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Early Look At The 2024 RB Rookie Class For Fantasy Football Dynasty Leagues

Blake Corum - Fantasy Football Rankings, College FB, RB, NFL Draft Sleepers

The 2024 rookie running back class isn't as good as last year's class. After two running backs were picked in the top 12 in 2023, some analysts are projecting there won't be a single running back picked in the first round.

There's no clear-cut number one like Bijan Robinson was last year. Rankings are fluid. There will likely be movement between now and draft day. The good news for fantasy football managers is that you can find value in rookie drafts even in the late first round and early second round.

Below are my top-five rookie running backs in the 2024 draft class and a couple of others to keep an eye on.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers won two writing awards and received 12 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. A big congrats to our very own Byron Lindeque (Golf) and Jordan McAbee (NASCAR) for both winning Writer Of The Year awards! Be sure to follow RotoBaller's analysis and advice all year long, and win more. Win More With RotoBaller!


Jonathon Brooks, Texas

For the second year in a row, the top running back in the draft is a Longhorn. Brooks is rated as the No. 1 RB by PFF and NFL Draft Buzz and as the No. 3 RB by CBS. He was the first RB taken, at No. 11, in the RotoBaller staff dynasty non-Superflex mock draft.

Brooks has had just one full season as a starter, but it was a good one. He saw just 51 carries in his first two seasons, as he was backing up Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson, then he ran for 1,139 yards on 187 carries and scored 10 rushing touchdowns in 11 games last season. Midway through the season, he had eight straight games with over 100 scrimmage yards, including rushing for 218 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries against Kansas.

He tore his ACL in November, which prevented him from facing the toughest competition in the College Football Playoff. His recovery could temper his production in his rookie season, but it shouldn't depress his long-term value. He only has 238 carries on his tires, most of which came last year, so he hasn't taken a beating.

Brooks is a complete package. He is a shifty athlete who can stop and start and change directions quickly. A smart football player, he understands offensive concepts, and he can sell the play action. Even though pass catching isn't his specialty, he can contribute in the passing game. He's well-rounded and doesn't have many significant weaknesses. He could be a bell-cow.


Bucky Irving, Oregon

Bucky Irving is a dynamic player who led all halfbacks in routes run and receptions in 2023. He's undersized at just 6 feet and 195 pounds, so he isn't likely to be an every-down back, but he could be a good pass catcher in the mold of James Cook.

Irving transferred from Missouri to Oregon where he had two straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons. He averaged 6.4 yards per carry, tied for the second-highest amongst draft prospects, and 3.99 of those yards came after contact, also the second-highest.

A playmaker with the ability to score from anywhere on the field, Irving has good vision. He picks the right lanes, but he could be more disciplined. Sometimes he leaves the rushing lane too early. Despite his small size, he runs with intensity, fights for extra yards, and takes risks to shoot narrow gaps.

While he will never be a bell-cow, he could be a solid producer as a member of a committee. Fantasy managers have found good production from sub-200-pound backs like De'Von Achane, James Cook, and Kyren Williams.

His small size hurts his ability to pass block (like Achane), too. PFF gave him a 23.1/100 grade on his pass blocking his senior year. On the plus side, that means he is likely to be running a route almost every time he is on the field in passing situations. He's going in the late second round in dynasty rookie drafts.


Blake Corum, Michigan

Blake Corum would have been considered a top-15 prospect had he entered the draft last year, but he returned to "run it back" after suffering a torn meniscus in his left knee that required surgery. But he did not return to his dominant level of play his senior season.

His production declined in almost every major category, including yards, yards per carry average, yards after contact, and breakaway plays. He only increased his production in two areas: touchdowns (27) and fumbles (three). In fact, his yards per carry average has decreased every year from 2021.

He looks good on tape. He is good at jumping, cutting, and juking, and he has a feel for the game. He should be able to fit into any team's scheme. Not being a great receiver nor a strong pass blocker, he will likely be a member of a committee. He is going in the late second round of rookie drafts with a group of clustered backs that includes Bucky Irving, Trey Benson, and Audric Estime.


Trey Benson, Florida State

Trey Benson is high on some people's lists. He is neck-and-neck with Blake Corum for the No. 1 RB in the NFL Mock Draft Database as of this writing. With his balance and vision, he is good at creating, and he is one of the larger running backs in the draft at 6-foot-1 and 223 pounds.

He enjoys taking a hit -- sometimes too much (he seeks out contact when he shouldn't). It is hard for defensive players to wrap around him and hold onto him. And when unfortunate linebackers find themselves in his way if they aren't ready, they are going to suffer.

He has the ability to break away in the open field. Against Virginia Tech, he ran for touchdowns of 85 and 62 yards en route to 200 yards on the day. For the year, he gained 488 yards on breakaway runs. That was 53.9% of all the rushing yards he gained -- the highest share of any 2024 prospect to come on breakaway runs.

After transferring from Oregon, Benson played two years at Florida State. He gained over 900 yards on fewer than 160 carries each season. With his size and well-rounded skill set, he could be a bell-cow. However, he has never had bell-cow volume in his collegiate career. He only had three games with 15 or more carries his senior year, which all came after quarterback Jordan Travis got injured toward the end of the season.


Audric Estime, Notre Dame

Audric Estime put up exceptional numbers in the last two years at Notre Dame. Best of all, his production improved in each of his final two seasons.

He went from 811 rushing yards to 1,341 rushing yards. He averaged 6.4 yards per carry, the third-highest in the nation, up from 5.7 the year before. His 4.27 yards after contact per carry was also the third-highest in the nation. While he fumbled the ball three times in 2022, including in a key fourth-quarter situation of a loss to Stanford, he only fumbled once in 2023.

A tough back with good vision, contact balance, and strong legs, Estime would be a welcome addition to any backfield. As for his downsides, he did not make much of an impact in the passing game, and he is lacking in open-field speed. His estimated 40 time is slower than most of the other top prospects.

Estime is ranked as high as No. 1 in some standard league dynasty draft rankings. In the RotoBaller staff mock draft, he went as RB6 in the late second, but he could easily fall anywhere from RB3 to RB7 in any individual draft.


Others to Keep Eyes On

A couple of other players to keep an eye on include Braelon Allen of Wisconsin, Marshawn Lloyd of USC, and Jaylen Wright of Tennessee. Opinions of the 238-pound Allen are divided. The bruiser is ranked as high as No. 2 in CBS's rankings, but others, such as PFF, consider him a plodder and rank him toward the bottom of the top 10.

Lloyd, a quick runner with explosive agility, averaged 7.1 yards per carry, but he only carried the ball 116 times in his highest-volume season.

Wright has one of the fastest estimated 40 times in the draft -- at 4.31 seconds -- and he was clocked at 23.6 miles per hour in a game. He has De'Von Achane-like speed, but he is about 20 pounds heavier than Achane.

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