Welcome to the 2015 Footballguys Discussion series, where we get a few staff members and toss them an open-ended question. Check out their answers.
Taking into account their ADP, which rookie running back is most appealing to you this season?
Jason Wood: While I'm not going to compare this year's rookie running back class to last year's stellar rookie receiver class, I do see parallels. I believe we could see an unusually high number of fantasy relevant rookie running backs this year. First, we're in an era of committees. Second, many of the consensus Top 10 fantasy running backs are older (29+) and history hasn't been kind to that subgroup. Third, the situations many rookie runners find themselves in are advantageous.
For most of the preseason, Melvin Gordon III was my top rated rookie running back, but I'm reconsidering. I still like Gordon, but have dropped him toward the end of his tier given a quiet and inconsistent training camp including questions about his ability to handle blitz pickups. The Chargers can't afford to let Philip Rivers -- and his new $80+ million extension -- take undue hits. Meanwhile, Danny Woodhead is healthy and reminding us all why he was a Top 20 (PPR) back in 2013. I still like Gordon and would be thrilled to have him as my RB3, but as my RB? Less so.
Which brings me to Ameer Abdullah. Abdullah has an ADP nearly three rounds later than Gordon, but I think he'll have arguably as big a role in 2015. He's explosive, can catch, and runs hard inside in spite of his smaller stature. Combine that with my general reticence to trust Joique Bell -- who is banged up -- and I can see Abdullah being the top rookie back. Even if he's not, based on the spot you can draft him, he has more value than Gordon, Todd Gurley or T.J. Yeldon.
Jeff Pasquino: If Ameer Abdullah makes it to Round 5, I would have a hard time passing him up. Granted Detroit could fall flat this year, but the kid looks fantastic and has everything in his favor right now with Joique Bell sidelined.
That said, the safest rookie pick is Melvin Gordon III, as he should see the majority of chances with San Diego. T.J. Yeldon would be next, but I still do not believe in Jacksonville. I would take the risk (and high price tag) on Todd Gurley before risking a pick on Yeldon.
Boiling it all down and the pick for me is Abdullah, as long as his ADP doesn't get ridiculous. I am not taking him until the back end of Round 4 or early in Round 5.
Daniel Simpkins: Though Matt Waldman is undoubtedly the conductor, I'm the guy shoveling coal on the Ameer Abdullah hype train. We saw how impressive he looked on film. We heard how good he was in OTAs. When the pads came on in camp, we listened as the praise from teammates and coaches continued to get louder. Then we saw him flash in a preseason outing. For most, seeing was believing and his ADP really took off. Once upon a time early in the offseason, Abdullah had an eighth round ADP. Now, you are lucky to get him in the fifth. Even if he does begin to make it regularly into the late fourth round, I will still be inclined to take him there, simply because I believe he will outproduce all the other backs going in that range.
Chad Parsons: T.J. Yeldon is the best blend of floor and ceiling at his ADP for my money. The Round 3/4 turn is a sweet spot for Yeldon I have found even in the savvy leagues filled with sharks. Yeldon has minimal competition for touches and has a three-down skillset and prototypical size. Jacksonville's offense, while not earmarked for elite status in 2015, is a prime candidate for an uptick from the struggles of 2014. Yeldon has tempered touchdown upside, but 200+ carries and 20+ receptions is a reasonable floor with 250/30 in play. As an inexpensive RB2, or ideally an RB3, Yeldon is a strong target player outside the top-35.
Andy Hicks: Until his hamstring injury I was all over David Johnson in Arizona. Now that the team signed Chris Johnson and will have Andre Ellington see significant time I have to put the brakes on the rookie. He should drop significantly in drafts with this news and I can't see either Chris Johnson or Ellington being successful, so I would hope he recovers in time to get the reps he needs to contribute this year. If he can get fit in time I have no doubt that he will be given a shot and is good enough to win to still be useful this year.
Outside Johnson I would have to agree that Gordon, Yeldon and Abdullah are the best options for production this year and the other guys have outlined good cases for all of them.
James Brimacombe: There are some great choices for rookie RB's this year with Melvin Gordon III, T.J. Yeldon, and Ameer Abdullah all on the list so far as the guys with the best opportunity and current ADP. I am usually a sucker for rookie RBs and likely over draft them every single year as I go searching for a steal at the position trying to hit a home run on an unknown in the 3-5 round as I have spent my first couple of picks on star WR's.
Gordon seems like the easy slam dunk out of the bunch as he is the guy right from the start and plays on a team that traded up to draft him and are wanting to have a good balance of running the ball to go with their already good passing game. The big surprise for me was to see all staff members not even mention Todd Gurley in the discussion as of now. Sure Gurley is going in the 3-5th round now based on ADP but his stock is falling due to him not being 100% healthy and having draftees afraid to risk a high pick on him and elect to go a safer route. If we learned anything from last year with Odell Beckham Jr Jr, we should know that even with a slight injury, at the end of the day a players talent can make up for it and help you hit that home run on a pick you are willing to take a chance on while others are playing it safe in their drafts.
Stephen Holloway: Like Jason said, Gordon was my number one rookie running back for most of the off-season and with some of the later less than glowing reports particularly his blocking and hesitation to hit the hole, I am hesitating. The longer that Gurley stays off the field, the lower his ADP slides and the more that I covet him for this season. We know that he is likely to miss a few games, but his talent would make up for those few missed games. I agree with James that Gurley could wind up being my preferred rookie running back in redraft leagues this year.
Phil Alexander: It is with great hesitation, I'm stubbornly sticking with Melvin Gordon III as my top rookie running back. I'm as enamored with Ameer Abdullah as the next fantasy analyst, but his ADP has risen to the top of the fourth round, where I'm leery of drafting a known committee back. Now that Gordon and Abdullah are available at the same price, I've got to lean Gordon, who figures to see a much larger percentage of his team's backfield touches.
Whereas Abdullah might have trouble getting to 15 total touches per game playing next to Joique Bell and Theo Riddick, Gordon's usage upside is the 311 total touches Ryan Mathews racked up for San Diego in 2013. Yes, Danny Woodhead will have a situational role, but it shouldn't be overstated. Mathews still led the Chargers in carries inside the 10-yard line, and inside the 5-yard line in 2013, when both he and Woodhead played 16 games. While Woodhead's role in the red zone and on passing downs does mean we shouldn't expect a RB1 finish from Gordon, the workload will be there for consistent RB2 numbers. Abdullah has the higher weekly ceiling, and definitely possesses more "win your league" potential, but unless injuries pave the way to a larger role, he'll be tough to rely on in the weeks he fails to break long runs.
Chris Feery: Looks like one of the best crops of rookie running backs in recent memory. Similar to others, I started the preseason very high on Melvin Gordon III. While I still think he will be very productive as a rookie, my outright love is fading a bit. Ameer Abdullah's needle is pointing straight up and he provides tremendous vale at his current ADP. I see the rookie making Joique Bell irrelevant as the season moves along and gaining full control of the backfield in Detroit. Quick nod to T.J. Yeldon as well, looks to be in line for a heavy workload in Jacksonville.
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