2023 Post-Draft Rookie Rankings

Updated: May 1st 2023

Thanks to Nick Andrews and Jake Kohlhagen for their hard work and in depth analysis of this year’s 2023 Rookie Class. Good luck in your RSO Rookie Drafts!

First Name Last Name Position School NFL Team RANKING
Bijan Robinson RB Texas Atlanta 1
Jahmyr Gibbs RB Alabama Detroit 2
Jaxon Smith-Njigba WR Ohio State Seattle 3
Jordan Addison WR USC Minnesota 4
Quentin Johnston WR TCU Los Angeles [C] 5
Zay Flowers WR Boston College Baltimore 6
Anthony Richardson QB Florida Indianapolis 7
Will Anderson Jr DE Alabama Houston 8
C.J. Stroud QB Ohio State Houston 9
Devon Achane RB Texas A&M Miami 10
Bryce Young QB Alabama Carolina 11
Tyjae Spears RB Tulane Tennessee 12
Jack Campbell LB Iowa Detroit 13
Zach Charbonnet RB UCLA Seattle 14
Dalton Kincaid TE Utah Buffalo 15
Marvin Mims WR Oklahoma Denver 16
Josh Downs WR North Carolina Indianapolis 17
Lukas Van Ness DE Iowa Green Bay 18
Michael Mayer TE Notre Dame Las Vegas 19
Jalin Hyatt WR Tennessee New York [G] 20
Roschon Johnson RB Texas Chicago 21
Jonathan Mingo WR Mississippi Carolina 22
Kendre Miller RB TCU New Orleans 23
Tank Bigsby RB Auburn Jacksonville 24
Tyree Wilson DE Texas Tech Las Vegas 25
Sam Laporta TE Iowa Detroit 26
Rashee Rice WR SMU Kansas City 27
Jayden Reed WR Michigan State Green Bay 28
Nolan Smith DE Georgia Philadelphia 29
Will Levis QB Kentucky Tennessee 30
Drew Sanders LB Arkansas Denver 31
Cedric Tillman WR Tennessee Cleveland 32
Zach Evans RB Mississippi Los Angeles [R] 33
Myles Murphy DE Clemson Cincinnati 34
Luke Musgrave TE Oregon State Green Bay 35
Israel Abanikanda RB Pittsburgh New York [J] 36
Nathaniel Dell WR Houston Houston 37
Chase Brown RB Illinois Cincinnati 38
Evan Hull RB Northwestern Indianapolis 39
Sydney Brown S Illinois Philadelphia 40
Tyler Scott WR Cincinnati Chicago 41
Darnell Washington TE Georgia Pittsburgh 42
Trenton Simpson LB Clemson Baltimore 43
Hendon Hooker QB Tennessee Detroit 44
Felix Anudike-Uzomah DE Kansas State Kansas City 45
Michael Wilson WR Stanford Arizona 46
Eric Gray RB Oklahoma New York [G] 47
Brian Branch S Alabama Detroit 48
Luke Schoonmaker TE Michigan Dallas 49
Dorian Williams LB Tulane Buffalo 50
Calijah Kancey DT Pittsburgh Tampa Bay 51
Kayshon Boutte WR LSU New England 52
Puka Nacua WR BYU Los Angeles [R] 53
Tucker Kraft TE SDSU Green Bay 54
Xavier Hutchinson WR Iowa State Houston 55
DeWayne McBride RB UAB Minnesota 56
Jalen Carter DT Georgia Philadelphia 57
Deuce Vaughn RB Kansas State Dallas 58
Derick Hall DE Auburn Seattle 59
A.T. Perry WR Wake Forest New Orleans 60
Trey Palmer WR Nebraska Tampa Bay 61
Daiyan Henley LB Washington State Los Angeles [C] 62
Charlie Jones WR Purdue Cincinnati 63
Jordan Battle S Alabama Cincinnati 64
Tre Tucker WR Cincinnati Las Vegas 65
Will McDonald IV DE Iowa State New York [J] 66
Devon Witherspoon CB Illinois Seattle 67
Parker Washington WR Penn State Jacksonville 68
Stetson Bennett QB Georgia Los Angeles [R] 69
Brenton Strange TE Penn State Jacksonville 70
BJ Ojulari DE LSU Arizona 71
Bryan Bresee DT Clemson New Orleans 72
DeMarvion Overshown LB Texas Dallas 73
Dontayvion Wicks WR Virginia Green Bay 74
Andrei Iosivas WR Princeton Cincinnati 75
Sean Tucker RB Syracuse 76
Chris Rodriguez RB Kentucky Washington 77
Anthony Johnson Jr S Iowa State Green Bay 78
Jaren Hall QB BYU Minnesota 79
Elijah Higgins TE Stanford Miami 80
Adetomiwa Adebawore DE Northwestern Indianapolis 81
SirVocea Dennis LB Pittsburgh Tampa Bay 82
Christian Gonzalez CB Oregon New England 83
Josh Whyle TE Cincinnati Tennessee 84
Cameron Latu TE Alabama San Francisco 85
Deonte Banks CB Maryland Baltimore 86
Antonio Johnson S Texas A&M Jacksonville 87
Jake Haener QB Fresno State New Orleans 88
Derius Davis WR TCU Los Angeles [C] 89
Kenny McIntosh RB Georgia Seattle 90
Owen Pappoe LB Auburn Arizona 91
Isaiah Foskey DE Notre Dame New Orleans 92
Keion White DE Georgia Tech New England 93
Keaton Mitchell RB East Carolina Baltimore 94
Justin Shorter WR Florida Buffalo 95
Christopher Smith II S Georgia Las Vegas 96
Henry To’o To’o LB Alabama Houston 97
Riley Moss CB Iowa Denver 98
Rakim Jarrett WR Maryland 99
Ivan Pace Jr LB Cincinnati Minnesota 100
Ji’Ayir Brown S Penn State San Francisco 101
Joey Porter Jr CB Penn State Pittsburgh 102
Lew Nichols III RB Central Michigan Green Bay 103
Marte Mapu LB New England 104
JL Skinner S Boise State Denver 105
Zach Harrison DE Ohio State Atlanta 106
Jammie Robinson S Florida State Carolina 107
Demario Douglas WR Liberty New England 108
Ronnie Bell WR Michigan San Francisco 109
Yaya Diaby DE Louisville Tampa Bay 110
Payne Durham TE Purdue Tampa Bay 111
Will Mallory TE Miami Indianapolis 112
Dorian Thompson-Robinson QB UCLA Cleveland 113
Mike Morris DE Michigan Seattle 114
Nick Herbig DE Wisconsin Pittsburgh 115
Noah Sewell LB Oregon Chicago 116
Keeanu Benton DT Wisconsin Pittsburgh 117
Gervon Dexter DT Florida Chicago 118
Camerun Peoples RB Appalachian State Carolina 119
Zach Kuntz TE Old Dominion New York [J] 120
Clayton Tune QB Houston Arizona 121
Xazavian Valladay RB Arizona State Houston 122
Andre Carter II DE Army Minnesota 123
Bryce Ford-Wheaton WR West Virginia 124
Julius Brents CB Kansas State Indianpolis 125
Jartavius Martin CB Illinois Washington 126
Tanner McKee QB Stanford Philadelphia 127
Emmanuel Forbes CB Mississippi State Washington 128
Davis Allen TE Clemson Los Angeles [R] 129
Jalen Moreno-Cropper WR Fresno State 130
Tuli Tuipolato DE USC Los Angeles [C] 131
Jadon Haselwood WR Arkansas 132
Deneric Prince RB Tulsa 133
Dontay Demus Jr. WR Maryland 134
Mohamed Ibrahim RB Minnesota Detroit 135
Cam Smith CB South Carolina Miami 136
Mazi Smith DT Michigan Dallas 137
Tyrique Stevenson CB Miami Chicago 138
Byron Young DE Tennessee Los Angeles [R] 139
Aiden O’Connell QB Purdue Las Vegas 140
Travis Dye RB USC 141
Tiyon Evans RB Louisville 142
Jacob Copeland WR Maryland 143
Kelee Ringo CB Georgia Philadelphia 144
DJ Jonhnson DE Oregon Carolina 145
DJ Turner CB Michigan Cincinnati 146
Garrett Williams CB Syracuse Arizona 147
Dylan Horton DE TCU Houston 148
Tavion Thomas RB Utah 149
Jordan Mims RB Frenso State 150
Mekhi Blackmon CB USC Minnesota 151
Ventrell Miller LB Florida Jacksonville 152
Byron Young DT Alabama Las Vegas 153
Siaki Ika DT Baylor Cleveland 154
Chamarri Conner CB Virginia Tech Kansas City 155
Sean Clifford QB Penn State Green Bay 156
Max Duggan QB TCU Los Angeles [C] 157
Jalen Brooks WR South Carolina Dallas 158
Clark Phillips III CB Utah Atlanta 159
Zacch Pickens DT South Carolina Chicago 160
Jakorian Bennett CB Maryland Las Vegas 161
Colby Wooden DE Auburn Green Bay 162
Jay Ward CB LSU Minnesota 163
Yasir Abdullah DE Louisville Jacksonville 164
Jake Bobo WR UCLA 165
Joseph Ngata WR Clemson Philadelphia 166
Tavius Robinson DE Mississippi Baltimore 167
Kyu Blue Kelly CB Stanford Baltimore 168
Daniel Scott S California Indianapolis 169
Jalen Wayne WR South Alabama Buffalo 170
SaRodrick Thompson RB Texas Tech New Orleans 171
Michael Jefferson WR
Antoine Green WR North Carolina Detroit 173
Colton Dowell WR Tennessee-Martin Tennessee 174
Brayden Willis TE Oklahoma San Francisco 175
Grant Dubose WR Charlotte Green Bay 176
Trelon Smith RB UTSA 177
Jordan Howden S Minnesota New Orleans 178
Cameron Mitchell CB Northwestern Cleveland 179
Nick Hampton DE Appalachian State Los Angeles [R] 180
Kei’Trel Clark CB Louisville Arizona 181
Keytaon Thompson WR Virginia 182
Frank Ladson Jr. WR Miami 183
Leonard Taylor TE Cincinnati 184
Kobie Turner DT Wake Forest Los Angeles [R] 185
KJ Henry DE Clemson Washington 186
More Analysis by Stephen Wendell

