Dynasty FootballDynasty Prospect RankingsRookies

2018 NFL Pre-Draft Rookie Running Backs (11-20)

With the Super Bowl in the rear-view, most eyes are on the NFL Free Agency period which will kick off in March. As a dynasty owner, the FA period is all well and good, but much of that noise will already be on rosters and only available through trade. To our dynasty teams, most of the weight comes from the NFL Draft. We’ve had years to analyze these players and hope we can predict what they’ll do at the next level. We’ve seen the Senior Bowl, we’ll watch their pro days, and anything else we can just to whet the appetite for what’s to come. Running backs are starting to return to the forefront of the NFL. We have seen that a young running back who can run and catch the ball, can completely change the outlook of an offense. The past three NFL drafts have shown that running backs are once again worthy of top pick consideration

In our previous article, the Top 10 Rookie RBs were highlighted. For this article, we are going to evaluate the next crop of incoming rookie running backs. These players may be ranked 11-20, however could easily jump into the top 10. Most of these players are what are considered satellite backs in the NFL. These are running backs that do most of their damage in the passing game ex: Tevin Coleman.

Embed from Getty Images

11. Nick Chubb Georgia

  • Senior
  • 5-10 225lbs
  • Projected 40 time: 4.52
  • Rushing yards: 4,769
  • Receiving yards: 361
  • Combined TD’s: 48

Nick Chubb is one of the more intriguing prospects in this year’s draft. In 2015 Chubb suffered a gruesome knee injury, in which he dislocated his knee and tore three ligaments. He came in 2016 and played reasonably well, putting up over 1,000 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. Chubb came back in 2017 and improved even more putting up over 1,300 yards and 15 touchdowns. The question on everyone has been asking is Chubb back to normal? This became even more prevalent in 2017 when Sony Michel, his partner in the backfield began eating into his carries. Many scouts believe that Chubb still isn’t fully healthy in returning from his knee Injury but will be going into the NFL. On 223 carries this year Chubb averaged 6.0 yards a carry, which is great compared to most of the SEC defenses he faced throughout the year. Pass blocking and picking up yards after contact are some of his best attributes. Pass blocking will be big at the next level as it could help keep him on the field more inherently getting more chances to get the ball. Chubb also excels with making defenders miss and has breakaway speed, his biggest weakness is receiving out of the backfield.
While the NFL game is transitioning to more running backs producing in the receiving game, since 2014 he hasn’t caught more than five balls out of the backfield. Chubb must prove he can contribute in the passing game in the NFL to become a true three down back. The combine and pro day will have a huge effect on his stock, I could easily see him jumping into the top five of this draft with great days. For now, any team he is drafted to expect him to be the first and second down back and split the load receiving. I expect Chubb to be drafted on day two or three of the draft.

Embed from Getty Images

12. Ito Smith Southern Mississippi

  • Senior
  • 5’9 195lbs
  • Projected 40 time: 4.45
  • Rushing yards: 4,538
  • Receiving yards: 1,446
  • Combined TD’s: 49

Ito Smith might be the ultimate satellite back in this year’s draft. Though he had a prolific college career rushing wise never rushing for fewer than 1,100 yards, except for his freshman year where he split time. Many of the defenses that he rushed against were not top ranked defenses, or even ranked in the top 50. Showing the ability to hit the hole and go on long runs is what will help move him up draft boards. Of course, the questions will be asked about his size and lack of breakaway speed, Smith is considered undersized for the running back position. His biggest strength comes all in the passing game, not only is he a great receiver but also very good at pass blocking. While he was a starter at Southern Mississippi he never caught less than 40 balls a season. While he didn’t score many touchdowns, he still produced yards averaging 10.2 yards a catch. Smith had a decent game at the senior bowl nine rushes for 35 yards, it mostly came in garbage time. He was also snubbed for the combine, so he will really have to impress at his pro day. Ito Smith is projected to be a day three pick. I think if he goes to a team with an established runner he could thrive as a great satellite back, i.e. Chris Thompson on the Washington Redskins.

