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Scouting Report: Ranking the Best RBs in the 2024 NFL Draft Class

Welcome back guys, there’s a lot of talk about how this is a subpar RB class, but I think there are a couple of RBs who go against that narrative, so in this article, we’ll be going over my top 8 RBs in this class, who we should be targeting in rookie dynasty drafts, who we should be avoiding, which RBs we should expect to go earliest in the NFL Draft - and who should we be targeting for redraft for an instant impact in Year 1?

As of today, the favorite to come off the board first is Texas RB Jonathan Brooks - as early as the second round of the NFL Draft - despite the fact that he’s rehabbing from ACL surgery. We might see a Texas RB be the first RB off the board for a second straight year. Brooks is one of two RBs in the my first tier among these rookies.

And I think it’s justified. He racked up more than 1400 total yards this past season and still had a couple of games left to go before he got hurt. He has good size to be a workhorse, and he’s capable in the receiving game as well. With Brooks’ vision, his burst, and his cut running style, he would be an ideal fit in a zone run scheme.

Among this RB class, Jonathan Brooks was the most efficient across the board when you take everything into account - after contact ability, elusiveness, and receiving - we’re talking 97th, 99th, and 85th percentile in those categories, respectively across more than 600 Power 5 college RB careers over the last 10 years.

Since this is a clean ACL tear without any further ligament damage, I’m not too worried about Brooks not having a Year 1 impact - and by the way, the Cowboys team doc was the one who performed the surgery—just saying.

Before I get into the next RB, let’s talk about why draft capital matters for fantasy football, particularly RBs. We’re not going to get any first-round RBs this year, but they obviously have the highest hit rate - we’re talking almost 70% of RBs who get drafted in the first round end up having a Top-12 season at some point and over the last 10 years, 57% of them are RB1s in their first season.

More relevant for this year though - 36% of RBs drafted in the 2nd have a Top-12 season at some point, and that falls to 26% in the 3rd round. Not high, but it really drops off after the 3rd round. We’re talking 13%, 9%, 3% the rest of the way. (Credit @pahowdy on Twitter in the video for these numbers). So it has to factor into how we value these RBs in a major way - there’s nothing wrong with having a favorite late-round RB or a favorite Day 3 RB that you’re rooting for to get some opportunity, but the numbers are the numbers. I do have a few of those guys to take shots on in my rookie draft kit by the way.

Now, in terms of rookie production, 78% of RBs who were Top-24 RBs in their first year were drafted on Day 1 or Day 2, so the first three rounds. (Credit Ian Hartitz, Fantasy Life)

If you want to extend that for RBs in their first three seasons to get an idea of how well they’ll perform for you for the next couple of years, since 2000, a 1st rounder will offer you RB2 numbers or better 55% of the time for the entirety of that time span. A 2nd rounder falls to 28%, and a 3rd rounder falls to 12%. After the third round, don’t get encouraged. (Credit to @FF_MarvinE, Fantasy Footballers)

You can see that there’s a theme here - after the 3rd round, you gotta get lucky. I try my best to help you do that in the rookie draft kit, where we suggested targeting Rhamondre Stevenson, Elijah Mitchell, and Dameon Pierce. But pay attention to the RBs who get drafted on Day 1 and Day 2 of the draft as a whole.

Let’s move to Trey Benson. Another back with great size, he tested extremely well at the combine with top-end speed, and he has the necessary explosiveness and power to hit the whole fast or get through contact…

Jonathan Brooks is more of a north/south guy, but Benson likes to take things to the outside more often than he needs to, kind of like we’ve seen with Kenneth Walker, but that’s where his big play ability comes from a lot of the time - 54% of his career rushing yards have come on plays of 15 or more yards.

And when you talk about making guys miss, no one did it at a higher rate than Benson during his career at Florida State - among 607 eligible Power 5 RB careers over the last 10 years, he ranked 3rd in missed tackles forced/attempt.

And I mentioned that power, the contact balance is on display too - Benson’s 4.0 yards after contact/attempt throughout his career was in the 95% percentile among Power 5 RBs over the last 10 seasons.

