Fantasy Football 2020 Projections: Running Backs 11-20

 

The Top 11-20 Fantasy Football Running Backs in 2020: Projections

 

By Bradley Stalder@FFStalder  @FF_Fanalysts

 

16 Game Projections for Full PPR Unless Otherwise Noted. ESPN ADP as of 7/26/2020 for 12-team leagues.

 

20) Chris Carson

chriscarson

 

  • 278 Rushes

 

  • 1251 Rushing Yards

 

  • 8 Rushing TDs
  • 30 Receptions
  • 229 Receiving Yards
  • 1 Receiving TD

 

 

 

Chris Carson currently has ADP RB15. Carson enters 2020 recovering from a hip fracture– the good news is he avoided surgery and is on track to play for 2020. He fumbled three times in the first three games, and seven times overall during the season. Before Rashaad Penny’s ACL tear in Week 14, Carson was losing snaps & rushes to Penny out of the Week 11 bye. All this to say Carson finished the RB12 overall in 2019– which seems to be his ceiling. Carson doesn’t have the elite traits for fantasy production, but he does have the most important fantasy characteristic: opportunity. Carson averaged about 18 carries per game– and can expect similar volume going into 2020.  Carson will be on a short leash going into 2020 and may lose his starting job later in the season to Carlos Hyde or Rashaad Penny (upon his return from PUP) if his fumbling issue reemerges.

 

Action Item: Carson is a hard sell at his ADP. Fantasy managers should prefer the upside of wide receivers found in the third round of drafts than targeting Carson. View Carson as a risk/reward RB2.

 

19) Derrius Guice

guice

 

  • 172 Rushes

 

  • 826 Rushing Yards

 

  • 8 Rushing TDs
  • 33 Receptions
  • 377 Receiving Yards
  • 5 Receiving TDs

 

 

 

 

Derrius Guice is the RB37 in ADP. Let’s be honest, Guice’s risk is baked into this ADP after two consecutive lost years. While 2018 was a lost season, Guice was able to show flashes of why the Washington Football Team drafted him in the 2nd round and give reasons for optimism going into 2020. In 2019, Guice averaged a 30% snap share in his active games for 2019, and three of his five games earned 10 rushes. I have him projected for just under 11 rushes per game and 4.8 yards per rush– a full yard below his YPC in 2019 (5.83). Guice may face competition– but will he? The likes of 35 year-old Adrian Peterson, JAG Peyton Barber, recently cleared of injury Bryce Love, WR/RB hybrid JD McKissic, and rookie darling Antonio Gibson offer the ambiguity necessary for Guice to easily take the lead role in 2020. Trust new head coach Ron Rivera to use Guice effectively. 

 

Action Item: Guice is going in the 10th round of fantasy drafts. By this time, a fantasy manager’s entire starting roster and two backups may be drafted. Guice offers a significantly higher chance at the secured starting running back position than any player at that point in the draft (except Jordan Howard). Take the chance on Guice perhaps in the 8th or 9th rounds as possible RB2.

 

18) David Johnson

david johnson 2

 

  • 225 Rushes

 

  • 833 Rushing Yards

 

  • 10 Rushing TDs
  • 40 Receptions
  • 383 Receiving Yards
  • 3 Receiving TDs

 

 

 

 

The 19th RB in ADP is David Johnson. I think DJ is priced right here– 18 to 19 range. Carlos Hyde rushed for over 1,000 yards in this Houston offense last season, and doesn’t offer the same passing acumen as Johnson. David Johnson joins Duke Johnson in the Texans backfield– and may take away receptions from the other D Johnson. David Johnson was the RB9 overall in 2018, but in 2019 he seemed slower and hasn’t averaged over 4.0 ypc in a season since 2016 when he was the overall RB1. The 28-year old Johnson seems to have his best seasons behind him– but has the opportunity in 2020 to be the lead-back on a Deshaun Watson-led offense. 

 

Action Item: While Johnson burned those who drafted him in 2019, fantasy managers can feel confident in Johnson’s volume in 2020 leading to low-end RB2 numbers. Bill O’Brien doesn’t want to be wrong about the Hopkins trade.

 

17) Clyde Edwards-Helaire

ceh

NOTE: This portion of CEH’s analysis was written prior to Damien Williams’ opt out. Please refer to a forthcoming article regarding CEH’s new status as a top-10 RB in 2020.

