3 Big Surprises in the 2017 RB Prospect Lab Rankings (Pre-Combine)
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The RB Prospect Lab is one of my favorite apps. It’s a draft-agnostic tool that allows you to input age, size, speed, agility, production, and receiving ability to get a scaled projection of future fantasy prospects. You can experiment with the variables to see how they interact, or you can work with real prospects to get a feel for their NFL viability. I’ve written the RB Prospect Lab Rankings each of the last two seasons.
* I profiled each of these players except Matt Jones. The scores for Coleman and Howard eventually moved higher than in their respective articles due to subsequent workout numbers.
Matthew Freedman’s Terminator didn’t receive many opportunities behind DeMarco Murray, but the next two players on the list ranked No. 1 in the NFL in rushing fantasy points above expectation (ruFPOE) during their rookie seasons. Not just among rookies, but out of every fantasy-relevant RB in the league.
The Lab helped locate steals like Jay Ajayi, Tevin Coleman, Jordan Howard, and David Johnson. The solid score for Melvin Gordon was one of the numerous reasons he was my highest-owned player in 2016.
The Lab also helped us avoid players like Duke Johnson, Jeremy Langford, Ameer Abdullah,1 Matt Jones, and T.J. Yeldon. These players could still emerge, but they’ve hurt dynasty owners in the early going.
The biggest miss was David Cobb, a runner the Lab identified as a value but who finds himself on the fringes of the league.
The Lab isn’t perfect,2 but when you consider how important draft slot is to projecting future fantasy points, the Lab’s results over the past two years have been excellent. Our ability to use evidence-based metrics to find values and locate potential breakouts is something I highlighted in 2014 as part of the argument for Zero RB. The results since that time have been equally encouraging.
2015 and 2016 RB Scores