The RB Prospect Lab has been an awesome tool for locating the truly elite RBs for fantasy and fading all of the trap players. Shawn Siegele looks at the 2021 RB class following the NFL draft. Do prospects like Najee Harris, Travis Etienne, and Javonte Williams reach the star tier, or are they fool’s gold like Josh Jacobs and Clyde Edwards-Helaire?
A lot of readers reach out to me and say the RB Prospect Lab is worth the subscription by itself. I’m biased, of course, but I think there’s some truth to that if your goal is to dominate your dynasty leagues over the next decade.
The RB Lab allows you to play with the key metrics and better understand their relationship. For example, after the NFL draft we no longer need to place as much emphasis on stats that NFL GMs are emphasizing when they make their draft selections. The forty time falls out in our post-draft version and weight is less relevant. The emphasis on career stats over final season stats is stronger, as teams are often drafting on the last impression even when a longer view might be more accurate.
Before we get into our post-draft rankings, let’s take a look at the top historical results. Just how good is the Lab at finding the superstars?
Top Historical RB Lab Scores
|Player||Team||Year||Age||WT||DraftPos||Att||RuYD||Rec||Proj. Percentile||First 3 Points|
|Ezekiel Elliott||Ohio State||2016||20.5||225||4||16.9||113||1.7||100||863.7|
|Todd Gurley II||Georgia||2015||20.4||222||10||17||110||2.2||98||797.9|
|Saquon Barkley||Penn State||2018||20.9||233||2||17.7||101||2.7||97||645.3|
The top 10 is a Who’s Who of recent fantasy league winners. Right now, Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, Jonathan Taylor, and Dalvin Cook are the four backs with a first-round ADP in RotoViz TriFlex formats. Three of them rank in the Lab’s top 10, and Cook falls just outside this group at 13th.
Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott rank No. 1 and No. 3 according to the Lab. They just happen to be No. 1 and No. 2 in fantasy points to the RB position over the last five years.
By contrast, the last two backs to be selected as the 1.01 in rookie drafts have been mild busts, a reminder that Jacobs (79) and Edwards-Helaire (83) were good-but-not-great options.
With that in mind, I’m excited to see where the Big 3 from this class fall. If they can hit a 90th percentile projection, then they become much more interesting in drafts where players like Ja’Marr Chase (a generational prospect according to the WR Lab) and Kyle Pitts will also be available.