Los Angeles Rams running back Malcolm Brown is likely available on the waiver wire in most leagues. To consider him a “sleeper” might be a stretch…but in the world of fantasy football, Brown he needs to be on rosters as a priority handcuff.
WHO IS THIS MALCOLM BROWN GUY?
Not only is Brown a gifted athlete, but he is also an impressive individual. It would be wrong to not expose all the good Brown delivers to his community before diving into his athletic profile and fantasy outlook.
Brown was born in Biloxi, Mississippi and has lived in a variety of different places in his 24 years; Turkey, Guam, Washington D.C., and Florida to name a few. He was awarded the National Leadership and Services Award by the United States Achievement Academy as a junior in high school. He’s volunteered his time to the Resurrection Baptist Church and spent time assisting special education students at Steele High School according to texasports.com.
At the same high school, Steele High, Brown currently hosts an inaugural football skills camp. In June of 2017, he held the camp with more than 100 youth according to an article by Miles Smith of mysanantionio.com. Brown stated that he chose his high school alma mater because he wanted to give back to his community. Fellow athletes, such as running back Aaron Green of TCU attended to show support and volunteer their time.
HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE CAREER
There is a laundry list of reasons to respect Brown as a human being; his leadership and work ethic are just as strong off the field as they are on it.
A three-year starter at running back for Steele High, Brown finished his high school career with 6,663 rushing yards, 86 rushing TDs and averaged 9.8 yards per carry. This led to first-team All-America honors from USA Today, CBS College Sports, Rivals.com, ESPN RISE All-America and Parade magazine. He was also ranked as the second best running back, and seventh best overall prospect, by ESPNU.
Brown elected to attend the University of Texas on scholarship. Over his four-year career with the Longhorns, he would tally 2,678 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns. This was good enough to place him ninth all-time in Texas school history for rushing yards.
Considering the amount of talent Brown displayed at Texas, it was a surprise he went undrafted in the 2015 NFL Draft; Injuries, and lack of consistent production (rushed for 100 yards in 11 of 25 career starts), likely impacted front office opinions on Brown as a pro prospect.
When you look at Brown’s size, you wouldn’t expect a guy at 5’11” and 224lbs to move laterally with ease – but that is exactly what he does. At the 2015 NFL combine, he recorded a 4.15 short-shuttle and a 6.86 3-cone. The average for both is a 4.28 short-shuttle and a 7.00 3-cone. This places him in the 86th percentile for agility score according to playerprofiler.com.
His 10 1/4″ hands are big enough to protect the pigskin and could help with his receiving ability. As indicated by his 4.62 second forty yard dash, he does not possess long-speed, but he does have an ideal 31.2 BMI. This gives him the size to plow through defenders and gain yards after contact. (BMI is a weight-to-height ratio. A study by harvardsportsanalysis.wordpress.com shows that a BMI of 30.2 – 30.8 is ideal for success at the NFL level.)
- One of the first things that stand out is Brown’s tenacity.
- He’s a very strong finisher and delivers a blow to anyone who attempts initial impact.
- Brown drops his shoulders, keeping his pads at a low level, and churning his legs through contact.
- Extremely effective in short yardage situations; has a dominant physical presence with outstanding competitive toughness.
- Brown is not used as a consistent pass catcher but is capable of being a reliable receiver out of the backfield.
- He shows patience with a nice speed to power ratio, proving he can be used in the I-formation and in a zone blocking scheme.
- He displays good vision, keeping his eyes downfield as he gets to the second and third level.
- Brown sets up his blockers well to identify running lanes.
- He remains calm and allows lanes to develop without wasting movement.
- Brown uses very effective head and body gestures to evade defenders.
- He displays quick feet and uses strategic angles to cut back at the opportune time.
- He generates a good amount of power laterally once he plants his foot and shifts his hips to change direction.
WHY HE NEEDS TO BE ON FANTASY RADARS
No one can predict an injury, but if Todd Gurley were to get injured, Brown would be the benefactor to get the first crack at a starting role according to Ramswire.com. Head coach Sean McVay says he is “pleasantly surprised” by Brown. During McVay’s presser on July 31st, he stated that Brown has established himself as the No. 2 RB.
With the recent news that RB Lance Dunbar is out indefinitely due to a knee injury, this only helps Brown’s case as the No.2 back. In the event that Todd Gurley gets injured, Brown would indeed become a viable fantasy option with RB2 upside. When looking at Brown’s and Gurley’s athletic profile, there isn’t a huge difference between the two:
Now before you balk at the idea of investing in the Rams backup running back – let’s just put this out there: The Rams finished 31st out of 32 teams in 2016 in rushing yards (1,252 yards). I understand their disappointment last year, but an overhaul of their offensive line may lead to improved production in 2017. The team added pro bowl left tackle Andrew Whitworth to replace first-round bust, Greg Robinson. They also added John Sullivan at center. These additions have led to a Pro Football Focus preseason rank of no. 18 in the NFL.
If we can agree Brown will likely be a waiver wire addition at some point in the season, why not consider making him a priority handcuff to Gurley, a focal point for the Rams offense? Every year there is a running back who changes the landscape of fantasy teams and their playoff potential. Brown could quite possibly be that type of player if the opportunity arises.