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Campfire Chat: Favorite Rookie RB for 2017

Footballugys staff members discuss the top rookie running backs

In a redraft league, which rookie running back would you most want to have on your roster? And "none" can be an answer.

Dave Larkin: Christian McCaffrey would be my first choice, but with his ADP likely to skyrocket when the public starts to catch on in the preseason, I think the more realistic option might be Samaje Perine.

We have seen this script unfold so many times before. Incumbent but middle-of-the-road talent ousted by promising rookie who seizes the backfield for his own - and never looks back. Perine has the talent to make Robert Kelley's time as Washington's starter an afterthought, like something we all could swear we once witnessed but can't imagine where or how.

It may take some time for Perine to polish his game up as a pass protector to earn the trust of coaches, but cementing the role as the between-the-tackles banger shouldn't be too big a leap. The Redskins ranked 27th in the league in rushing attempts last season; I predict an uptick in that number. Drafting Perine probably had a lot to do with that as the offense tries to address the offensive imbalance that plagued them at times.

Alex Miglio: In PPR leagues, I like Christian McCaffrey even if his ADP keeps rising. There will be a cutoff point, of course, but I have loved McCaffrey's landing spot since the NFL draft. The Panthers needed someone with his skill set, and I think he's going to see a lot of snaps from all over the field. Already we are hearing from camp that he is a favorite target for Cam Newton, albeit we should take all such reports with a grain of salt.

I can see McCaffrey nabbing 75 targets and 80-plus carries this season. What he does with his touches will determine whether drafting him in the fourth round was worthwhile, but he has an early, big lead on fantasy rookie of the year in my book.

Chad Parsons: Overall, the ADP is too high to recommend many of the rookie backs. While I like Joe Mixon for the second half of the season, buying in Round 2-3 and inside the top-15 of running backs is prohibitive. I am out of Christian McCaffrey as a mid-RB2 priced option as well. I see Jonathan Stewart taking plenty of interior work and McCaffrey has to be the rookie reincarnate of Reggie Bush in the passing game to turn a profit. Dalvin Cook is overpriced as well, unless Latavius Murray is on the regular season PUP or misses significant time.

I generally like least expensive rookie backs this season. James Conner outside the top-50 backs in ADP is appealing as a stash. LeVeon Bell is a suspension and injury risk, giving two avenues to Conner seeing significant work in a high-level offense. De'Angelo Henderson has a thick build and productive college track record. The Denver depth chart is far from settled and Henderson is a darkhorse to monitor. Elijah Hood is my deep rookie to know as the only prototypically-sized running back beyond Marshawn Lynch on Oakland's depth chart. Hood first needs to stick on the roster as a late Day 3 rookie, but emerging at some point during the season to be a hot waiver wire name in redraft would not surprise me in the least for Hood.

Miglio: This is an MFL2X PPR league--best ball, so approached a little differently than traditional redraft--but I am thoroughly pleased here with McCaffrey as my RB1 given what else I was able to do.

Pos Player Team Pick
QB Jameis Winston TB 8.09
QB Ben Roethlisberger Pit 10.09
RB Christian McCaffrey Car 4.09
RB Tevin Coleman Atl 6.09
RB James White NE 9.04
RB C.J. Prosise Sea 11.04
RB Thomas Rawls Sea 14.09
WR Odell Beckham Jr NYG 1.04
WR DeAndre Hopkins Hou 2.09
WR Brandin Cooks NE 3.04
WR Martavis Bryant Pit 5.04
WR Breshad Perriman Bal 12.09
TE Hunter Henry LAC 7.04
TE Julius Thomas Mia 13.04
Def New England Patriots NE 15.04

I seem to like him more than others, but I expect the Panthers to get him the ball a lot as a rookie.

Jeff Haseley: I'll go a step further and say 80 carries will be a lock for McCaffrey (That's only 5 per game). Mike Shula should be fired if he gives him only 5 carries a game. I also think he'll exceed 900 total yards (56.25 yards per game). That seems very attainable. The hype is real not just as a receiver, but as a rusher. When Luke Kuechly, Jonathan Stewart, Fozzy Whittaker and other veterans talk so highly of him, I take notice.