2023 Pre-Draft Rookie Rankings

Updated: May 1st 2023

In collaboration with Jake Kohlhagen’s IDP rankings, RSO contributor Nick Andrews’ provides their offensive rankings heading into the 2023 NFL rookie draft. They also provide insight as to who they believe are some of their under and overrated players in each of the first three (3) rounds. The full set of rankings can be found at the end of this article.

1st Round


Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

It is hard to find any player that is undervalued in the first round (pre-draft) but if there is one player that has the widest range of outcomes it would be Anthony Richardson. The freak quarterback who has drawn comparisons to Cam Newton for his physical capabilities, the community seems to be completely split on what his functionality at the NFL level will be. Those that believe his passing accuracy will hinder his ability to be productive as a passer have dropped him to be a late first, early second round selection. Those that see the rushing upside as the difference maker have him as a mid-first round selection and in superflex a potential 1.01 option. Every draft room will have different feelings towards Richardson which makes his value very fluid right now. He could end up being a steal in some leagues.


Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee

John Ross, Henry Ruggs, and Tavon Austin. Three (3) receivers who were drafted based on how fast they can run in a straight line. While there have been some successful players that only had one club in the bag but knew how to use it well, weekly “boom-bust” production does not usually create much fantasy value both in trading and in scoring. I cannot see Hyatt being anything more than a third receiver whose primary objective is just to distract the deep coverages to open up the underneath passing game. For a late first or even early second round selection there are other players I would rather look for.

2nd Round


Zach Evans, RB, Mississippi

When the 2023 class was getting early buzz as the class to go out and acquire picks for, Zach Evans was ranked near the top of those prospects. His value has dropped significantly over the last twelve months and now he is being ranked in the late second round. He still has the tools to be an every-down back and could be seen as one those players that we all ask how he fell to the second round in two years in the right system. 


Tyjae Spears, RB, Tulane

Opposite to Zach Evans’ fall, Tyjae Spears has slowly ascended to fringe first round pick in some rankings since January. Spears is a great prospect and while I do not think he will be the “A” in an offense he would be a great compliment in any backfield. Depending on which team drafts him, his value will either come back down to the late second which feels more accurate or he will be drafted to a perceived “open backfield” and the community will push him into the first round like James Cook last year. At the later value I will not have many shares of Spears.

3rd Round


Xavier Hutchinson, WR, Iowa State

Each year I find receivers that are going 25th or higher that I believe should be drafted at the top of the third round. My pre-draft pick for this year’s draft is Xavier Hutchinson who has flown relatively under the radar during the off-season and has not been receiving a lot of pre-draft buzz from the community. Being projected as an early Day 3 selection there is a good chance that Hutchinson finds himself on a tough depth chart to make early contributions to. His skill set however leads me to believe he could become a great complimentary receiver in any offense and with patience could become a consistent contributor in deeper fantasy leagues.


Kendre Miller, RB, TCU

Too many times on film I watched Kendre Miller not have the decision making skills to hit the hole or make a conviction about what he was going to do behind the line of scrimmage. There is something to be said about being a patient runner but in the NFL everything happens faster and if you cannot process the running lanes unless they are wide open there will not be any way he sees playing time over other running backs. There are plenty of other players in the same value range of Miller that I will be taking before he ever makes it far enough to be drafted on my board.

2023 Combined Pre-Draft Rookie Rankings (Offense Only)

Overall Ranking First Name Last Name Position School Positional Ranking
Round 1
1 Bijan Robinson RB Texas RB1
2 Jahmyr Gibbs RB Alabama RB2
3 Jaxon Smith-Njigba WR Ohio State WR1
4 Jordan Addison WR USC WR2
5 Quentin Johnston WR TCU WR3
6 Zay Flowers WR Boston College WR4
7 C.J. Stroud QB Ohio State QB1
8 Zach Charbonnet RB UCLA RB3
9 Bryce Young QB Alabama QB2
10 Anthony Richardson QB Florida QB3
11 Jalin Hyatt WR Tennessee WR5
12 Josh Downs WR North Carolina WR6
Round 2
13 Tyjae Spears RB Tulane RB4
14 Zach Evans RB Mississippi RB5
15 Sean Tucker RB Syracuse RB6
16 Devon Achane RB Texas A&M RB7
17 Michael Mayer TE Notre Dame TE1
18 Marvin Mims WR Oklahoma WR7
19 Dalton Kincaid TE Utah TE2
20 Kayshon Boutte WR LSU WR8
21 Israel Abanikanda RB Pittsburgh RB8
22 Roschon Johnson RB Texas RB9
23 Will Levis QB Kentucky QB4
24 Chase Brown RB Illinois RB10
Round 3
25 Rashee Rice WR SMU WR9
26 Xavier Hutchinson WR Iowa State WR10
27 DeWayne McBride RB UAB RB11
28 Tank Bigsby RB Auburn RB12
29 Eric Gray RB Oklahoma RB13
30 Kendre Miller RB TCU RB14
31 Parker Washington WR Penn State WR11
32 Tyler Scott WR Cincinnati WR12
33 Luke Musgrave TE Oregon State TE3
34 Nathaniel Dell WR Houston WR13
35 Darnell Washington TE Georgia TE4
36 Hendon Hooker QB Tennessee QB5
Round 4
37 Jonathan Mingo WR Mississippi WR14
38 Jayden Reed WR Michigan State WR15
39 Kenny McIntosh RB Georgia RB15
40 A.T. Perry WR Wake Forest WR16
41 Trey Palmer WR Nebraska WR17
42 Rakim Jarrett WR Maryland WR18
43 Dontayvion Wicks WR Virginia WR19
44 Michael Wilson WR Stanford WR20
45 Mohamed Ibrahim RB Minnesota RB16
46 Deuce Vaughn RB Kansas State RB17
47 Luke Schoonmaker TE Michigan TE5
48 Evan Hull RB Northwestern RB18
Round 5
49 Andrei Iosivas WR Princeton WR21
50 Zach Kuntz TE Old Dominion TE6
51 Puka Nacua WR BYU WR22
52 Cedric Tillman WR Tennessee WR23
53 Sam Laporta TE Iowa TE7
54 Ronnie Bell WR Michigan WR24
55 Tucker Kraft TE SDSU TE8
56 Jalen Moreno-Cropper WR Fresno State WR25
57 Dontay Demus Jr. WR Maryland WR26
58 Bryce Ford-Wheaton WR West Virginia WR27
59 Elijah Higgins WR Stanford WR28
60 Dorian Thompson-Robinson QB UCLA QB6
Round 6
61 Tiyon Evans RB Louisville RB19
62 Brenton Strange TE Penn State TE9
63 Jaren Hall QB BYU QB7
64 Camerun Peoples RB Appalachian State RB20
65 Stetson Bennett QB Georgia QB8
66 Tanner McKee QB Stanford QB9
67 Travis Dye RB USC RB21
68 Jordan Mims RB Frenso State RB22
69 Jacob Copelan WR Maryland WR29
70 Davis Allen TE Clemson TE10
71 Lew Nichols III RB Central Michigan RB23
72 Charlie Jones WR Purdue WR30
Round 7
73 Jadon Haselwood WR Arkansas WR31
74 Justin Shorter WR Florida WR32
75 Chris Rodriguez RB Kentucky RB24
76 Keaton Mitchell RB East Carolina RB25
77 Clayton Tune QB Houston QB10
78 Max Duggan QB TCU QB11
79 Deneric Prince RB Tulsa RB26
80 Jalen Wayne WR Fresno State WR33
81 Tavion Thomas RB Utah RB27
82 Derius Davis WR TCU WR34
83 Joseph Ngata WR Clemson WR35
84 Will Mallory TE Miami TE11
Round 8
85 Michael Jefferson WR Louisiana-Lafayette WR36
86 Xazavian Valladay RB Arizona State RB28
87 Tre Tucker WR Cincinnati WR37
88 Josh Whyle TE Cincinnati TE12
89 Jake Bobo WR UCLA WR38
90 Jake Haener QB Fresno State QB12
91 Cameron Latu TE Alabama TE13
92 Trelon Smith RB UTSA RB29
93 Keytaon Thompson WR Virginia WR39
94 Payne Durham TE Purdue TE14
95 SaRodrick Thompson RB Texas Tech RB30
96 Frank Ladson Jr. WR Miami WR40
Round 9
97 Leonard Taylor TE Cincinnati TE15
98 Hunter Luepke RB NDSU RB31

