Dynasty

2017 RB Prospect Lab: 20 Prospect Scores, 75 Evidence-Based Comps

The RB Prospect Lab uses age, weight, speed, agility, rushing production, TD production, and receiving numbers to give a scaled projection of a player’s NFL fantasy prospects.

In the pre-combine edition, I provided a full list of scores from the last two years of projections. The Lab confirmed the community consensus on players like Ezekiel Elliott (92) and Todd Gurley (85), suggested you ignore the draft fall and snag Jay Ajayi (85), and located sleepers like Jordan Howard (65) and David Johnson (65). It also helped us avoid apparent busts like Ameer Abdullah (41), Matt Jones (40), and T.J. Yeldon (37). The Lab’s biggest miss was David Cobb (66).

When evaluating a RB’s prospects, you want to consider other information as well, especially draft slot and opportunity in the landing spot. But I love the Lab’s ability to give us a draft-agnostic projection. Once the draft creates an anchor for rookie draft ADP, the Lab numbers can help us find exploitable opportunities.

How Important Are the Comps?

Providing evidence-based comps is a big part of this process. While the Lab gives you a score, it’s important to remember that the interaction of attributes will create different types of prospects. At the RB position more than any other, accurate comparables are a valuable weapon in assessing prospects. Inaccurate comps are actively worse than having no information at all. In this exercise, I’ve provided a short list of players with similar size, athleticism, and production profiles who score in the same range. Try to remember the less enthusiastic comps in order to balance your evaluation.

*Represents an adjusted pro day time. **Reflects an estimated time.

The 2017 RB Prospect Lab Rankings

1. D’Onta Foreman 95

AGE WT FORTY CONE ATTS YPG TD REC SCORE
20.6 233 4.48* 7.4** 29.4 184.4 1.4 0.6 95

A stress fracture kept him from running at the combine, but Foreman put on a show at his pro day with a 4.45 forty.1 That gave him one of the best scores of the past decade, a result he also achieved in Kevin Cole’s model that predicts early RB1 seasons. He’s a smaller version of last year’s No. 1 lab finisher but earned a better score by averaging almost 40 more yards per game.
D'Onta Comps

2. Jeremy McNichols 84

AGE WT FORTY CONE ATTS YPG TDS RECS SCORE
21 214 4.49 6.93 24.2 131.5 2.1 2.8 84

McNichols posted 2,187 total yards, 37 receptions, and 27 TDs for Boise State last season, and yet comes in at RB12 in the most recent RotoViz Scouting Index. Before the combine, scouts cited his lack of athleticism. After he outdistanced most of the prospects ranked ahead of him … they moved him down?

McNichols owns the perfect blend of hybrid production and multi-faceted athleticism for the contemporary NFL.

NAME AGE WT FORTY CONE ATTS YPG TDS RECS SCORE
MATT FORTE 21.97 217 4.44 6.84 30.08 177.25 1.92 2.67 97
KEVIN SMITH 21.05 217 4.53 6.74 32.14 183.36 2.07 1.71 93
DEANGELO WILLIAMS 22.69 214 4.45 6.57 28.18 178.55 1.64 1.09 75
BISHOP SANKEY 21.3 209 4.49 6.75 25.15 143.77 1.54 2.15 73

3. Christian McCaffrey 78

AGE WT FORTY CONE ATTS YPG TDS RECS SCORE
20.6 202 4.48 6.57 23 145.7 1.5 3.4 78

McCaffrey didn’t hit the 4.4 flat that would have made him the clear No. 1 pick in rookie drafts,2 but he did everything else. The best player in college football over the last two years posted the second-fastest 3-cone (6.57) for any RB in the last decade and tied for the second-best vertical (37.5) in this class behind Alvin Kamara.

NAME TM AGE YEAR WT FORTY CONE ATTS YPG TDS RECS SCORE
RAY RICE Rutgers 20.97 2008 199 4.42 6.65 29.23 154.77 1.85 1.92 86
BISHOP SANKEY Washington 21.3 2014 209 4.49 6.75 25.15 143.77 1.54 2.15 73
LESEAN MCCOY Pittsburgh 20.48 2009 204 4.5 6.82 23.69 114.46 1.62 2.46 72

McCaffrey’s three closest comps in this analysis are also the three closest in the Box Score Scout. The critics also find some ammunition. His 2016 looks a lot like Steve Slaton.