And because he’s been a decent pass blocker in the backfield, there’s a good chance Benson becomes a 3-down back at some point. He has to work on catching passes with his hands and not his body, but he has enough ability in the receiving game, especially after the catch, to be a factor there, as well. We’re looking Benson to go off the board in the 2nd round alongside Jonathon Brooks. Both of these guys have a lot of tread left on their tires, and I think they’re the only near-locks to be 2nd round picks, and they make up the two RBs in my first tier. Both of these guys should be targeted around the early 2nd round of dynasty super flex rookie drafts, and later in the 1st in non-super flex rookie drafts.

Behind Brooks and Benson, I have Tennessee’s Jaylen Wright as one of two RBs in my second tier - ridiculous athlete, he destroyed the combine - he has a very solid size/speed/power combination - he’s explosive through the hole when he needs to and he shows patience while his blocks set up when he needs to. He knows when to switch between power and elusiveness - it’s fun to watch. And he has that speed to take any run to the house.

His 2023 season was bonkers - 7.4 yards/carry, which is insane, but he also combined that 4.35 yards after contact/attempt, which fell into the 96th percentile among RB seasons over the last 10 years - we’re talking among almost 900 qualifying RBs here…

He had a solid receiving season last year, but he’s not as natural of a pass catcher as his numbers might suggest, and he also hasn’t been asked to run any complex routes, so we’ll see how that translates because I do think he has it in him if he gets coached up. But he does have some pass-blocking chops, which could have him on the field on passing downs, which would increase his value as a result.

The other RB in my second tier alongside Jaylen Wright is USC’s Marshawn Lloyd - keep in mind that he’s two years older than Jonathan Brooks and Jaylen Wright, a year older than Trey Benson. It’s also possible that he ends up not being drafted on Day 2 - I do think he deserves to be drafted on Day 2 - you watch him, it’s hard to not like what you see… and I saw him firsthand at the Senior Bowl, and I liked what I saw there, as well - especially in the receiving game - I think he was underutilized at USC, there’s some untapped upside there - route running is solid, hands are there, and we know the after the catch ability is there, too.

Just the big play ability, in general, is super apparent in Marshawn Lloyd’s game - no RB in this class besides Trey Benson had a higher percentage of their rushing yards come from big plays, so that speed is apparent, he’s a very good athlete - but it’s not just the big play with Lloyd.

You combine his explosiveness with his elusiveness, you have a special combination - 0.33 missed tackles forced/attempt ranks in the 97th percentile among over 600 qualifying Power 5 RB careers over the last 10 seasons.

Similar to Benson, Lloyd does tend to bounce runs to the outside when he doesn’t have to, but again, the big plays come as a result - he’ll likely have to be a little more disciplined there In the NFL. The other thing he HAS to work on is correcting his fumbling issues. Let’s hope for Round 3 draft capital for MarShawn Lloyd, and if that happens we’re looking at grabbing them late in the 2nd in superflex rookie drafts and mid 2nd in non-super flex rookie drafts.

By the way, all of my targets and avoids alongside rookie draft ADP will be in my rookie draft kit, so make sure to stay tuned for that - dropping on April 1 - upper hand fantasy dot com.

Now, I have to address Michigan RB Blake Corum. The word is that he’s being considered as a 3rd round pick, but I’m not sure that’s such a good idea.

I think he’s solid - he has some good traits - he has good vision, he has explosiveness, he’s patient behind the line of scrimmage, but, he’s a bit undersized, he doesn’t consistently create on his own, and I think production was moreso based on volume and opportunity than it was anything else. And I think the name value of Corum along with being on a national championship team, the fact that he scored a zillion touchdowns - mostly near the goal line by the way, I think all of that is inflating his value quite a bit.

Last year, his 2.42 yards after contact/attempt was 2nd to last among this entire draft class and falls into the 11th percentile among more than 900 qualifying Power 5 RB seasons over the course of the last 10 years. What about Corum’s elusiveness? 0.12 missed tackles forced/attempt, that ranked last in this class and falls into the 9th percentile - like, that’s bad. Like, if you got a 9 out of 100 on a test, that’s usually not great.

