Running Back Rankings for 2020 Fantasy Football (Part IV)

by Nick Ercolano May 21, 2020

Running Back Rankings for 2020 Fantasy Football (Part IV)

16. Chris Carson - Seattle Seahawks
Current ADP: 4.01 - RB20

I should really be on Chris Carson more. I'll never forget the first time I saw him run, it was a preseason game during his rookie year. No one knew who he was. I remember seeing this dude and being like holy shit - why do we not know about him. He's physical, full of burst, built straight from a god's chisel.

But, I just can't help but feel like every time you own Carson in fantasy, you NEVER feel good about it. There's ALWAYS this underlying feeling of one tiny thing away from happening that drops him from a top-15 RB to RB40, you know what I mean?

Whether it's the injuries, that have been more than unkind to Carson during his time in the NFL, fumbling issues, or a younger back ascending. It always feels like Carson is on an extremely short leash under Pete Carroll and things wind up breaking right for him just in the nick of time. Like last year, Carson starting giving way to Penny before Penny tore his ACL.

I like this rookie DeeJay Dallas from Miami alot, but I'm not going to act like a 4th round rookie presents a massive threat to Carson who's proven to be a very good NFL back when he's on the field. 

Rashaad Penny, who would be his biggst, immediate compeititon is coming off of a very late-season ACL tear so we expect him to miss significant regular season time. Carson, who suffered a hip fracture is "expected to be ready by week one." Sure, I guess.

Idk if that's true. But if it is, there's no reason Carson won't eat. 

His workload last year was actually way higher than I realized, and consistently. 

Carson played in 15 games in 2019. He had 16 touches or more in 87% of the games. That number is 93% if you discount Week 16 where he left in the 2nd quarter with a fractured foot. 86% of the games he had 18+ touches last year. As you can see on the right, I wrote a few notes, on the games where he had the lower touch totals.

WK12 was the only game in 2019 where Carson had fewer than 16 touches, aka the game he fumbled on byke to byke plays. (again discounting WK16) The second, and only other game he had fewer than 18 touches was in WK3, where he fumbled for the third time in as many weeks

rashaad penny is almost definitely going to open the year on PUP the only real competition for carson is rookie 4th rounder deejay dallas. as much as i like deejay as a prospect, it's a major stretch, especially given shortened summer to expect DD to seriously cut carson's work.

It's possible I'm way too low on Carson now that I've done the writeup and research on him. This is more of a gut ranking than a logic ranking to be honest. The health concerns are real here, but so is the opportunity. I tend almost never to draft player's that are injured in the summer, so it's going to be important to monitor off-season reports on his recovery, but as long as things are smooth sailing, Carson could be one of the better RB values in drafts this year.

 

 

17. Melvin Gordon - Denver Broncos
Current ADP: 3.08 - RB18

They clearly think Royce ain't it. I very much expect this to be a committee in Denver. Sorry to be the one to break this to you, but Melvin ain't getting 18 carries/game.

I will continue to go on record with the fact that Lindsay is a better runner than Gordon at this point. Lindsay is going to continue to get rush attempts in my opinion, and more than most people expect. Don't be surprised if by Week 8 or so, Lindsay is getting as many if not more carries than Gordon. But both Lindsay and Freeman have been terrible in the pass-catching role for this offense. Lindsay he's gotten nearly 50 targets in each of his first two years & has ranked 24th and 39th in YPRR among RBs, and Royce has ranked even lower. 

This is where Gordon should thrive as someone who's proven to be a very good, reliable receiver out of the backfield during his time in LA.

Gordon also gives the Broncos a bigger body that they trust to pair with Lindsay. Down the stretch when Lindsay starts to wear down a bit. Gordon should keep both guys fresh. 

But I think both guys have the opportunity to be very efficient in 2020, for two reasons. Their offensive line is underrated for RBing, and their offense is going to score way more. Their line ranked 14th per PFF in RBing, 11th per FOs then they go ahead and add Cushenberry from LSU in the draft, he's a plus run-defender, but more importantly, signed Graham Glasgow formerly of the Lions to a 4-year $44M deal in FA. He was the 6th highest grade RBing guard in the NFL last year. So they're going to be at worst, above average in RBing this year. *Worth noting the Broncos are reportedly 1-of-3 teams in talks with Jason Peters*. The offense as a whole is going to look a lot different under Pat Shurmur. He's not an offensive genius but he'll push the ball more than they've done in recent years. And all the weapons they added through the draft tell you they're trying to compete with Kansas City.

Don't be surprised if Gordon catches 45+ balls and scores 8-10 touchdowns in Denver this year. 

 

 

18. Le'Veon Bell - New York Jets
Current ADP: 3.11 - RB19

This is where things get ugly. It's sort of like the argument I made with Leonard Fournette in last video, where, over the long-term, terrible efficiency tends to play itself out. "Volume is king" - but how long do you continue to feed Le'Veon Bell 350 touches a clip of 3.2 ypc and 7 ypr, both career-lows.

I hated Bell going into last year. The situation was awful, playing for Adam Gase, the offensive line was really bad.

The difference this year is that Bell has a nearly 4th-5th round price tag. Right now it shows Bell at the 3.11 - but this is non SF ADP, so that's pushed back with Qbs in front of him to the mid-late 4th round in SF. Whereas last year, people were drafting Bell in the last 1st, early 2nd.