Embed from Getty Images

13. Kalen Ballage Arizona State

  • Senior
  • 6’3 230lbs
  • Projected 40 time: 4.55
  • Rushing yards: 1,984
  • Receiving yards: 684
  • Combind TD’s: 29

Kalen Ballage has burst onto the scene this year and in the Senior Bowl game. Ballage has split carries at Arizona State the past three years with Demario Richard. While splitting carries he was still able to produce in the running and receiving game. In his sophomore year he was more productive rushing getting 125 carries for 653 yards an average of 5.2 yards a carry. His senior year he rushed the ball the most in his college career getting 157 carries, for 669 yards with an average of 4.3 a carry. Ballage has also proven he can play a crucial role in the receiving game, his junior year was his best in this aspect catching 44 balls for 469 yards an average of 10.7 per catch. Ballage has some major questions to be answered, he has shown to be indecisive in the running game. Waiting too long to cut outside or make a move inside. He doesn’t seem to have quick feet to make cuts and make defenders miss and runs upright not allowing him to squeeze through many holes. While these weaknesses can seem glaring Ballage has a very intriguing size, speed combo. He is not afraid of contact and has the strength to fight through tackles for tough yards. When he can burst through a hole or catch the ball in the open field he’s shown the ability to make big plays.
The combine could truly put Ballage on the map if he runs and lifts well. If he can run a good 40 time with his size and speed combination he will have some NFL general managers salivating. As of now Ballage looks to be a day two or three draft pick. I’m torn on what I think he can be in the NFL, he hasn’t fully shown he can be a workhorse, so I imagine at least early in his career he’ll be a change of pace back and bruiser for short yards. However I wouldn’t be surprised if he was given the ability to be a three down back immediately, he’ll need to be put in a good situation to succeed.

Embed from Getty Images


14. Nyheim Hines North Carolina State

  • Junior
  • 5’9 197lbs
  • Projected 40 time: 4.46
  • Rushing yards: 1,399
  • Receiving yards: 933
  • Combined TD’s: 14

Nyheim Hines is the ultimate satellite back in this year’s draft. Hines is the perfect mixture of wide receiver and running back. In 2017 his junior year was the best year he had as a rusher getting 197 carries for 1,112 yards averaging 5.6 yards a carry. Hines has shown off many abilities this season, playing both as a running back and even slot receiver at times for North Carolina State. He showed multiple times this season that he could take on contact and keep moving, he also showed great homerun burst. He had three runs of over 50 yards for touchdowns this year. Hines is also a smart runner that showed many time to make the right cuts to not allow pursuing defenders to get the angle on him. Of course, Hines showed off his focus and hand talent in his three-year college career with 89 catches and 933 yards.
Hines ability to run sharp routes and make big plays made him a consistent threat out of the backfield. Hines did show some weaknesses these past two years, when he had more playing time. He showed a lack of vision at times trying to find the holes while in the backfield and was slow to the cutback lanes allowing defenders to stop him in the backfield. Hines had also suffered with drops through his career, improved some in 2017, but still needs to improve on it. He also doesn’t seem to have the build to be a every down back. Hines should be a day three pick. If drafted into the right system could be extremely deadly, with home run speed and capable hands. If allowed to be a change of pace back and receiver, Hines should be able to dominate in a satellite back role.

Embed from Getty Images


15. Roc Thomas Jacksonville State

  • 5’11 193lbs
  • Senior
  • Projected 40 time: 4.56
  • Rushing yards: 2,322
  • Receiving yards: 644
  • Combined TD’s: 25

Up until the Senior Bowl, Roc Thomas was a relative unknown to most people. Thomas started his career at Auburn in 2014. In his two-year career there he 475 yards rushing and averaged 5.5 yards a carry, while also putting up 230 yards receiving at a very impressive clip of 12.8 yards on average. However, Auburn brought in two young running backs in Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson. Seeing the writing on the wall Thomas transferred to Jacksonville State where he continued to thrive. In his two years at Jacksonville state he put up 1,847 rushing yards and 414 receiving yards, getting multiple first team and All-American honors. Thomas showed he can make impressive and quick cuts to hit holes, when he hit the holes he also showed the ability to break through tackles. He has also shown short area quickness, and when given a chance will take it to the house with some good breakaway speed. Thomas also on multiple occasions laid out to try and make catches showing a great commitment to trying to catch the ball.
Like so many others in this part of the rankings Thomas showed a lack of vision in the backfield, multiple times this past year when holes were taking time to open, he would just run into the wall and hope for the best. He also on many plays tried to run to the outside and make the home run play, instead of taking what the defense gave him. Thomas has a chance to be a late day two or day three pick, a good combine will help jump him up draft boards. Thomas was invited to the combine which didn’t allow Ito Smith to be invited. As of now Thomas seems to be more of a change of pace back and could be a danger receiving out of the backfield. I do see a chance for him to be an every down back especially if he’s able to succeed at the combine and his pro day, he has the size and the ability to be given a chance.

