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Top-10 Draft Prospects: Running Backs

Top-10 Draft Prospects: Running Backs
How will Derrick Henry compare to other Alabama running back products in the NFL?

How will Derrick Henry (middle) compare to other Alabama running back products in the NFL?

Rookie running backs didn’t use to be fantasy relevant for at least their first few years in the league, but last year’s draft class produced two mega stars (Todd Gurley and David Johnson) as well as a few other notable names (Melvin Gordon, T.J. Yeldon and Ameer Abdullah). 

Top-10 NFL Draft Prospects: Quarterbacks

As fantasy owners learned last season, it’s vital to draft your running back’s handcuff and last year’s draft produced a few of those as well, (Jay Ajayi, Tevin Coleman and Jeremy Langford) who now have a shot at being starting running backs for their respective teams. Any of the names below could become fantasy relevant as early as this season and therefore it’s important to keep an eye out on where they end up.

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Ezekiel Elliott (RB – Ohio State)
Elliott is by far the best running back coming out of this year’s draft. In fact, he may be the best offensive player in the entire draft. Whatever team drafts him, is getting an instant star the likes of Adrian Peterson and Gurley. 

Elliott is that good. He is an instant RB1 next season with major upside.

Projected Round: Top 20 in the first round

Derrick Henry (RB – Alabama)
Henry is a beast. He’s 6’2, 247 pounds. The 21-year-old is a downhill runner who can barrel over defenders and is a great short-yardage and goal-line option. Unfortunately for Henry, we’ve seen previous Crimson Tide running backs (Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy) have good rookie seasons and then ultimately burn out for their teams.

While Henry could have one or two good seasons upon entering the league, will he be any different from the ‘Bama backs we’ve already seen? Henry is worth drafting this year but proceed with caution in dynasty leagues.

Projected Round: Late first round/early second round

Devontae Booker (RB – Utah)
Don’t let the size fool you. At just 5’11, 219 pounds, Booker is a powerful three-down back, who also can catch the ball out of the backfield. He is similar to Devonta Freeman and could have just as big an impact as Freeman had in fantasy this past year if he lands in the right situation.

Projected Round: Round 2-3

Kenneth Dixon (RB – Louisiana Tech)
Similarly to Booker, Dixon is on the smaller side (5’10, 215 pounds) but can develop into a three-down back. He had 13 fumbles in college, so he’ll have to work on his ball security, but other than that, he could be fantasy relevant in year one of his NFL career.

Projected Round: Round 2-3

Jordan Howard (RB – Indiana)
Howard was a bell-cow during his time at Indiana. He averaged 6.2 yards per carry in 2015. 

At 6’1, 230 pounds, he is similar to Chris Ivory (in terms of measurables). Like any back, it depends on who drafts Howard, before saying he will be fantasy relevant in 2016.

Projected Round: Round 3-4

C.J. Prosise (RB – Notre Dame)
Prosise is unique in that he did not play running back until 2015. He was used mainly as a wide receiver and special teams player. Injuries, however, forced him into the running back spot and it might have been the best thing that happened to him. 

Prosise is a big running back (6’0, 220 pounds), but he needs to show that he can hit holes and run with more power. He also needs to work on ball security. If he can work on those things, he has the potential to be a David Johnson type in fantasy.

Projected Round: Round 3-4

Alex Collins (RB – Arkansas)
Collins is a good looking running back but is not as fast and powerful as the other running backs in this class. Scouts have labeled him as being good, but nothing special, which is why he’s getting a second-day projection.

Projected Round: Round 3-4

Kenyan Drake (RB – Alabama)
If Drake had gone to any other school in the country, he probably would have been a starter. Alabama, unfortunately for Drake, had Henry already at running back. Drake has the potential to be an RB1 in the future and certainly is a top handcuff option in fantasy.

Projected Round: Round 3-4

Jonathan Williams (RB – Arkansas)
A foot injury cost Williams the entire 2015 season (thereby opening the door for Collins) and a shot at being one of the top senior running backs in this year’s class. The year off has pushed his grade down to a second-day draft pick, but he could surprise fantasy owners if he’s healthy and finds himself in the right fit.

Projected Round: Round 3-4

Daniel Lasco (RB –  California)
Lasco missed five games in 2015 due to injury but impressed the scouts at the combine. He would be the best fit in a passing offense, like the one he played at in college.

A.J. Stone is a correspondent at FantasyPros. To read more from A.J., check out his archive and follow him on Twitter @ajstone18.

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