Jake’s 2023 Full IDP Pre-Draft Rookie Rankings

Overall Ranking First Name Last Name Position School Positional Ranking
Round 1
1 Bijan Robinson RB Texas RB1
2 Jaxon Smith-Njigba WR Ohio State WR1
3 Jahmyr Gibbs RB Alabama RB2
4 Quentin Johnson WR TCU WR2
5 Jordan Addison WR USC WR3
6 Zach Charbonnet RB UCLA RB3
7 CJ Stroud QB Ohio State QB1
8 Zay Flowers WR Boston College WR4
9 Josh Downs WR UNC WR5
10 Tyjae Spears RB Tulane RB4
11 Anthony Richardson QB Florida QB2
12 Bryce Young QB Alabama QB3
Round 2
13 Will Anderson Jr DE Alabama DE1
14 Jalin Hyatt WR Tennessee WR6
15 Tyree Wilson DE Texas Tech DE2
16 Jack Campbell LB Iowa LB1
17 Michael Mayer TE Notre Dame TE1
18 Dalton Kincaid TE Utah TE2
19 Devon Achane RB Texas A&M RB5
20 Kendre Miller RB TCU RB6
21 Jalen Carter DT Georgia DT1
22 Tank Bigsby RB Auburn RB7
23 Marvin Mims WR Oklahoma WR7
24 Sean Tucker RB Syracuse RB8
Round 3
25 Nolan Smith DE Georgia DE3
26 Calijah Kancey DT Pittsburgh DT2
27 Zach Evans RB Mississippi RB9
28 Drew Sanders LB Arkansas LB2
29 Bryan Bresee DT Clemson DT3
30 Rashee Rice WR SMU WR8
31 Brian Branch S Alabama S1
32 Trenton Simpson LB Clemson LB3
33 Ivan Pace Jr LB Cincinnati LB4
34 Will Levis QB Kentucky QB4
35 Roschon Johnson RB Texas RB10
36 Dorian Williams LB Tulane LB5
Round 4
37 Lukas Van Ness DE Iowa DE4
38 BJ Ojulari DE LSU DE5
39 Noah Sewell LB Oregon LB6
40 AT Perry WR Wake Forest WR9
41 Chase Brown RB Illinois RB11
42 Kayshon Boutte WR LSU WR10
43 Antonio Johnson S Texas A&M S2
44 Daiyan Henley LB Washington State LB7
45 Myles Murphy DE Clemson DE6
46 Darnell Washington TE Georgia TE3
47 Nathaniel Dell WR Houston WR11
48 Israel Abanikanda RB Pittsburgh RB12
Round 5
49 DeWayne McBride RB UAB RB13
50 JL Skinner S Boise State S3
51 Joey Porter CB Penn State CB1
52 Jonathan Mingo WR Ole Miss WR12
53 Sydney Brown S Illinois S4
54 Xavier Hutchinson WR Iowa State WR13
55 Felix Anudike-Uzomah DE Kansas State DE7
56 DeMaryion Overshown LB Texas LB8
57 Parker Washington WR Penn State WR14
58 Jordan Battle S Alabama S5
59 Luke Musgrave TE Oregon State TE4
60 Christopher Smith S Georgia S6
Round 6
61 Tyler Scott WR Cincinnati WR15
62 Henry To’oTo’o LB Alabama LB9
63 Brandon Joseph S Notre Dame S7
64 Jammie Robinson S Florida State S8
65 Hendon Hooker QB Tennessee QB5
66 Andre Carter II DE Army DE8
67 Isaiah Foskey DE Notre Dame DE9
68 Evan Hull RB Northwestern RB14
69 Sirvocea Dennis LB Pittsburgh LB10
70 Owen Pappoe LB Auburn LB11
71 Sam Laporta TE Iowa TE5
72 Jayden Reed WR Michigan State WR16
Round 7
73 Devon Witherspoon CB Illinois CB2
74 Christian Gonzalez CB Oregon CB3
75 Kenny McIntosh RB Georgia RB15
76 Jeremy Banks LB Tennessee LB12
77 Zach Harrison DE Ohio State DE10
78 Rakim Jarrett WR Maryland WR17
79 Mohamoud Diabate LB Utah LB13
80 Siaki Ika DT Baylor DT4
81 Deuce Vaughn RB Kansas State RB16
82 Trey Palmer WR Nebraska WR18
83 Puka Nacua WR BYU WR19
84 Andrei Iosivas WR Princeton WR20
Round 8
85 Deonte Banks CB Maryland CB4
86 Ventrell Miller LB Florida LB14
87 Tucker Kraft TE NDSU TE6
88 Mohamed Ibrahim RB Minnesota RB17
89 Michael Wilson WR Stanford WR21
90 Eric Gray RB Oklahoma RB18
91 Kelee Ringo CB Georgia CB5
92 Kaevon Merriwether S Iowa S9
93 Trey Dean III S Florida S10
94 Cam Jones LB Indiana LB15
95 Dontayvion Wicks WR Virginia WR22
96 Stetson Bennett QB Georgia QB6
Round 9
97 Tuli Tuipolato DT USC DT5
98 Adetomiwa Adebawore DE Northwestern DE11
99 Will McDonald IV DE Iowa State DE12
100 Ronnie Bell WR Michigan WR23
101 Camerun Peoples RB Appalachian State RB19
102 Tiyon Evans RB Louisville RB20
103 Mazi Smith DE Michigan DE13
104 Mike Morris DE Michigan DE14
105 Jaren Hall QB BYU QB7
106 Ben VanSumeren LB Michigan State LB16
107 Keion White DE Georgia Tech DE15
108 Jalen Moreno-Cropper WR Fresno State WR24
Round 10
109 Tanner McKee QB Stanford QB8
110 Derick Hall DE Auburn DE16
111 Dee Winters LB TCU LB17
112 Bryce Ford-Wheaton WR West Virginia WR25
113 Keanu Benton DT Wisconsin DT6
114 Gervon Dexter DT Florida DT7
115 Luke Schoonmaker TE Michigan TE7
116 Max Duggan QB TCU QB9
117 Lew Nichols III RB Central Michigan RB21
118 Shaka Heyward LB Duke LB18
119 Nick Herbig DE Wisconsin DE17
120 Travis Dye RB USC RB22
Round 11
121 Will Mallory TE Miami TE8
122 Dontay Demus Jr WR Maryland WR26
123 Deneric Prince RB Tulsa RB23
124 Dorian Thompson-Robinson QB UCLA QB10
125 Ryan Greenhagen LB Fordham LB19
126 Emmanuel Forbes CB Mississippi State CB6
127 Cam Smith LB South Carolina LB20
128 Jacob Copelan WR Maryland WR27
129 Elijah Higgins WR Stanford WR28
130 Carlton Martial LB Troy LB21
131 Jalen Wayne WR South Alabama WR29
132 Joseph Ngata WR Clemson WR30
Round 12
133 Jadon Haselwood WR Arkansas WR31
134 Jordan Mims RB Fresno State RB24
135 Colby Wooden DE Auburn DE18
136 Yasir Abdullah DE Louisville DE19
137 Charlie Jones WR Purdue WR32
138 Justin Shorter WR Florida WR33
139 Keaton Mitchell RB East Carolina RB25
140 Cedric Tillman WR Tennessee WR34
141 Derius Davis WR TCU WR35
142 Clayton Tune QB Houston QB11
143 Davis Allen TE Clemson TE9
144 Byron Young DE Alabama DE20
Round 13
145 Anfernee Orji LB Vanderbilt LB22
146 Mike Jones Jr LB LSU LB23
147 Michael Jefferson WR Louisiana-Lafayette WR36
148 Tavion Thomas RB Utah RB26
149 Xazavian Valladay RB Arizona State RB27
150 Trelon Smith RB UTSA RB28
151 SaRodorick Thompson RB Texas Tech RB29
152 Jay Ward S LSU S11
153 Daniel Scott S California S12
154 Cameron Latu TE UCLA TE10
155 Clark Phillips III CB Utah CB7
156 Jake Bobo WR UCLA WR37
Round 14
157 Mikel Jones LB Syracuse LB24
158 Tyrique Stevenson CB Miami CB8
159 KJ Henry DE Clemson DE21
160 Josh Whyle TE Cincinnati TE11
161 Jake Haener QB Fresno State QB12
162 Keytaon Thompson WR Virginia WR38
163 DJ Turner CB Michigan CB9
164 Kyu Blu Kelly CB Stanford CB10
165 Chris Rodriguez RB Kentucky RB30
166 Aubrey Miller Jr LB Jackson State LB25
167 Garrett Williams CB Syracuse CB11
168 Leonard Taylor TE Cincinnati TE12


More Analysis by Nick Andrews

Positional Trade Value: Offense and IDP

Updated: June 23rd 2022

A topic that has always interested me is trading IDP assets for offensive ones (and vice versa). Because let’s be honest, the best kind of fantasy football is a league with both offense and defense. However, no one has genuinely mastered league scoring that is perfect and balanced across all positions. If the scoring is, inconsistent at best, how do we determine when a trade makes sense or is “fair”? When I want to break these IDP/offensive trades down, I want to have a strong grasp of what the value of each position is within the context of my whole league (duh!) and the tiers within those. What is the ability or likelihood you can replace that position (via waivers or rookies)? Lastly, how long do positions generally maintain their value?

