What are fair expectations for Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey? These are heralded running back prospects – not only first-round picks, but top-10 choices. Can these guys make a big fantasy impact immediately?

Fournette is a big power runner. McCaffrey has additional value as a pass catcher but is going to a team with another first-round running back. But for now, let’s put aside their individual merits and their teams and look solely at what other running backs drafted in similar spots have done in the past.

In the last 20 years, 50 running backs have been chosen with first-round picks. That’s a nice big sample size.

Of those 50, nine were able to put up top-10 numbers right away. I’ve got those guys in bold on the chart. And with the players being in order by their draft position, you can see that the odds of landing a top-10 producer go up as the players are drafted earlier. Of the 33 running backs chosen outside the top 10, only two put up top-10 numbers in their first season, Doug Martin and Robert Edwards (whose career sadly ended in a beach football game at the Pro Bowl).

Typical fantasy leagues have 12 teams, with everyone starting two running backs. So if a player finishes in the top 24 at his position, that means you was a starting caliber guy for at least a portion of his first season. On this list of 50 guys, there are 13 more that fit that profile (backs who ranked not in the top 10 but between 11th and 24th. Those guys had some value.

I have the “pretty good” backs flagged with black dots, and there are 13 of them (plus the nine top-10 backs, and we’re at 22 of the 50 total).

A good chunk of these backs, however, just don’t do much in their first year – 40 percent of the backs chosen in the first round didn’t rank in the top 40 at their position in their first year.

Circling back to Fournette and McCaffrey, we might fairly call these guys “top 13 running backs”. There have been 23 running backs chosen with top-13 picks. Seven finished in the top 10. Eight at least finished between 11th and 24th. Three finished around 30th, and the remaining five were simply misses. The median back of the 23 would be Knowshon Moreno, who finished 17th. That might be a good starting spot in trying to handicap where these 2017 backs might finish.

20052• Ronnie Brown, Mia.9072321,1395143.923
20062• Reggie Bush, N.O.5657421,3079184.714
20123Trent Richardson, Clev.9503671,31712203.710
19994Edgerrin James, Ind.1,5535862,13917315.92
20054Cedric Benson, Chi.2723275027.583
20084Darren McFadden, Oak.4992857844102.444
20164Ezekiel Elliott, Dall.1,6313631,99416295.42
19985Curtis Enis, Chi.49720517051.754
19995Ricky Williams, N.O.8841721,0562117.627
20005• Jamal Lewis, Balt.1,3642961,6606204.016
20015LaDainian Tomlinson, S.D.1,2363671,60310220.37
20055• Cadillac Williams, T.B.1,178811,2596161.919
20007Thomas Jones, Ariz.373208581270.142
20077Adrian Peterson, Minn.1,3412681,60913238.93
19989Fred Taylor, Jac.1,2234211,64417266.45
20109C.J. Spiller, Buff.283157440256.059
201510Todd Gurley, St.L.1,1061881,29410189.45
200011Ron Dayne, NYG770117815108.129
199712• Warrick Dunn, T.B.9784621,4407186.013
200712• Marshawn Lynch, Buff.1,1151841,2997177.912
200912• Knowshon Moreno, Den.9472131,1609170.017
201012Ryan Mathews, S.D.6781458237124.331
200813• Jonathan Stewart, Car.8364788310148.324
201515Melvin Gordon, S.D.641192833083.351
200216William Green, Clev.8871131,0006136.027
199818Robert Edwards, N.E.1,1153311,44612216.69
200218T.J. Duckett, Atl.50761568480.842
200019Shaun Alexander, Sea.31341354247.455
200621Laurence Maroney, N.E.7451949397135.929
200822Felix Jones, Dall.26610276451.666
199723• Antowain Smith, Buff.8401771,0178149.719
200123Deuce McAllister, N.O.91166257241.765
200323Willis McGahee, Buff.0000.0--
200823Rashard Mendenhall, Pitt.58177507.5121
200424Steven Jackson, St.L.6731898624112.232
200824• Chris Johnson, Tenn.1,2282601,48810208.811
200426Chris Perry, Cin.1333403.4149
200127Michael Bennett, Minn.6822269083108.829
200327Larry Johnson, K.C.85287114.7102
200627DeAngelo Williams, Car.501313814293.442
200927Donald Brown, Ind.281169450363.057
201128Mark Ingram, N.O.47446520582.046
199829John Avery, Mia.50367570375.042
200430• Kevin Jones, Det.1,1331801,3136167.321
200630• Joseph Addai, Ind.1,0813251,4068188.612
201030• Jahvid Best, Det.5554871,0426140.223
200031Trung Canidate, St.L.641001.0147
200931Beanie Wells, Ariz.7931439367135.631
201231Doug Martin, T.B.1,4544721,92612264.63
201232David Wilson, NYG35834392675.245

—Ian Allan