There were 11 running backs selected in the first three rounds of the draft, setting up some interesting decisions for fantasy teams. Do you take the big swing on the upside of a rookie? Or is it better to bank on the value of experience?

Specifically, we’ve got D’Andre Swift versus Kerryon Johnson in Detroit, Jonathan Taylor versus Marlon Mack (pictured) in Indianapolis and KeShawn Vaughn against Ronald Jones in Tampa Bay. And Clyde Edwards-Helaire against Damien Williams for the Super Bowl champ.

I think most tend to go for the younger guys. In general, the rookies tend to be selected earlier in fantasy draft. I go case by case, but I tend to more often go with the veteran players.

On this topic, I’ve cook up a new chart. I’ve taken all of the rookie running backs from the last 20 years who were selected in the second round. Then I’ve compared their production in their rookie year against the team’s best veteran. In the table, yards and touchdowns includes both rushing and receiving production.

There have been 49 running backs chosen in the second round in the last 20 years. In those 49 cases, only 14 times did the rookie put up the team’s best RB numbers (and in only five of those cases did the rookie put up top-10 PPR numbers (indicated by a black dot). So the veterans win that round – 35-14, with a 10-5 edge in top-10 seasons.

2001Chi.Anthony Thomas1361-717James Allen672-240
2001NYJLaMont Jordan336-272• Curtis Martin1833-105
2001Buff.Travis Henry908-430Larry Centers780-423
2002Den.• Clinton Portis1872-177Mike Anderson553-444
2002Sea.Maurice Morris178-195• Shaun Alexander1635-186
2002Car.DeShaun Foster0-0--Lamar Smith904-732
2002Was.Ladell Betts461-162Stephen Davis962-828
2003Car.DeShaun Foster636-242Stephen Davis1603-815
2004Dall.Julius Jones928-731Eddie George515-448
2004Jac.Greg Jones175-383Fred Taylor1569-319
2004Den.Tatum Bell476-363Reuben Droughns1481-815
2005Car.Eric Shelton0-0--DeShaun Foster1251-322
2005Ariz.J.J. Arrington509-253Marcel Shipp706-043
2006Jac.• Maurice Jones-Drew1377-168Fred Taylor1388-620
2006Ten.LenDale White304-072Travis Henry1289-723
2007Cin.Kenny Irons0-0--Kenny Watson1137-714
2007Ten.Chris Henry0-0--LenDale White1224-718
2007G.B.Brandon Jackson397-167Ryan Grant1101-817
2007St.L.Brian Leonard486-056Steven Jackson1273-615
2008Chi.• Matt Forte1715-122Jason McKie90-384
2008Balt.Ray Rice727-049LeRon McClain1025-1123
2009Phil.LeSean McCoy945-432Leonard Weaver463-452
2010Min.Toby Gerhart489-158• Adrian Peterson1639-135
2010Hou.Ben Tate0-0--• Arian Foster2220-181
2010K.C.Dexter McCluster280-265• Jamaal Charles1935-84
2010Cle.Montario Hardesty0-0--• Peyton Hillis1654-132
2011Ariz.Ryan Williams0-0--Beanie Wells1099-1023
2011Det.Mikel Leshoure0-0--Kevin Smith535-741
2011Mia.Daniel Thomas653-151Reggie Bush1382-713
2011N.E.Shane Vereen57-1123Stevan Ridley454-173
2012S.F.LaMichael James154-0116• Frank Gore1448-1010
2012St.L.Isaiah Pead70-0130Steven Jackson1366-417
2013G.B.• Eddie Lacy1435-118James Starks582-452
2013Cin.Giovani Bernard1209-813BenJarvus Green-Ellis778-740
2013Pitt.LeVeon Bell1259-815Jonathan Dwyer261-086
2013Den.Montee Ball704-443• Knowshon Moreno1586-134
2013Sea.Christine Michael79-0131• Marshawn Lynch1573-145
2014Cin.• Jeremy Hill1339-910Giovani Bernard1029-718
2014Ten.Bishop Sankey702-244Dexter McCluster328-172
2014S.F.Carlos Hyde401-461Frank Gore1217-521
2015Jac.T.J. Yeldon1019-328Denard Robinson430-172
2015Det.Ameer Abdullah780-344Theo Riddick830-319
2016Ten.Derrick Henry627-545• DeMarco Murray1664-125
2017Cin.Joe Mixon913-433Giovani Bernard847-429
2017Min.Dalvin Cook444-272Jerick McKinnon991-517
2018Det.Kerryon Johnson854-433Theo Riddick555-043
2018Cle.Nick Chubb1145-1017Duke Johnson630-337
2018Was.Derrius Guice0-0--Adrian Peterson1250-819
2018T.B.Ronald Jones77-195Peyton Barber963-631

If we go down to the third round, things play out in a similar way. There have been 59 chosen in the last 20 years. Only 13 of those 59 rookies were the best running backs on their teams, with 4 top-10 backs.

