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Long-term RB rankings

Rookie running backs are meeting expectations so far

What kind of long-term value the rookie running backs hold? There are a number of them that haven’t done much yet, but who look like they’re going to do a lot more in the future.

Most, I think, agree that Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jonathan Taylor are the best of the first-year running backs. If we’re walking into a dynasty draft today, I’m pretty sure they would be the first two chosen. (That’s if you’re picking players with the ability to hold onto them indefinitely.)

But CEH, at least for this year, now has another viable back sharing time with him (with the team having signed LeVeon Bell). And Kansas City will have Damien Williams coming back next year; he could get a decent amount of work. And in Indianapolis, Taylor hasn’t yet really lit up the league.

With a half-dozen other rookie running backs, they look like they could be pretty good in the future.

J.K. Dobbins, for example, looks like he’ll move at some point into a more featured role for the Ravens. He’s 9 years younger than Mark Ingram, and he’s got a more diverse game than Gus Edwards. He looks like he’ll be a good pro for a lot of years.

Another 21-year-old back, D’Andre Swift, looks like he’s going to be good for the Lions. Detroit has misfired on a lot of running back picks over the years, but Swift looks legit. He had his first 100-yard game last week, and they’ll likely continue to expand his role. They’ve been using Adrian Peterson as their starter, but he’s 35 – Swift is a lot younger and faster, and a lot better in the passing game.

James Robinson wasn’t even drafted, but he’s been playing well for Jacksonville. He runs hard, and he’s a capable pass catcher.

Antonio Gibson was primarily a wide receiver in college; he carried the ball only 33 times at Memphis. But Washington selected him early in the third round, and it looks like he’s successfully making the switch to tailback. They’ve been starting him, and he passes the eyeball test – he’s a big, talented guy. I will be interested to see what he can do this week against a really bad Dallas run defense.

AJ Dillon hasn’t played much yet, but he sure looked powerful on a couple of runs last week early in Green Bay’s game at Tampa Bay. He’s a big, physical runner. To me, he looks like he’ll be a big factor at some point. The two running backs ahead of him on the depth chart (Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams) are both in the final years of their rookie contracts, so I would expect Dillon will be one of Green Bay’s two main runners at the start of next year. Jones has a calf injury; if that reduces his playing time in Houston tomorrow, Dillon could make a case for more playing time now against that lesser run defense.

Two other rookie backs, Cam Akers and Zack Moss, have missed some time with injuries, but nobody should be giving up on them just yet.

If I were walking into a dynasty draft today, my running back list would look something like this. This is assuming PPR scoring (and operating under the assumption that teams could keep players indefinitely).

On these rankings, rookies are tagged with black dots.

1.RBCARChristian McCaffrey24
2.RBDALEzekiel Elliott24
3.RBNOAlvin Kamara24
4.RBKC• Clyde Edwards-Helaire21
5.RBMINDalvin Cook24
6.RBTENDerrick Henry25
7.RBLVJosh Jacobs 22
8.RBIND• Jonathan Taylor21
9.RBCINJoe Mixon23
10.RBNYGSaquon Barkley23
11.RBGBAaron Jones25
12.RBPHIMiles Sanders 23
13.RBCLENick Chubb24
14.RBDET• D'Andre Swift21
15.RBBAL• J.K. Dobbins21
16.RBSEAChris Carson25
17.RBLACAustin Ekeler25
18.RBCHIDavid Montgomery 23
19.RBSFRaheem Mostert28
20.RBPITJames Conner25
21.RBCLEKareem Hunt24
22.RBTBRonald Jones22
23.RBLARDarrell Henderson 22
24.RBDENMelvin Gordon27
25.RBJAC• James Robinson21
26.RBARIKenyan Drake26
27.RBWAS• Antonio Gibson22
28.RBMIAMyles Gaskin 23
29.RBARIChase Edmonds24
30.RBKCLeVeon Bell28
31.RBDENPhillip Lindsay25
32.RBPITBenny Snell 22
33.RBMINAlexander Mattison 22
34.RBATLTodd Gurley25
35.RBGB• AJ Dillon22
36.RBBUFDevin Singletary 22
37.RBTBLeonard Fournette25
38.RBHOUDavid Johnson28
39.RBLAR• Cam Akers21
40.RBNEJames White28
41.RBNOLatavius Murray30
42.RBBUF• Zack Moss22
43.RBBALMark Ingram30
44.RBLACJustin Jackson24
45.RBNEDamien Harris 23
46.RBSFJaMycal Hasty23
47.RBPHIBoston Scott25
48.RBCARMike Davis27
49.RBHOUDuke Johnson26
50.RBNESony Michel25
51.RBSEACarlos Hyde28
52.RBDALTony Pollard 23
53.RBCHITarik Cohen24
54.RBBALGus Edwards25
55.RBCINGiovani Bernard28
56.RBNYGWayne Gallman25
57.RBSEARashaad Penny24
58.RBINDNyheim Hines23
59.RBLAC• Joshua Kelley22
60.RBGBJamaal Williams25
61.RBINDMarlon Mack24
62.RBSFJerick McKinnon28
63.RBNYGDevonta Freeman28
64.RBDETAdrian Peterson35
65.RBATLBrian Hill24
66.RBSFTevin Coleman27
67.RBTB• KeShawn Vaughn23
68.RBNYJ• LaMical Perine22
69.RBWASJ.D. McKissic26
70.RBMIAMatt Breida25
71.RBLARMalcolm Brown27
72.RBNYJTy Johnson 22
73.RBNERex Burkhead30
74.RBKCDamien Williams28
75.RBJACChris Thompson29
76.RBDETKerryon Johnson23
77.RBTEN• Darrynton Evans21
78.RBPIT• Anthony McFarland21
79.RBINDJordan Wilkins25
80.RBLVJalen Richard26
81.RBNYJFrank Gore37
82.RBTENJeremy McNichols24
83.RBMINMike Boone25
84.RBSEA• DeeJay Dallas21
85.RBNOTy Montgomery27
86.RBLVDevontae Booker28
87.RBGBTyler Ervin26
88.RBCLED'Ernest Johnson24
89.RBPHI• Jason Huntley22
90.RBARI• Eno Benjamin21
91.RBNYGDion Lewis29
92.RBKCDarrel Williams25
93.RBDENRoyce Freeman24
94.RBBALJustice Hill 22
95.RBATLIto Smith24
96.RBPHICorey Clement25
97.RBMIAJordan Howard25
98.RBSEATravis Homer 21
99.RBWASBryce Love 22
100.RBTBLeSean McCoy31

I turn my attention to dynasty leagues each Saturday, addressing a different position each week. To see past articles, use the “past issues” navigation tools on the right side of the page.

Last week: quarterbacks.

Next week: tight ends.

—Ian Allan

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