“He’s pretty unstoppable as far as coming out of the backfield running routes. I can tell you now there’s not going to be anybody in this league that can cover him 1-on-1.”

“He’s a special player. Coach (Mike) Shula has definitely found some pretty good ways to put him in positions to win.” - RB Jonathan Stewart

"As soon as he took the field for the first time in minicamp, I knew that he was a special player. I've already learned some of the ways he runs routes. Excellent. Amazing. I've already taken a couple of things from him. I don't know how he does it. It's crazy some of the things he does. I feel like there's only a few backs in the league that can run a compelx route tree like the one he's doing." - RB Fozzy Whittaker

“The way he runs, you can tell he’s done it a few times. He’s very precise with his movements. He’s in and out of breaks quick. I think he’s going to be somebody that helps us out."

“When you have a running back that can do that, it poses problems. “When they motion him outside he’s got a route tree he can run versus some other running backs that are either going to run a slant or a go or a sit. You’ve got to know where he is." - LB Luke Kuechly

"He's quick. He's a lot bigger than he was in OTA's. I think he's going to make a lot of plays for us. I saw him make a move on Luke (Kuechly). He made a pretty sharp cut. It made me do a little 'ooh, ahh.'" - CB James Bradberry

“A lot of guys like what Christian brings to the table. We’re all excited about who he can be for us. It’s been exciting to watch him."

"Guys come up and say 'he's going to be really special coach.' I think we're all excited about who he's going to be for us."

“His first move is to set you up, then where he goes from there is up to him. He’s the one that feels it. He’s natural at what he does."

“He works at it. Works very hard at it. That’s why he can be a very good player in this league." - HC Ron Rivera

His ADP is going to soar as we get closer to Week 1. I believe selecting McCaffrey in the fourth round will be much more difficult moving forward.

Miglio: Yeah, let's say his ADP rises into the late 2nd. Is he worthwhile there? I think he could be in PPR leagues.

Realistically, though, McCaffrey would have to hop over some running backs for his ADP to climb that high. I can see him leapfrogging Marshawn Lynch and Joe Mixon, but is he getting above Lamar Miller and Leonard Fournette? Incidentally, I like McCaffrey much more than Fournette in PPR formats.

Jeff, I should have said "at least" 80 carries. I can see him approaching 200 touches on the year if he stays healthy.

Jason Wood: On a notional basis, Leonard Fournette tops my list. I have him ranked RB11 in standard leagues, one spot higher than our consensus RB12 ranking. It's my belief Tom Coughlin and Doug Marrone will commit to the ground game in a way the consensus isn't conceptualizing yet.

On a relative basis, my favorite rookie running back is Christian McCaffrey. I'm highest on the staff at RB15, a full five spots (and several rounds) higher than the consensus. When Jonathan Stewart is gushing about McCaffrey and raving about his work ethic, precision and strength, in the first few days of camp, you know this kid is special. I fully accept the Panthers could use a committee at the start of the season, but McCaffrey is too good to keep out of the lead role. If he's an RB2 because of receiving skills in the first month, but starts logging 15-20+ touches per game over the final three months, the consensus RB20 ranking is going to seem silly.

Miglio: Ahem, I believe I am highest on staff with McCaffrey at RB11, Jason.

Seems crazy on the surface, but here are the guys I have ranked just behind him: Todd Gurley, Carlos Hyde, Ty Montgomery, Marshawn Lynch, Ameer Abdullah, C.J. Anderson, and Leonard Fournette. RB2 seems like a craps shoot, and I just like McCaffrey's game more.

Wood: Ha! Indeed you are Alex ... props!

Haseley: I will definitely be increasing McCaffrey in my rankings.

Justin Bonnema: A lot of people look at the rookie seasons of Ezekiel Elliott, LeVeon Bell, and David Johnson and think those are repeatable events. But I'm with Chad; tough for me to get on board with most rookie running backs given their current ADPs. In fact, last year was the first year I even considered drafting a rookie in several seasons thanks to Elliott. There isn't an Elliott in this draft.

