The NFL Draft is days away, and that means we’ll be looking at dozens of fantasy assets in a completely different light come Monday morning.
A vaunted running back class is sure to shake up the position more than any other. Backs being drafted in best ball and dynasty leagues as starters today will could find themselves behind potential studs Saquon Barkley, Derrius Guice, and Rashaad Penny tomorrow.
Here are the veteran RBs with the most to lose come the NFL Draft.
Carlos Hyde & Duke Johnson
The specter of Saquon Barkley has crossed the mind of anyone who’s pressed the”Draft” button on either of these players in 2018. Despite having two established NFL backs, one of whom just signed a three-year, $15 million contract, the Browns continue to be closely linked to the consensus RB1. It seems crazy, but it’s not out of the question.
Johnson in particular has a lot to lose. Last year his role in the passing game was incredibly valuable. It lands him among the game’s elite RBs in terms of receiving expected points (reEP) and made him the RB11 in PPR leagues.
It’s worth mentioning that Hyde was sixth among all RBs in reEP in 2017. Both backs’ receiving roles would be threatened by the addition of Barkley, who was an excellent collegiate receiver. Barkley would also become the favorite to lead the team in rushing.
Look for their ADPs to crater if the Browns do decide to bring on Barkley.
Collins is quietly in a great spot heading into 2018. That is, if the Ravens don’t spend a ton of draft capital on the RB position.
Last year, Baltimore was sixth among all teams in total expected points from their backfield.
Collins fell just 27 yards short of his first 1,000-yard season, a mark he would have easily eclipsed had the Ravens used him in the first half of the year like they did in the second half.
Collins went from an afterthought in the passing game to a 60-target pace in his final nine games. With room to grow in the passing game, Collins looks like value in the fifth round.
However, the Ravens have hosted both Guice and Penny in the pre-draft process, and if they draft either, Collins could quickly go back to being an afterthought.
If we were to compile a “RBs With the Most to Gain From the NFL Draft” article, Jerick McKinnon would probably be on that too. The 49ers are the most underrated backfield in football, and McKinnon stands to be a huge beneficiary of the Shanahan run game in what should be an improved offense.
Working in a committee backfield with Latavius Murray, McKinnon paced out to a 221-point season, including more than 500 receiving yards.
The 49ers were second behind only the Saints in receiving expected points by their RBs in 2017, and Shanahan sounds like he has big plans to use McKinnon in receiving situations, and even beyond.
Kyle Shanahan on #49ers RB Jerick McKinnon:
“We think he’s a great third-down back. We also think he’s good on first and second down, too.”
— Joe Fann (@Joe_Fann) March 27, 2018
If McKinnon can come out on the other side of the draft with his starter’s role intact, he’s poised for a monster season.
The Dolphins used Kenyan Drake like a true workhorse down the stretch, averaging 21.6 touches per game in the final five weeks. He was the eighth-highest scoring RB in that stretch.
Drake may appear to be a value at RB18 in ADP, but thanks to this year’s bout of RB fever, he’ll still cost you a third- or fourth-round pick to acquire. It’s hard to spot the upside at that price on a team that was third last in the league in expected points from their RBs last season.1
The Dolphins hold the 42nd pick in the draft, and there will be all kinds of RB value there, possibly names like Ronald Jones, Nick Chubb, and Kerryon Johnson. Any one of those guys could put Drake out of a starting job at some point in the season, making his current 35th-overall price look insane.
- You can see the full EP chart in the section under Alex Collins. (back)