Rookie Scouting: Running Backs

No position in fantasy football can make or break a team more than running back. They are the true difference makers in fantasy football, and because there are so few elite backs, acquiring one can be extremely difficult. And if you can't get a good one via trade, then you need to do your homework and draft one in your rookie drafts.

Believe it or not, drafting a good running back isn't actually all that difficult. You just have to know what to look for. Some of the main things I focus on with a running back are:

  • Draft Capital: What round they were selected
  • Competition: Who's ahead of them on the team that drafted them
  • College Rush Share: % of team rushing attempts
  • College Target Share: The % of team running back targets
  • College Yards Per Carry: How efficient were they on the ground
  • Size: How tall and heavy are they, and what is their BMI
  • Athleticism: How fast, quick and explosive are they

The more boxes they check off, the better and the more you increase your odds at hitting. Below is a profile of your average RB1 over the past 10 years. Find running backs that look like this and you're more likely to hit.

As far as size is concerned, you don't want a running back that's too big or too small. Derrick Henry and Darren Sproles are amazing players who were RB1's over the past 10 years, but they are not the norm. They are outliers. Don't chase outliers. You want to play the averages.

As for the other metrics, the higher the better. Backs with high Rush/Target Shares have shown they were used a lot in college and that translates better to the NFL.

For athleticism, there is a range that's acceptable, but I tend to stay away from backs who run anything slower than a 4.60 40-time. They just don't show up enough in the top 12 rankings year in and year out.

If you concentrate this list to only show the overall RB1's, a few averages change. The Draft Capital jumps to an average draft slot of Round 2 / Pick 14, the 40-time decreases by .04 to 4.48 seconds, and target share jumps nearly a full percentage point from 10.3% to 11%.







