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The 2018 RB Final 4: (2) Derrius Guice vs (3) Rashaad Penny

The RotoViz Running Back Prospect Sweet 16 Tournament matches the top incoming prospects in a head-to-head March Madness style format. Various RotoViz writers break down each matchup with the winner moving on to the next round.


Let’s get into today’s matchup!

(2) Derrius Guice vs (3) Rashaad Penny

Matt Wispe – Rashaad Penny

Both Guice and Penny hit the ideal threshold for the 40-yard dash and both finished with strong overall combines. Penny’s final year production is arguably the best in the class whereas Guice had multiple years of production. Both have an elevating NFL draft stock. This matchup is razor thin, and the only separator is rookie ADP where Guice is more expensive. Penny moves on by a hair.

Dave Caban – Derrius Guice

This is one heck of a close matchup between two backs of similar dimensions and athletic profiles. Both demonstrated ability in the receiving game and on special teams. In terms of explosiveness, Penny was best in the class at breaking off scampers for huge chunks of yardage. However, Guice posted impressive numbers as well, and did so against superior competition. Could Guice have posted the gaudy numbers that Penny did in 2017 if playing at San Diego State? I have to imagine the answer to the question is yes. Could Penny have equaled Guice’s production at LSU? I’m inclined to believe so, but can’t say with as much certainty.

With Guice at No. 2 and Penny at No. 5 in the RotoViz Scouting Index, Guice should go much earlier in the NFL draft. While this will likely make him more expensive from a dynasty perspective, it also boosts his odds of getting on the field early. In a matchup so close, I’ll lean toward the player with the better chance of immediate playing time. Thinking about Penny in the right offensive scheme is really exciting, but until we know their landing spots, I have to favor Guice.

Scott Smith – Derrius Guice

Both of these players are solid prospects that will be drafted in the first round of dynasty drafts. Penny is close on Guice’s heals in Anthony Amico’s model emphasizing breakout age and adjusted all-purpose yards.1 He also did very well at the combine, has the best final year production, and will likely be cheaper to acquire. With that being said, Guice has been a top RB prospect at the high school level, the college level, and now is set to be among the top RBs drafted into the NFL. He excelled in the SEC against stacked fronts. Players who have thrived at every stop usually fair well in the NFL. I will take Guice in this matchup but also really like Penny as well.

Tim Talmadge – Rashaad Penny

Without getting into which player develops into the better receiver or speculate on either players ability to pass block, I’m going to side with Penny’s elusiveness.

Jordan Hoover – Derrius Guice

I understand the love for Penny. His final-year production as a runner, receiver, and returner speaks for itself. However, his late-age breakout does concern me, failing to post a Workhorse Score of 25 or better until his age-22 season. Both prospects could easily become consistent fantasy assets, but I’ll hitch my wagon to the younger player who is also more likely to get picked in Round 1 of the NFL draft.

Hasan Rahim – Rashaad Penny

I’m a huge fan of Guice and this matchup is far closer than I anticipated. Despite Guice’s productivity and age, Penny has been ultra-productive when he’s earned additional opportunity. When he was given the workhorse role in 2017, Penny destroyed the opposition. Admittedly, the opposition is slightly weaker than what Guice faced in the SEC. However, Penny was an above average receiver in college, and he was also productive when returning kicks.2 Given that Penny may be available in the middle of the first round is enough for me to consider him over Guice at the 1.02.

Shawn Siegele – Rashaad Penny

I voted for Royce Freeman over Penny in the Elite 8 – and I do think he has a little more Jay Ajayi and Devontae Booker in his range of outcomes3 than our glowing evaluations suggest – but he owns a solid 73-61 edge in the RB Prospect Lab, an advantage that is well earned through an impressive size/speed profile and behemoth production. I’d still probably select Guice over Penny at 1.02, but you can trade down for Penny.

John Lapinski – Rashaad Penny

Both players have strong scores in our models and the Lab. Guice performed against stronger competition and has the age advantage, but Penny is cheaper and may have a similar ceiling. Penny’s reputed inability to pass block does concern me, but in the right system, that may not matter. This is a close one for me, but I’ll take the discount with Penny.

Ryan Bobbitt – Derrius Guice

During this draft season, we’ve explored the importance of age for running backs – both when they broke out and age when entering the league. Guice holds the edge in both of these over Penny and will likely be drafted higher. It’s hard not to admire Penny’s all-around game, but Guice takes this one.

Blair Andrews – Rashaad Penny

I probably perfer Penny in a vacuum, but even if that weren’t the case, he’s still the pick here because he’s available several picks later in rookie drafts and at least four rounds later in best ball.

Cort Smith – Rashaad Penny

Guice’s 2017 final season was disappointing considering the high expectations, and it’s even more disappointing when you realize that 24 percent of his rushing yards came from just one game. He also averaged just 1.1 catches per game in his final year. If I’m holding the 1.02, I’m trading down to add an asset and target Penny.

Anthony Amico – Derrius Guice

Guice has an earlier breakout age than everyone in this class except Nick Chubb and Jarvion Franklin, while playing his college football in the SEC. The hype is warranted. I love Penny, but both the scouts and Pro Football Focus show concern over his ability as a pass blocker and as a route runner. He may not be as likely to pick up a three-down role as I previously thought. Guice, meanwhile, seems like a shoo-in first-round pick and potential workhorse. I’ll pay for the added job security.

Final Result

This one went right down to the wire, but Penny will move on by a vote of 7-5. His all-around ability to produce yards at the collegiate level was attractive to our writers, as was his reduced price. Our staff believes in Guice’s talent, but does not want to pay the 1.02 price tag. Penny will face Saquon Barkley in the title game.

  1. Penny lags in breakout age but holds a 250-114 advantage in adjusted all-purpose yards. He ultimately slots in a spot below due to projected draft slot.  (back)
  2. Penny returned seven kick returns for TDs since 2015. He’s also returned one punt for a TD.  (back)
  3. All of the rookies from this amazing RB class have much lower floors than most of the rhetoric implies.  (back)

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