2017 Rookie Landing Spots: RBs Part 2
Christian McCaffrey to Carolina Panthers
Round 1, Pick 8 (8th Overall)
The Panthers offense gets a big upgrade with the addition of McCaffrey; however, there’s reason for concern about his fantasy impact and usefulness this season. He has great vision and is an effective between-the-tackles runner, despite catching a lot of flack about his size. He should flourish in a spread offensive scheme, the type which a large and mobile QB like Cam Newton is perfect for. He is also the most impressive route runner among the RB draft class this year, with great hands, and does not turn the ball over. All of these traits should earn him plenty of snaps each game. His fantasy value is likely a simple question of his usage in the passing game as Jonathan Stewart will still likely dominate early-down carries.
If you’re willing to buy into Christian McCaffrey as a high-end fantasy football asset, then you’re buying into a scenario where, several months from now, experts are making statements like this: “The Panther’s offense runs through Christian McCaffrey. He really is the centerpiece of their offense”. Otherwise, we’re probably talking about him in the context of fringe weekly flex plays for PPR leagues only. Regardless of whether he makes a huge splash for fantasy this year, I do expect him to make the offense more potent overall. This should provide a nice bump for both Cam Newton and Kelvin Benjamin by pulling the attention of defenses in more directions.
Curtis Samuel to the Carolina Panthers
Round 2, Pick 8 (40th Overall)
1) Jonathan Stewart
2) Christian McCaffrey
3) Cameron Artis-Payne
When figuring out how much you like McCaffrey it’s important to know the name, Curtis Samuel. If you got too caught up in John Ross’ record-breaking 40-time at the combine this year, then you might have overlooked the fact that Curtis Samuel’s 4.31 40-YD would have been tied for the fastest time at the combine just one year prior. He was .01 faster than Will Fuller, which is to say he is a speedster. It would be easy to say, “a WR with great long speed, clearly the Panther have drafted their new Ted Ginn outside receiver replacement”. That could very well be what they would like for him to become, but it’s not what he was in college.
You might be wondering how and why a WR made it into this article at all. It’s because Samuel had 97 carries for Ohio State last year. That’s only 6 less than Alvin Kamara. He did pretty well with them too, averaging 7.9 yards-per-carry and scoring 8 TDs. Conversely, he had only 74 receptions for the season, during which, he lined up primarily in the slot. Think of him as a very raw Randall Cobb that is unpolished in the passing game.
Alvin Kamara to the New Orleans Saints
Why does Sean Payton hate fantasy football? What did we ever do to him? Is it revenge for all the times that we targeted his defense to stream players against? Alvin Kamara is more of a receiving back than an early-down banger, but he does have the size to run bentween the tackles on draw plays, with defenses being forced to respect the Saints as an aerial threat. For a complete profile of Alvin Kamara as a runner/pass catcher check out his rookie profile!
I do still believe that Mark Ingram will be the RB to own in New Orleans. I’m just less optimistic about how much that counts for if he’s splitting early down/goal line work with Adrian Peterson and passing down work with Kamara. This has quickly become one of the muddiest backfields in fantasy that may require an injury to produce anyone that I’m willing to start.
Tarik Cohen to the Chicago Bears
Remember awhile back when videos of some guy doing backflips and catching a football in mid-air were circulating across the internet? That was this guy. Though I’m not sure that particular skill set will translate well to the next level, he does have some other interesting qualities. Earning the nickname “The Human Joystick” for his ability to change direction quickly and elude tacklers, Cohen has been compared by many to another diminutive RB, Darren Sproles. Like Sproles, he is very very small. Also like Sproles, he has some impressive pass catching abilities and is an absolute nightmare to try and tackle in the open field.
Howard is capable of catching passes as his 29 receptions last season demonstrated, but he’s rarely been used that way even in college (24 total receptions spread across 3 seasons vs 647 carries). I expect Tarik Cohen to gradually earn a few snaps here and there with the potential to earn more playing time if he can break a few huge plays. Something that he is more than capable of doing. If so, he’ll be a worth owning in PPR leagues and a new darling for Zero RB strategists.
Donnel Pumphrey to the Philadelphia Eagles
With good vision, ridiculous acceleration and elusiveness, Pumphrey does a great job of avoiding contact, which is good because, at 5’8”/176 lbs in the NFL, he’s going to need to. For reference, Darren Sproles who I just mentioned as a Cohen comp above is about 5’6” 190 lbs. He certainly would appear to be the heir apparent to Sproles’ role in the offense, but I wouldn’t expect to see him on the field much with the 30-year-old veteran still in town and playing well.
Short of an injury to Sproles or his release from the team, Pumphrey isn’t even a handcuff for now.
Marlon Mack to the Indianapolis Colts
Round 4, Pick 37 (143th Overall)
We knew it was coming. There was no way that the Colts would go through the entire draft without bringing in a new RB. They sure took their sweet time doing so, before finally taking this late 4th rounder. It appears to be good news for Frank Gore dynasty owners looking to squeeze one last year of usefulness out of the soon to be 34-year-old.