Embed from Getty Images


16. Justin Jackson Northwestern

  • Senior
  • 5’11 200lbs
  • Projected 40 time: 4.53
  • Rushing yards: 5,440
  • Receiving yards: 858
  • Combined TD’s: 42

Justin Jackson had himself a prolific college career as a rusher at Northwestern. Jackson is one of nine players in NCAA history to have four years of 1,000 yards and is also the leading rusher in Northwestern history. He not only was a workhorse rushing the ball, Jackson was a stud in the receiving game as well. In his four-year college career, he never had a season with less than 21 receptions, which for a running back is good. Jackson showed some great rushing and receiving skills in college. While he has a somewhat unorthodox running style, he does an excellent job of making quick cuts and hitting holes. He also does an excellent job of stringing together multiple cuts and hitting holes or getting to the outside for long runs. Jackson also proved he could make a short dump off pass and turn it into a huge gain, his quick feet can cause defenders to miss on all levels.
In my opinion Jackson only has a few weaknesses his slight build will be considered one, he also had trouble catching the ball when it was right to his hands or in his chest area. Due to his slight build he needs to do a better job of not taking the full brunt of tackles and wasn’t able to break many tackles once he was caught. Jackson is also one of two players in the last 20 years to have over 1,000 carries in his college career, that’s a lot of work already in his young career. Jackson looks to be a day three pick. He is more than likely going to be a change of pace and third down back. However, I do feel he could be a huge playmaker if put in a good role i.e. an Alvin Kamara type role.

Embed from Getty Images

17. Phillip Lindsay Colorado

  • Senior
  • 5’8 190 lbs
  • Projected 40 time: 4.50
  • Rushing yards: 3,775
  • Receiving yards: 1,084
  • Combined TD’s: 39

Phillip Lindsay showed he could do it all at Colorado. Lindsay took over as the starter in 2016 getting 244 carries for 1,252 yards, he also caught 53 passes for 493 yards. Going into his senior year in 2017 he was truly a workhorse back getting over 300 carries for 1,474 yards. However, his catches dropped significantly to just 23 catches for 257 yards. Lindsay was loved at Colorado and was even nicknamed the “Tasmanian Devil” for his playing style. Lindsay has become known for his playing style, though he is considered undersized he never showed it. Lindsay does an excellent job of changing speeds when necessary, whether it’s to get through the hole and make a big play. He was also very good about taking on contact and rolling through arm tackles. He does a good job of making plays out of the backfield receiving and is known to be one of the better pass blockers of the class.
Lindsay is considered to be undersized for the typical NFL running back. His aggressive running style can be considered a bad thing at times, running back into traffic or taking on unnecessary hits. He also struggled at times to catch the ball when thrown at him with some speed on it. Lindsay will more than likely be a day three pick. Due to his size I don’t see him being able to be an every down back. Lindsay will look to be a change of pace back, but more often a third down specialist and receiver out of the backfield.

Embed from Getty Images

18. Bo Scarbrough Alabama

  • Junior
  • 6’2 235lbs
  • Projected 40 time: 4.57
  • Rushing yards: 1,512
  • Receiving yards: 131
  • Combined TD’s: 20

Bo Scarbrough is the next iteration of Alabama’s power running back to enter the NFL. Scarbrough has only really played two years in Alabama before deciding to come out into the NFL, and because of the he is one of the hardest prospects to evaluate. In his two years as a starter he’s only carried the ball for 249 times, which is as much as many of these players have carried the rock in a single season. Of course, when he runs the ball he does look similar to Heisman trophy winner Derrick Henry, however they have many differences. Scarbrough due to his size runs with power, when he gets going downhill he is extremely hard to stop. He also has no issues with finding the holes and powering through them, he is a great short yardage back and goal line back. He does a good job of keeping his shoulders squared making him harder to bring down.
His biggest difference is his durability, in his young career he’s already suffered a broken leg twice and torn his ACL twice. His high running style helps contribute to that as it allows defenders to hit him low often to try and bring him down. He also can start off slow from the start and doesn’t make many defenders miss. He also has shown a lack of vision after getting through the hole, not following blockers and being taken down leaving yards on the field. Scarbrough is an interesting case for the draft. If he has good showings at the combine and his pro day he could easily jump to a day two pick, as of right now I think he’ll be a day three pick. He could be a great late sleeper pick as he has the ability and size to be an every down back and hasn’t take much punishment in college. However, his durability is a big question going into the draft, and could end up being a short yard and goal line bruiser.

