Many drafters like selecting their wide receivers early, which leads to a necessity to draft running backs late. Here are three of my favorite running backs being selected after the first 10 rounds in Apex drafts. The average draft position (ADP) is aggregated from the Apex one-year drafts.
Devon Achane, ADP 117.9
Targeting uncertain situations has always been a fun way to play fantasy football. How is the Dolphins’ backfield going to play out? We don’t have a crystal ball, but there are plenty of clues.
Raheem Mostert is 31 years old and is coming off a career-high 181 rushing attempts last season. Jeff Wilson will be 28 years old this season and is coming off a career-high 176 rushing attempts last season. Both players were undrafted and while they are productive NFL players, they shouldn’t be considered roadblocks to keeping potentially talented players off the field. Neither has shown any special traits in the passing game and both have considerable injury histories.
Enter Devon Achane – a 4.32 (99th percentile) speedster. Achane was productive as a 19-year-old college freshman. He’s small but was involved as a receiver in college with a 93rd percentile college target share. His yards per route run, unfortunately, fell in his final college season – but he was being relied on heavily as a rusher and showed better-receiving efficiency as a sophomore.
ESPN’s Marcel Louis-Jacques writes McDaniel “lobbied heavily” for Achane. Louis-Jacques also noted Achane “has already looked like one of the Dolphins’ more explosive offensive players… Achane showed prowess as a pass-catcher and home run ability after the catch. It’s a crowded running back room in Miami, but it may not be long before the rookie has a prominent role.”
Running backs coach Eric Studesville opined “It’s a game of speed, right? If you’re faster than everybody else, you got to use that at the right times and the right way. He’ll do that.”
“He’s going to be great,” fellow running back Jeff Wilson said when asked about Achane. “I want to give him every tool he needs to be great. He’s learning the game fast.”
Quick screen to Achane with room to work💨 pic.twitter.com/IUpwjDDmqt
— King of Phinland🐬👑 (@KingOfPhinland) August 1, 2023
If Achane shows special qualities that make him difficult to remove from the field, he could be a huge value at his current ADP.
Kendre Miller, ADP 146.4
The fourth running back selected in the NFL Draft; the Saints selected Kendre Miller 71st overall. Miller didn’t test athletically but rushed for 6.72 yards per carry over the course of his collegiate career. He will enter the NFL at 21 years old, after a huge 1,500-yard, 17-touchdown junior season.
The Saints are excited about Miller’s breakaway rushing ability, the questions are surrounding his receiving ability. He’s been coached up by Alvin Kamara and beat writer Nick Underhill complimented his pass-catching ability in camp.
At 28 years old, Kamara is still an impressive player as a receiver, but his rushing efficiency has dropped off considerably. After averaging 5 yards per carry during his first four NFL seasons, Kamara has averaged 3.9 yards per carry during his last two seasons. He will also miss the first three games due to a suspension, opening the door for Miller to receive more playing time.
Although he led the league in rushing touchdowns last season, Jamaal Williams has never given us reason to believe that he’s a special player. Through six NFL seasons, Williams has averaged just 4 yards per carry. If Miller is a special player, Williams isn’t a guy that will be able to keep him off the field.
Jaylen Warren, ADP 151.3
Najee Harris was a first-round pick and the Steelers will likely continue to play the player that they invested in – but Jaylen Warren was the better player last year.
Rushing the ball, Warren gained 1.12 more yards per carry. He was better before and after contact, broke a higher percentage of tackles, and made a higher percentage of tacklers miss. As a receiver, Warren averaged 2.16 more yards per target and 0.41 more yards per route run. Whether it’s rushing the ball or catching passes, the data says Warren was the superior player last season.
Obviously, Harris saw more volume which can have an impact on efficiency, but Harris hasn’t shown the ability to be efficient as a high-volume player.
The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly wrote, “There is no way offensive coordinator Matt Canada can keep [Jaylen Warren] off the field as much as he did last season.”