 

 

  • 167 Rushes

 

  • 818 Rushing Yards

 

  • 6 Rushing TDs
  • 48 Receptions
  • 441 Receiving Yards
  • 5 Receiving TDs

 

 

 

 

CEH is the RB17 in ADP. Much has been made this offseason about CEH’s role. Here’s the good: he’s a 1st round rookie pedigree running back in the Chiefs and Andy Reid-coached offense. Here’s the bad: Damien Williams runs perhaps the best wheel-route in the NFL and should have been the SuperBowl MVP this past season. As seen in the projections, I have CEH for just over 10 carries per game but utilized in the passing game and a dynamic player. Overall, 2020 may be a tale of two halves for CEH– as rookie, slowly integrated into the offense and the incumbent Damien Williams beginning as the starter may limit CEH to only about 5 carries and 1-2 receptions average during the first half of the season. As CEH’s talent is unveiled, he’ll be trusted more to handle a greater workload comparable to Kareem Hunt’s rookie year. But, this situation is not the same (as of this writing) as Hunt’s rookie year– and shouldn’t be treated as such.

 

Action Item: Keep your playoff structure in mind. Edwards-Helaire may not be an ideal target for managers whose leagues’ playoffs start early due to an anticipated slow start for him (and rookies overall). Feel more confident drafting CEH as your 3rd RB (or FLEX), not as your RB2 going into 2020.

 

16) Austin Ekeler

austinekeler

 

  • 142 Rushes

 

  • 682 Rushing Yards

 

  • 4 Rushing TDs
  • 60 Receptions
  • 634 Receiving Yards
  • 4 Receiving TDs

 

 

 

 

Austin Ekeler is currently drafted as the RB12. Last season, Ekeler emerged the Chargers go-to weapon out of the backfield– especially in Melvin Gordon’s absence. His contract extension this offseason suggested as much. Ekeler finished as the RB4 overall in 2019, with 92 receptions and nearly 1,000 receiving yards. Gordon is now gone for good– and the Chargers plan to fill the void left by MG3 with a committee of Justin Jackson and rookie Joshua Kelley. My fading of Ekeler has less to do with his talent and participation share, but more to do with his circumstance. Philip Rivers had at least 570 attempts as the Chargers QB all but one season since 2014. I have Tyrod Taylor and Justin Herbert combined for 528 attempts– assuming Herbert starts 11 games. From 2015-2018, Tyrod Taylor averaged about 27 attempts per game as a starter– extrapolated to a 16 game season is 440 attempts. While I have Herbert getting the majority of the starts, Taylor’s lack of passing volume limits the ceiling of all his pass catchers– including Ekeler. We know Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry, and Mike Williams will get their fair share of targets by season’s end– so it may be difficult to count on consistent production from a Chargers weapon in 2020. Even if Ekeler leads the backfield in rushes, the offense poses a very low ceiling and does not incline me to target Ekeler for a repeat 2019 performance. 

 

Action Item: Ekeler is going at the end of the second round of fantasy drafts– ahead of George Kittle. Recognize that while Ekeler’s value increases in PPR+ (running back reception bonus) leagues, the backfield (with Justin Jackson and Joshua Kelley) and overall offense seems murky and may lack upside. He should not be an RB1 target for a team. 

 

15) Melvin Gordon III

gordon 2

 

  • 217 Rushes

 

  • 846 Rushing Yards

 

  • 7 Rushing TDs
  • 57 Receptions
  • 477 Receiving Yards
  • 2 Receiving TDs

 

 

 

 

MG3 is the 20th running back off redraft boards. Yes, Phillip Lindsay is still in Denver. Yes, Royce Freeman is still in Denver. But, John Elway paid up for Gordon not necessarily for Gordon himself– but for Drew Lock’s development. Gordon grew from a liability pass blocker to a pass-blocking asset since his rookie season– something Phillip Lindsay struggled with even in 2019. In fact, according to Dave Richard (@daverichard ) from CBSSports, Lindsay’s graded as the 53rd of 54 qualified pass blockers in efficiency. While Gordon had an inconsistent year in 2019 for the Chargers while missing the pre-season and first 4 games due to a holdout, he still caught 42 passes– proving value as a receiver. In 2017 and 2018, Gordon had at least 50 receptions– meaning that Gordon will stay on the field on 3rd down– and prove a significantly more valuable fantasy asset than Lindsay. As my friend, and @FF_Fanalysts co-host Billy Muzio likes to say, follow the money– and if we do in this case, Gordon not only projects to get his fair share of carries in 2020, but also a significant target share as well. 

 

Action Item: Gordon is a clear upgrade from Phillip Lindsay as a fantasy asset– don’t get cute. Fantasy managers shouldn’t be afraid to draft Melvin Gordon at the end of the 4th round. 

