A.J. Dillon Rookie Profile and Fantasy Football Outlook

by Matthew M. Stevens ·

Needing a standout performance to separate himself from the pack in this deep running back class, A.J. Dillon handled his business by smashing the NFL Combine. He ran a 4.53 40-yard dash at 6-0, 247-pounds, and finished first among his peers in the Vertical Jump and Broad Jump. Fading the 3-Cone Drill didn’t cross his mind, and he posted a top-10 time (7.19 seconds). His captivating display of explosive athleticism resulted in elite 97th-percentile marks in both Speed Score and Burst Score. This catapulted him inside PlayerProfiler’s top-10 rookie RB rankings, skyrocketing his ADP and draft stock. His success at the Combine solidifies his workhorse potential following a collegiate career in which he became Boston College’s all-time leader in rush yards (4,382) and rush TDs (38). It also alleviates fears about his mediocre yards per carry average and lack of receiving production.

Dillon charged out of the gate for the Eagles. He rushed for 1,589 yards and 14 TDs in his freshman season, resulting in a 19.3 (75th-percentile among qualified running backs) Breakout Age. His 34.8-percent College Dominator Rating ranks in the 81st-percentile and is the seventh-best mark among this RB class. After struggling through an ankle injury during his sophomore season, he rebounded in 2019. He rushed for 1,685 yards and 14 TDs on 318 carries, making his final season his most productive. In short, he dominated Power Five defenses and led the ACC in rush yards while finishing sixth in the nation in that category.

A.J. Dillon Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile w/ College Stats

Dillon failed to catch a pass in his freshman year but showed improvement as a receiver for the next two seasons. He caught 21 of 31 targets for 314 yards and two TDs, leaving Boston College with an uninspiring 5.9-percent (32nd-percentile) Target Share. He must continue his development as a pass-catcher to find success as a three-down back in the NFL. If he’s viewed strictly as a one-dimensional grinder, it will have a negative effect on his draft capital and spell trouble for his long-term outlook.

Check out A.J. Dillon on PlayerProfiler’s Updated Rookie Rankings:

With a 33.5 (96th-percentile) Body Mass Index (BMI), Dillon’s body composition stands apart from prototypical NFL bell-cows. For comparison, Ezekiel Elliot weighs 225-pounds and stands 6-0, giving him a 30.5 (65th-percentile) BMI. Saquon Barkley measures 6-0 and weighs 233 pounds, giving him a 31.6 (78th-percentile) BMI. With his size and powerful, explosive running style, Dillon conjures visions of 6-3, 247-pound Derrick Henry brutalizing defenders while taking a screen pass to the house. Dillon’s 117.3 (97th-percentile) Speed Score even tops Henry’s 116.3 mark.

Dating back from this rookie class to the 2013 NFL season, 23 running backs registered a higher BMI than Dillon. Among them, C.J. Anderson and Jonathan Stewart stand out for their success in the NFL, but both players fall short of 6-0.  Running backs with a high BMI are generally more productive and durable. Dillon’s college stats and his ability to stay healthy reflect that. Similar to fellow rookie Jonathan Taylor, concerns about Dillon’s usage in college surround him. He registered 845 carries compared to Taylor’s 926. However, Dillon missed only three games in college. An ankle injury sidelined him in his sophomore season. He is a durable, physical freak of an athlete.

Dillon saw a massive post-Combine spike in ADP following his nuclear workout. It was the largest ADP spike among rookie RBs. His performance elevates his draft stock and puts him in the Day 2 conversation. A testament to the depth of this class, he checks all the boxes of an NFL back but finds himself ranked No. 9 among his peers. He offers fantasy gamers immense value in the second round of rookie drafts and has a chance to make an immediate impact in the NFL depending on his landing spot.

On the narrative front, Dillon boasts an elite pedigree: his grandfather, Thom Gatewood, was a College Football Hall of Fame wide receiver (Notre Dame). The PlayerProfiler database pinpointed Steven Jackson as his best comp. The 6-1, 236-pound Jackson produced eight consecutive seasons of 1,000-plus rush yards with the St. Louis Rams.