With 46 of those 59 backs, the team had a better veteran (with 16 ranking in the top 10).

2000Buff.Shawn Bryson862-233Sammy Morris609-632
2000Det.Reuben Droughns0-0--James Stewart1471-1115
2000N.E.J.R. Redmond532-342Kevin Faulk1035-527
2000Min.Doug Chapman0-0--• Robert Smith1869-1010
2000Cle.Travis Prentice703-829Errict Rhett336-067
2001Mia.Travis Minor544-442Lamar Smith1202-818
2001Det.Reuben Droughns93-1107Cory Schlesinger620-328
2001S.F.Kevan Barlow759-533Garrison Hearst1553-513
2001Cle.James Jackson610-255Jamel White861-624
2001Sea.Heath Evans11-0142• Shaun Alexander1661-164
2002St.L.Lamar Gordon506-343• Marshall Faulk1490-1010
2002Phil.Brian Westbrook279-082Duce Staley1570-815
2003Balt.Musa Smith31-2118• Jamal Lewis2271-144
2003Oak.Justin Fargas205-0103Charlie Garner939-426
2003Ten.Chris Brown282-088Eddie George1194-523
2003NYJB.J. Askew9-0157Curtis Martin1570-218
2005Hou.Vernand Morency271-276Domanick Williams1313-615
2005Phil.Ryan Moats285-375• Brian Westbrook1233-710
2005Den.Maurice Clarett0-0--Mike Anderson1226-1312
2005S.F.Frank Gore739-342Kevan Barlow822-330
2006Atl.Jerious Norwood735-247Warrick Dunn1310-525
2006Det.Brian Calhoun39-0133Kevin Jones1209-812
2007Phil.Tony Hunt16-1132• Brian Westbrook2104-121
2007Mia.Lorenzo Booker362-065Ronnie Brown991-523
2007Chi.Garrett Wolfe202-092Adrian N. Peterson930-325
2008K.C.Jamaal Charles629-154Larry Johnson948-540
2008S.D.Jacob Hester186-280• LaDainian Tomlinson1536-126
2008Det.Kevin Smith1262-817Rudi Johnson325-274
2008Hou.• Steve Slaton1659-107Ahman Green326-368
2009NYJShonn Greene540-266• Thomas Jones1460-149
2009S.F.Glen Coffee302-178• Frank Gore1526-135
2011N.E.Stevan Ridley454-173BenJarvus Green-Ellis826-1128
2011G.B.Alex Green17-0150Ryan Grant827-337
2011Dall.DeMarco Murray1080-230Felix Jones796-140
2012Den.Ronnie Hillman392-167Willis McGahee952-428
2012Balt.Bernard Pierce579-159• Ray Rice1621-104
2013K.C.Knile Davis317-556• Jamaal Charles1980-191
2014Cle.Terrance West737-541Isaiah Crowell694-833
2014Min.Jerick McKinnon673-048Matt Asiata882-1014
2014Pitt.Dri Archer63-0155• LeVeon Bell2215-111
2014T.B.Charles Sims375-173Bobby Rainey721-240
2014St.L.Tre Mason913-530Benny Cunningham598-432
2015Atl.Tevin Coleman406-179• Devonta Freeman1634-141
2015Was.Matt Jones794-441Alfred Morris806-153
2015Cle.Duke Johnson913-224Isaiah Crowell888-533
2015Ariz.• David Johnson1038-137Chris Johnson872-348
2016Mia.Kenyan Drake225-374Jay Ajayi1423-811
2016Sea.C.J. Prosise380-168Thomas Rawls445-362
2017Pitt.James Conner144-0113• LeVeon Bell1946-112
2017Hou.D'Onta Foreman410-274Lamar Miller1215-616
2017K.C.• Kareem Hunt1782-114Charcandrick West222-467
2017N.O.• Alvin Kamara1554-143• Mark Ingram1540-126
2018Den.Royce Freeman593-546Phillip Lindsay1278-1013
2019LARDarrell Henderson184-098Todd Gurley1064-1414
2019N.E.Damien Harris12-0142James White908-618
2019Min.Alexander Mattison544-161• Dalvin Cook1654-136
2019Phil.Miles Sanders1327-615Jordan Howard594-744
2019Buff.Devin Singletary969-433Frank Gore699-250
2019Chi.David Montgomery1074-724Tarik Cohen669-327

—Ian Allan