 

14) Leonard Fournette

fournette2

 

  • 272 Rushes

 

  • 1115 Rushing Yards

 

  • 7 Rushing TDs
  • 53 Receptions
  • 400 Receiving Yards
  • 1 Receiving TD

 

 

 

 

Fournette is being drafted as the RB16. How is Leonard Fournette still on the Jaguars? He survived Tom Couglin, he survived benching, he survived fines, he survived suspensions, he survived being traded this offseason.  But Fournette is poised to be the starting RB for the Jaguars as we prepare for training camp and head into week 1. Last season, in 15 games, Fournette was RB7 overall– mostly due to his inexplicable increase in receiving volume. Had Fournette achieved his OTD of 9.3 rushing TDs instead of 3, Fournette would have been a top-5 RB. Why is Fournette not a top-10 RB in 2020, even though he’s still the lead back for the Jaguars? Two main reasons: injury history and change in offense. Fournette has missed 12 games in the last 3 seasons, most of those games coming in 2018– but had to leave early from others. Additionally, new OC (as of this writing) Jay Gruden brought former Football Team pass-catcher Chris Thompson over from Washington. Thompson has at least 35 receptions every season since 2015– even though he’s also missed 20 games in those 5 seasons due to injury. Even a loss of 40 targets for Fournette takes him out of the top 10 of RBs. 

 

Action Item: Draft Fournette with caution– recognize his upside and risk. But, if he falls into the 4th round, see him as a value pick.

 

13) Nick Chubb

nick chubb

 

  • 288 Rushes

 

  • 1440 Rushing Yards

 

  • 9 Rushing TDs
  • 28 Receptions
  • 228 Receiving Yards
  • 1 Receiving TD

 

 

 

 

Nick Chubb is the RB9 off draft boards. And RB9 is far too high. Chubb is my #3 RB for projected rushes, but my 38th RB for projected receptions– all because of Kareem Hunt. Chubb is perhaps one of the most pure, gifted, and dynamic runners in the NFL, but Hunt will be Cleveland’s WR3 (and perhaps WR2 if Landry misses time with his hip injury).  Chubb finished as RB8 overall last season, but was closer to RB5 before Hunt came back from suspension. But, you have to give credit where credit is due going into 2020 for the Browns. Cleveland recognizes that Chubb is the most talented player on the team, and the offseason additions of All-Pro RT Jack Conklin, FB Andy Janovich, 10th overall pick in the 2020 rookie draft Jedrick Wills,  signing TE Austin Hooper to the most lucrative TE deal in league history, and exercising the 5th year option on David Njokue all point to the Browns setting Chubb (and by extension QB Baker Mayfield’s play-action) for success running the ball in 2020. 

 

Action Item: Fade Nick Chubb. I absolutely love his talent, but as the 9th RB off the board, Chubb’s draft cost is far too high in a PPR league given how Kareem Hunt will limit Chubb’s upside. Don’t be The Weasel.

 

12) Josh Jacobs

jacobs

 

  • 285 Rushes

 

  • 1368 Rushing Yards

 

  • 8 Rushing TDs
  • 37 Receptions
  • 304 Receiving Yards
  • 1 Receiving TD

 

 

 

 

Josh Jacobs is the ADP RB11. The question on all fantasy managers minds going into the offseason after Jacobs’ phenomenal rookie season (RB21 in 13 games): Will Jacobs earn more targets in 2020? As the cliche goes, actions speak louder than words– and the Las Vegas Raiders spoke loudly this offseason. The Raiders re-signed Jalen Richard (62 target average the last 2 seasons), drafted Lynn Bowden, Jr. (insisting Bowden will start as a RB instead of WR), signed free agent Devontae Booker who averaged 33 receptions per year in his first three seasons with the Broncos, extended PPR machine Darren Waller,  drafted Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards, and kept Tyrell Williams around. There are a lot of mouths to feed for Derek Carr’s passing attempts and Jacobs seems very low on the priority list.  Jacobs has my 4th highest projected RB rushes total, but my 27th most projected receptions. He’s a tier-lower Derrick Henry type of running back who will get the majority of goal-line and between the 20’s work but would need a change in offensive play-calling for him to achieve RB1 status in PPR leagues.

 

Action Item: Jacobs is a strong standard-scoring RB target and cracks my top 10 for RBs in standard scoring leagues. 

 

11) Miles Sanders

Miles Sanders

 

  • 256 Rushes

 

  • 1170 Rushing Yards

 

  • 4 Rushing TDs
  • 52 Receptions
  • 482 Receiving Yards
  • 3 Receiving TDs

 

 

 

 

Miles Sanders is the 10th running back off draft boards. What holds Miles Sanders back from my top 10 projections has to do with scoring on the ground. I have 39 other running backs projected for more rushing TDs– even when Miles Sanders was “the guy” during the 2nd half of 2019, Boston Scott scored 4 rushing TDs in the final four weeks of the season. In fact, I have the 5’6” Scott with 6 rushing TDs projected for 2020. Of course, Scott’s role may change drastically if the Eagles sign Lamar Miller or LeSean McCoy– but I don’t see Sanders’ role significantly changing if a veteran RB is added. 

 

Action Item: Sanders is a solid RB2 target to pair with Elliott or Kamara. Make certain to snag Sanders if he somehow falls to the 3rd round– he’s going as the 22nd player overall.

 

Stay posted for the next article on my projected running backs 1 thru 10.

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