Mack does not appear like an NFL ready 3-down back to me, and I would be shocked if he challenges Gore for the top of the depth chart for early down work going into Week 1. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate him, not at all. He is an excellent pass catcher and great in open space, which could certainly provide some PPR value right out of the gate. Especially with Andrew Luck as his QB who loves to utilize his RBs in that way. And before you say it, I already know what you’re going to say “he averaged 6.2 yards-per-carry across 3 seasons in college”. Yes, that is a good number and about what I would expect from an NFL RB prospect coming from a small conference. My concern for his effectiveness in short yardage situation stems from watching him get stuffed way too many times on film. This is a “short-coming” that gets buried a bit statistically by his many huge plays. It’s a problem that does show up in the team’s effectiveness at scoring as Southern Florida was unable to convert on just over 15% of their trips to the red-zone last season. For reference, there were 58 college teams that fared better in that category, many of which play in much tougher conferences. Overall his tape is very flashy, but he avoids contact like he’s allergic to it and bounces everything to the outside, which is something you can’t get away with as easily at the next level.
T.J. Logan to the Arizona Cardinals
Round 5, Pick 36 (179th Overall)
I liked T.J. Logan quite a bit as a pass catching option that could potentially earn a role in any number of offenses. Unfortunately for him, he’s going to be playing the behind a man whose praises I can’t sing enough, literally. If David Johnson were to miss time, I would prefer Logan to Andre Ellington as the inheritor of the 3rd down role, provided he can step his game up in pass protection.
Aaron Jones to the Green Bay Packers
Round 5, Pick 39 (182nd Overall)
1) Ty Montgomery
2) Jamaal Williams
A SPARQ score freak athlete that dominated in college. The problem is, that college was the University of Texas El-Paso (UTEP).
I hesitate to put this in the article because I have a dynasty rookie draft coming up next week with some of the other writers, but this is how much I love the #FootClan. Know this name and keep an eye on him. If Ty Montgomery were to get injured, let everyone else in your league burn their waiver priority and spend their FAAB on Jamaal Williams. Then swoop in behind them and grab Aaron Jones for free. You can thank me later.
Elijah McGuire to the New York Jets
Round 6, Pick 4 (188th Overall)
McGuire can do a little bit of everything but doesn’t do anything spectacularly well. He doesn’t appear to be quite big or powerful enough to be an effective early down back. He is effective as a pass-catcher out of the backfield but doesn’t really blow anyone away with that skill-set either. The one thing he does have going or him is his athleticism, which might keep him on the team, but that won’t be enough to topple the two backs ahead of him. He is simply a depth piece.
De’Angelo Henderson to the Denver Broncos
He’s violent one-cut decisive runner, the type that’s exciting to watch on film, but often has trouble staying healthy. He missed 3 games this year with a shoulder injury, which brought his numbers down, but overall a pretty interesting piece to this backfield that is headed by the injury prone C.J. Anderson.
Brandon Wilson to the Cincinnati Bengals
Round 6, Pick 23 (207th Overall)
Brandon Wilson is nothing more than added depth to the Bengals RB corps at this point, so I won’t waste your time telling you a ton about him. He may, in fact, be developed into a defensive back or be relegated to special teams. Still, his presence could be an interesting cog in a perceived machine driven by Joe Mixon, designed to push Jeremy Hill out of town, or at the very least put him on notice.
Best backfield in the league yeah I said it
— Jeremy Hill (@JeremyHill33) April 29, 2017
Oh boy, this is awkward. It’s not all doom and gloom though. Hill could potentially have some value early in the season as the Bengals ease Mixon into the NFL with all of the controversy surrounding him. He might even make for an interesting late-round flier as he attempts to run for his job to start the season. That said, I don’t think there’s any doubt about who the superior talent is between he and Mixon.
Khalfani Muhammed to the Tennessee Titans
If he’s going to even make the roster it would be as a punt returner. No fantasy value that I can see for now.
Elijah Hood to the Oakland Raiders
Just prior to the draft our own Brandon Sanders published a rookie profile on Hood, so I won’t spend a ton of time profiling this downhill running bruiser again. Suffice to say Elijah Hood would seem to be in line for some early down and goal line work as part of a 3 headed backfield if Marshawn Lynch were to go down. Couple that with the fact that the Raiders have one of the top offensive lines in the league, and Hood becomes a name worth knowing, especially for leagues with standard scoring formats.
Christopher Carson to the Seattle Seahawks
This is a Pete Carroll special. The Seahawks love to pick up these workout warriors with the build and athleticism of a top NFL prospect minus the pedigree. He was effective between the tackles runner in college, but he’s just a depth piece/practice squad level player on a team with a very crowded depth chart at the position.
Matt Dayes to the Cleveland Browns
A great steal at the very end of the draft by a team with an excellent offensive, that needed to add depth at the position. A smaller, but savvy runner with a good burst of acceleration when he finds a hole. Duke Johnson is the superior talent, but his biggest knock going back to college has been his ability to stay healthy. For this reason, Matt Dayes rounds this draft class out with a name that is at least worth knowing for deeper PPR leagues.