This year’s running back class is notably weaker than other positions, so how should we value them compared to other years and other positions? I’ll be looking at the career hit rates of players drafted in the ranges of this year’s rookies, categorizing them based on their career fantasy production both in the short- and long-term. I’ll judge players based on their peak success and their longevity to create an overall picture of running back hit rate. Also make sure you check out my dynasty and rookie rankings, my breakdown of all four positions and follow me on Instagram @TheFantasyFirstDown and on Twitter @FantasyFirstDwn.


I looked at fantasy production from all running backs drafted since 2011, though I looked as far back as 2004 for the earlier picks to get a better sample size. Players were placed into one of 8 categories:

Superstars: A top 5 fantasy finish and 5+ years of fantasy-relevant production

Studs: A top 10 fantasy finish and 4+ years of fantasy-relevant production

Starters: A top 24 fantasy finish and 4+ years of fantasy-relevant production

Backups: A top 36 fantasy finish and 3+ years of fantasy-relevant production

Solid players: A top 60 fantasy finish and 3+ years of fantasy-relevant production

Brief Booms: A top 10 fantasy finish and less than 3 years of fantasy-relevant production

Brief Values: A top 60 fantasy finish and 2-3 years of fantasy-relevant production

Bust: Less than 2 years of fantasy-relevant production and no top 10 finishes

I also ignored any players who are too early in their careers to be fairly categorized. This included almost all players drafted in 2023. You’ll notice that my longevity cutoffs are lower than for wide receivers. This is to reflect the shorter career spans of running backs.

The data for this analysis is listed at the bottom of this article.


Mid-Late 2nd round picks (Jonathon Brooks)

Although Jonathon Brooks was selected 46th overall, I grouped only picks 41-64 in order to keep consistency with the wide receivers. Despite this, there’s a massive drop-off after the end of the second round when it comes to top end running backs. In fact significantly more superstars were drafted in the mid-late 2nd round than in the remainder of the draft combined! We’re talking guys like Jonathan Taylor, Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon, Derrick Henry, Le’Veon Bell, LeSean McCoy, Matt Forte and many more. Jonathon Brooks has been the consensus top rookie running back since this year’s draft but if you’re looking for a true league winner, this data suggests you should take this a step further. For me, Brooks is the only back worth drafting in the first 18-20 picks of rookie drafts. Even he comes with a lot of risk though. While every Top 10 drafted running back in the last decade has found success in the NFL, nearly half of the backs in Brooks’ range have busted or flamed out quickly. So there’s big upside here, but don’t give up reliable resources to gamble on the new Panthers lead back. If you’re looking for an elite running back, you may be better off waiting until next year or trading for one.


3rd round picks (Trey Benson, Blake Corum, Marshawn Lloyd)

So you missed out on Jonathon Brooks, what now? 3rd round backs lack the upside of their earlier counterparts but they’re still likely to be fantasy contributors. In fact over half of the 3rd round picks analyzed have at least a top 28 fantasy finish. While Alvin Kamara and David Johnson are the big names in this range, you’re more likely to get solid fantasy producers like Rachaad White, David Montgomery and Kareem Hunt. Unfortunately, none of this year’s 3rd round rookies are heading into a clear starting role. Trey Benson has the clearest path with James Conner an injury-prone and aging back. Benson was also drafted very early in the 3rd round meaning you should value him a little higher than the other two, as early 3rd round picks have a slightly higher success rate. Meanwhile Blake Corum is stuck behind last year’s breakout in Kyren Williams making him less desirable. Marshawn Lloyd may seem tempting but Josh Jacobs is only entering his age-26 season and the Packers tend to favor committees. It’s hard to love any of the three, though there’s still a good chance at least one of the group turns into a valuable fantasy asset. All things considered I’d heavily prefer Benson if I had the choice, but a long way behind Brooks.


4th round picks (Jaylen Wright, Bucky Irving, Will Shipley, Ray Davis, Isaac Guerendo and Braelon Allen)

I have a real soft spot for Ray Davis but I have to admit, this analysis has made me re-think my bullishness considerably. Even the earliest Day 3 running backs are nearly twice as likely to bust as their Day 2 counterparts. While names like Devonta Freeman and Lamar Miller stand out, there are significantly more in the Isaiah Spiller, Pierre Strong and Hassan Haskins bust group. Interestingly, there have been even more disappointments in recent years, though it’s still possible backs like Zamir White and Dameon Pierce buck this trend. This makes drafting the likes of Ray Davis and Jaylen Wright a very risky proposition. The upside is likely rather heavily capped and the odds of failure is high. Having said that, a couple of these guys will likely go on to have fantasy success and they’re not all equal. Isaac Guerendo, Will Shipley and Braelon Allen go into clear backup roles while Bucky Irving is more of a pass catching option who lacks true upside. That leaves Davis and Wright as the prime boom candidates. You know where my money lies but if I had the choice, I’d likely just avoid the position altogether.


5th round picks (Audric Estime, Rasheen Ali, Tyrone Tracy, Keilan Robinson and Isaiah Davis)

You’d think things would get even worse as we hit the 5th round but surprisingly, there’s not as much of a drop-off as I expected when looking at the drop off in caliber between the rounds. I can’t imagine drafting any of this year’s 5th round rookies and yet the numbers suggest one will probably have some success. I doubt it will be on the level of the likes of superstars Kyren Williams and Aaron Jones, but if I’m going to put my money somewhere, it’s on Tyrone Tracy. Tracy has the easiest path to touches in a weak Giants backfield and he has the tackle-breaking ability to offer some fantasy value in the NFL. He’s a viable 4th round rookie pick.


6th/7th round picks (Kimani Vidal, Jase McClellan, Jawhar Jordan and Dylan Laube)

I bundled the later Day 3 rookies into one category as they’re statistically quite similar. This is usually a dead zone for other fantasy positions, with most players drafted here special teams fodder. That isn’t the case for running backs though, with the likes of Isiah Pacheco, Latavius Murray and Chris Carson finding moderate success in the last decade. It’s hard to love any of this year’s late round rookies given the super high bust rate though. While many favor Kimani Vidal, I’m not set on him at all. In fact my preferred super-late pick is Dylan Laube. I like his chances of winning the pass catching role in Vegas with Ameer Abdullah aging and generally disappointing. Zamir White is also a mediocre pass catcher while Laube has great hands and is a solid blocker. I could see him developing into a James White-style role in an offense that lacks receiving quality outside of Davante Adams and Brock Bowers.

Undrafted rookies (Cody Schrader, Frank Gore Jr, Dillon Johnson etc.)

Undrafted free agent running backs are significantly more likely to succeed than other offensive positions. Austin Ekeler, Raheem Mostert, Jaylen Warren and many others have provided serious fantasy value despite going undrafted but that doesn’t mean you should target UDFAs. There are dozens of new undrafted free agents on rosters across the league so the odds of you picking the correct one is incredibly low. For example, while I’m a big Cody Schrader fan after his time at Mizzou, I’m not willing to waste a roster spot on him. You can always do better.


I’ll be back next week with my full dynasty rankings, then in a fortnight I’ll go through quarterback and tight end hit rates. If you’re wanting to learn more about running back hit rates though, you can check out my video deep dive here.



2nd round

3rd round

4th round

5th round

6/7th round





































Brief Booms







Brief Values














First Year