Top 12 Running Backs Rankings for 2020 Fantasy Football (Part I)

by Nick Ercolano May 07, 2020

Top 12 Running Backs Rankings for 2020 Fantasy Football (Part I)

   

1. Christian McCaffrey - Carolina Panthers
Current APD: 1.01 - RB1

I don't care that the Panthers drafted ______. I don't care how many reports we see surface about Matt Rhule wanting to scale back on McCaffrey's workload.

They have check down Teddy under center. Joe Brady as the new OC who orchestrated one of the most potent college football offenses the NCAA has ever seen. 

This Carolina defense is going to be god awful. They lost half of their personnel this summer. They're going to need to throw, and throw and throw. Cmac just got his record-breaking extension signed. He's going to catch over 100 passes again.

Will his 94% snap rate come down. Yeah, sure, maybe. Zeke was the next leading running back last year in snap rate, a full 10% lower than Cmac. Don't be an idiot and get cute here, no reason to. 

 

2. Saquon Barkley - New York Giants
CURRENT ADP: 1.02 - RB2

Saquon, Saquon, Saquon. 

13 games played last year, half of them probably with a high ankle sprain, finishes with nearly 1,450 yards from scrimmage & 8 TDs.

The high ankle sprain, for both he and someone else we'll talk about in a minute, will be the theme of analysis this summer for Barkley.

Game 1: 139 YFS

Game 2: 125 YFS & 1TD

Game 3: suffers the high ankle sprain 

He returns in Week 7 and the next 5 games are brutal. After averaging 6.4 ypc through 3 weeks, it dips to 3.2 ypc over the next 5 after his return. His evaded tackles/attempt go from top 6, down to 22nd during that span.

Just like Kamara, when they both started getting healthy towards the end of the year, guess what happens. Both go crazy again. Barkley's happened in Week 3, Kamara's in Week 5. If you look at the last 3 games both of them played, Kamara played in the playoffs so it adds up in terms of the when the injury happened:

 

 

I think maybe people were a little disappointed by the receiving numbers of Barkley last year, who finished the season with 73 targets and 52 receptions in 13 games (one of which he only played in 37% of snaps cause he suffered the HAS). That's 90 targets and 64 receptions in 16 games. Which yes, is a big drop off from the 121-91 he had his rookie year, but that's going to happen when you have a mobile QB guys, because a lot of those dumpoffs that typically happen to the RB come under pressure, on broken plays, a safety outlet, when you have a running QB, their first, athletic instinct is to tuck and run. Daniel Jones' nearly 4 rushing attempts a game, is almost certainly going to mean 1 if not 2 fewer targets a game for Barkley, it's just the facts. It's why you have to have him at RB2, imo, when a guy like Cmac is up there at 1. I don't think it's reasonable to project Barkley at near the target level of Cmac, even if you believe him to be more talented as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. Those 1-2 targets a game for Barkley is the difference between, 80 targets and 100+ targets on the year, and when you have a player like Barkley who can take it the distance on any given play (has the highest rate of touches go for 40+ yards since entering the league), every touch counts. It's also another reason I'm souring a bit on Austin Ekeler right now, who as of this moment, has Tyrod Taylor as his QB.

That being said, though, and obviously I don't have to tell you how high his floor is, typically a 90-65 season through the air is going to be top 5 at the position, so while the Cmac type ceiling is probably lower than people think, the floor is more than high enough to be the RB2 this year.

 

3. Dalvin Cook - Minnesota Vikings
Current ADP: 1.04 - RB4

RB3 becomes interesting. Honestly don't think you can go wrong with Cook, Kamara or Zeke, but just my personal taste, I prefer Cook here given his workhorse like load they gave him. It's like Alvin Kamara, but + 5 touches/game. And it's like Ezekiel Elliott, but + more receiving work.

Yes, the injury concern is there. He hasn't played a full season in the NFL yet, but 14 games from Cook I'm happy with. On a FPPG basis last year, he's RB2 behind only Cmac. 

