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4 Late-Round Rookie Running Backs Worth Taking

Rookie derangement syndrome is in full swing as degenerates try to work their way up, down, and around dynasty rookie drafts to accumulate as many future stars as possible. In the midst of all the madness, it is important to also look at rookies from the perspective of redraft leagues as well, since they often can be sources of great value. After taking a look at a couple of earlier round running back options, I wanted to debrief you on some potential late round values from this year’s rookie class.

Price Points

An important part of these late round fliers is to remember that they are exactly that. These are all players have an ADP of around 200, meaning that they are being taken to fill one of your final roster spots (and ideally the final spot) in most redraft leagues. Their value comes from what we think could be obtained relative to the late price point. If you start taking these players in the mid rounds, they become much less worth the risk, so it is important to keep perspective. Overall though, they are players that I think have a better chance of success than similarly-priced alternatives. With that said, let’s check out the candidates courtesy of the Best Ball ADP App:

Late Rookie RB

*Note that Zach Zenner’s ADP curve makes it look like he’s being drafted much higher due to the small sample size of data points

Javorius Allen, Ravens

If I had to choose one of these players to no longer be classified as a late round flier come August, it would be Allen. Fantasy Douche already explained why “Buck” is a fit for any team, and his landing spot ended up being very desirable with the Baltimore Ravens. When we consider his draft position, we get the following comparables in the Box Score Scout App:


While there are certainly a couple of no-names here (Cory Boyd anyone?), the list is encouraging. There are plenty of RB who have contributed either in a timeshare or as a lead back, and I think Allen could find some success right away as a nice complement to Justin Forsett. The Ravens only gave the 29 year old journeyman a three year, nine million dollar contract, so while he did have success last year, the team did not spend a lot to retain him. Allen is a skilled receiver as well, which plays a very useful role in Marc Trestman’s offense. Spending a fourth round draft pick on Allen could also signal that the Ravens aren’t thrilled with the development of Lorenzo Taliaferro.

Initially, I would expect Allen to be a short yardage complement to Forsett, as he is more than 20 pounds heavier than the former Cal Bear. Allen stands a “greater than zero” chance to take the lead job from Forsett outright at some point this season, and looks like he’d be in a good position for three-down work should Forsett fall victim to injury.

Cameron Artis-Payne, Panthers

Despite being described as an “average” athlete, Artis-Payne has a pretty decent list of comparables with his production factored in:

CAP Comparables

There are a few players there to have had some level of success, both short and long term. Perhaps the biggest reason to be willing to take a stab on CAP, however, is starter Jonathan Stewart:

JStew Career

Despite never being counted on for a big workload, J-Stew has had plenty of trouble with injuries over the last few seasons. This is a RB that has never carried the ball 14 times per game in an NFL season, which begs the question: will he he able to handle a much bigger workload this year with DeAngelo Williams out of the picture? If he can’t, Artis-Payne could find his way into a timeshare, with perhaps a couple of starts mixed in due to injury.

Matt Jones, Redskins

Jon Moore already made a compelling argument for Jones to be the heir to Alfred Morris, and he stands a great chance to open the season as his direct backup:


There is a lot of incomplete information here, but it does seem that Jones has the best workhorse history and athletic background of the Redskins reserve RBs. The rest of the cohort is also much lighter, making it more likely that he is first in line for carries should Morris go down. In fact, the coaching staff has already had some nice things to say about Jones.  It is also important to note that the team has invested  quite a bit of draft capitol in him (he was taken with pick 95 overall). There are better backs on the roster to contribute in the receiving game, but the two-down Morris role should be Jones to lose should there be an injury.

Zach Zenner, Lions

A UDFA Superstar, Zenner should be in prime position to see work should starter Joique Bell suffer an injury:

Theo Riddick2014.6619911.3115085
Ameer Abdullah2054.555410.74172.596
George Winn2184.5326311.46153.5104
Joique Bell2204.6826311.01156.592
Zach Zenner2234.626311.2216299.6

The Lions may have spent a second round pick on Ameer Abdullah, but at just 205 pounds he may not see much better than a split if Bell finds his way out of the picture in Detroit. Insert Zenner, who looks to be best equipped to fit the “big back” role in the Lion offense. He doesn’t have the same agility that Bell does, but is similar in size, speed, and explosion. He also recorded a SPARQ score in the 80th percentile. Zenner could absolutely have stand-alone value in Detroit should Bell falter after having knee and Achilles surgeries this off-season.

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