Let’s talk through this process and hopefully set you up with a thought process to help with those trades!

First, how big is your league, on average leagues commonly range from 10-12 teams but can obviously go way beyond this, but we will use a 12-team league for this discussion. Next, what does your starting roster composition look like, we will assume a 3-3-3 for starting IDP (DLs, LBs, DBs) and a Superflex offense, with 2 RB, 3 WR, TE, Flex. The next piece for your league understanding is the scoring tiers you for each of these positions. See below for a sample scoring of a league I have played in (it’s a tackle-heavy format, so only use the numbers as hypothetical for this discussion).

What is this showing us? The average points scored of the first 12 (tier 1), second 12 (tier 2) and so on for each position group. I recommend doing this at least once a year if you can get the data from your platform to help you better understand the general positional value in your leagues (especially if you play in multiple leagues with varying scoring settings). Knowing this arms with you a baseline to say, “Hey! An LB1 in my league scores roughly the same as a WR1 in my league” and so on across all the different groupings. Now I got you thinking, “Dang! That was easy!”

But hold up my friend, because we aren’t done yet. WRs can very easily be our apples and LBs can very easily be our oranges… and I have been told not to compare those things to each other. However, if we add some additional context and understanding, we can get them a lot closer in understanding. And the steps to getting there, are our next two things. The repeatability of success at a position group and the replaceability of a player from a positional group. Let’s take a quick look at even just the last two years at each level of the defense to see consistency from year-to-year.

So what does this mean here? In the DL position group, we saw 17 of 2020’s top 36 performers, not even get back into the top 36 the following year. For the LB position group, we saw this number hit 20 and for the DB position group it was 22. Now, a handful in each group is due to injury (which we see in every position in the NFL), but you can only attribute maybe 15-20% of turnover due to that. And we are not looking at a super high bar to try and achieve either with the top 36 for each group. And if you were to expand this exercise out to more years, you would continue to see the same situation.

It is worth noting though, that the ones that ARE able to repeat top 36 success year-over-year have a stark talent gap over a large amount of the ones we see on the lists above, missing out on repeated success. There are obviously exceptions to this observation, but I would say it is a safe assumption when evaluating talent. But this does give us a bit of a better understanding that value sustainable value does tend to flow DL >> LB >> DB in the general sense.

As for the other side of the coin, the offensive skill positions (which I leave TE out of, because it generally has its top 3-4 and then fluctuates like crazy beyond that year-to-year) we take a look at how this breaks down for QB, RB, and WR.

We see a little less volatility year-to-year across these positions than we do in the IDP space with 7 out of 24 not repeating at the QB spot. 17 out of 36 for running backs. Then 14 out of 36 for WR.

As for our last piece of information, what does it look like when you try to replace these positions with rookie performers? Some quick looks back at the last few years show us that there are performers (some of them very high-end, thanks Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase) but also some solid fantasy contributors for your lineups as well. What I looked at was the last two draft classes and saw how many rookies (or 2nd year from 2020 class) that had to a top performance (24 for QB, 36 for others). Because if you are going to make a trade, can you use existing draft capital or DB obtained in the trade to replace your expected performance of that player?

Looking at QBs, we saw 3 top-24 performances between 2020 and 2021.
RBs was 10 top-36 performances.
WRs was 11 top-36 performances.
DLs was 1 top-36 performance.
LBs was 4 top-36 performances.
DBs was 5 top-36 performances.

This gives us an idea of where we can potentially find the most value within rookie draft picks and those rookie contracts to try and replace talent lost or given away / obtained in trades. Offense clearly seems to be the spot to find immediate impact for your roster, specifically at the RB/WR positions. There is value to be found on the IDP side for sure, but replacing that in the rookie draft might be a little trickier.

I know this is a lot of information when considering trading pieces, but having this baseline understanding should give an initial comfort level when considering trading across different positions, most specifically, how does an IDP asset compare or stack up against an offensive one in terms of pre-trade and post-trade. Additionally, the age of the player has a significant role as well, but I didn’t dive into that factor as most likely that is potentially considered in since on our favorite platform, Reality Sports Online, you are making smart contracts anyway!

Hoping this helps you make it through the minefield that is off-season trading! Happy trading everyone!

More Analysis by Jake

Players to Consider Trading before NFL Draft

Updated: April 27th 2021

One of the key concepts in fantasy is risk evaluation and, when possible, reduction of risk within proper player valuations.  Specifically the article explores players with questionable future prospects because of team draft capital, questionable consensus view on players, and other uncertain depth charts.  Below the reader finds a number of examples of players for which I am exploring trading away before the NFL draft begins.  Price points vary in all leagues so be sure to check out your own league mates to see where they stand.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Any list of potential trade targets must start with James Robinson.  Many still consider him a top-10 fantasy back moving forward.  He performed admirably for an undrafted free agent with a good 4.5 yards per attempt.  He only ranked as PFF’s RB30, however.  His top-10 snap percentage at running back was also significantly influenced by a rebuilding Jaguars team who released Leonard Fournette preseason while the rest of the RB core succumbed to injury/illness. The second year player almost certainly sees significant reduction in snaps and touches going forward. The Jags also have a new coaching staff with their own views and schemes who may not value Robinson.  While the first pick in this year’s draft will almost certainly be Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville also possesses four picks from 25 to 65 this year and two more notable picks at the top of 3rd and 4th rounds.  This is prime territory for Jacksonville to possibly add running backs if they feel the need.

D.J. Chark is a more under the radar trade candidate.  He should certainly benefit from Lawrence under center for 2021.  The same draft arguments, however, can be applied to Chark where Jacksonville is in good position to potentially help Lawrence with wide receivers.  Chark is in the last year of his rookie contract, and the Jaguars may not deem him valuable enough to extend.  A good 2021 potentially boosts his price tag out of the Jaguars’ price range, particularly after signing Marvin Jones in free agency.

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins similarly own significant draft capital with four top-50 picks and six total in the first three rounds.  A couple of key differences exist in that Miami likely won’t use their top pick on a quarterback and they own significant additional future picks (1sts in 2022/2023, 3rd in 2022) thanks to the San Francisco move-up to 3rd overall.  Ja’marr Chase and Kyle Pitts are firmly in play at 6 and one of the remaining high picks could easily be a top running back from this class.

Mike Gesicki, DeVante Parker, and Myles Gaskin all are players I would consider moving on before it is too late.  Gesicki and Gaskin are in danger of being replaced as early as this year depending on the draft with Gesicki in the final year of his rookie deal.  Miami can move on from Parker’s contract as early as next season with limited cap consequences.  Each of the players is at risk to be replaced in future years with the Dolphins haul of picks even if the players avoid that fate this season.  You might not find the market you like for someone like Gaskin in your league but now is the time to mitigate potential downside of these players.

Cincinnati Bengals

Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd are key receivers in an up and coming offense led by second year quarterback Joe Burrow so what’s not to like?   The Bengals’ number five pick in the NFL draft likely comes between the top tackle on their board or Pitts/Chase.  If Cincinnati takes Chase, both could see their perceived values take a hit.  While Boyd seems continuously undervalued, Higgins in particular seems to have room to fall.  Higgins already lands as the WR15 in FantasyPros consensus dynasty rankings and naturally many have him higher.  There’s not a lot of room to move significantly higher in the short term and a lot of room to fall.  While neither receiver is a must-sell by any means, both could see their trade value take a hit on draft night.

Other Starting Running Backs

Arizona is currently left with Chase Edmunds at the head of the running back depth chart after Kenyan Drake moved on free agency and the addition of James Conner.  The talk of Edmunds as a “bell-cow” by head coach Kliff Kinsbury pushed him up many fantasy-gamers boards.  The signing of Conner to a minimal contract did not sway many who believe in Edmunds that he will be the feature back.  Edmunds remains a player likely utilized in committee and should be valued as such.

