NFL Draft Fantasy Favorites: Dissension in running back ranks after Saquon Barkley

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<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/ncaaf/players/250978/" data-ylk="slk:Derrius Guice">Derrius Guice</a> is an indisputable beast between the tackles. However, one of our fanalysts doesn’t view him as the No. 2 RB in this year’s NFL Draft class. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)
Derrius Guice is an indisputable beast between the tackles. However, one of our fanalysts doesn’t view him as the No. 2 RB in this year’s NFL Draft class. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)

After excessive examinations, “expert” hot takes and endless speculation, NFL draftee landing spots will soon, and mercifully, be determined. Which prospects are our merry band of fearless forecasters most smitten with? Andy Behrens, Liz Loza and Brad Evans offer their position-by-position takes, top-five ranks included. Read. Ponder. Troll.  


Josh Rosen, UCLA
– If you want to make an argument for Darnold or Mayfield as the No. 1 quarterback in this draft, I’ll hear you out. (I don’t see it at all with Allen, but that’s a topic for a different day.) But to my eye, Rosen is the most advanced QB prospect on the board, and his strengths are some of the most important traits an NFL passer can possess. He’s quick to process, he easily (and quickly) gets to secondary read, and he’s comfortable in a noisy pocket. Rosen is also adept at manipulating defenders, and accuracy hasn’t been an issue. Additionally, he finished only three ticks behind Allen in velocity at the combine (59 mph vs. 62), so arm strength isn’t a concern. – Andy Behrens

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Andy’s top-five QBs (pre-Draft): 1) Josh Rosen, 2) Baker Mayfield, 3) Sam Darnold, 4) Lamar Jackson, 5) Josh Allen

Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma – Yes, his shirtless Sports Illustrated cover conjures memories of Prince from the “When Doves Cry” video, but don’t knock Mayfield’s smolder. Cocksure in his demeanor, the OU product definitely backs up the trash talk with deadly marksmanship. No passer in this year’s class produced at a more consistent game-to-game level in 2017. The anti-Allen ranked tops in multiple accuracy categories including adjusted completion percentage (80.6), deep-ball completion percentage (60.3) and passer rating under pressure (111.6). People will idiotically devalue him due to his personality, somewhat diminutive frame (6-foot-1, 220 pounds) and OU’s system, but make no mistake, Mayfield is an all-points playmaker capable of surgically dissecting defenses at the next level. – Brad Evans

Brad’s top-five QBs: 1) Baker Mayfield, 2) Sam Darnold, 3) Josh Rosen, 4) Lamar Jackson, 5) Mason Rudolph (Allen, who couldn’t hit the Incredible Hulk on a simply out route, is my No. 6. Oh the horror!)

Sam Darnold, USC – I have Rosen and Darnold in a virtual tie at the No. 1 spot. Were it not for some minor durability concerns (shoulder, concussions) I’d probably bump up the Bruin. His cross-county rival, however, deserves serious snaps. Yeah, Darnold has a wonky windup, but he’s remarkably unflappable in the pocket. That’s a credit to his processing speed as well as his ability to deftly move through progressions. In addition, a strong arm and efficient legs help make the Trojan one of the most complete prospects at the position. – Liz Loza

Liz’s top-five QBs (pre-Draft): 1) Sam Darnold 2) Josh Rosen, 3) Lamar Jackson, 4) Josh Allen, 5) Baker Mayfield 

RUNNING BACKS (After Saquon Barkley)

Rashaad Penny, San Diego St. – In a loaded RB class, Penny has the potential to yield instant riches. His versatility as a premier rusher, receiver and returner is nearly unmatched. At 5-foot-11, 220-pounds and equipped with 4.46 40-yard jets, he is an ideal power/speed combo back who possesses the necessary tools to handle a three-down workload. Last season with the Aztecs, he ranked No. 1 in elusive rating according to Pro Football Focus totaling an obscene 4.47 YAC per attempt while forcing a missed tackle on 29.7 percent of his carries. He must improve rapidly in pass protection, but his ability to stupefy and dust defenders in variable ways is awfully attractive. His eye-opening achievements at the Senior Bowl was only an appetizer. – Brad Evans