Now, if you look at these numbers of the course of his career, a little better, but still not great - 2nd to last in yards after contact/attempt in this class and moreso around the 50th percentile over the course of the last 10 seasons for both yards after contact and missed tackles forced.

Corum’s a decent athlete, but doesn’t have that speed to really give you big plays. I think there are a few RBs who will be drafted on Day 3 that might be better options for NFL teams, as well as your dynasty roster.

The other RB who might end up as a Day 2 pick in the 3rd round is Braelon Allen, and I think there are more varying opinions on him than any other RB in this draft class. He’s a lot of people’s favorite runner, and I understand why - he has a nice combination of size, power and speed. I think he can handle volume, he’s a big back who’s tough to bring down… but he’s not in that upper tier of RBs for me, at least not yet, he’s still very young - the youngest RB in this class - his vision can be questionable, he doesn’t always pick the right holes and doesn’t always have that feel for it, I don’t think he’s going to bring much in the receiving game - but like I said, he won’t even be 21 by the time he takes his first snap, so he does have some time to really improve his game . I think he’s the definition of solid.

Now, if he gets drafted by the Chargers in the 3rd round, I’ll be all over him. I do think Braelon Allen would fit more in a gap scheme than a zone scheme, so Greg Roman’s system would be a great fit.

I think one of the most disappointing Combine performances or lack thereof was from Oregon RB Bucky Irving. You couldn’t really test worse than he did. On top of that, he’s undersized at 5’9 192 pounds. He doesn’t have the speed you want for those big plays, either…

But man, let me tell you - I just can’t quit Bucky Irving. I just really like what he brings to the table. Is he a strong bet when you consider what I just mentioned? No, he’s not.

But you watch him play - he’s a good football player. I like what he brings in both the run and receiving game. His contact balance for his size is extremely obvious when you watch. His burst through the hole is there, he’s patient, and he makes guys miss with the best of them.

His 2023 season was bananas - almost 1600 total yards, that falls into the 98th percentile for total yards for a RB over the last 10 years among Power 5 RBs. Despite having a large workload, he remained extremely efficient - 6.4 yards/carry, 3.99 yards after contact/attempt - for a back his size - extremely impressive - that fell into the 89th percentile for RB seasons since 2014.

I touched on his elusiveness - his 0.37 missed tackles forced/attempt last year ranked in the 98th percentile among all RB seasons over the last 10 years.

And when we talk about career numbers, he’s up there in efficiency as well - so it’s just hard for me to watch him play, look at these numbers, and say he can’t be productive in the NFL - I think he can be. I think he’s going to fall to Day 3 and be a 4th round pick especially after his Combine performance, but I’ll be rooting for his landing spot and for him to get some opportunity, no doubt about it.

Another big back in this class who I also like but didn’t have the best combine performance is Audric Estime. He seems to love contact, he plays very well through contract, but he moves a lot smoother you can say than a big back would. He was 2nd in this class in career yards after contact/attempt, only behind Jonathon Brooks, and he was also 2nd in that category last year alone, which was actually more impressive then a lot of the guys around him because he was the only one close to the top he had more than 200 carries while maintaining that level of efficiency.

I also think he’s more elusive than people are giving him credit for - I do agree that his change of direction isn’t fast and he lacks that ability to quickly bounce to the outside when he needs to, he forces missed tackles at a relatively high rate, especially at his size.

I think he has a unique combination of power, speed, and subtle moves, hurdling dudes and continuing to run - it’s why I kind of like him… more than Braelon Allen… There’s a chance he gets selected in the 3rd round but 4th is looking more likely for him at this point.

Now, I do have several sleepers to talk about - some Day 3 guys who we want to keep our eyes on - maybe keep on our taxi squad just in case they get some opportunity at some point. If you want me to make a video on that, let me know in the comments here on YouTube - I will have all of those sleepers and avoids and targets in my rookie draft kit - we are profiling 21 RBs, 25 WRs, and all the QBs and TEs that matter - make sure to get your hands on it when it drops on April 1, but you can start benefiting now because our Dynasty Kit is already out and you’ll automatically get access if you’re already subscribed to that.


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