Antonio Gibson Washington is without a ton of needs on a team with a stout defense that significantly upgraded the passing game with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Curtis Samuel at wide receiver.   Investing heavily in a running back may seem bad but with only Gibson, J.D. McKissic, Peyton Barber, and Lamar Miller on the roster it can’t be completely discounted.  Gibson is currently viewed, on the whole, as one of the top young running backs with the chance to take on a significant workload increase.  J.D. McKissic had a higher snap percentage than Gibson last season.  Samuel also showed off his skills as a running back last season, as he did in college, which could limit Gibson’s touches more if Samuel gets significant rushing touches as he did in Carolina.  There’s a good chance Gibson doesn’t see the workload going forward necessary to justify his current valuation.

Mike Davis landed with Atlanta in free agency at less than $3 million per year for 2 seasons as the presumptive starter.  The depth chart currently looks like his for the taking.  That could easily change through the draft (although the Falcons have a ton of needs) or what’s left of the free agents.  I tend to move away from older running backs with minimal commitments from the team.  On the other hand, Davis could be a very cheap lottery ticket at running back as a hold or acquisition in the right leagues.

Bio:  Bernard Faller has degrees in engineering and economics.  He currently lives in Las Vegas and enjoys athletics, poker, and fantasy football in his free time.  Send your questions and comments (both good and bad) on Twitter @BernardFaller1.

More Analysis by Bernard Faller

The Watch List 2021: Early WR Tiers

Updated: February 12th 2021

Throughout the offseason I will be compiling early positional tiers for the 2021 NFL Draft. In past years I’ve done early rankings but in hindsight those feel counterproductive to my ultimate goal of creating RSO’s rookie rankings that are used in the draft room. Frankly, it’s hard to change a ranking because it feels “locked in” once I put it out into the world. When I would create my early rankings I would always start by grouping the players into themed tiers first, so that’s what I will be sharing in this series. Each tier includes players whose potential and plot line feel similar to me; the sequence of tiers is indicative of a general order of expected draft value. I’ll repeat though: these are not rankings. Within each tier players are sorted alphabetically. (Note: this article was written on February 7th.)

Dear reader, today we come to the end of my positional tiers series. I hope you have found these loose rankings as instructive as I have while I prepare to create the rookie rankings for the RSO rookie draft room. I saved the receivers for last because it was the hardest group for me to nail down my expectations. The top of this receiver class is stronger than last year: we may end up with three WRs off the board by the 12th pick which is where last year’s WR1 (Henry Ruggs) went. Things stay strong into the second round but then it feels like there is a drop and leveling off after the top 6-7 names. Would I love for my NFL team to add Seth Williams? Definitely, but he’s not on par with Chase Claypool or Denzel Mims who were similarly ranked in last year’s class. I am interested to see if NFL teams start to reach in the late second or early third rounds, worried that they need to get their receiver now or they may be on the wrong side of a run. You may encounter the same phenomenon in your RSO rookie draft so be prepared. Enough stutter-stepping, let’s get to it…

First Round Locks

  • Ja’Marr Chase

  • DeVonta Smith

  • Jaylen Waddle

Do you know the popular gif of a raggedy looking Elmo seemingly summoning a wall of flame? That’s what I envision in my mind’s eye when I think of #DraftTwitter arguing over the order of these three wide receivers. You could make an argument that any of them will be the first receiver off the board in April because they all have elite talent but some perceived “knock” against them. Unless you’re hosting your rookie draft before the NFL Draft (please don’t, unless you’re a devy league) there’s no need to settle on an order just yet. Scheme and team fit will be huge in determining their fantasy prospects. Ja’Marr Chase was last seen on the field in 2019 when he led the NCAA in receiving yards (1,780) and touchdowns (20) on his way to consensus All-America honors. I’ve wondered what impact Chase’s decision to opt-out of the 2020 season will have on his draft stock — it’ll be an interesting case study for future studs who might want to preserve themselves for the pros. I last profiled Chase when I was writing about potential rookie draft 1.01 picks and I heaped on the praise. His short-area quickness, leaping ability, and hands are all fantastic. Plus he’s physical on his route and doesn’t shy away from a battle with a corner. There were moments though when I wanted to see more from Chase, specifically when he wasn’t the primary target of a play. He’s a superb talent, is just 20 years old, and has a crazy high ceiling; Chase will be the top receiver for most heading into the draft. If I had to choose today, I would rank DeVonta Smith just a hair higher than Chase. Smith, the Heisman winner, had a superlative-laden season that even eclipsed Chase’s standout campaign last year. Smith’s eye-popping line was: 117-1,856-23. He’s a technician who is consistently open, has ridiculous body control and has go-go-gadget arms to snag balls that other receivers could never reach. Smith is a bit slight (listed 6010/175) and is two years older than Chase so I can understand why some discount his future production.  Until Smith shows otherwise he’s my favorite in the class. If Jaylen Waddle didn’t suffer a midseason injury he would have been in the WR1 conversation as well (and some might still have him there). Waddle is a singular talent as an athlete with the ability to break any play for a score. Waddle is small (5100/182) and has a small-ish sample size (just 106 career receptions) but speed sells. Like Henry Ruggs last year, Waddle may end up going higher than expected because an NFL team fell in love with his gamebreaking nature. To recap, these three guys are essentially locks to be first rounders in your rookie draft as well as the NFL Draft; don’t get too hung up on their order just yet.

Fringe Firsts

  • Rashod Bateman

  • Terrace Marshall

  • Rondale Moore

I envision “Number of First Round Wide Receivers” being an oft-discussed prop bet in April. Last year’s class saw six go in the first round; 2015 was the only other year in the last decade that we had that many. The 2018 and 2019 drafts had just four receivers combined go in the opening round. If I was the book, I would probably set the line at 4.5 this season. I believe the three players mentioned above are locks to go in the top twenty so squeezing in two or three of these fringe firsts feels about right. Terrace Marshall was a beneficiary of Ja’Marr Chase’s decision to sit out the year. Marshall led a mediocre Tigers team with 48 receptions and 10 TDs, his 731 receiving yards was just barely bested by freshman Kayshon Boutte. It was hard for me to distill what Marshall does well into one or two sentences: put simply, he’s a dude. He has perfect size at 6030/200, isn’t easy to bring down, has super strong hands, has a keen sense of timing, and knows when to check back to his quarterback to make himself an easier target. I really liked what I saw out of Marshall and I’m sure NFL scouts will too. Back in early 2019, we were talking about the wrong Golden Gophers receiver (hmm, interesting transition after talking about Terrace Marshall [thinking emoji]). Instead of ruminating on Tyler Johnson, we should have been paying more attention to Rashod Bateman. Bateman originally opted out of the 2020 season but ended up playing after the Big Ten reversed course. He leapt off the screen during the opener against Michigan (9-101) and again against Illinois (10-139-1). Bateman is a contested catch king; I have previously called out his timely leaping and strength at the catch point. Bateman is also dangerous on slants and crossing patterns where he can leverage his acceleration, fearlessness and shiftiness to great effect. Rondale Moore started his career as the most exciting player in college football as a true freshman back in 2018. Disappointingly, things have mostly been downhill from there for Moore though. His sophomore season was cut short due to injury and his junior year was delayed by an undisclosed injury. Those two shortened years combined for seven games and a 64-657-2 line. Moore’s 2020 highlights were encouraging but his medicals will be more important to monitor. Moore is a dynamic playmaker whose talent is worthy of a first round pick when he’s fully healthy. After writing this blurb, I would guess that Marshall is the most likely of this bunch to land in the first round, with Bateman right there behind him, and Moore lagging behind pending his medical evaluations. (Mocking Kadarius Toney, see below, in the first has also become en vogue so he may be due for a jump up to this tier soon.)

Day Two Targets

  • Amon-Ra St. Brown

  • Tylan Wallace

  • Seth Williams

I’m happy I was able to squeeze these three into a tier together because they are my favorites as compared to their expected draft value. Said another way, I would draft these guys higher than they inevitably will be in both the NFL Draft and your rookie drafts. St. Brown averaged 7-80-1 in the shortened season and continued his high-floor run. By my rough PPR math, St. Brown has had 8+ fantasy points in 37 of 41 career games. I love how physical he is and can’t wait to see him in the NFL, dominating nickels as a strong slot. Tylan Wallace came back strong after an injury-shortened 2019 season, tallying a respectable 59-922-6. Wallace is a consensus pick for the All Catch Radius team and has ample speed and acceleration to make him a threat to stretch the defense. Seth Williams is probably my favorite receiver in the class to root for. He’s a bit boom-and-bust but when he’s on, I relish watching his hands-catching, toe-tapping, defender-hurdling style. Williams plays bigger than his sizeable 6030/211 frame so I’ll be interested to see how he measures in officially. It’s looking like St. Brown, Wallace and Williams have Day Two written all over them and will be solid investments for your fantasy team.

