The 2018 NFL Draft Prospect series breaks down draft-eligible players, highlighting their college production as well as their NFL potential. Daily fantasy players should know about NFL rookies before they’ve played a down of professional football because they are among the most misvalued assets in all of DFS. People who know NFL rookies have a significant DFS edge. The draft will be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX, from April 26-28.
This piece is on Notre Dame running back Josh Adams, who has declared early for the draft. For the total list of all players leaving school early, see our underclassmen tracker.
For more on all the other backs in the class, see our 2018 NFL draft running back rankings.
Updated as of Mar. 4.
Junior | 6’2″ and 213 Pounds | Born October 29, 1996 (Age: 21) | Projection: Rounds 3-4
Combine numbers: 40-yard: DNP | bench reps: 18 | 3-cone: DNP | 20-yard shuttle: DNP | vertical: DNP | broad: DNP
Although his name is what we’d expect out of someone who would’ve been a Canadian pop star in the ’90s, Adams is an angular bruiser. In what is considered a loaded running back class, Adams could go overlooked. After backing up C.J. Prosise for the first half of his true freshman season, Adams closed out 2015 as the starter when Prosise suffered a concussion and sprained ankle, averaging 120.6 yards and 0.8 touchdowns from scrimmage across the five final games. Following Prosise’s departure to the NFL, Adams played as the lead back in 2016, but the offense — ‘led’ by quarterback DeShone Kizer — was just 53rd (of 128 FBS teams) in scoring, and Adams frequently saw his potential goal-line touches vultured by Kizer. Even so, Adams was productive with 1,126 yards and six touchdowns from scrimmage.
In 2017, with a new quarterback and a run-first offense, Adams fully returned to form as the lead back, averaging 117.8 yards and 0.69 touchdowns per game. A powerful runner with great size, Adams last year was first among draft-eligible backs with 5.2 yards after contact per attempt and third with a 106.2 elusive rating (Pro Football Focus). Per Football Study Hall, Adams balled out with 10.1 highlight yards per opportunity. For context, potential top-five pick Saquon Barkley had 8.3. As a three-star recruit, Adams reportedly ran a 4.5-second 40-yard dash. If he approaches that time at his pro day — he opted not to run at the combine — Adams could end up a Day 2 pick as long as his medical history checks out: He tore his ACL in high school, and some teams could move him down their draft board as a result.
Given his size, production against Power Five competition, and above-average size-adjusted receiving ability (33 receptions in his two starting seasons), Adams is perhaps most comparable to T.J. Yeldon, who was selected with the 36th pick in 2015. Regardless of how Yeldon has produced as a professional — and he had over 1,000 yards as a rookie — if a team can get a comparable back after the second round that’s a bargain. Adams could provide great value to whichever franchise drafts him.
Matthew Freedman is the Editor-in-Chief of FantasyLabs. He has a dog and sometimes a British accent. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he’s known only as The Labyrinthian.