Fournette is the closest and certainly an intriguing talent, but no way I'm investing a second round pick on a guy that has never played a snap and will be sharing the field with an offense that scored under 20 points per game last season while managing only eight rushing touchdowns. I don't see the Jaguars offense making a huge turnaround. Their defense could keep them in some games but that doesn't mean Fournette is going to pay off his price tag. Plus, I'd much rather jump on the shelf of wide receivers with similar ADPs such as T.Y. Hilton, Dez Bryant, and Doug Baldwin.

Mixon going in the mid-third is just crazy. That backfield is going to be impossible to predict. He may earn a steady role later in the season (total speculation), but that's a long time to wait and a lot of wishful thinking for someone that is going just a few slots after Tom Brady. I'm not advocating an early quarterback pick; just some perspective. Mixon would have to fall several rounds before I'm buying. And again, there are several players with similar ADPs that have much better path to being top-eight at their positions.

McCaffrey is similar to Mixon. I'll admit that I don't watch a lot of college football so I can't speak to McCaffrey's talents like some of my fellow staffers, but I'm not sure why anyone is paying that price. He could be the weapon they need, but it's like we are all forgetting that Cam Newton is the best runner in football. And I think Stewart has some value left, especially if his price continues to fall.

Generally, I'm going to let my league-mates pay those rookie prices. I think there is way more risk in taking any of the guys mentioned above at their current ADP, than not taking them.

John Norton: You just keep passing on those rookie backs and I'll keep taking them. I've won a lot of leagues over the years by stepping up for  guys like Curtis Martin, Terrell Davis, Edgerrin James, Clinton Portis, Adrian Peterson etc.  If he's a good player going into a good situation and can pass block, the running back position is the easiest  of all to transition from college to pro successfully. Running the rock is running the rock and the young guys are always fresh and hungry.

Excellent article here by Elliot Harrison on rookie backs.

Bonnema: John, that is an excellent article and I get that I might miss opportunity by passing on some of these guys, but in Peterson's rookie season, according to historical ADP data from MyFantasyLeague.com, he was drafted 48th overall. That's in the late-fourth, which means Fournette, Mixon, and McCaffrey are all being drafted ahead of where Peterson was in his rookie season. No thanks.

And if I may shamelessly plug an article I wrote a few years ago, here's a more in-depth look at how rookie running backs have performed versus their ADP.

It's not perfect and could stand to be updated, but the general conclusion led me away from drafting Melvin Gordon. I may have missed on Todd Gurley, but I generally feel safe avoiding rookies going above Round 5.

Norton: I feel you there, Justin. I was just chastised in a draft evaluation for taking Mixon too high. It was a swing for the fences pick that I would have rather not taken so early but sometimes you get stuck in those situations. I didn't like the guys that were left better then the potential he brought in a PPR format. When you go with the young guys that early, sometimes you're the bug and sometimes you're the windshield.

BTW, I drafted David Johnson way too early in his rookie season in about 7 leagues. Won 3 of them. It's all about your approach to the drafting game I guess.

Haseley: I recall John's love for David Johnson in his rookie season as evidenced by his continuous interest in hm in staff mocks. John  was definitely the ring leader for Johnson among the staff. Back then, Johnson was not considered to be an out of the gate starter for Arizona. Andre Ellington was getting all the love and Johnson was the rookie who could potentially get some carry shares. Sounds similar to Kareem Hunt, Jamaal Williams and/or Joe Williams this year. I'm not necessarily comparing those three to Johnson, but their ADP and perception are similar this year to where Johnson was his rookie season.

Wood: I'm not sure where this "rookie RBs aren't worth it" mantra came about, unless you're young enough in the game to think a few year down cycle equates to the new norm. Rookie running backs have always been fertile ground, and are back to being important cogs. In other words, I'm with John.

Matt Waldman: I like having league winnings, so I continue to count rookie RBs as real fantasy football values.

