My review of the NFL Draft continues with my dynasty fantasy rankings of the first year running backs. I am trying to consider their value two to four years down the road along with what they could do year one. Here are my thoughts:
1) Todd Gurley, St. Louis
He is the most explosive, physical runner in his class. His knee issue might be a concern, but if you are a non-contending team, this should be your selection. Gurley could sit out the first six games of the season, then again ask yourself, will it matter in a year?
2) Melvin Gordon, San Diego
Former Wisconsin running backs are usually inflated due to their dominant offensive lines. Gordon is more explosive than most, has good foot speed, and can catch the ball out of the backfield. This runner will start from day one and not look back.
3) TJ Yeldon, Jacksonville
I like his opportunity more than I like Tevin Coleman’s. Yeldon runs a bit high at times, but glides between blockers with ease. He has good hands and does well in short yardage situations.
4) Tevin Coleman, Atlanta
Coleman is a quick north and south runner, who lacks lateral explosiveness. His backup, Devanta Freeman, has the agility and quickness, but lacks the power to carry the load. I’m not sold that the rookie will get more than 60% of the Falcons running back touches.
5) Ameer Abdullah, Detroit
He is a great compliment to Joique Bell’s more power based game. The rookie has soft hands and is very explosive. While he has issues pass blocking, the runner can split out wide and is great out in space making defenses miss.
6) Jay Ajayi, Miami
There must have been more to the knee injury than what the public knew to have him drop in the draft. Ajayi is a complete back that should get at least 12-15 touches a game. I think he can overtake Lamar Miller by Thanksgiving, but that remains to be seen.
7) David Johnson, Arizona
He might have the second best hands in his class after Amari Cooper. His role is a bit murky right now with the health of Andre Ellington a mystery. Some reports have placed him the short yardage back for the Cardinals, but I see more of a change of pace back who could see significant playing time in a higher tempo offense.
8) Mike Davis, San Francisco
This back is like Carlos Hyde with whom he will be fighting for touches. They both have good hands, but are not great pass blockers. Davis runs low to the ground and has good leg strength, but might not have the size to be a workhorse runner.
9) Duke Johnson, Cleveland
I’m sure I’m lower on him than most. Triple or quadruple (Manziel) threat running offenses do that to me. Johnson is quick twitched with soft hands and can run to daylight. I just have a bad feeling that none of the Browns backs will get enough touches to matter for fantasy owners.
10) David Cobb, Tennessee
The one speed, rugged runner could be a short yardage threat, but Bishop Sankey fits more of a spread offense based on Marcus Mariota’s strengths. He doesn’t catch the ball well and is not much of a pass blocker, so I’m not sure he will be more than a Shonn Greene clone.
11) Javoris “Buck” Allen, Baltimore
The Ravens do not want Justin Forsett to break down this season, so look for the rookie to get some short yardage work early on. He runs a bit too upright, but has a strong upper body. Forsett is neither young nor big, so Allen’s opportunity can strike at any time.
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