McCaffrey comps

4. Joe Mixon 75

AGE WT FORTY CONE ATTS YPG TDS RECS SCORE
20.5 228 4.5* 7.3* 15.6 106.2 1.25 3.1 75

Conflicting reports exist for Mixon’s pro day times. I went with the slightly more conservative numbers, as the pro day setting is more favorable for prospects. The relative struggles of Dalvin Cook and Leonard Fournette could encourage teams to wait on Mixon and ignore the resulting outrage.

NAME AGE WT FORTY CONE ATTS YPG TDS RECS SCORE
TOBY GERHART 22.78 231 4.5 6.94 26.38 143.92 2.15 0.85 79
CHRIS PERRY 22.03 220 4.56 7.02 26 128.77 1.38 3.23 73
JALEN PARMELE 21.91 224 4.47 6.96 23 125.92 1.17 1.42 72
MIKEL LESHOURE 20.76 227 4.56 6.82 21.62 130.54 1.31 1.31 71
DESHAUN FOSTER 21.83 222 4.57 6.82 27 138.62 1.5 1.12 68

5. Leonard Fournette 71

AGE WT FORTY CONE ATTS YPG TDS RECS SCORE
21.9 240 4.51 7.4** 18.4 120.4 1.1 2.1 72

Comparisons to Bo Jackson and Adrian Peterson now look overzealous, but Fournette remains well positioned to go No. 1 in rookie drafts. His 2015 season was one of the best in NCAA history, and that doesn’t change in the split second it took to record a 28.5-inch vertical.

Note that every one of the BSS comps for Fournette is lighter than his 240 pounds, underlining the difficulty in finding legitimate comps to a player of his size.

leonard fournette comps

6. Curtis Samuel 70

AGE WT FORTY CONE ATTS YPG TDS RECS SCORE
20.4 196 4.31 7.09 7.5 59.3 1.15 5.7 70

Samuel ran the second-fastest 40 at the WR position behind the record-breaking performance of John Ross. Considered at RB, he would be easily the fastest player in the class. I continue to hope he’s drafted by a team that intends to use him in a marriage of the Tyreek Hill and Ty Montgomery roles.

7. Brian Hill 66

AGE WT FORTY CONE ATTS YPG TDS RECS SCORE
21.2 219 4.54 7.03 24.9 132.9 1.6 0.6 66

Although not to the level of his Mountain West compatriot, Hill was another back that impressed at the combine. In only three years, Hill gained 4,690 yards from scrimmage. He posted 1,860 on the ground in 2016 and is possibly an underrated receiver with over 200 in the air as a freshman. He may be the best reason not to trade your third-round rookie pick.

NAME AGE WT FORTY CONE ATTS YPG TDS RECS SCORE
DESHAUN FOSTER 21.83 222 4.57 6.82 27 138.62 1.5 1.12 68
RUDI JOHNSON 21.19 227 4.57 7.32 27 130.58 1.08 0.75 68
ROBERT TURBIN 22.05 222 4.42 7.16 19.15 116.69 1.46 1.31 67
MONTEE BALL 22.09 214 4.46 6.88 25.43 130.71 1.57 0.71 67
TYLER GAFFNEY 22.72 220 4.49 6.78 23.57 122.07 1.5 1.07 63

8. Dalvin Cook 65

AGE WT FORTY CONE ATTS YPG TDS RECS SCORE
21.3 210 4.49 7.27 22.2 135.8 1.5 2.5 65

In our latest RotoViz Roundtable, the writers discussed what to do with Cook after his disastrous explosion and agility numbers at the combine. As you might expect, the results were mixed.

The most interesting comps for Cook in terms of size and Lab score are also quite a bit more athletic, which helps to punctuate the debate. Although they share the same Lab score, he no longer looks like a particularly good fit as the next Jamaal Charles.3

NAME AGE WT FORTY CONE ATTS YPG TDS RECS SCORE
JAVON RINGER 21.93 205 4.55 6.87 30 125.92 1.69 2.15 66
MARSHAWN LYNCH 20.7 215 4.46 7.09 17.15 104.31 0.85 2.62 66
MAURICE DREW 20.79 207 4.39 7.08 15.5 76.17 1.08 2.58 65
JAMAAL CHARLES 21.01 200 4.38 6.8 19.85 124.54 1.38 1.31 65

9. Marlon Mack 54

AGE WT FORTY CONE ATTS YPG TDS RECS SCORE
20.8 213 4.5 7.2** 14.5 98.8 1.4 2.3 54

Perusing Mack’s profile, we see a back who is solid in every area but outstanding in none. The South Florida runner posted three consecutive seasons between 1,200 and 1,500 yards from scrimmage.