Regular Season Risers

  • D’wayne Eskridge

  • Elijah Moore

  • Kadarius Toney

The three players in this tier have seen a Gamestop-esque rise in their value the last few months. Using data from www.mockdraftdatabase.com, here’s how their overall ranking has gone to the moon: Eskridge from 300th to 125th, Moore from 292nd to 68th and Toney from 121st to 29th. It’s not crazy to say that these three guys might go from off the radar in the preseason to first rounders. I owe each of these three rocketing risers a closer study because I did not delve into them at all during the 2020 season. Toney is the freakiest of the bunch and cannot be stopped by single man coverage. Many of his touches are manufactured (screens, sweeps, returns) so I expect he’ll need some work to refine himself as a receiver but it’s hard to argue against somebody who can move like he can. Elijah Moore had possibly the quietest 86-1,193-8 season ever (especially when you realize that line was compiled in just eight games). He has some of the same speed and shiftiness that Toney offers but looks like a bonafide receiver in the highlight packages I viewed. The buzz around Eskridge is growing; a recent CBS mock draft had him going at 28th overall, meanwhile one from SI had him as a second rounder. Eskridge looks smaller than both Toney and Moore (or at least is about the same) and put up worse numbers (33-768-8) against lesser competition. I’ll be jumping into his tape soon because it must be spectacular. Let’s continue to monitor these guys throughout the draft process to ensure they offer some return on investment.

Undervalued, Underdrafted

  • Dyami Brown

  • Dazz Newsome

  • Ihmir Smith-Marsette

The players who land in my “Undervalued, Underdrafted” tier are Power 5 players who are solid yet unsexy prospects. Brown and Newsome were the primary targets of Sam Howell and the Tar Heels prolific passing offense in 2020. I wrote about the dynamic duo back in September ahead of their season opener. I noted that Brown is a “home run hitting downfield threat” and that proved true: 47% of Brown’s receptions went for 15+ yards and 25% went for 25+. He was most successful downfield on first down which highlights just how much their dominant rushing game opened up the passing game. Newsome, on the other hand, is more of a make-a-man-miss receiver and punt returner. Newsome has superb balance, no surprise given his punt return prowess, and succeeds in the open field. In addition to Brown and Newsome, draftniks will also be considering running backs Javonte Williams and Michael Carter: this Tar Heel fatigue is why I think the pair may end up undervalued for fantasy purposes. Ihmir Smith-Marsette may be the most underappreciated Power 5 receiver coming out this year. Smith-Marsette looks like the new wave NFL receiver to me: he’s long (6020) and fast (4.40) and can be deployed on screens or jet sweeps (he does need to put on some pounds though). He’s also a great kick returner who owns the modern Big Ten record for career kick return average (28.7). I’ll bet Smith-Marsette goes undrafted in all but the deepest leagues but I’d also bet that somebody picks him up midseason after he makes a big play. If you have an extra late rookie draft pick try to snag one of these guys to stash before they make a name for themselves in camp.

Spacey Satellites

  • Tutu Atwell

  • Amari Rodgers

  • Anthony Schwartz

The aforementioned axiom that “speed sells” returns for this tier of receivers. Chatarius “Tutu” Atwell is a sub-4.40 burner who led the ACC in receiving in 2019 (69-1,272-11) and followed that up with a solid junior year (46-625-7 in nine games). Atwell is tiny at 5090/165 but if you can get him in space he’s a big play waiting to happen. Amari Rodgers, Clemson’s leading receiver at 77-1,020-7, isn’t much taller than Atwell (5100) but packs on an extra 20+ pounds on his compact frame. Rodgers is an A-1 punt returner who could make you miss in a phone booth. He’s often typecast as an underneath receiver but he also shows the ball tracking, lower body control and strong hands to be a downfield receiver too. I would want Rodgers on my football team, I have a feeling he’ll be one of those players we realized we were sleeping on because he was outshone by his teammates. My love for Seth Williams might have created a blindspot for his teammate Anthony Schwartz. I didn’t have any preconceived notions about Schwartz when I started researching this article so I had to do a quick dive into his stats and Youtube clips. Schwartz is taller than Atwell and Rodgers, an even 6000, and looks more durable than his 179 listed weight would indicate. When he has the ball in his hands, Schwartz moves like an upright running back with the vision to utilize his blockers and make the most of his angles. Admittedly I have only watched highlights of Schwartz so I can’t say with certainty but he looks promising in those snippets. When this playmaking trio finds space, good things will happen for your fantasy lineup.

Known Unknowns

  • Nico Collins

  • Damonte Coxie

  • Sage Surratt

  • Tamorrion Terry

At one time or another over the last two years, I valued these four players higher than the consensus. Now, however, their value is at its nadir. Collins, Coxie and Surratt all opted out of the 2020 season; Terry played in six games but played through injury and ineffective quarterbacking before deciding to leave the team early. I think Terry’s was a good decision because I still believe in his size/speed combination — nothing positive would have come out of catching passes from a rotating quarterback while hobbled by a wonky knee — but the other three may have allowed others to pass them in scouts’ minds. Collins, like Terry, never realized his potential because of the poor passers the Wolverines trotted out. He has prototypical size (6040/215) and the attributes to be a starting possession receiver at the next level. Coxie, on the other hand, has shown us how dominant he can be with back-to-back seasons with 70+ receptions and 1,100+ yards. He played in two games in 2020 before ending his year early (16-175-1). I love the description I wrote for his physical play when I profiled him last spring: “he reminded me of a skilled heavyweight boxer: constantly throwing jabs to set up a future haymaker and using his size to lean on his opponent to gain leverage.” Coxie has fallen out of favor on #DraftTwitter but I’m still a believer. Sage Surratt had a surprising 2019 which ended with him eking out a 1,000 yard season before going down with a shoulder injury (66-1,001-11). He’s not fast or elusive but his size and play strength make for a good redzone receiver (10 career redzone scores). These four “known unknowns” will probably go late-ish in the NFL Draft, but don’t be surprised when they pop up on our fantasy radars and remind us of why we loved them a year or two ago.

Small School Sleepers

  • Marlon Williams

  • Marquez Stevenson

  • Warren Jackson

As I mentioned in my RB Tiers article, I would typically highlight some FCS and DII hopefuls in this section. However, most FCS teams did not play in the fall and the impending spring season is full of question marks. Instead, I’ll hit a few guys here who have excelled at the Group of 5 level. I wrote about Williams back in Week 9 and was a fan of his all-around skillset. UCF featured him frequently on screens from a stack formation and otherwise he showed up all over the formation. Williams played out in 2020 and easily eclipsed last year’s totals in four less games (71-1,039-10). He’s likely a late rounder but should catch on if given a chance. Contrary to a few of the risers listed above, Marquez Stevenson saw a precipitous drop in his NFL Draft value in 2020. Per the www.nflmockdraftdatabase.com, Stevenson was a target as high as 28th overall in mocks in the fall. Lately, he’s been all over the place, from the third round all the way down to the seventh. Houston had a strange covid-riddled season so I don’t put too much weight on Stevenson’s disappointing output (20-307-4 in five games). Stevenson will win the workout — on his most recent Freaks List, Bruce Feldman predicted 4.30 speed — and as such I expect he’ll be drafted ahead of current predictions. Warren Jackson is bound to be the next small school guy who breaks my heart. Jackson caught my eye last spring after a 77-1,119-8 junior season but unfortunately opted out of 2020 to prepare for the NFL. I fell in love then, writing “backed up deep in their own end, the Rams take a deep shot. Jackson, forty yards downfield, times his jump well and rips the ball out of the air. He lands, keeps his feet, avoids contact with the colliding defenders and gallops off. None of the pursuing tacklers make it within five yards.” I also felt that his versatility belies his stature (6060/215) and thought he could be more than just a redzone target. I’m unsure what the future brings for Jackson but I’ll be watching closely, the same goes for Williams and Stevenson.


Notes: Heights listed are using a notation common among scouts where the first digit corresponds to the feet, the next two digits correspond to the inches and the fourth digit corresponds to the fraction, in eighths.  So, somebody measuring 5’11” and 3/8 would be 5113.  This is helpful when trying to sort players by height. Full disclosure, I am not watching film of every single game any player plays, instead I am looking for a representative sample.  There are a lot of analysts out there who have a deeper depth of knowledge about certain players but I pride myself in a wide breadth of knowledge about many players.  When researching my articles I use a number of valuable resources. I would recommend bookmarking the below sites:

  • Stats: espn.com, sports-reference.com, pro-football-reference.com, cfbstats.com, herosports.com, fcs.football, mcubed.net, expandtheboxscore.com, washingtonpost.com
  • Recruiting: 247Sports.com, espn.com, sbnation.com, rivals.com
  • Film: 2021 NFL Draft Database by Mark Jarvis, youtube.com
  • Draft info and mocks: draftcountdown.com, draftscout.com, mattwaldmanrsp.com, draftek.com, thedraftnetwork.com, nfl.com, nflmockdraftdatabase.com
  • NFL rosters, depth charts and contract info: ourlads.com, spotrac.com
  • Draft history: drafthistory.com
  • Combine info: pro-football-reference.com, espn.com, nflcombineresults.com, mockdraftable.com
  • Season preview magazines: Phil Steele, Lindy’s, Street and Smith’s, Athlon Sports
  • Podcasts: ESPN’s First Draft, The Audible by Football Guys (specifically episodes w/ Matt Waldman), UTH Dynasty, Draft Dudes, Saturday 2 Sunday, Locked on NFL Draft, Cover 3 College Football
  • Logos & Player Media Photos: collegepressbox.com
  • Odds & Gambling Stats: vegasinsider.com

Robert F. Cowper is a freelance writer who lives in New Jersey.  He is a proud member of the Football Writers Association of America and the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.  Robert works as a certified park and recreation professional, specializing in youth sports, when he isn’t acting as commissioner for his many fantasy sports leagues.

