes far too often and doesn’t have great physicality or contact balance. Plays slow even though he ran 4.48. That’s not a good combo. Wins as a receiver, though. Lined up in the slot and out wide on 20% of his routes. Second among all RBs in this class in receptions, ranks first in receiving yards gained per route run, and second in missed tackles forced per reception.
RB10 Kyren Williams
Has really fallen throughout this process. Williams’ 3.76 YC/A is 4th percentile all-time. Has below-average burst and got caught from behind often in the second-level. Did himself no favors at the Combine. 4.62 forty, 21st percentile in the vertical jump, 33rd percentile in the broad jump. Has skills as a receiver, though. Fourth in class in receiving yards per route run and fifth in missed tackles forced per reception. Williams (5-9, 194lbs) is a slighter version of James White (5-9, 204lbs).
RB11 Zamir White
Unfortunately, two ACL injuries have zapped White’s burst. Has the worst YC/A in my database all-time. Also second-worst in class in missed tackles forced per carry. Was a pile mover on the majority of his carries and offered little as a receiver.
RB12 Pierre Strong
Led the Missouri Valley in rushing yards and TDs by a mile. Yards Created profile is littered with red flags, though. Overwhelming majority of his big gains were because he ran through massive holes – not because he’s a creative runner. South Dakota’s State’s offensive line opened up 2.92 Yards Blocked per carry, most in my database all-time. Strong went down on first contact way too often and he has extremely poor play strength. Not agile, either. 0.11 missed tackles forced per carry is worst in class.
Best of the rest
RB13 Hassan Haskins
RB14 Keontay Ingram
RB15 Tyler Badie
RB16 Ty Davis-Price
RB17 Abram Smith
RB18 Snoop Conner
RB19 Zaquandre White
RB20 Ty Chandler