2020 Rookie Scouting Index: Running Back Rankings
Image Credit: David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: D'Andre Swift.

Each year, in the run-up to the NFL draft, we produce the RotoViz Scouting Index (RSI). The RSI aggregates and compiles NFL prospect rankings from a variety of more traditional scouting outlets. This accomplishes a few things:

  • It saves time. No need to check rankings on several sites, we’ve done the work.
  • It reveals the general consensus. No need to guess which players are held in high – or rising – esteem, we’ve done the math.
  • It checks our bias. We do love statistical analysis, but it’s important to consider what the more traditional football community thinks about a given player. The consensus opinion is what will largely determine a player’s initial fantasy value, which is especially important for dynasty rookie drafts. It’s also possible we’re missing something; seeing which players the film community holds in higher regard might prompt us to look more closely at a prospect.

2020 Calculation and Sources

The outlets that will contribute to the RSI calculation are CBSDraftTekDraftCountdownOurLadsTheDraftNetwork, and DraftScout.

A player’s RSI score will be calculated as follows:

  • Determine a player’s positional percentile rank for each outlet
  • Sum each player’s percentile ranks and divide by the number of sources
  • Scale to 100
  • If a player is not ranked by a given source he is assigned a zero for that source

This rewards/penalizes players for being/not being ranked at multiple sources. It also does a better job of addressing the variance in the number of players being ranked by each site than simply reviewing average rank.

2020 RB Rookie Scouting Index

 
Rank Player RSI % AVG High Low
1 D’Andre Swift 98 1.5 1 2
2 J.K. Dobbins 97 2.2 1 3
3 Jonathan Taylor 94 2.3 1 3
4 Clyde Edwards-Helaire 88 4.2 4 5
5 Cam Akers 84 5 4 6
6 Zack Moss 78 6.5 5 8
7 Lamical Perine 73 8.5 0 13
8 Darrynton Evans 69 8.7 0 15
9 Ke’Shawn Vaughn 67 9.3 0 15
10 Eno Benjamin 63 10.3 6 13
11 A.J. Dillon 63 10.7 7 13
12 Joshua Kelley 61 11.2 8 16
13 Anthony McFarland Jr. 56 13.5 6 27
14 James Robinson 51 14.5 11 18
15 Javon Leake 49 15.3 11 24

 

  • The RotoViz Dynasty team unanimously ranks Jonathan Taylor as the strongest back in the class believing him to be in a tier of his own. We’ve laid out, in a number of places already, why Taylor is such a stud prospect.
    • Clearly, the scouts are seeing something different with Taylor ranking as the RB3. In fact, Taylor was the top-ranked back at only a single source, and half had him behind both D’Andre Swift and J.K. Dobbins.
    • If there’s a player for which you should side with the stats nerds on this season it’s Taylor.
      • While I really like Dobbins’ profile, and my RotoViz Radio Flagship co-host, Matt Freedman, is holding out hope for Swift as the top back in the 2020 class, Taylor has a profile that is extremely rare.
      • While we made a lot of the same claims about Saquon Barkley, lightning may have struck twice.
  • Swift barely edges out Dobbins in RSI%. Our dynasty team is equally divided with the duo earning matching RV Scores in our dynasty rankings.
  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire is a strong receiver and could be utilized in all phases at the next level. The scouts have him ranked in a similar range to RotoViz.
    • I am a little concerned about his weak speed score of 92 and would have liked to see more production prior to 2019.
    • Still, it’s hard not to get excited about his 55-reception junior season and despite his poor forty time of 4.60 his athletic comps are some of the best in the class.

  • RotoViz has Cam Akers ranked at RB4 so it’s nice to see that he also looks solid to the film watchers. An important aspect of Akers’ profile that needs to be stressed is just how awful the offensive line he played behind was for the majority of his career. While it might be hard to believe, FSU had a number of starters on the offensive line, particularly in 2018, that had no business playing for an FBS school. As a result, it might be wise to focus more heavily on his fantastic freshman campaign and strong athletic profile.
    • Akers boasts a speed score of 109 and gaudy list of athletic comparables that includes Marshawn Lynch, Joseph Addai, Knowshon Moreno, Miles Sanders, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Ryan Mathews.
  • Ke’Shawn Vaughn, who posted the second strongest breakaway rush score of the entire class, comes in at No. 9 in the RSI. I was pleased to see this as I have him higher on my board than any other analyst that I’ve seen. In addition to a strong breakaway rush score, he posted a speed score of 109, was productive as an 18-year-old freshman, and caught 28 passes as a senior while posting a Backfield Dominator of 0.82.
  • The RotoViz team has A.J. Dillon ranked sixth. In the RSI he lands at 11. Dillon was extremely productive at Boston College, has terrific size-adjusted speed with a speed score of 117, ranks fourth in breakaway rush score, and scored more touchdowns per game than any other 2020 RB.

Dave Caban

Senior Fantasy Analyst, app developer, hosts the RotoViz Radio Flagship, auction draft enthusiast.
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