A favorable draft location would encourage the Charles Sims comp.

NAME AGE WT FORTY CONE ATTS YPG TDS RECS SCORE
TIM CORNETT 21.69 209 4.48 7.01 20.31 98.77 1.15 2.31 57
CARNELL WILLIAMS 22.72 217 4.43 6.95 18.38 89.62 0.92 1.62 54
JERIOUS NORWOOD 22.35 210 4.4 6.81 17.36 103.27 0.55 1.73 52
DARRIN REAVES 20.64 209 4.54 7.07 16.83 77.83 1 2.42 50
CHARLES SIMS 23.21 214 4.48 7.16 17.33 91.25 0.92 3.75 49

10. Samaje Perine 51 (tie)

AGE WT FORTY CONE ATTS YPG TDS RECS SCORE
21.3 233 4.65 7.26 19.6 106 1.3 1 51

Perine disappointed in the forty and three-cone but did wow the crowd with 30 reps on the bench. In the trivia department, only the somewhat motley trio of Jerick McKinnon (32), Knile Davis (31), and Shane Vereen (31) have pressed more in the last decade.

NAME AGE WT FORTY CONE ATTS YPG TDS RECS SCORE
TONY HUNT 21.12 233 4.68 7.39 21.31 106.62 0.85 2.08 53
DANIEL THOMAS 23.19 230 4.62 7.06 22.92 121.92 1.46 2.08 53
ANTHONY DIXON 22.19 233 4.67 7.09 23.36 126.45 1.09 1.64 52

10. Joe Williams 51 (tie)

AGE WT FORTY CONE ATTS YPG TDS RECS SCORE
23.3 210 4.41 7.19 23.3 156 1.1 1 51

Make sure to check out RotoDoc’s post-combine profile on the draft’s workhorse sleeper.

12. Kareem Hunt 48

AGE WT FORTY CONE ATTS YPG TDS RECS SCORE
21.3 216 4.62 7.25* 20.2 113.4 0.8 3.2 48

Hunt struggled at the combine outside of a 36.5-inch vertical. After hauling in 41 passes as a senior, it was frustrating to see him opt out of the agility drills. His pro day 7.22 three-cone failed to balance the lethargic 40 time for a back with two separate seasons eclipsing 1,600 yards from scrimmage.

NAME AGE WT FORTY CONE ATTS YPG TDS RECS SCORE
DARRIN REAVES 20.64 209 4.54 7.07 16.83 77.83 1 2.42 50
STEPFAN TAYLOR 21.58 214 4.7 7.13 23 109.29 0.93 2.93 40

13. Aaron Jones 45 (tie)

AGE WT FORTY CONE ATTS YPG TDS RECS SCORE
22.2 208 4.56 6.82 19.1 147.8 1.7 2.3 45

Over the last decade, 42 RBs have managed 2,000 yards from scrimmage. None eclipsed that barrier in fewer touches. Running a 4.56 forty at 208 pounds may keep Jones out of the early rounds, but he crushed the other drills with a 37.5-inch vertical to go with his 6.82 three-cone.

NAME AGE WT FORTY CONE ATTS YPG TDS RECS SCORE
JERICK MCKINNON 21.5 209 4.41 6.83 16 103 1.2 0 49
CHARCANDRICK WEST 22.5 205 4.4 7.08 13.18 82.36 1.27 2.91 47
MEWELDE MOORE 21.29 209 4.65 7.07 20.56 101.67 0.56 4.33 45
JOHNATHAN FRANKLIN 23.19 205 4.46 6.89 20.14 123.86 0.93 2.36 44
JOSEPH RANDLE 21.02 204 4.59 7.01 21.08 109 1.08 2.15 44

13. James Conner 45 (tie)

AGE WT FORTY CONE ATTS YPG TDS RECS SCORE
21.6 233 4.65 7.4 16.6 84 1.5 1.6 45

Even after slogging to dispiriting times in Indianapolis, Conner remains one of the best stories of the draft season. His size will keep him in play for the late rounds.