McCaffrey was my top back in this class pre- and post-draft. After the RSP came out, a scout (I have to check, but I believe the Colts) told me that he and some of his peers from other teams think McCaffrey will be what everyone pro-Reggie Bush thought Bush would be...

Joe Bryant: Personally, I don't see too much of the Rookie RBs aren't worth it. I see more of 2016 Ezekiel Elliott was an outlier.  Which is a very different thing.

Waldman: And that I agree with. Elliott, James, Davis, and George were all on teams with strong o-lines when they arrived and they were excellent backs. You don't get that combination often. Same with Peterson who replaced Chester Taylor and Taylor's 1300 rushing yards the year before.

Bonnema: Yeah, I'm not saying rookie running backs "aren't worth it". I'm saying Fournette isn't worth it for as long as he sits in the middle of the second round. I see more of an argument for McCaffrey since the Panthers offense will at least give you volume. If I had to choose one rookie in the first five rounds, it would be him. But I'd rather take my chances with Ty Montgomery, Mike Gillislee, LeGarrette Blount or another wide receiver.

That said, there is a ton of talent at the running back position from the last few drafts. I just don't think the NFL is setup to take advantage of that talent like they once were, at least not from a workhorse perspective.

Danny Tuccitto: It's weird to me that there isn't more love for Dalvin Cook in this thread. Literally the only mention so far is Chad noting he's overpriced; which I'm not sure I agree with given his current ADP (i.e., 51st overall, RB19, fourth among the Big 4 rookies).

In any event, when I'm considering rookie RBs, whether it be for redraft or dynasty, my goal is to answer the question, "How likely is it that this guy achieves three-down back status this year?" There are several (obvious) factors that go into this; things like the draft capital his team spent on him, the offensive philosophy he was drafted into (aka his HC/OC), his skill set, the depth chart ahead of him, statistical projection models, etc.

Of the Big 4, and outside of Fournette's obvious commitment and opportunity, Cook's the only other "more likely than not" qualifier to me. Mixon's seems to have a big commitment from CIN, but Bernard's still there to steal passing-down work. Similarly, McCaffrey's got more of a commitment from CAR than Cook has from MIN (i.e., he was drafted way earlier), but he still has Stewart there to steal running-down work. (Both of these situations could change; if they do, I'll retract.)

Meanwhile, Cook is a 2nd-round MIN investment whose running-down competition is a cheap, basically one-year free agent signing that was handed the workorse job in a run-heavy OAK offense but got demoted to situational work with a couple of rookies and is now on PUP (i.e., Murray). And Cook's passing-down competition is a been-there-done-that player that's failed to break out as a runner or a receiver over the past few seasons despite multiple opportunities to do so (i.e., McKinnon) -- much to the chagrin of acolytes like me, by the way.

Now add in the fact that Cook has already demonstrated workhorse status and succeeded in said role at FSU. (Remember: College production is more predictive for RBs than any other offensive position.)  He's a far-above-average statistical prospect at both running and receiving. In addition, MIN OC  Pat Shurmur's history suggests he prefers workhorses when the RB talent dictates it: Before MIN, his previous OC stints with the Rams and Eagles resulted in Steven Jackson and LeSean McCoy dominating backfield touches.

Maybe I'm delusional, but I just see Cook's path to three-down, workhorse status in 2017 meeting less resistance than Mixon's and McCaffrey's. Pair that with Cook's lower ADP cost, and I'm all-in (right now).

Parsons: A rebuttal to Danny's comment on production being more predictive at running back than any other position - my research has shown wide receiver production scores in college as more sticky to fantasy production than running back. The physical side of a prospect's profile is more important - as well as recruiting elements - for running backs than wide receivers.

Bob Henry: Taking off on a flight but I'll drop the quick one from good old Jimmy Leyland. It works across sports. Simple. "The good ones come quick."  I'm with you John and you his has been one of those blind spots for me somewhat but I go with youth if it's really close otherwise.

