The NFL Draft is quickly approach as the calendar turns to April. Fortunately, the Fantasy Footballers writing staff has you covered with our 2020 rookie profiles, including awesome rookie wide receiver Reception Perception articles from Matt Harmon. Up to this point, I’ve written scouting profiles on other well known running back prospects, including D’Andre Swift, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and J.K. Dobbins. Next up on the list: Anthony McFarland Jr. out of the University of Maryland.
Editor’s Note: For more on the 2020 rookie class, check out all of our 2020 NFL Draft content and stay tuned to the Fantasy Footballers podcast for April’s Rookie Preview show where the Ballers breakdown each position heading into the draft
College Production Profile
|Games||Rush Attempts||Rush Yards||Yards/Att||Rush TD||Receptions||Receiving Yards||Receiving TD|
Anthony McFarland only played two seasons for the Terps, leaving college as a redshirt sophomore. He was forced to redshirt in his first season on campus because of injury, making his college production profile look much weaker compared to other guys like J.K. Dobbins and Jonathan Taylor.
Coming out of the D.C. metro area, McFarland was recruited by top programs like Alabama, Auburn, and Miami, but he chose to stay close to home and play for Maryland. McFarland could have had a much more productive college career, but when we discuss his college production profile, we have to discuss his injury history, as it played a major role in his limited production.
McFarland missed the entirety of his senior season while in high school because of a broken leg. As a result, he was forced to redshirt in his first season in College Park. In 2018, McFarland was healthy and productive, rushing for over 1,000 yards in his first season on the field. His impressive season earned him second-team All-Big Ten honors, and McFarland was named to the Freshman All-American team.
However, in his final season in college, McFarland suffered a high ankle sprain and was never able to return to his 2018 form. His college stats certainly speak to this. He failed to top 650 rushing yards, and his efficiency dropped from 7.9 YPC to 5.4 YPC. On tape, he looked less explosive and lacked short-area quickness compared to his 2018 film. The question we need to ask ourselves is whether or not McFarland’s 2018 profile is more indicative of the type of NFL player he could be, or not.
NFL Scouting Combine Measurements
|Height, Weight||40-Yard Dash||Vertical Jump||Broad Jump|
|5', 8", 208 lbs.||4.44||29.5 inches||116 inches|
McFarland flashed excellent top-end speed at the NFL Combine, running a 4.44 40-yard dash, fourth-best among all running backs who attended the Combine in Indianapolis. This speed, definitely showed up on tape, which we’ll get to in a bit.
His broad jump and vertical jump measurements both ranked bottom 5 in RB prospects who participated in these drills. Personally, I don’t put a ton of stock into these tests when projecting running backs at the next level. He did not participate in the 3-cone drill or the 20-yard shuttle, two drills I would have liked to see from McFarland to showcase short-area quickness to prove that he’s truly over that high ankle sprain.
What’s On Tape
Games viewed: Ohio State (2018), Syracuse (2019), Temple (2019)
1. McFarland’s speed is evident on tape, and he can take it to the house.
As mentioned above, speed is one of McFarland’s strengths and his 40-yard dash time is no joke. Sometimes, a prospect’s speed at the Combine doesn’t always show up on tape, but that’s not the case for a guy like McFarland. He has the long speed to take it to the house if he gets loose in the secondary. In one game against Ohio State in 2018, he had runs of 75, 81, and 52 yards.
2. He’s a compact runner, who is elusive with the ball in space.
One thing stood out consistently on tape when watching McFarland play – the guy is tough to bring down. He sets up defenders very well with his body positioning, making it difficult for defenders to square up on him to bring him down.
1. McFarland’s lack of experience at the college level shows up when navigating through the offensive line.
If McFarland has space, he’s electric and explosive. But, he struggles when he gets to the line of scrimmage when setting up his blockers. This could be due to his lack of experience in college, only amassing 245 career carries while at Maryland.
2. For a player with his speed and acceleration, McFarland struggles to create for himself at the line of scrimmage.
This weakness ties into the weakness listed above, but specifically speaking about creativity as a trait, McFarland rarely created for himself in difficult situations. His big plays came when he wasn’t touched until he got to the second level or when he had a gaping hole in front of him at the line of scrimmage.
3. If McFarland wants to stay on the field on third downs, he’ll need to clean up his pass protection.
It’s not that he’s unwilling to participate in pass protection, as some prospects are, but he’ll need to develop in pass protection if he wants work in passing down situations. More specifically, he needs to get lower and square up his pads to effectively hold off blitzing linebackers. Consistently on tape, McFarland was driven back into the quarterback’s space when picking up a blitz.
2020 Fantasy Outlook
In redraft leagues, Anthony McFarland is likely to land on an NFL roster as an RB2 or an RB3 on a team’s depth chart, making it unlikely McFarland is relevant for our fantasy lineups in 2020. He’ll likely need an injury to the back in front of him on the depth chart to secure a workhorse role. Given that pass protection is a weakness, he could also struggle to earn a pass-catching role in his first season in the NFL.
When it comes to dynasty rookie drafts, McFarland is likely to be selected in the second round behind guys like J.K. Dobbins, Jonathan Taylor, and D’Andre Swift. In the NFL Draft, McFarland is likely to be selected in the 4th or 5th round of the NFL Draft, so he probably won’t have the significant draft capital to be given the shot to produce right out of the gate. However, if he finds himself by an aging veteran, he could get a shot to be the starting RB for a team as early as 2021. He’s got some nice physical traits, but he needs to find himself in the right situation to be relevant for our fantasy football lineups.