TOP 12 RB
AVERAGES
71 217 30 71 4.52 6.0 35.0% 10.3%
TOP 12 RB
MEDIAN
71 217 30 53 4.51 5.9 33.5% 10.8%
YEAR OVERALL
FINISH
PLAYER HEIGHT
(INCHES)
WEIGHT BMI DRAFT
PICK
40
TIME
COLLEGE
YPC
DOMINATOR TARGET %
2020 1 Alvin Kamara 70 215 30.7 67 4.56 6.0 23.3% 14.0%
2 Dalvin Cook 70 210 30.1 41 4.49 6.8 38.8% 11.6%
3 Derrick Henry 75 247 30.9 46 4.54 5.6 43.5% 3.8%
4 David Montgomery 70 222 31.9 73 4.63 4.7 30.5% 9.6%
5 Aaron Jones 69 208 30.7 167 4.56 7.7 47.0% 13.9%
6 Jonathan Taylor 70 226 32.4 41 4.39 6.3 41.8% 10.3%
7 James Robinson 69 219 32.3 225 4.64 5.3 48.7% -%
8 Josh Jacobs 70 220 31.6 24 4.69 5.3 13.9% 4.3%
9 Ezekiel Elliott 72 225 30.5 4 4.47 6.3 37.8% 8.9%
10 Kareem Hunt 70 216 31 86 4.62 6.8 28.7% 10.4%
11 Nick Chubb 71 227 31.7 35 4.52 6.7 25.0% 6.5%
12 Mike Davis 69 217 32 123 4.61 5.4 22.6% 11.0%
2019 1 Christian McCaffrey 71 202 28.2 8 4.48 6.3 50.7% 16.7%
2 Aaron Jones 69 208 30.7 167 4.56 7.7 47.0% 13.9%
3 Ezekiel Elliott 72 225 30.5 4 4.47 6.3 37.8% 8.9%
4 Austin Ekeler 69 199 29.4 225 4.48 6.0 45.7% -%
5 Derrick Henry 75 247 30.9 46 4.54 5.6 43.5% 3.8%
6 Dalvin Cook 70 210 30.1 41 4.49 6.8 38.8% 11.6%
7 Leonard Fournette 72 228 30.9 4 4.51 6.5 38.8% 11.9%
8 Nick Chubb 71 227 31.7 35 4.52 6.7 25.0% 6.5%
9 Alvin Kamara 70 215 30.7 67 4.56 6.0 23.3% 14.0%
10 Saquon Barkley 72 233 31.6 2 4.4 5.7 32.2% 14.8%
11 Mark Ingram 69 215 31.7 28 4.62 5.9 30.7% 11.0%
12 Chris Carson 72 218 29.6 223 4.58 6.8 19.6% 4.6%
2018 1 Saquon Barkley 72 233 31.6 2 4.4 5.7 32.2% 14.8%
2 Christian McCaffrey 71 202 28.2 8 4.48 6.3 50.7% 16.7%
3 Todd Gurley 73 227 29.9 10 4.5 6.7 33.5% 10.9%
4 Alvin Kamara 70 215 30.7 67 4.56 6.0 23.3% 14.0%
5 Ezekiel Elliott 72 225 30.5 4 4.47 6.3 37.8% 8.9%
6 James Conner 73 233 30.7 105 4.65 5.5 34.4% 7.7%
7 James White 69 204 30.1 126 4.57 6.5 13.2% 12.1%
8 Melvin Gordon 73 215 28.4 15 4.52 7.5 47.1% 8.7%
9 David Johnson 73 224 29.6 86 4.5 5.4 40.8% 14.4%
10 Joe Mixon 73 228 30.1 48 4.5 6.8 24.7% 11.7%
11 Tarik Cohen 66 179 28.9 109 4.42 7.2 40.8% -%
12 Kareem Hunt 70 216 31 86 4.62 6.8 28.7% 10.4%
2017 1 Todd Gurley 73 227 29.9 10 4.5 6.7 33.5% 10.9%
2 Le'Veon Bell 73 230 30.3 48 4.6 4.7 45.1% 10.8%
3 Alvin Kamara 70 215 30.7 67 4.56 6.0 23.3% 14.0%
4 Kareem Hunt 70 216 31 86 4.62 6.8 28.7% 10.4%
5 Melvin Gordon 73 215 28.4 15 4.52 7.5 47.1% 8.7%
6 Mark Ingram 69 215 31.7 28 4.62 5.9 30.7% 11.0%
7 LeSean McCoy 70 208 29.8 53 4.55 4.8 47.1% 13.0%
8 Carlos Hyde 72 230 31.2 57 4.62 7.3 24.1% 6.5%
9 Leonard Fournette 72 228 30.9 4 4.51 6.5 38.8% 11.9%
10 Christian McCaffrey 71 202 28.2 8 4.48 6.3 50.7% 16.7%
11 Duke Johnson 69 207 30.6 77 4.54 6.8 33.0% 14.8%
12 Ezekiel Elliott 72 225 30.5 4 4.47 6.3 37.8% 8.9%
2016 1 David Johnson 73 224 29.6 86 4.5 5.4 40.8% 14.4%
2 Ezekiel Elliott 72 225 30.5 4 4.47 6.3 37.8% 8.9%
3 Le'Veon Bell 73 230 30.3 48 4.6 4.7 45.1% 10.8%
4 LeSean McCoy 70 208 29.8 53 4.55 4.8 47.1% 13.0%
5 DeMarco Murray 72 215 29.2 71 4.41 4.3 29.9% 14.2%
6 Devonta Freeman 68 206 31.3 99 4.58 5.9 17.8% 6.0%
7 Melvin Gordon 73 215 28.4 15 4.52 7.5 47.1% 8.7%
8 Mark Ingram 69 215 31.7 28 4.62 5.9 30.7% 11.0%
9 LeGarrette Blount 72 241 32.7 225 4.7 7.3 20.7% 1.3%