15. Jamaal Williams 41

AGE WT FORTY CONE ATTS YPG TDS RECS SCORE
21.7 212 4.59 7.25 23.4 137.5 1.2 0.7 41

Williams’ lack of athleticism was exposed at the combine. He added a 30-inch vertical to his struggles in the other drills. At only 212 pounds and with less than one reception per game, the BYU star doesn’t have a clear fit in the contemporary NFL. His impressive Workhorse Metric results offer a glimmer of hope.

16. Corey Clement 39

AGE WT FORTY CONE ATTS YPG TDS RECS SCORE
22.2 220 4.68 6.9* 24.2 105.8 1.2 0.9 39

Adding a 28.5-inch vertical, Clement doesn’t have the athleticism to balance out character concerns. He was reported as quick as 6.71 in the three-cone at his pro day, a time that strains credulity after his combine.

17. Elijah McGuire 38 (tie)

AGE WT FORTY CONE ATTS YPG TDS RECS SCORE
22.5 214 4.53 7.26 17.8 86.7 0.7 2.2 38

McGuire’s 4.56 short shuttle was also disappointing for a back with 130 career receptions at Louisiana-Lafayette. One of only four backs to go over 4,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving since the turn of the century, his current profile isn’t as strong as his overall resume.

17. Alvin Kamara 38 (tie)

AGE WT FORTY CONE ATTS YPG TDS RECS SCORE
21.4 214 4.56 7.1* 9.4 54.2 1.2 3.6 37

Kamara led the position with a 170.5 Explosion Score,4 but his comps remain poor without agility numbers to balance a relatively sparse production background. The best names in Box Score Scout were much faster in the 40.

Kamara comps

19. Donnel Pumphrey 33

AGE WT FORTY CONE ATTS YPG TDS RECS SCORE
22 176 4.48 7.1** 24.9 152.4 1.9 1.4 33

Denial highlights.

20. Wayne Gallman 25

AGE WT FORTY CONE ATTS YPG TDS RECS SCORE
22.3 215 4.6 7.17 15.5 75.5 1.1 1.3 25

Like Artavis Scott at wide receiver, Gallman’s combine results suggest he was a product of the Clemson offense. On a more optimistic note, his lab scores are identical to Spencer Ware and Justin Forsett. Blair Andrews explains why he’s the biggest beneficiary of the 2017 Workhorse adjustments.

NAME AGE WT FORTY CONE ATTS YPG TDS RECS SCORE
MICHAEL COX 23.04 222 4.58 6.87 16.5 59.17 0.42 1.08 27
CORRELL BUCKHALTER 22.15 226 4.53 7.08 9.64 68.18 0.64 0.45 27
ALFRED MORRIS 22.99 219 4.63 7.01 19.58 98.83 0.75 1.25 27
CEDRIC HOUSTON 22.53 225 4.61 7.28 13.92 77.31 0.62 1.23 23
BARON BATCH 23.05 207 4.5 7.03 13.62 62.77 0.38 2 21
LEONARD HENRY 23.9 206 4.57 7.11 16.73 130.18 1.45 2.27 19


The Top 20 RB Prospects for 2017

NAMEAGEWTFORTYCONEATTSYPGTDSRECSSCORE
D'Onta Foreman20.62334.48*7.4**29.4184.41.40.695
Jeremy McNichols212144.496.9324.2131.52.12.884
Christian McCaffrey20.62024.486.5723145.71.53.478
Joe Mixon
20.52264.5*7.3*15.6106.21.253.175
Leonard Fournette21.92404.517.4**18.4120.41.12.172
Curtis Samuel20.41964.317.097.559.31.155.770
Brian Hill21.22194.547.0324.9132.91.60.666
Dalvin Cook21.32104.497.2722.2135.81.52.565
Joe Williams22.8*2104.417.1923.3156.31.1155
Marlon Mack20.82134.57.2**14.598.81.42.354
Samaje Perine21.32334.657.2619.61061.3151
Kareem Hunt21.32164.627.25*20.2113.40.83.248
James Conner21.62334.657.416.6841.51.645
Aaron Jones22.22084.566.8219.1147.81.72.345
Jamaal Williams21.72124.597.2523.4137.51.20.741
Corey Clement22.22204.686.9*24.2105.81.20.939
Elijah McGuire22.52144.537.2617.886.70.72.238
Alvin Kamara21.42144.567.1*9.454.21.23.638
Donnel Pumphrey221764.487.1**24.9152.41.91.433
Wayne Gallman22.32154.67.1715.575.51.11.325

Further Research

The RB Success Model
2017 Workhorse Scores

Looking to brush up on your 2017 WR Prospects? We have athleticism and production numbers for 40-plus prospects.

