The NFL draft season is officially upon us, but we’ve been in serious information-gathering mode for months now. Our Joe Dolan and Tom Brolley watch tons of college football each fall, and they've studied plenty of tape – we’ve included plenty of links for you to watch these prospects too. But we also lean heavily on our friends and sources around the league who not only watch more college football than we do, but they also closely scrutinize these pending rookies’ college tape.

While we’re a fantasy site and these players’ worth in our world won’t be clear until after the draft, we still like to stack these guys against each other based almost entirely on talent and their potential as they transition to the pros. We also break the players up into tiers in an effort to offer more insight into how they project to the NFL and the fantasy world.

Once the draft takes place on April 27-29, then it will be a lot easier to rank the rookies for the 2017 season – and we will in early May. We’ll also reset our long-term outlooks and re-rank the players for keeper and dynasty leagues.

Note: We plan on tweaking our write-ups and rankings prior to the draft after our Greg Cosell is done studying the coach’s tapes of this year’s class.
Note: These players are ranked more so for their long-term value and potential, so these rankings aren’t for just 2017. Once the draft takes place, we’ll rank all rookies for both this year and the long-term.

 

Potential Franchise Backs

1. Christian McCaffrey

School: Stanford Ht: 5’11” Wt: 202 | 40: 4.48 Year: 3Jr

McCaffrey has been one of the best players in college football the last two years, and he probably should have won the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore in 2015, when he posted 2664 yards from scrimmage, and added 1200 yards and 2 TDs as a return man. With his 3864 all-purpose yards, he absolutely shattered Barry Sanders’ previous record of 3250. McCaffrey’s junior season wasn’t as good, as the Stanford team around him was appreciably worse, and on top of that he had minor injury issues – he missed one game with an undisclosed injury, and then chose to sit out Stanford’s bowl game to avoid risking his health prior to the Draft (a move we support). But in looking back on McCaffrey’s college career, we see a total-package player who could be an instant-impact fantasy option. The son of former Bronc...