Brad’s top-five RBs: 1) Saquon Barkley, 2) Rashaad Penny, 3) Derrius Guice, 4) Sony Michel, 5) Nick Chubb

Derrius Guice, LSU – Guice is a master of not just power, but also precision. He runs angry and focused, using his strong lower body and eagle-eye vision to blast through holes and leave defenders gasping for air. Sure he’s fast for his size (4.49)… but more impressively, Guice understands timing, and knows both when to accelerate and when to slow up. If he can learn to finish with his shoulder more frequently, and grow the pass-catching piece of his game… we’ll be calling him #BabyBeastMode in no time. – Liz Loza

Liz’s top-five RBs: 1) Saquon Barkley, 2) Derrius Guice, 3) Nick Chubb, 4) Rashaad Penny, 5) Ronald Jones

Derrius Guice, LSU – After Barkley, no rusher in this class is more impressive than Guice — particularly the 2016 version of Guice, who averaged 7.6 YPC. He offers power, speed, vision and after-contact ability. He’s also proven his worth against the toughest competition available. Guice doesn’t figure to be as much of an asset as Barkley as a receiver, which somewhat limits his appeal. But there’s little question he can be a quality runner in the right environment. – Andy Behrens

Andy’s top-five RBs: 1) Saquon Barkley, 2) Derrius Guice, 3) Nick Chubb, 4) Rashaad Penny, 5) Sony Michel


Anthony Miller, Memphis – I’m with Behrens on Moore, and I do have Calvin Ridley (those routes!) one spot ahead of Miller in my rankings, but there’s so much about the Memphis product that has me fired up. For starters, his hands aren’t just sticky, they’re HUGE, measuring 10 inches a piece. Add in ace body control and brilliant boundary awareness, and it’s no wonder that he’s so productive in the red area of the field (32 total receiving scores over 2016 and 2017). While he doesn’t have prototypical size (5-foot-11 and 201 pounds), he plays with a grit that eclipses his stature. – Liz Loza

Liz’s top-five WRs: 1) Courtland Sutton, 2) D.J. Moore, 3) Calvin Ridley, 4) Anthony Miller, 5) Christian Kirk, 6) Equanimeous St. Brown

D.J. Moore, Maryland – It’s not difficult to make a case for either Ridley or Sutton at the top of this receiver class, but I’m going with the Big Ten’s best wideout. Moore absolutely carried the Maryland passing game last season, accounting for nearly half of his team’s total receptions. He produced terrific combine numbers as well (4.42 speed at 210 pounds, 39.5-inch vertical), so there’s little doubt he has NFL athleticism. Moore was excellent after the catch at Maryland, and he should be able to contribute immediately, either outside or from the slot. – Andy Behrens

Andy’s top-five WRs: 1) D.J. Moore, 2) Courtland Sutton, 3) Calvin Ridley, 4) D.J. Chark, 5) Keke Coutee

Courtland Sutton, SMU – Reminiscent of an unrefined Demaryius Thomas, Sutton is a big-bodied target with surprising burst off the jump. His 6-foot-3, 218-pound frame, 4.54 40-yard churn, overall athletic profile and wingspan projects an eventual WR1-level output at the next level. Because of his daunting build, Sutton could storm out of the gates as a top flight red-zone threat. His deep-receiving chops shouldn’t be overlooked either. Last year, he ranked No. 11 among FBS WRs in total number of receptions beyond 20 yards. He by no means is a finished product – most critics penalize him for not consistently finishing the top of his routes – but the eye test combined with his stellar measurables and collegiate production say he could be this year’s JuJu. – Brad Evans

Brad’s top-five WRs: 1) Courtland Sutton, 2) Michael Gallup, 3) D.J. Moore, 4) Calvin Ridley, 5) DaeSean Hamilton

Bring the blitz to our fanalysts on Twitter. Follow Andy (@andybehrens), Liz (@LizLoza_FF) and Brad (@YahooNoise) throughout the fantasy offseason.

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