Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings: Running Backs- Updated: Thursday, May 7th
Scoring: These rankings are based on standard scoring (one point per 25 passing yards, four points per passing touchdown plus one point per 10 rushing/receiving yards and six points per rushing/receiving touchdown) and are for dynasty leagues.
Not only was there a running back selected in the first round, there were two of them. Even more impressively, both were top-15 picks.
Here are my rookie dynasty rankings for running backs from the 2015 NFL Draft:
1. Todd Gurley, St. Louis Rams
Drawing comparisons to Marshawn Lynch and viewed by some as the best running back prospect since Minnesota's Adrian Peterson, Gurley may not have the best first season out of this year's running back class, but he possesses all of the physical tools to be a dominant RB1-type back for years to come. Gurley is coming off a torn ACL, but all reports have been positive in regards to his rehab and he recently posted this video of himself running on a curved treadmill.
Gurley, who doesn't turn 21 until August, has a rare combination of world-class speed and size (6-1, 222) that allows him to either outrun or run over opposing tacklers. In addition to his combination of speed and power, Gurley has good vision and is a good receiver out of the backfield. If there is any drawback with the do-it-all Gurley, it's the annual six matchups against the stout run defenses of his division rivals.
(And of course, the selection of Gurley delivers a huge blow to the long-term fantasy outlook of second-year back Tre Mason.)
2. Melvin Gordon, San Diego Chargers
For re-draft purposes, I'd expect Gordon to outproduce Gurley in 2015. While Gurley is a more talented back, MG3 has drawn some comparisons to Jamaal Charles and enters a favorable situation. With the injury-prone Ryan Mathews no longer in San Diego, the Bolts should give Gordon a significant share of the early-down work and I'd expect him to approach 250 touches as a rookie.
3. T.J. Yeldon, Jacksonville Jaguars
Selected with a top-40 pick in this year's draft, Yeldon has excellent size (6-1, 225) and should immediately go to the front of the line in terms of the team's backfield depth chart. In fact, general manager David Caldwell said that he sees Yeldon as "a three-down back." A bottom-two offense in terms of both scoring and yards last season, the Jaguars are far from being a juggernaut, but they have invested in young talent to surround second-year quarterback Blake Bortles, which could lead to increased scoring opportunities for both the Jags in general and Yeldon in partcular.
4. Ameer Abdullah, Detroit Lions
At only 5-foot-9 and 205 pounds, Abdullah lacks ideal size to be a bellcow back and he's had some ball-security issues (13 career fumbles at Nebraska). That said, Abdullah was highly productive at Nebraska with three consecutive 1,100-yard seasons including back-to-back 1,600-yard campaigns. Among running backs at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine, Abdullah finished first in the vertical jump (42.5 inches), broad jump (10-10), 3-cone drill (6.79) and 20-yard shuttle (3.95).
5. Tevin Coleman, Atlanta Falcons
The biggest home run threat in the draft, Coleman rushed for 2,036 yards on his 270 carries this season. Coleman had four 200-yard games and eight 60-yard runs, most in either category. Clearly, that won't be repeated at the NFL level, but it clearly illustrates his big-play ability as he joins one of the league's better offenses. D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution gives Coleman the slight edge (1A to 1B) over Devonta Freeman in his early projected depth chart.
6. Jay Ajayi, Miami Dolphins
Fifth round? I get that there were concerns with Ajayi's knee, but it really surprised me that he slipped as far as he did. As a Cowboys fan, the third and fourth rounds came and went as I hoped for Ajayi. The knee deservedly creates some long-term concerns for dynasty purposes, but the versatile Ajayi was a top-three back in this class prior to the draft in my view. A downhill runner with excellent size (6-0, 221), Ajayi displayed his pass-catching ability with 50 receptions for 536 yards last season as well.
7. David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals
While it appears that the Cardinals remain committed to Andre Ellington in a workhorse role, Johnson is a big back (6-1, 224) with excellent receiving skills. In fact, Johnson had over 200 receiving yards in the game against Iowa last season. Coach Bruce Arians said of Johnson, "[h]eís got good power, but his receiving ability is as close to Andreís as anybody Iíve seen." In addition, general manager Steve Keim described him as a "three-down" back.
8. Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns
The all-time rushing leader at The U., Johnson's production is especially impressive considering the school's alumni of talented backs (Frank Gore, Edgerrin James, Clinton Portis, etc.). It's a less-than-ideal landing spot for Johnson as the Browns rolled with the back that had the best practice week on a week-to-week basis last season. While I expect Isaiah Crowell to lead the backfield in touches, Terrance West's game log of carries -- 26, five, 14, seven, 15, five and 18 -- from Weeks 10 to 17 illustrates the week-to-week uncertainty we can expect to see in Johnson's near-term future.
9. David Cobb, Tennessee Titans
Last year's first running back selected, Bishop Sankey, was a disappointment for the Titans. With that said, it's certainly possible that Cobb, the team's fifth-round pick this year, leads the team's backfield in touches as early as his rookie season.
Webster: Cobb has size, feet, vision, great kid. Whiz: Tape is impressive. One of best protectiors at Sr. Bowl. 3-down back in mix #Titans— Paul Kuharsky (@PaulKuharskyNFL) May 2, 2015
10. Javorius "Buck" Allen, Baltimore Ravens
While the team re-signed (soon-to-be) 30-year-old Justin Forsett, the long-term outlook for Allen in Marc Trestman's offense is certainly positive. Despite being a big back (6-1, 221), Allen is an excellent receiver out of the backfield and Matt Forte set the running back record for single-season receptions (102) last year in Trestman's offense.
11. Jeremy Langford, Chicago Bears
Langford posted the fastest 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, but it's not too often that a back is running 40 yards in a straight line. Certainly it's not a negative to run a fast forty, but Langford posted disappointing times in the agility drills that show below-average change-of-direction skills. Only three running backs played 800 snaps last season -- Matt Forte (1,006), Le'Veon Bell (943) and DeMarco Murray (800). In other words, Langford's 2015 role will be limited behind the nearly every-down Forte, but Forte turns 30 in December.
12. Josh Robinson, Indianapolis Colts
I'm not necessarily a huge fan of Robinson's game, but he joins a backfield that has Frank Gore, who turns 32 this month, and Dan Herron, who will be a free agent next offseason, ahead of him. If he's able to move to the top of the depth chart at some point over the next few seasons, he'll do so in an offense with one of the league's best quarterbacks (Andrew Luck).
13. Mike Davis, San Francisco 49ers
14. Matt Jones, Washington Redskins
15. Karlos Williams, Buffalo Bills
16. Cameron Artis-Payne, Carolina Panthers
17. Zach Zenner, Detroit Lions
18. Thomas Rawls, Seattle Seahawks
19. Marcus Murphy, New Orleans Saints
20. Kenny Hillard, Houston Texans
More rookie dynasty rankings:
- 2015 Fantasy Football Dynasty Rookie Quarterback Rankings
- 2015 Fantasy Football Dynasty Rookie Running Back Rankings
- 2015 Fantasy Football Dynasty Rookie Wide Receiver Rankings
- 2015 Fantasy Football Dynasty Rookie Tight End Rankings