Embed from Getty Images

19. Martez Carter Grambling State

  • Senior
  • 5’7 195lbs
  • Projected 40 time: 4.50
  • College Stats:
  • Rushing yards: 1,774
  • Receiving yards: 512
  • Combined TD’s: 26

Martez Carter is another fascinating prospect in this draft. Carter thrived at Grambling State both rushing and receiving when he became the starter after being a cornerback his freshman year. He does an excellent job making defenders miss, his quick speed and good cuts make it hard to tackle. When he is in the open field not only is he hard to catch, but again showed many times he great lateral cuts and moves to avoid defenders. Carter is an established receiver out of the backfield and has been compared to Tarik Cohen in his ability to get downfield and create separation. He is also one of the better kick returners in this draft.
Carter’s size will be a big detraction for him from NFL teams. He is undersized compared to the average back. He also showed this while in college as he was rarely able to break tackles. He also played what is considered a lower level of competition playing at Grambling State. Carter will likely be a day 3 pick. I have him on this list for the reason that I feel he can be a Tarik Cohen type if he goes to the right team, but he will need to be drafted by a team planning on using him that way.

Embed from Getty Images

20. Chase Edmonds Fordham

  • Senior
  • 5’9 201lbs
  • Projected 40 time: 4.52
  • Rushing yards: 5,862
  • Receiving yards: 905
  • Combined TD’s: 74

Chase Edmonds had a highly productive college career at Fordham. His best year was his freshman year where he rushed 294 times for 1,838 yards an average of 6.3 yards a carry. He continued to progress all the way to his junior year which was his last full healthy year, he rushed for 257 time for 1,799 yards averaging a great 7.0 yards a carry. His senior year he struggled to stay healthy. Edmonds does a decent job running with power and elusiveness. He’s very good about bursting through holes making defenders miss, and powering through arm tackles. He has shown he can catch the ball out of the backfield and is a decent route runner. Edmonds struggle with injuries his senior year limited him to just 7 games and is a question he’ll have to answer during the draft process. Many believe it’s due to his heavy workload earlier in his college career. He also struggled with pass blocking and blitz pickups, which will hinder his ability to be on the field a lot in the NFL. He also tries to bounce the run outside often, when he should stick with what his blockers have cleared for him. Edmonds looks locked into a day 3 pick. He looks to be a very good satellite back and should be good at changing pace, and being a dynamic receiver out of the backfield.

The Author

Matthew Bruening

Matthew Bruening


  1. February 24, 2018 at 7:08 pm

    Interesting you didn’t mention the vision Lindsay displays? Might want to research further.

    • February 24, 2018 at 8:58 pm

      Renee, I don’t feel Lindsay showed great vision when I was able to watch him.

  2. Zach
    February 27, 2018 at 9:04 pm

    New to Dynasty FFB, new league with 12 teams, 50 roster spots – all positional and no IDP, most likely all PPR. 12 teams * 50 players = 600 positional players! So after rd 25 is when it’s got to become extremely difficult. Any advice on where I can find something like a top 600 FFB ranking? I’m assuming it’ll be 3rd/4th string players, but by round 40 – who knows?? Sure we’ll all have 5 QBs, but yeah even still, just hard to imagine that many players being available. When the season ends, we then based on waiver order can select 10 more free agents and decide to drop them to draft from the new rookies. Any advice youcan give me?

    • February 28, 2018 at 8:09 pm

      Zach, sorry it took so long for me to reply. For starters holy cow that’s a deep league. I don’t know if any sites that go that deep, im honestly not even sure there are that many available players playing on NFL teams. My advice would be to take a realistic look at your roster, if you think you can contend try and win this year or the next. If you can’t I would try and sell some aging veterans for young players or picks. If you need any more help or need more advice you can always hit me up on twitter, SportsfanaticMB.

Previous post

Dynasty Drafting: Safety vs Risk

Next post

The Dyansty Guru's Triple Play: Cleveland Indians!