The Freak Score: A Look at 51 WRs … 7 Winners and 8 Losers Post-Combine

Market Share Numbers and Career Trajectories for Every Fantasy-Relevant WR

True Juniors: The Least Buzz But the Best Prospects
Redshirt Juniors: Under-the-Radar Prospects Threaten the 2 Stars
Seniors: The Best Big WR and the Best Small WR in the Class?
Redshirt Seniors: Overrated Big Names Clash with the Super Sleepers

 

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  1. I added a 0.03 adjustment.  (back)
  2. At least by my evaluation.  (back)
  3. I’ve included Charles here in order to highlight the contrast.  (back)
  4. Vertical plus broad  (back)
By Shawn Siegele | @ff_contrarian | Archive

Comments   Add comment

  1. Anything that jumps out when looking at the Prospect Lab, the staff rankings, Kevin's success model, and the Scouting Index results together?

    Do any of the top guys look like must-avoids? Anybody projected in the 2nd round of rookie drafts look like a priority target?

  2. Jason says:

    I still like Elijah McGuire. Doesn't really stand out or get knocked by any of the models it seems and his film looks good. Good size and some really nice receiving highlights. Won't reach on him but will monitor him closely.

    Foreman's comps scared me a little. Not going to go crazy on him in re-draft but his price should still be cheap. Love me some CMC and McNichols.

    Edit: Will add that Foreman's comps scared me with respect to rookie year production (I only play redraft). The price and situation would have to be really good for me to pay more than a later round (8-9+) pick for him I think. Still should have a great career though.

  3. Looking at the info that Graham Barfield pulls together about running backs, Foreman may have benefited from the same things that propped up Andre Williams, which scares me when I see Andre Williams as a comp there.

    The big knock on Williams coming out was that he played in spread out offense with lots of WR's on the field (and thus few defenders in the box), so he always had room to run. Graham noted that 2016 Foreman faced faced 8+ defenders in the box on 17% of his snaps, and 30% is the average across draft eligible running backs. Seems like that would leave wide open running lanes, and his physical/production comp to Andre Williams feels too accurate to feel good about Foreman.

  4. After all the Rotoviz research, in PPR Dynasty pre-draft I'm interested in:
    1st Round:
    McCaffrey
    Mixon (very dependent on being a 2nd or 3rd round pick in the real draft)

    2nd Round:
    McNichols

    3rd:
    Hill

    4th:
    Aaron Jones

    Assuming all those guys are there, which in McNichols case might be a stretch.

    Pass catching is so essential to an RBs floor these days, i can't get that excited for Fournette with his likely landing spots (every NFL team, amiright wink)

    We'll see if anyone else pops after the draft, a few places seem to like Hunt a bit. But that's my initial target list.

  5. I don't have the 1.01 pick in any league but if I did I would be trading it. Fournette may not even be a 3-down back, and I think that at draft time I'd rather have most top 20 ADP players than him for my dynasty team. Of course that could change based on his NFL landing spot.

    Cook also seems "too rich for my blood" with his athleticism concerns, and he will likely be gone before I'm willing to pick him.

    I really like McCaffrey, but... Is the NFL really going to give a white RB all of the chances to succeed that they otherwise would? I'm not saying he's any less of a prospect than race-agnostic models and observers would say, but I certainly believe there is some possibility that if he struggles or they have trouble figuring out the right fit, he could get the hook sooner because the coaching staff has either conscious or subconscious bias that will just see the situation as confirmation. Certainly the reverse is possibly true too, where decision-makers want to see a white RB succeed that they give him more chances. Just an interesting discussion, and fair or not, I really don't know at this point whether it should affect our risk profile of him. I'll hold my opinion until after we see how early and where he is really drafted.

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