Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on CBS Fantasy and was written by Heath Cummings.
We were hoping for more clarity at the running back position from the NFL Draft. We got far less than we'd hoped.
Sure, there were encouraging things like Leonard Fournette locking down the Jacksonville job and the Giants not drafting a replacement for Paul Perkins. But there were also a ton of running backs drafted into what look like they may be committees early in their career.
Talent matters more than opportunity in Dynasty, but opportunity is still a big piece of the pie. Dalvin Cook and Joe Mixon were two of the best running backs coming out. Now they're both in very crowded situations. Sure, I anticipate Mixon and Cook are the running backs of the future for their respective clubs, but their 2017 workload isn't irrelevant either. With that in mind, let's take a look at some of these crowded backfields before we get to the updated Dynasty rankings.
Joe Mixon is viewed by many as having as much on-field talent as any running back in this draft class. He may have also landed in the most crowded spot. Jeremy Hillhas one year left on his contract (and at least 220 carries and nine touchdowns each of the past three years). Giovani Bernard is recovering from a torn ACL, but he's averaged 44 receptions per year each of the past three seasons.
Mixon has a brighter future than either but I don't think it's reasonable to assume he'll take over a workhorse role in his rookie season. Assuming all three backs are on the active roster Week 1, I see a reasonable case for Mixon being limited to 10-15 touches early in the season.
If his talent shines through, he'll take more of the role as the season goes on. But as it stands right now, I'd project him for right around 200 total touches. That makes it tough for him to be better than a low-end No. 2 as a rookie, especially if the Bengals offensive line is as bad as some fear.
I had Dalvin Cook entrenched as the No. 4 back in this class before the draft and kind of on an island in terms of tier. He needed to land in the perfect spot to have a chance to pass anyone above him and the dropoff in talent below him made it unlikely he slid. Well, he did slide on Draft Day to Round 2, and his landing spot was far from perfect.
The Vikings already had Jerick McKinnon on the roster when they added Latavius Murray in free agency. I thought that could be an interesting split because McKinnon's production has always lagged behind the perception of his talent, and Murray has been the polar opposite. Adding Dalvin Cook to the mix is a major headache. Like Mixon, I expect Cook to eventually emerge as the running back of the future for the Vikings, but I have very little confidence in his ability to rack up No. 2 RB touches in 2017 and even less confidence in the situation.
Cook is still my fourth favorite running back in this class, but he's now closer to the tier below him than the top three.
The Packers were one team we all felt certain would add a running back. They added two of interest -- Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones. Williams immediately started getting hype as the future running back of the Packers, and I'm not sure I totally buy it. I see this developing into more of a committee.
Williams, who ran for 1,375 yards and 12 TDs as a senior at BYU, is the favorite to split touches with Ty Montgomery. He may even get the lion's share of the coveted red zone work. But he had all of seven receptions in his senior season. Montgomery's role seems safe. I see Montgomery as a back that gets 8-10 carries per game and 4-6 receptions. Even if you assume he won't match last year's 5.9 YPC, he still looks like a solid bet for 1,000 yards.
Williams gets a bump form his landing spot because of the potential payoff, but in 2017 I have a hard time seeing him as more than a low-end No. 3 RB.
Just a quick note on a pair of similar situations. There is not a great talent disparity between Spencer Ware and Kareem Hunt. I think Ware is more talented, others disagree. Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine also seem very similar to me in that both are acceptable as starting running backs but neither is irreplaceable. These are true training camp battles that will be both fascinating and maddening to predict.
Initially I projected both Ware and Kelley to keep their jobs to start the year, and didn't really expect Hunt or Perine to show enough to seize a starting role without an injury. Then beat writers in both cities speculated that the rookie would win the job. The rankings of these four are going to be fluid throughout the summer, but in Dynasty you would rather have the younger guys. Even with that youth, I don't see much more than No. 2 RB potential from any of these guys.
Here are the updated Top 60 Dynasty Running Backs:
|DYNASTY RUNNING BACK RANKINGS|