Tuccitto: Apologies, Chad. My excitement for Cook got in the way of my commitment to clarity. I think we're both correct, just from different points of view.

What I meant was that, for RBs, it's  their own individual college production that's predictive. Whereas, for WRs, it's their college production  in the context of the offense (e.g., converting everything to market shares) that's predictive. I interpret this as RB production being more directly predictive, but I see how WR would be the correct answer if one considers indirect effects.

Andy Hicks: I'm not missing out on the David Johnson backslapping. I took him way too high in the staff dynasty league and if I recall, John and I had him way higher in the rankings than anyone else.

Anyway that doesn't help anyone now. Let's address that.

The fail rate of rookie running backs, taking into account their ADP is extraordinarily high.

  • 2016 - 5 of the top 7 rookie running backs, according to ADP, failed to finish in the top 36 running backs. Jordan Howard and Robert Kelley were outside this group and did finish in the top 36. 
  • 2015 - 5 of the top 7 rookie running backs, according to ADP, failed to finish in the top 36 running backs. David Johnson, Jeremy Langford, Thomas Rawls, Karlos Williams and Javorious Allen were outside this group and did finish in the top 36.
  • 2014 - The top 3 rookie running backs, according to ADP, failed to finish in the top 36.  Isaiah Crowell and Branden Oliver were outside this group and finished in the top 36.
  • 2013 - 3 of the top 7 rookie running backs, according to ADP, failed to finish in the top 36. Zac Stacy and Andre Ellington were outside this group and finished in the top 36
  • 2012 - 4 of the top 7 rookie running backs, according to ADP, failed to finish in the top 36. Vick Ballard was outside this group and did finish in the top 36.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't consider the top rookie prospects, but we need to be aware of their failure rate and where their ADP is. In other words if Christian McCaffrey keeps shooting up draft boards, be cautious. Same with Samaje Perine. History tells us that on average 4 of McCaffrey, Perine, Dalvin Cook, Leonard Fournette, Joe Mixon, Kareem Hunt and Joe Williams are going to fail to live up to expectations. 2 or 3 of Alvin Kamara, Jamaal Williams, Marlon Mack, D'Onta Foreman, James Conner, Wayne Gallman etc are going to be pleasant surprises for their owners.

Opportunity, situation and ability all will come into play. If I had to play soothsayer, I would say:

Christian McCaffrey, Joe Mixon and Leonard Fournette finish in the top 36, while the other 4 don't. Cook is a tough call, but that O-Line is hard to love.

Wayne Gallman and D'Onta Foreman finish in the top 36 from the bottom group.

Tuccitto: Good stuff, Andy. If I'm reading you correctly, the take-home message is that rookie RBs is one group of players where you want to focus mainly on value. I wholeheartedly agree. Cook being the cheapest of the Big 4 (aka the best value) is another reason why I'm advocating him as the best redraft pick of that bunch.

More broadly, though, I'm typically  more inclined -- as you're suggesting --to reserve my rookie RB picks until later in the draft (i.e., Rounds 6 to 20), and to base those picks on opportunity, situation, and ability. Here's what I'm thinking at the moment about the non-Big 4 rookie RBs you listed:

  • Perine and Hunt have good value that has a decent chance of becoming league-winning value. They may be the starter as early as Week 1, and they'll have immediate opportunities to show their stuff even if they're not.
  • Foreman, Mack, and Joe Williams have minimal value until they have league-winning value. They're behind three-down backs on thin ice (Gore for age; Miller for disappointment; and Hyde for the 49ers correctly shopping their most valuable asset at one of the most replaceable positions during a rebuilding phase), and they'll have intermittent opportunities to show their stuff between now and a possible ascension.
  • Conner and Jamaal Williams have no value until they have league-winning value. Conner won't see the field often enough for fantasy purposes unless Bell suffers a catastrophic injury. Ditto Jamaal vis-a-vis Montgomery, although McCarthy seems to just wing it at RB sometimes, so who knows?
  • Kamara and Gallman have no value and have a minimal chance of becoming league-winning value. They're buried on the depth charts of offenses that split opportunities situationally. The depth chart barrier could fall, however, when cut-down day comes.