10 Jordan Howard 72 230 31.2 139 4.57 5.7 29.3% 4.2%
11 Jay Ajayi 72 221 30 141 4.57 5.3 41.3% 12.4%
12 Frank Gore 69 217 32 65 4.63 4.8 22.5% -%
2015 1 Devonta Freeman 68 206 31.3 99 4.58 5.9 17.8% 6.0%
2 Adrian Peterson 73 217 28.6 7 4.4 5.6 32.5% 6.7%
3 Danny Woodhead 68 195 29.6 225 4.43 7.2 49.0% -%
4 Doug Martin 69 223 32.9 31 4.55 4.9 24.3% 7.1%
5 Lamar Miller 71 218 30.4 98 4.4 5.6 27.8% 6.8%
6 DeAngelo Williams 69 217 32 27 4.5 6.3 47.1% 6.3%
7 Matt Forte 73 218 28.8 45 4.46 5.9 57.3% 14.4%
8 David Johnson 73 224 29.6 86 4.5 5.4 40.8% 14.4%
9 Todd Gurley 73 227 29.9 10 4.5 6.7 33.5% 10.9%
10 Latavius Murray 74 223 28.6 173 4.43 5.6 27.3% 8.5%
11 Mark Ingram 69 215 31.7 28 4.62 5.9 30.7% 11.0%
12 Chris Ivory 72 222 30.1 225 4.49 5.7 5.8% 2.7%
2014 1 Le'Veon Bell 73 230 30.3 48 4.6 4.7 45.1% 10.8%
2 DeMarco Murray 72 215 29.2 71 4.41 4.3 29.9% 14.2%
3 Matt Forte 73 218 28.8 45 4.46 5.9 57.3% 14.4%
4 Marshawn Lynch 71 215 30 12 4.46 6.1 31.9% 11.3%
5 Arian Foster 73 224 29.6 225 4.74 4.7 20.4% 12.1%
6 Eddie Lacy 71 250 34.9 61 4.62 6.5 26.1% 9.1%
7 Jamaal Charles 71 199 27.8 74 4.38 6.3 30.9% 8.2%
8 Justin Forsett 68 198 30.1 218 4.67 5.1 33.5% 7.8%
9 Lamar Miller 71 218 30.4 98 4.4 5.6 27.8% 6.8%
10 CJ Anderson 68 224 34.1 225 4.6 6.3 18.2% 6.3%
11 Jeremy Hill 73 233 30.7 55 4.66 6.9 26.8% 7.0%
12 LeSean McCoy 70 208 29.8 53 4.55 4.8 47.1% 13.0%
2013 1 Jamaal Charles 71 199 27.8 74 4.38 6.3 30.9% 8.2%
2 Matt Forte 73 218 28.8 45 4.46 5.9 57.3% 14.4%
3 LeSean McCoy 70 208 29.8 53 4.55 4.8 47.1% 13.0%
4 Knowshon Moreno 71 210 29.3 12 4.62 5.6 34.9% 10.2%
5 Marshawn Lynch 71 215 30 12 4.46 6.1 31.9% 11.3%
6 DeMarco Murray 72 215 29.2 71 4.41 4.3 29.9% 14.2%
7 Eddie Lacy 71 250 34.9 61 4.62 6.5 26.1% 9.1%
8 Chris Johnson 71 191 26.6 24 4.24 6.0 42.5% 12.4%
9 Reggie Bush 71 203 28.3 2 4.42 8.7 25.6% 10.2%
10 Fred Jackson 73 215 28.4 225 - 5.7 45.9% -%
11 Adrian Peterson 73 217 28.6 7 4.4 5.6 32.5% 6.7%
12 Danny Woodhead 68 195 29.6 225 4.43 7.2 49.0% -%
2012 1 Adrian Peterson 73 217 28.6 7 4.4 5.6 32.5% 6.7%
2 Doug Martin 69 223 32.9 31 4.55 4.9 24.3% 7.1%
3 Arian Foster 73 224 29.6 225 4.74 4.7 20.4% 12.1%
4 Ray Rice 68 212 32.2 56 4.42 5.3 45.1% 8.7%
5 Marshawn Lynch 71 215 30 12 4.46 6.1 31.9% 11.3%
6 CJ Spiller 71 196 27.3 9 4.37 5.6 33.9% 13.4%
7 Trent Richardson 69 230 34 3 4.53 5.9 42.1% 11.2%
8 Alfred Morris 70 219 31.4 163 4.67 5.2 50.0% 5.8%
9 Jamaal Charles 71 199 27.8 74 4.38 6.3 30.9% 8.2%
10 Frank Gore 69 217 32 65 4.63 4.8 22.5% -%
11 Matt Forte 73 218 28.8 45 4.46 5.9 57.3% 14.4%
12 Darren Sproles 66 185 29.9 125 4.47 6.0 34.1% -%
2011 1 Ray Rice 68 212 32.2 56 4.42 5.3 45.1% 8.7%
2 LeSean McCoy 70 208 29.8 53 4.55 4.8 47.1% 13.0%
3 Maurice Jones-Drew 67 208 32.6 60 4.39 5.6 28.7% 9.8%
4 Arian Foster 73 224 29.6 225 4.74 4.7 20.4% 12.1%
5 Darren Sproles 66 185 29.9 125 4.47 6.0 34.1% -%
6 Marshawn Lynch 71 215 30 12 4.46 6.1 31.9% 11.3%
7 Ryan Mathews 72 220 29.8 12 4.45 6.6 35.9% 5.9%
8 Chris Johnson 71 191 26.6 24 4.24 6.0 42.5% 12.4%
9 Steven Jackson 73 236 31.1 24 4.5 4.8 38.7% -%
10 Michael Bush 73 245 32.3 97 4.62 5.6 30.5% 7.0%
11 Matt Forte 73 218 28.8 45 4.46 5.9 57.3% 14.4%
12 Reggie Bush 71 203 28.3 2 4.42 8.7 25.6% 10.2%