More Analysis by Bob Cowper

The Watch List 2021: Early RB Tiers

Updated: January 14th 2021

Throughout the offseason I will be compiling early positional tiers for the 2021 NFL Draft. In past years I’ve done early rankings but in hindsight those feel counterproductive to my ultimate goal of creating RSO’s rookie rankings that are used in the draft room. Frankly, it’s hard to change a ranking because it feels “locked in” once I put it out into the world. When I would create my early rankings I would always start by grouping the players into themed tiers first, so that’s what I will be sharing in this series. Each tier includes players whose potential and plot line feel similar to me; the sequence of tiers is indicative of a general order of expected draft value. I’ll repeat though: these are not rankings. Within each tier players are sorted alphabetically.

(Note: This article was written between January 7-13. By the time you read this it’s likely that many players will have made official announcements about whether they will enter the NFL Draft, transfer or return to school. Rumors abound about each player’s decision but we’ll know for sure by the time you read this.)

1.01 Contenders

  • Travis Etienne

  • Najee Harris

  • Javonte Williams

Two of the names in this cohort should not surprise you. Both Travis Etienne and Najee Harris would have been 1.01 contenders in the 2020 class if they came out after their junior years; and they did nothing to dispel that potential for 2021. Etienne has been my favorite running back in this class since I first saw him as a true freshman. He has speed to spare and has grown as a player to become a better pass catcher and blocker. Etienne had a good but not great season — his yards per carry was down to 5.4 while his first three seasons were all over 7.2 — but he really showed up as a receiver with 48-588-2. Harris had a fantastic season and likely edges out Etienne in most 1.01 conversations but their final order will come down to their landing spot. Harris is a beast at 6020/230 and yet is nimble on his feet and is a plus pass catcher. He had nearly 1,900 yards from scrimmage and scored 30 TDs this season. Get ready for a vociferous debate all winter long about which is the better back. If one player has a chance at upsetting the proverbial 1.01 applecart, I would say it’s Javonte Williams. He had solid production his first two years as a Tar Heel but exploded onto the national radar with a crazy six-week midseason run in 2020. In those six games, all against ACC opponents, Williams rushed for 754 yards and 11 scores. He has average or better size, speed and pass catching ability. Every season there seems to be one player who catapults themselves into the conversation for the top rookie pick and Williams might have done enough this season that a successful offseason will jump him up fantasy draft boards.  (All of this 1.01 talk is assuming you’re not playing superflex. If you are, please take Trevor Lawrence. If you’re playing in a 1 QB league the value changes so you should go RB or WR, but if I’m being honest, I’d still find it hard to pass on Lawrence and the value he could bring in the RSO format.)

Day Two Targets

  • Kenny Gainwell

  • Kylin Hill

  • Chuba Hubbard

  • Zamir White

If recent history is any indication, Day Two is typically when the running back run happens in the NFL Draft. The guys taken in that range are destined to become the late 1st and early 2nd rounders in your rookie drafts. Like a few other players featured in this article, Kenny Gainwell decided to opt out of the 2020 season and get ready for the NFL Draft. He does so with the confidence that his stellar 2019 season at Memphis will be enough to land among the top handful of prospects at the position. Memphis has had a tremendous run of producing NFL running back talent and it seems that Gainwell may be the best of the bunch. His 2019 highlights and totals are eye popping: 231 carries for 1,459 yards and 13 TDs combined with 51 receptions for 601 receiving yards and 3 receiving TDs. Gainwell is an excellent receiver and can accelerate into the secondary in a blink. He should test well which may quiet concerns about him being a one-year wonder. Kylin Hill has been on the cusp of breaking out for awhile now. His production crescendoed in 2019 as a junior when he put up a 1,350-10 season. Hill opted out after an injury in 2020 so we didn’t get to see much of him and will be relying on that 2019 tape to evaluate him. For whatever reason I never studied Kylin Hill closely so I need to fix that ASAP. Chuba Hubbard did play in 2020 and it’s likely that his average performance will cost him in terms of draft capital. Before the season I had predicted that Hubbard, a solid all-round back who can run with nuance, would be in the 1.01 conversation. He’s probably still a first round rookie pick but in terms of NFL value he may be better off returning for another season. Zamir White just can’t catch a break. The kid earned a near-perfect score as a recruit from 247Sports but endured back-to-back ACL tears which delayed the beginning of his college career. He contributed late in the 2019 season and was expected to star in 2020. He led the Bulldogs with 779-11 rushing but the season was off-kilter from the start between covid and a revolving door in the quarterback room. White will be a coveted early down runner at the next level whenever he decides to leave Athens.

Regular Season Risers

  • Michael Carter

  • Khalil Herbert

  • Jaret Patterson

The three backs I slotted here helped their NFL Draft stock immensely with their production in 2020 (ironically they are all also almost the exact same size at 5090/200). They may have started the season as being on the fringe of being draftable but now it’s possible they may have elevated themselves over some of the better-known names below. Let’s not fall too hard for recency bias though, these players will need to prove it throughout the pre-draft process as well. Michael Carter was the second head in the two-headed monster that was UNC’s rushing attack this season. In addition to 1,245-9 on the ground, Carter added 25-267-2 as a receiver (keep in mind that is in just eleven games). At 5080/199 he has a low center of gravity, and thick tree trunk-like legs, that make him a tough tackle. Carter has experience as a kick returner so I can easily see him earning a roster spot on special teams in training camp and then working his way into the offense. Admittedly, I have a blind spot for Khalil Herbert and am including him here based on his 2020 stats (1,183-8) and highlights (a very direct runner with 4.40 top end speed). Until I have a chance to study him further take Herbert’s placement with a grain of salt. The MAC played a six game season in 2020 so you’d think that Jaret Patterson didn’t have much time to wow amateur scouts like myself. You’d be wrong because he made the most of those opportunities. In mid-November he had back-to-back games with 301-4 and 409-8. That’s incredible, regardless of what level you’re playing at. Patterson led the MAC’s second-best running back, his teammate Kevin Marks, by a whopping 331 yards. His success was no fluke either: Patterson has fifteen career games with 100+ rushing yards. Patterson is small-ish, probably smaller than he’s listed, but he finds a way to get it done. A high draft pick and instant fantasy relevance may elude Patterson but I’m not going to bet against a guy who showed he can be a wildly productive high-volume running back.

Riddle-Wrapped Enigmas

  • Journey Brown

  • Jermar Jefferson

  • Trey Sermon

  • Stephen Carr

Journey Brown opted out of the 2020 season, a decision surely motivated by the 2021 NFL Draft. As a sophomore in 2019, Brown excelled down the stretch when he was the lead runner. In those last five games he averaged 118 yards per game and scored 9 TDs. Brown ticks a lot of boxes — ideal measurables at 5110/217, 4.40 speed, sublime contact balance — but he has just one game in his career where he handled 20+ carries and only three with 15+ carries. Brown has talent but I’m wary to project him too high in my rankings. After his 1,380 yard freshman season I assumed we would be talking highly of Jermar Jefferson in 2021 but an injury plagued sophomore season slowed his progress. His 6.5 yards per carry in 2020 was his best yet so maybe I should be feeling more bullish on his future fantasy value. Jefferson is a balanced back who has above average speed, elusiveness, power and balance. I wrote about Trey Sermon heading into the championship game and was looking forward to a big game to cement his rising draft stock. Sadly he got hurt on his first carry of the game and didn’t return. I still think Sermon’s slashing running style will find a home in the NFL. Oh, Stephen Carr. I gushed about this guy way back in 2017 when he was a highly touted true freshman but injuries and ineffectiveness limited his touches in the intervening years. He popped up with two scores in the Trojans’ first two games in 2020 and then had just 24 carries in the last four games. I refuse to give up on him, even if USC has.