As I said, this is how I'm thinking right now. Rebuttal is welcome as I'm completely open to persuasion at this early date.

p.s. When I say "no value" here, I don't actually mean zero value. Just using it as shorthand for "He'd never see the light of day in a fantasy lineup unless..."

Norton: It's not about rookie backs in general and you really can't just lump them all into the same conversation. The point I was making is if there is a back you are particularly high on and believe will be in the lineup early,  don't be afraid to step up and get him early. It's not like there is a David Johnson in every draft  but when you think there is one, don't lose him just because he's a rookie and you refuse to take a rookie back before X round.

The  whole point of what we do is trying to scoop opponents on rising stars before everyone knows they are rising stars. If you don't do that you are shooting yourself in the foot. Sure I may have been able to get Johnson (or Mixon) a round or two later but I wanted to make sure I got them. It doesn't work out every time but then drafting the perceived number one RB doesn't either. There is no such animal as a sure thing in this game and every pick we make is a gamble. Sometimes the bigger risk reaps the bigger reward, you just need to be a good gambler and take the right risks more often than not.

Ryan Hester: This has been such a great conversation so far. The early love for McCaffrey definitely made me think of him more favorably, but the answer here for me is Mixon. Here are some quick facts:

Late last season, Hill entered Week 16 questionable with a knee injury. He finished that game with seven carries for eight yards, while Rex Burkhead played 49 snaps and acquitted himself nicely (albeit unspectacularly). Hill practiced leading into Week 17 but was ultimately left out of the lineup in favor of Burkhead, who played  56 out of 68 snaps and gained 119 rushing yards, scoring twice. Hill, a one-dimensional player, never played more than 39 snaps in any game all season.

All of that is to say that Cincinnati knows what they have with Hill (and they don't like it). Mixon was probably the biggest character red flag in this draft, and Cincinnati used significant capital to take him. They aren't going to let him sit the bench for very long (if at all). It's a very #NarrativeStreet way to look at the situation, but we don't have NFL data on Mixon at this point, so speculation is still a big piece of the evaluation.

Cincinnati has claimed throughout the offseason that they want to less predictable with their personnel. Having a running back like Mixon who can do everything, as opposed to having a very clear delineation of duties between Hill and Giovani Bernard allows them to do this. By October (at the latest), Mixon will be racking up RB1 fantasy weeks and being projected as a top-15-to-20 option on a weekly basis.

Phil Alexander: Since a lot of ground has already been covered here, I'll try to give my quick thoughts on the usual suspects the others have already mentioned:

