Running backs are no longer players that just run the ball 30+ times and wear down the defense. Heading into the 2017 NFL Draft, running backs are making a huge comeback and impacting the league.
We love running backs who will give us runs and catches in fantasy football. However, that isn’t reflected in our analysis of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Last season, ten running backs caught at least 50 passes. That’s the second-highest total in the last five seasons, just behind 12 in 2012.
In the last three seasons, we’ve seen a resurgence in running backs used in the passing game. The total running backs who have caught at least 50 passes went from five in 2014 and 2015 to ten last year.
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Almost every draft expert ranks Leonard Fournette as the best running back in this year’s draft, save for one. Joel Klatt of Fox Sports has Christian McCaffrey as his top-rated running back and seventh overall prospect.
Even players like Dalvin Cook and Alvin Kamara need a little more love. Both of them are better pass catchers than Fournette.
Even NFL.com’s Peter Schrager say NFL executives are saying that McCaffrey has risen into the top-10.
In fact, two of the ten running backs that caught 50 passes in 2016 were opponents in Super Bowl LI. In Super Bowl LI, 32 percent (18/56) of the catches went to running backs.
Versatility is the keyword. It’s why teams won’t settle for Fournette in the first round, and they may take even another position early.
In a salary cap league, it’s also about “bang for your buck.” The more you can do, the better. The NFL is changing, and it’s time our mindset does too.