Pivoting back to the website as we slowly approach what I’m calling “phase two” of the BREAKOUT FINDER “rollout”. There are a lot of very cool updates around the corner (as we’ve been promising for months now; we know all good things come to those who wait). My focus going forward will be keeping the site stocked with new, fresh, informative and actionable content that helps you dominant every one of your dynasty leagues. It’s the offseason, and draft season, after all. This is when we make the proverbial donuts. Whether that content is from me personally, or Nate here and there, or perhaps from some to-be-announced writers (more on that soon).
I’ll be throwing my top-25, pre-Combine wide receiver rankings (initially shared and posted over on the BREAKOUT FINDER TV Patreon) here in the coming days. In addition, my previously written (and new, forthcoming content, of course) #devydive prospect-centric pieces will be transitioned over in the coming days and weeks. For now, today, we’re looking at my top-25 running backs, pre-Combine. Before we press forward, a few housekeeping items to get out of the way:
1) These are my personal positional rankings. These are based on my evaluations (film-data-metric mash-up) and subjective opinion. These are not my final rankings, nor are they the BREAKOUT FINDER rookie rankings of any sort (more on that to come at a later date; Mr. Matt Kelley of Player Profiler fame has already unleashed our initial pass at things).
2) Rankings will definitely fluctuate as we still have to clear the Combine, as the title so very explicitly suggests. Athleticism matters, and those test scores will make/break some players in the end.
3) Green-highlighted rows indicate a Senior Bowl participant with an “official” weigh-in. All other heights/weights are per the individual player’s respective school website. Final rankings will have official Combine numbers.
The top-3 backs appear set; I don’t foresee a ton of movement here. These rankings obviously bake in where I believe players will test; for as much back-and-forth and overthinking that has happened with both Jonathan Taylor (and J.K. Dobbins, to a lesser extent), everything gets solidified after they “pleasantly surprise” folks at the Combine. Strong production, obvious talents, with above-average (expected) test results. Easy evaluations, really.
The “big three” at running back likely transforms, if it hasn’t already, into the “big four” once Cam Akers shows out at the Combine respectively. He’s a plus-athlete and a player that needs an asterisk or two next to his production and overall situation. More here.
Utah’s Zack Moss is currently PFF’s number one overall running back, mainly off the strength of his broken tackle work, which I can respect. The production was there throughout the career, injury in mind, and I’m just mainly interested in how he tests. Get some David Montgomery-vibes, which isn’t necessarily a good thing given my pre- and post-draft takes.
Both Antonio Gibson and Joshua Kelley are two intriguing mid-late round options at the moment. Gibson offers the higher ceiling (former wideout, who is actually listed there for the Combine) whereas Kelley showed out at the Senior Bowl and provides the safer floor arguably (as the Podfather, the other Kelley, so eloquently put it).
Additionally, Darrynton Evans is a player who, the more I watch, the more I find myself inching him up the board and rankings. Smaller school, of course (feels like there’s an App State back of note each draft class), but he really does it all. His usage as a receiver, for example, saw growth each season — things we like to see.