The outlook is nearly identical this year to last year. Bell will give you a floor of production, but for those of y'all still trying to catch lightning in a bottle, and putting fake math equations together as to why Bell is goign to recapture the Pittsburgh Steeler Bell, it ain't going to happen.

They draft Lamical Perine out of Florida in the 4th, I hate Perine as a prospect, this is well documented

I don't think he poses any threat to Bell's workload. Neither does the ageless Frank Gore. So, again, Bell has little competition for touches. Do I think h gets the near-21 touches/game he saw last year, probably not, but it won't be far off.

They do upgrade the offensive line a bit, they sign Connor McGovern, formerly of the Broncos, to a 3-year $27M deal, Greg Van Roten of the Panthers, George Fant of the Seahawks to 3-year $30M, none of them game-changers, but all upgrades considering, but the big move was taking tackle Mekhi Becton with the 11th overall pick in the draft this year. *Worth noting the Jets are reportedly 1-of-3 teams in talks with Jason Peters*. 

So, a bit of an improved offensive line, little competition and hopefully we get Darnold for the full 16-games this time around. He's not a guy I love this year by any means, but if you end up going WR early or TE early, he's a guy you can probably plug into your RB2 role and get modest-good production considering the investment.

 

19. David Montgomery - Chicago Bears
Current ADP: 4.12 - RB24

If you just take the last sentence I said for Bell, "He's not a guy I love this year by any means, but if you end up going WR early or TE early, he's a guy you can probably plug into your RB2 role and get modest-good production considering the investment." - It's almost the same outlook for David Montgomery.

And I've spoken about Montgomery a lot this offseason already, but where the Jets and company added very little to compete with Bell, the Bears added literally nothing in their backfield. Not by way of FA, and not by the draft. They signed someone after the draft but come on.

The Bears actions echoed this statement from Bears GM Ryan Pace saying that David Montgomery can be the team's "featured back" and "carry a heavier load" in 2020.

This really lines up Montgomery to take almost all of the carries out of this backfield. Mont out-carried Tarik Cohen 242-64 last year. Cohen already played from outside of the backfield (slot, wide, inline) on 42.2% of his snaps. Taylor Gabriel is gone, probably means more slot for Cohen. The Cohen discussion stops here - it's literally Montgomery and no one else. Sheesh.

Their offensive line is BAD for RBing. No way around it. And they did virtually nothing to address it, which is extremely questionable and makes me nervous about Montgomery for sure.

They do bring in Nick Foles though - which I like for the skill players in this offense, Montgomery, Robinson and Anthony Miller. The mobile QB thing y'all. Trubisky running the ball 4 times/game, compared to Foles' one rush attempt/game, could be the difference between 27 receptions, and 39 receptions for Montgomery, you know. Foles is no game-changer, but I mean imagine being an opposing defense and preparing against Trubisky, it's like in little-league where a kid shows bunt and you have the 3rd baseman playing closer to the batter than the pitcher and they're not even scared of taking a line drive to the domicial. 

 

20. Devin Singletary - Buffalo Bills
Current ADP: 4.09 - RB23

The Zack Moss pick by the Bills this year really makes you uncomfortable about taking Singletary, which is unfortunate given how strong his rookie year was. Almost 1000 total yards despite playing in 12 games.

But back to Moss. They came out after the draft and immediately said Moss will take the Frank Gore role which means tons of GL carries. Last year, the Bills had 18 GL carries as a team. Gore got 11 of them. Allen had 5 of them, Singletary just the other two. It's a sad sight. Singletary's TD upside seems capped about 5-6. But maybe I'm wrong though, he had 4 in 12 games last year, but without any GL work, and Moss will certainly be more efficient than Gore was on the ground, it's hard to bank on TD production.

Overall, Singletary is still a very good fantasy pick around where he's going imo. This is an offense on the up and up, solid offensive line, very committed to the run, and Singletary should catch a ton of passes in 2020. If you discount the two games he didn't play much in because of injury, Singletary saw 6+ targets in 4-of-10 games and caught 3 or more passes in 6-of-10 games. 

Speaking of those injuries, I think, if his high ankle sprain never happened last year in Week 2 - Singletary might have finished as a top-15 back to be honest. By week 2 it was apparent that Singletary was like 4 times better than Gore was at that point. Every time he touched the ball he was ripping off 17 yard gains.  That starting job was going to be his by Week 4 - then the ankle injury happened and he missed the next 4 games and that set him right back into a committee with Gore for the next few weeks and then, just like the beginning of the season, Singletary forcefully took the job after just a couple of weeks. 

Anyways, Moss is going to be involved seeing close to double-digit carries a game like Gore, very involved on the GL, as is Josh Allen, but Singletary should still see around 12-13 carries/game + a lot of targets his way, or at least the lions' share of them. Diggs coming in gives them a true #1 on the outside that should command 22-23% of the targets, and Buffalo was one of the run-heaviest (45% - 7th in NFL) teams in the NFL last year - so overall volume in targets could be capped, as is the rest of Singletary's fantasy outlook. 

Exciting player, but not the best situation.

 



Nick Ercolano
Nick Ercolano

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