He left Week 13 with an injury. Until that point, he had never seen fewer than 60% of the snaps for the Vikings in a game. Averaging around 71.2% of the snaps. The shoulder gets hurt and he plays on 44, 47, 43% of the snaps, obviously limited by the shoulder. It's important not to forget how good Cook was from Weeks 1-11. In 11 games, he scored over 25 half PPR FPs in 5-of-11 and over 22 in 7-of-11, he actually led CMac in points per snap as well through 1 weeks, obviously playing 72% of the snaps isn't going to get you there when Cmac is playing on an extra 20%. 

They're in contract extension talks with Cook, which is tough to get a grasp on whether or not it's going to happen, because he comes out, says he's the best RB in football, meaning, they won't settle for anything less than near that Cmac number. We'll see if the Vikings succumb to it. Maybe getting rid of Diggs was a sign they want to continue, and even more so focus on the ground game, which was spectacular last year, of course.

Kevin Stefanski is gone, but Gary Kubiak steps into the full-time OC role, we would expect much of the same as we saw last year in Minny. Their o-line which was a laughing stock of the NFL for al long time, stepped up big time last year, ranked 7th in RBing per FOs, top-12 per PFF.

Not much not to like here. The RBs in Minnesota last year had the single most receiving yards coming off of RB screens, a staple of this offense. Lots of running, lots of play-action, lots of screens. Pray for good health and Cook will take you to the promised land.

 

4. Alvin Kamara - New Orleans Saints
Current ADP: 1.06 - RB5

Similar to that of Saquon, Kamara's 2019 season will run its course through the analysis put behind his high-ankle sprain. 

Weeks 1-5, Kamara lead all NFL RBs in evaded tackles/attempt, and it wasn't actually close. He was the single most elusive back in the NFL, as per what we expect from Kamara. 

Those next 6, 7, 8 weeks, his elusiveness dips to around RB40. 

And then back up during the final few weeks of the season, when Kamara was scoring at will and breaking big plays, something we didn't see all year.

The TDs were definitely funky this year. Kamara scores 31 touchdowns through the first 2 seasons, 31 games. Last year, he scores just 6, in 14 games. Am I worried? No. People might point to Latavius Murray being there or something. Kamara still lead the team in GL carries, he had 7 of then, Murray only had 3, it's not like they gave away that role. He had 7 targets inside the 10, Latavius had 0, and MT only had 2 more than Kamara did. The role is still undeniably his.

 

5. Ezekiel Elliott - Dallas Cowboys
Current ADP: 1.03 - RB3

I'm sorry, and I hope I get ripped for this, but Zeke, I don't tend to look at as a guy always in the best shape, and not having mandatory training camp, or conditioning, I mean the guy is having parties during lockdown and shit, it wouldn't surprise me if Zeke comes into the season really out of shape. (I know it was probably like 11 people at the party, but still I think it shows you the mindset he has when these other dudes are probably out here working).  

And I went more in depth on this in one of my previous videos, I believe it was the head coaching changes, 

So Zeke is definitely not on my do not draft list, he's got probably the highest floor of the 3 options here, but I'm a little hesitant about his ceiling and involvement in the passing game.

 

6. Derrick Henry - Tennessee Titans
Current ADP: 1.07 - RB6

I think this one is kind of cut and dry to be honest. Listen, standard, half ppr, he's probably my RB6 in full ppr, too. You might have someone else in mind for full ppr, but look at the guys you'd think about drafting at RB6 - Mixon, receiving questions, Chubb, receiving questions, jacobs receiving questions. If they all have their receiving questions, gimme the king. It's over, I've taken my L and knelt to the king. I feel like a game of thrones character. Having to walk through the town getting shame yelled at me. Except the internet is my walk way, and you fuckin assholes watching me are those stupid bitches in game of thrones, i dont even remember who Cersie was getting shamed from. But that's me and im bowing to King Henry.

We know what they want to do, it's run the ball. And then run the ball. And then run the ball. And then run the ball. Probably take a break from running the ball. And do a little run the ball some more. Ok maybe a stretch.... a counter stretch!!!! Ok im done, but for real. That's it homies. I don't believe this is Henry's last year in Tennessee, but if you do, even better, they're going to run him straight into a coffin. One of those Egyptian coffins you know for the kings with gold and booby traps around it and shit.

Ok I'm done. Vegas has Henry's yardage over/under at 1509

 

 

Mixon, Chubb, Jacobs, Taylor, Swift



Nick Ercolano
Nick Ercolano

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