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2 RB Prospects with Promising Production Profiles | 2024 NFL Draft | Kimani Vidal

Two 2024 RB Prospects With Promising Production Profiles

by Scott Rinear

The 2024 NFL Draft is finally here! After months of research, speculation, hot takes, rumors and countless mock drafts, a large piece of the annual prospect puzzle will be revealed when the 32 NFL teams make their varying number of draft selections.

I am a numbers guy. I am constantly sifting through different data sets (both at the NFL and collegiate level), looking for patterns, trends and anything else history can tell us about the probability of what might happen in the future.

But, even with the deep dives many analysts embark on, draft capital has been and will likely always be one of the most predictive pieces of data.

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2024 RB Prospects With Promising Production Profiles

No, not every first-round WR or RB becomes a stud in the NFL. And not every Day 3 (drafted in rounds No. 4-7) skill position player fails to become relevant in fantasy football. That sort of absolutism is neither the intent behind nor the beneficial nature of looking through an analytics lens. Yet, I often see that as a misconception about analytics-based analysis.

The misses by the analytics community lead to a hyper-focus on results for individual players, such as Denzel Mims or Terrace Marshall Jr. Regardless of what lens is used (analytics, film analysis, a combination of both or vibes), there will always be hits and misses. Fantasy football would be boring if we knew exactly what would happen.

Analytics are about probabilities. Draft capital is one of the better single pieces of data for revealing the probability of NFL fantasy success. However, as with any puzzle, placing just one piece on the table does not reveal the full picture. Once a player is in the NFL, certain stand-alone metrics have shown to be predictive year over year. But it is a different story when projecting from the college level to the NFL level.

In this article, I will be looking at two RB prospects who are projected outside the first 100 picks in the 2024 NFL Draft but with promising college production profiles. These are prospects I will be paying close attention to. If the mountains of mock draft data end up being even slightly inaccurate and these players are selected higher than expected, they will rise in my rookie rankings.

For each of the prospects discussed, I will present their projected NFL Draft positioning, along with a variety of different statistics broken down into what I call “Green Flags” (metrics the prospect excelled at) and “Red Flags” (metrics of concern). I will also include what percentile each statistic falls in when looking at all RBs drafted between 2015 and 2023. Market share statistics (i.e., target share or opportunity share) are calculated on a per-game basis, meaning the “market” (team totals from which the player is sharing) only includes the games in which the player was active.

(Projected NFL Draft data via nflmockdraftdatabase.com)

Draft Capital RB Hit Rates, 2012-2022

Before I discuss the three RBs, I want to provide some context about draft capital hit rates.

Looking at each RB drafted between 2012 and 2022, what percentage of those prospects from each round (Rounds No. 1-7) have found fantasy success at the NFL level?

I am defining “fantasy success” rather broadly: The percentage of RBs from each round that have put up a top-12, top-24 or top-36 fantasy season in either of their first two NFL seasons. Then I grouped Day 1 (Round No. 1), Day 2 (Rounds No. 2 and 3) and Day 3 (Rounds No. 4-7) so you can see the different hit rates.

Round No. 1:
  • From 2012 to 2022, there have been 15 RBs drafted in the first round.
  • Ten of those RBs (66.7%) had a top-12 season within the first two years.
  • Twelve RBs (80%) had a top-24 season.
  • Thirteen RBs (86.7%) had a top-36 season. The only two first-round RBs that did not crack the top 36 in their first two seasons were David Wilson and Rashaad Penny, and Penny likely would have if not for injuries.
Round No. 2:
  • From 2012 to 2022, there have been 29 RBs drafted in the second round.
  • Eight of those RBs (27.6%) had a top-12 season within the first two years.
  • Seventeen RBs (58.6%) had a top-24 season.
  • Twenty-two RBs (75.9%) had a top 36 season. You see the drastic drop in top-12 seasons from round No. 1 to round No. 2, but still a steady dose of top-24 and top-36 seasons.
Round No. 3:
  • From 2012 to 2022, there have been 31 RBs drafted in the third round.
  • Six of those RBs (19.4%) had a top-12 season within the first two years.
  • Nine RBs (29%) had a top-24 season.
  • Fifteen RBs (48.4%) had a top-36 season. This may seem like another drastic drop-off, but not compared to Day 3.
Round No. 4:
  • From 2012 to 2022, there have been 46 RBs drafted in the third round.
  • Three of those RBs (6.5%) had a top-12 season within the first two years.
  • Five RBs (10.9%) had a top-24 season.
  • Six RBs (13%) had a top-36 season. This is why the difference between Day 2 and Day 3 draft capital is a major focus with RB prospects. The percentage of round No.-4 RBs to even make the top 36 is lower than round No. 3 RBs to finish as an RB1.

Oddly enough, the hit rates are slightly higher in round No. 5 than in round No. 4, but the hit rates in rounds No. 6 and 7 are below 10% across the board. Of the 84 RBs drafted in the sixth and seventh rounds since 2012, only four produced a top-12 fantasy season within their first two years (4.7%): Alfred Morris, Andre Ellington, Myles Gaskin and Isiah Pacheco.