Pass Catching Playmakers

  • Max Borghi

  • Deon Jackson

  • Isaih Pacheco

Heading into the 2020 season I was very excited about Max Borghi. I thought he could be the NFL’s next great pass catching back because he has the ability to stretch the defense horizontally before punishing would-be tacklers when he turns upfield. Unfortunately a back injury sidelined him for all but one game so it seems unlikely he makes the jump for 2021. Deon Jackson is my current pick for the out-of-nowhere fantasy relevant rookie running back in 2021. He was an unheralded 3-star recruit back in 2016 and averaged just 4.3 yards per carry in his career on some middling Duke teams. When I watched him for my Week 7 preview, I noted that he is patient but decisive. I saw fantastic skills as a receiver and saw him trusted in pass protection. I’ll be following Jackson closely in the pre-draft process to see if he starts to earn any plaudits from draft pundits. I root hard for my hometown Rutgers Scarlet Knights (although the Michigan Wolverines were my first love) so it’s exciting to finally highlight one of my favorite “choppers.” Isaih [sic] Pacheco has super lateral quickness and deploys a deadly horizontal cut at the line of scrimmage that sets him up for big runs off the edge. He’s a plus receiver and I think he’ll test well athletically. Unfortunately there’s literally zero cut-ups out there for Pacheco so I’m going off memory here and can’t wait for him to receive some well deserved exposure.

Spacey Satellites

  • Javian Hawkins

  • Pooka Williams

Hawkins and Williams are both smaller prospects who are likely to be seen as “space” players at the pro level. Both players feature blazing speed and quickness. Hawkins, listed at 5090/196, runs with a ferociousness that belies his frame. I doubt he himself is convinced he can’t be between-the-tackles runner in the NFL. I watched Hawkins against Miami back in September and was impressed with how he ran against the 17th ranked ‘Canes. Hawkins, whose nickname is Playstation because of his video game-like moves, had a career-high 16 receptions in 2020 and will need to continue to develop as a receiver as that’s likely to be a part of his role in the NFL. Pooka Williams, 5100/170, isn’t afraid of a little contact either but his game is predicated on his impressive ability to stop and change direction on a dime. He’s also an angle buster when he breaks through the second level which makes it even harder for safeties and corners to catch him. Williams played in just four games this season before opting out for family reasons; those four performances were lackluster and didn’t help his draft stock if I’m being honest. He also has a domestic violence arrest in his past so Williams comes with baggage that teams will need to unpack. I think Williams may be best served by returning to Kansas and reminding us once again why we loved watching him.

Undervalued, Underdrafted

  • Keaontay Ingram

  • Brian Robinson

  • Larry Rountree

  • CJ Verdell

The four players in this tier are Power 5 guys who I feel may be undervalued right now, and as such, will be underdrafted when it comes to your 2021 rookie drafts. Keaontay Ingram was a big cog in the Longhorns’ offense in his first two seasons on campus, coming in as a heralded 4-star recruit. Unfortunately, an ankle injury cut his 2020 season short. Ingram runs with a suddenness and forward pad lean that I think will translate to the pros. He also has excellent hands out of the backfield. If Brian Robinson were on any other team than Alabama he’d probably be an All-Conference player and find himself high atop these rankings. I’ve highlighted him a few times on The Watch List, always waiting for his breakout that never quite came. Robinson has great size at 6000/226 and I have previously noted that he runs with vision. I’ll take an educated guess that more than one team will see him as ready-made for the NFL. Perhaps most undervalued on this list is Larry Rountree. He was the main reason that recent iterations of the Mizzou Tigers weren’t even more irrelevant in the SEC. Rountree is trending upward at just the right time: in 2020 he increased his per-touch numbers, and set a career-high for both rushing touchdowns (14) and receptions (15). Rountree may not be a sexy name but to me he looks like the type of back who can stick around. I watched CJ Verdell’s opening match against Stanford this year and was impressed with his brute force running style. His signature play from the game, and the one sure to feature on his NFL Draft coverage, is a bone crunching hit he delivers to two Cardinals at the goal line to force his way in for the points. He caught two balls in that game and I thought he should have been featured more as a receiver (he did have 27 receptions as a frosh). I’m not sure that Verdell has reached his potential yet and that’s saying something for somebody who has two 1,000 yard campaigns under his belt.

Short Yardage Specialists

  • Rakeem Boyd

  • Stevie Scott

  • Master Teague

These three backs were difficult for me to place in my running back hierarchy. It’s not that these guys didn’t catch any passes in college — Boyd and Scott each have a 20+ reception season in their past — it’s that I feel their future role will be limited to a situational runner. They may get drafted above some of the aforementioned players but in terms of fantasy value they will be lacking. Vulturing some touchdowns is nice but touchdowns are difficult to predict and as such I would often lean towards a player with a better chance at reliable touches. Stevie Scott is the biggest of the bunch here (6020/231) but is likely the most limited of the trio. I liked what I saw of Boyd when I did a quick study of him early in the season, however he struggled for much of 2020. I coined a phrase to describe him: a wallop-gallop runner. I didn’t watch the season on which he was featured but he was a star on Last Chance U if you’re interested in seeing some of his back story.  I think Teague has the most natural talent of these later round options and has a chance to transcend a situational role. He has a small-ish sample size and has dealt with a number of serious injuries throughout his career (concussion, Achilles, foot) so I would actually expect him to return to Ohio State for his senior season and hopefully put together a full season.

Small School Sleepers

  • Spencer Brown

  • Brenden Knox

  • Elijah Mitchell

  • Trey Ragas

My “Small School Sleepers” would usually include some solid FCS players to watch, however we largely missed out on an FCS season. Side note: doesn’t it feel like those early season games featuring teams like Central Arkansas and Campbell were played three years ago? 24 of the 26 players featured above are all Power 5 prospects so I figured this was the spot to share some Group of Five love. Trey Ragas and Elijah Mitchell were mainstays for the Ragin’ Cajuns for the last four years. Ragas accumulated 4,001 career yards from scrimmage and 43 touchdowns; meanwhile Mitchell totaled 3,864 and 46. That’s a hell of a duo. Ragas and Mitchell popped up on The Watch List back in 2018 and 2019 but I have not recently watched them so they deserve some closer attention this offseason. Spencer Brown dazzled as a true freshman but fell out of favor with #DraftTwitter after a lackluster junior season. In a shortened 2020 senior season he put up good totals — 10 TDs, six games with 100+ yards — but I recall that he looked pedestrian for the most part in his showcase game against Miami. I’m not sure that Brown has NFL-level ability when it comes to power, speed or receiving but there’s something to be said for dur-ability and avail-ability. Way back in 2018 and 2019 I had said that Brown could be “a star in the making” and surmised that he could “find a role in the NFL as an early down runner.” I may have missed the mark there but I have a soft spot for Brown and hope he gets a shot in the NFL. Brenden Knox always makes me question my spell checker — that’s two Es and no As please. Knox capitalized on the increased attention at the beginning of the season when most of the Power 5 was still idle, averaging 112 yards per game and scoring nine times in his first six games. I see a back with the jump and the juice to get the edge and the power to move the pile. As a junior with two more years of eligibility we may not see him hit the draft in 2021 but he’s somebody we should study closely when he does.


Notes: Heights listed are using a notation common among scouts where the first digit corresponds to the feet, the next two digits correspond to the inches and the fourth digit corresponds to the fraction, in eighths.  So, somebody measuring 5’11” and 3/8 would be 5113.  This is helpful when trying to sort players by height. Full disclosure, I am not watching film of every single game any player plays, instead I am looking for a representative sample.  There are a lot of analysts out there who have a deeper depth of knowledge about certain players but I pride myself in a wide breadth of knowledge about many players.  When researching my articles I use a number of valuable resources. I would recommend bookmarking the below sites:

  • Stats: espn.com, sports-reference.com, pro-football-reference.com, cfbstats.com, herosports.com, fcs.football, mcubed.net, expandtheboxscore.com, washingtonpost.com
  • Recruiting: 247Sports.com, espn.com, sbnation.com, rivals.com
  • Film: 2021 NFL Draft Database by Mark Jarvis, youtube.com
  • Draft info and mocks: draftcountdown.com, draftscout.com, mattwaldmanrsp.com, draftek.com, thedraftnetwork.com, nfl.com, nflmockdraftdatabase.com
  • NFL rosters, depth charts and contract info: ourlads.com, spotrac.com
  • Draft history: drafthistory.com
  • Combine info: pro-football-reference.com, espn.com, nflcombineresults.com, mockdraftable.com
  • Season preview magazines: Phil Steele, Lindy’s, Street and Smith’s, Athlon Sports
  • Podcasts: ESPN’s First Draft, The Audible by Football Guys (specifically episodes w/ Matt Waldman), UTH Dynasty, Draft Dudes, Saturday 2 Sunday, Locked on NFL Draft, Cover 3 College Football
  • Logos & Player Media Photos: collegepressbox.com
  • Odds & Gambling Stats: vegasinsider.com

Robert F. Cowper is a freelance writer who lives in New Jersey.  He is a proud member of the Football Writers Association of America and the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.  Robert works as a certified park and recreation professional, specializing in youth sports, when he isn’t acting as commissioner for his many fantasy sports leagues.

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