Best Case Scenario - RB Edition
In this article I take a look at the incoming class of running backs and place them with their best case scenario. We will surely see at least one running back go in the first round for the first time since Trent Richardson in 2012. This is one of the deepest running back classes in recent history and could produce many fantasy first round picks in the future.
Todd Gurley, Georgia
Perfect fit: Cowboys
Gurley leads a very talented and deep running back pool. Teams seem to be getting comfortable with his medical and his stock appears to be on the rise. While it seems unlikely he lasts until the Cowboys pick, it would be something special if he did. The Cowboys have arguably the best offensive line in football and Gurley would post ridiculous rookie numbers in that system. If somehow Gurley did end up in Dallas we would likely see his ADP flirt with the first round.
Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
Perfect fit: Chargers
The Chargers have an enormous need at running back and this is a good year to need one. Melvin Gordon is fast, quick, and can handle a full load. The Chargers have an improving offensive line but no running back to run behind it. Branden Oliver was less than outstanding as a rookie and is better suited in a backup position. Gordon would be a fantasy starter if he ended up landing in San Diego.
Jay Ajayi, Boise State
Perfect fit: Jaguars
If I had more guts I would rank Jay Ajayi over Melvin Gordon. Not only is he a strong runner, he can also catch the ball out of the backfield. Last season, the Jaguars gave Toby Gerhart starter money and returned the favor by giving them a backup performance. Ajayi would likely beat out every running back on the Jaguars roster. Here’s a prediction for you dynasty drafters: Ajayi will be a first round pick in 2016 redraft leagues.
Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska
Perfect fit: Panthers
The Panthers have a few needs but running back may be the biggest. DeAngelo Williams took a backup job with the Steelers and current starter Jonathan Stewart hasn’t been able to stay healthy throughout his career. Stewart has been with the Panthers for seven seasons and has averaged four starts a year during that stretch. Ameer Abdullah has drawn LeVeon Bell comparisons, which bodes positively for his fantasy stock. He may not enter the season as the starter, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see him in that role at some point in 2015.
Duke Johnson, Miami (FL)
Perfect fit: Ravens
The Ravens decided to bring back breakout player Justin Forsett for another year. Forsett had the best year of his career racking up over 1,500 yards from scrimmage. Even with that fantastic year, the Ravens are likely going to add a running back somewhere in this draft. Duke Johnson could be that back. If Baltimore is his landing spot, 2015 could be a quiet year for Johnson, though he would be worth a late-round flier in redraft leagues.
TJ Yeldon, Alabama
Perfect fit: Cardinals
The Cardinals have a dynamic running back already in Andre Ellington. Unfortunately, Ellington has yet to prove himself as a viable every-down back. Drafting TJ Yeldon would be the perfect complement to his skill set. Yeldon is a power back who would provide the thunder to Ellington’s lightning. Solidifying the running game would also alleviate the pressure from quarterback Carson Palmer. Limiting Palmer’s pass attempts could also keep him healthy for 16 games. In a running back committee, Yeldon’s fantasy value would be capped, but his long-term dynasty prospects are bright.
Tevin Coleman, Indiana
Perfect fit: Vikings
The Adrian Peterson situation is still not resolved and seems to be a long ways away from getting there. Even if Peterson agrees to come back to the Vikings the commissioner may not allow him to play immediately. Tevin Coleman has drawn Darren McFadden comparisons, but not in a bad way. He has breakaway speed that mirrors McFadden in his younger years. Coleman likely won’t be a strong fantasy option in Year 1.
Mike Davis, South Carolina
Perfect fit: Raiders
I like Mike Davis a lot. He looks like Ray Rice or Maurice Jones-Drew while carrying the ball. He runs very low to the ground and has a low center of gravity. The Raiders do have Latavius Murray and newly signed underachiever Trent Richardson on the roster. Murray flashed signs of greatness but the Raiders don’t seem ready to just hand him the job. Davis has the potential to beat out Richardson as the number two/compliment back to Murray. I like his fantasy prospects in the NFL, maybe not in year one though.
Jeremy Langford, Michigan State
Perfect fit: Jets
Chris Ivory is a battering ram type of runner who does most of his work between the tackles. Adding a running back that can break a long run and be a threat out of the backfield makes a lot of sense for the Jets. Jeremy Langford can do both of those things. Langford would be the perfect complement to Ivory and could eventually be the lead back with Ivory being his backup. The Jets have major questions at quarterback and need a strong run game to support that stingy defense. Langford can likely be had in the third round of rookie drafts.