The following table summarizes these hit rates:

2024 RB Prospects

Re’Mahn “Ray” Davis (RB, Kentucky)

  • Projected Draft Round: Mid-Fourth Round
  • Projected Draft Pick: No. 116
  • Projected Positional Draft Rank: RB9

Re’Mahn “Ray” Davis is a prospect that we at In-Between Media (IBT) have been touting all offseason. He is no longer a “lesser-known” name. His stock has been climbing as more people realize how promising his college career was, but he fits the criteria, as he is still projected to be drafted outside the top 100. Davis’ career and “best-season” numbers are near the top of this class in multiple metrics. It is not a perfect profile, which is why he is still projected as a Day 3 pick, but earlier in the offseason, his projected draft capital was in the fifth or sixth round. Based on the historical hit rate when comparing Day 1 and 2 RBs to Day 3 RBs, sneaking into the third round would be a great sign for Davis.

Green Flags

For Davis, the “Green Flag” metrics include:

  • Career Opportunity Share (Opp%): Player’s total rush attempts, plus total targets, divided by team total rush attempts, plus targets
  • Career Rush Attempt Share (Rush Att%): Player’s total rush attempts divided by team total rush attempts
  • Career Rush TD Share (Rush TD%): Player’s total rushing TDs divided by team total rushing TDs
  • Career Reception Share (Rec%): Player’s total receptions divided by team total receptions (pass completions)
  • Career Target Share (Tgt%): Player’s total targets divided by team total targets
  • Career Total Yards per Team Play (TYPTP): Player’s total scrimmage yards (rushing yards plus receiving yards), divided by team total scrimmage yards

Red Flags

For Davis, the “Red Flag” metrics include:

  • Career Missed Tackles Forced per Rush Attempt (MTF/Att):  Missed tackles forced (also known as avoided tackles) are tracked by Pro Football Focus (PFF). They are Indicative of a player’s elusiveness and ability to make defenders miss.
  • Career Yards After Contact per Rush Attempt (YCO/Att): Yards after contact are also tracked by PFF and are indicative of a player’s ability to break tackles,
  • Career Yards Per Carry Over Team Average (YPC OTA): Player’s yards per rush attempt compared to team yards per rush attempt
  • Career Break-Away Runs (15+-yard runs) per Game (BAR/Gm)
  • Age
  • Relative Athletic Score (RAS): A measure of athleticism created by Kent Lee Platte, factoring in a player’s NFL Combine metrics, such as height, weight, 40-time, broad jump and vertical jump
  • College Strength of Schedule (SOS): Average SOS across a player’s college career– This is a general SOS number calculated by Sports Reference (not specifically strength of opponents versus RBs).

Davis’ profile is that of a consistently high-volume RB with decent receiving chops who lacks explosiveness and elusivity. His SOS is a knock, although he did put up his best season with Kentucky against SEC opponents in 2023. Davis played for three different schools, and it is a positive sign that those three different schools chose to get him the ball as much as they did. If Davis sneaks into the third round and lands in a good situation, I’ll be targeting him in the latter half of the second round of dynasty rookie drafts.

Kimani Vidal (RB, Troy)

  • Projected Draft Round: Early-Sixth Round
  • Projected Draft Pick: No. 183
  • Projected Positional Draft Rank: RB14
Green Flags

For Vidal, the “Green Flag” metrics include:

  • Career Rush Attempt Share (Rush Att%)
  • Career Rush Yards Share (Rush Yds%)
  • Career Rush TD Share (Rush TD%)
  • Career Missed Tackles Forced per Rush Attempt (MTF/Att)
  • Career Target Share (Tgt%)
  • Career Rushing Yards per Team Rush Attempt (RYTRA)
  • Relative Athletic Score (RAS)

Red Flags

For Vidal, the “Red Flag” metrics include:

  • Career Fantasy Points per Game (PPG)
  • Break-Away Runs (15+-yard runs) per Game (BAR/Gm)
  • Career Targets per Route Run (TPRR)
  • Career Yards per Route Run (YPRR)
  • Age
  • College Strength of Schedule (SOS)

Kimani Vidal shares multiple Green Flags with Davis but also showed more in the athleticism and elusivity departments. The PFF pass-block grades can be subjective, but Vidal’s pass-blocking improved each season, and he finished with the best pass-blocking grade of the class in 2023. Vidal put up a respectable career receptions share, but some of his other receiving metrics are Red Flags (TPRR and YPRR). Vidal played at Troy all four of his college seasons, so his SOS is another Red Flag. Vidal is an intriguing late-round flier in dynasty rookie drafts.

Thanks for reading! As always, find me on Twitter, talking fantasy football, joking around, posting GIFs and lending my support where it’s needed @MunderDifflinFF.

*Photo Credit: Danny Wild – USA TODAY Sports*

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