  • McCaffrey - All it will take is one flashy preseason run to send his ADP soaring, which could mean trouble. He's already being drafted as the RB16 in PPR leagues. Given the Panthers run-heavy offense and McCaffrey's skillset, there should be enough room for him to carve out about 150 carries and 50 receptions. He could easily parlay those touches into 1,200 total yards, which would be great, but where are the touchdowns coming from? McCaffrey is third on the goal line pecking order behind Cam Newton and Jonathan Stewart so his touchdowns will have to come from distance. He's got the game to score a few long ones, but barring an injury to Stewart (not altogether unlikely), it's hard to project McCaffrey much higher than the RB18-20 range at the moment.
  • Fournette - Of all the candidates, Fournette is the only one who appears to be a lock for upwards of 70% of his team's total backfield touches. I just wish his team wasn't the Jaguars. Every offseason, Jacksonville seems to improve on both sides of the ball, and every year they continue to stink. Blake Bortles, a poor offensive line that just lost Branden Albert to surprise retirement, the potential for negative games scripts, questions about his role on third downs -- these are all strikes against Fournette. Considering he's usually the first one off draft boards, I've got very few shares on my early rosters, even if I am intrigued with Fournette as a player.
  • Cook - If the preseason film matches the training camp buzz, I reserve the right to change my mind on Cook. But for now, I see him as a committee back in a less than desirable offense. I'm not as ready to write off Jerick McKinnon for the passing down role as Danny. After Norv Turner left the Vikings in Week 8 last year, Shurmur started using McKinnon out of the shotgun more frequently. The results were a 20% increase in McKinnon’s rush yards per attempt over the final six weeks (from 3.4 to 4.1), to go along with 35 receptions for 226 yards (he only had eight total catches in the first eight games under Turner). As the only incumbent back on the roster, McKinnon is most familiar with the offense Shurmur wants to run. I'm no fan of Latavius Murray, but he was effective on the goal line last season. If he makes any meaningful contribution this season, I'd expect it to be on short scoring opportunities. It leaves Cook as a potential two-down back, with limited scoring chances, in an offense that could have trouble getting past 20 points most weeks. No thanks. Give me Ameer Abdullah or C.J. Anderson later.
  • Mixon - Assuming Andy Dalton and company stay healthy, Mixon is tied to a solid offense that should provide plenty of fantasy opportunity. There's not much for me to say in support of Mixon as the right choice Ryan hasn't said already. I'll only throw in that Mixon's skill-set -- big, fast, elusive, can be moved all over the formation -- most closely resembles the profile of an RB1. Not a top-12 running back mind you -- I'm talking about the David Johnson's and LeVeon Bell's of the world. Even if you're not a fan of Mixon's third round ADP, you have to admit no other running back being drafted in his tier has LeVeon Bell in his range of possible outcomes. I've been targeting Mixon in Round 3 all summer.

My dark horse candidate is Jamaal Williams. Ty Montgomery is locked in as the starter in Green Bay, but Williams has earned first team reps and is clearly ahead of the Packers other rookies for the primary backup role. It also sounds like Williams might be the best pass blocking back on Green Bay's roster. Not surprisingly, Montgomery struggled to pass block after switching to running back from wide receiver mid-season, which was the primary reason his playing time was held in check (Montgomery reached double digit carries in only one game). I'm all for drafting Montgomery at his ADP. Even if "starter" touches only turn out to be 12-15 per game, he's talented enough (and Green Bay's offense is great enough) for Montgomery to maximize his opportunity. But not only does Williams have a legitimate shot at carving out a role alongside Montgomery, he's one injury away from the catbird seat as the lead back in an Aaron Rodgers-led offense.  Williams could end up a steal in the double digit rounds.

Tuccitto: Good points about the MIN situation, Phil. I agree that there's a non-zero chance of Murray stealing rushing down work (esp. in the red zone) and McKinnon stealing passing down work. In fact, I think there's a significant chance of the McKinnon part of it occuring early in the season, so I didn't intend for what I said to come off as "dismissal."

I'm just of the opinion that Cook is a better runner than Murray and a better receiver than McKinnon, so he has the skill set to take on a three-down role fairly soon; even more so because of the second-round capital MIN invested in him. I consider it very similar to Mixon's situation in CIN, where he's a better runner than Hill and a better receiver than Bernard, so he's got a good chance to become their three-down back fairly soon. He was also a second-round investment! Basically, talent won't be denied, unless the boss is incompetent.

So from there, preferring Cook to Mixon (or Fournette or McCaffrey) right now, as I said, is because of their relative prices. Speaking of price, I'll add that I can definitely see your argument for avoiding Cook at his price given the backs you can get much later.

Miglio: Jamaal Williams is becoming more of a draft priority every week. He's working with the first-stringers, and I don't think Ty Montgomery can be a guy who touches the ball 20-plus times a week.

Chris Feery: Count me in the Christian McCaffrey camp. He looks like a perfect fit for the offense, and I’m of the opinion that the Panthers bounce back in a pretty big way this year. I’m passing on Joe Mixon and Dalvin Cook. While I’m optimistic on the long-term prospects for both players, I’m more inclined to go with an established talent when either one of them is staring me in the face and available. I’m definitely interested in Samaje Perine if I don’t have to overpay for him, but he’s being drafted as if he’s locked into the starting gig. He’s not, but I think he’ll see a healthy amount of work this year.