Dynasty Rookie Preview
When it comes to rookies in dynasty and fantasy football, the hype that surrounds these players never fails. With the 2020 rookie class, the hype is as high as ever, and rightfully so. Between the depth at the wide receiver position and the talent at the running back position, there is definitely plenty of reason to get excited. The running backs are talented and there is plenty of depth at the position, I’ll be taking a look at ten of the more popular backs in this class.
D’Andre Swift – Georgia
Measurements: 5’9 215
First up is D’Andre Swift out of Georgia. Swift is an extremely well-rounded running back with three-down potential in the NFL. He’s got great size for an NFL running back, has good contact balance, lateral agility, and can catch the ball well out of the backfield. It’s pretty tough to find any major holes in his game, and he’s someone that if drafted to the right team, could immediately become productive for fantasy purposes. Swift doesn’t have a ton of miles on his legs, after spending time at Georgia where he was a freshman while Nick Chubb and Sony Michel were juniors and seniors. Swift still saw the field and got some decent playing time despite playing behind these two talented backs. Swift finished the 2019 season with 1,218 rushing yards, seven rushing TDs, 24 receptions, 216 receiving yards, and one receiving TD. If I’m drafting today in my dynasty rookie draft, Swift is the first player off the board.
Jonathan Taylor – Wisconsin
Measurements: 5’11 220
Next up is the running back out of Wisconsin with insane production, Jonathan Taylor. In three seasons at Wisconsin, Taylor has racked up 2,000 rushing yards in each season except for 2017, where he put up 1,977 rushing yards. Not only is he racking up the yards, but he’s averaged 6.67 YPC in his college career. The miles that he’s put on his legs is a bit concerning, along with the career 18 fumbles, but otherwise, he is extremely well-rounded, has great vision, and is surprisingly elusive for his size. Taylor also has good speed for his size and will be a fun one to watch during the NFL Combine.
Travis Etienne – Clemson
Measurements: 5’10 200
Travis Etienne out of Clemson is the next name up, and the first thing that comes to mind when you watch him play is one thing. Speed. Not only is he likely the fastest running back in this class, but he has ridiculous acceleration and if any running backs break that sub-4.4 40 yard dash time, I’d put my money on Etienne. He also is very capable in the passing game and saw improvement in that category in 2019. Etienne has three-down back potential in the NFL and is one of my favorite running backs in this class.
JK Dobbins – Ohio State
Measurements: 5’10 216
If you were building the perfect sized running back on Madden, JK Dobbins is what you would come out with. Historically speaking, Dobbins has the perfect measurements you want out of a running back. That’s nice and all, but Dobbins is also a very elusive running back who produced well at Ohio State and loves making defenders miss. He is slippery and makes great cuts, and has the speed and balance that you want out of a running back. Dobbins catches the ball great and his blocking could get him some early playing time in the NFL. Depending on where he lands, Dobbins could end up being one of the highest-drafted running backs in this class for dynasty rookie drafts.
Najee Harris – Alabama*
Measurements: 6’2 227
The next player is Najee Harris out of Alabama. He will be someone that NFL fans will need to keep an eye on over the next few weeks, to see whether or not he ends up heading to the NFL or returning to Alabama. As of now, Harris has yet to declare for the NFL Draft. Harris is a very athletic runner and we saw his breakout in 2019, after spending his time behind several talented running backs like Josh Jacobs and Damien Harris. With his size, Harris comes with an exciting combination of athleticism and power. He is a very fun running back to watch and can also catch out of the backfield well. We’ll see if he ends up coming out this year or not, but I’d expect that any day now he’ll declare for the NFL Draft.
Cam Akers – Florida State
Measurements: 5’11 215
Next up is the very versatile running back out of Florida State, Cam Akers. When it comes to catching the ball out of the backfield, Akers is efficient, but could definitely improve, but the offense he was on had a terrible offensive line that wasn’t doing him any favors. With 30 catches for 225 receiving yards and four receiving TDs, Akers is someone that could be a true weapon in the NFL. One issue with his game that he’ll need to improve on is pass protection, which is something that can often keep rookie running backs off the field. Akers runs with a great deal of physicality and can move very well, which combined with his versatility makes him dangerous.
Chuba Hubbard – Oklahoma State*
Measurements: 6’1 207
Another running back that hasn’t officially declared yet is Chuba Hubbard out of Oklahoma State. As a redshirt sophomore, Hubbard is eligible for the 2020 NFL Draft and assuming he does declare, he’s going to be a fun one to watch. Hubbard is a versatile running back, has great vision, and really is just all-around a solid running back. His combination of vision and acceleration might be the best trait he has. Hubbard can hit the holes quickly and has the vision and patience you need to make plays happen. For his size, he’s got good speed and acceleration which combined with his tough running style gives him some very nice upside. We’ll need to wait and see what happens, but I’d still expect he declares any day now.
Eno Benjamin – Arizona State
Measurements: 5’10 200
Next up is another versatile running back, Eno Benjamin out of Arizona State. In 2018, Benjamin finished the season with just under 2,000 yards from scrimmage and in 2019 he finished with 1,430 total scrimmage yards. The drop in production has dropped his draft stock a bit, but he’s someone that I really like as a potential dual-threat running back who can be a nice PPR option. He finished the 2019 season with 42 receptions, 347 receiving yards, and two touchdowns. Benjamin isn’t someone that I foresee being a three-down back in the NFL, but with the way the NFL is moving with these RBBCs, I’d expect him to join one and get some decent usage in the receiving game.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire – LSU
Measurements: 5’8 210
Someone who has quickly been climbing up my rookie rankings is Clyde Edwards-Helaire out of LSU. Edwards-Helaire is a smaller back, but he’s built solid and is surprisingly good between the tackles for his size. The more film that I watch, the more I see him running routes and catching the ball out of the backfield very well. He’s someone who caught 50 passes this year for 399 yards and a touchdown. He also totaled 19 rushing TDs this year with 199 carries for 1,304 yards. The more I watch this guy play, the more I think he could very well be the best pass-catching running back in this class. Depending on where he gets drafted, he could be someone that shoots up dynasty rookie draft boards.
Ke’Shawn Vaughn – Vanderbilt
Measurements: 5’10 215
The last name I’ll be touching on is Ke’Shawn Vaughn out of Vanderbilt. With the prototypical size of an NFL running back, Vaughn showed some excellent signs of promise, despite being on a team with a terrible offensive line and inconsistent quarterback play. With 1,015 rushing yards and nine rushing TDs, Vaughn averaged 5.3 YPC and produced fairly well for being on a bad team in the SEC. One thing that stands out with his play is that he just runs very hard and has no problem taking defenders head-on and simply running over them. Vaughn runs hard, moves well through the tackles, and is efficient in the passing game as well. He totaled 29 receptions for 286 yards and a touchdown. Vaughn will be a very interesting player to watch, especially after producing well and looking good on such a terrible offense.