by Angel Maldonado Tejada
Leonard Fournette(ADP RB16)
Those two words that have been coming out of every Fournette truther’s mouth this season and you know what… they have a great point.
I’m not the biggest Fournette fan. It feels like much of the news coverage surrounding Fournette is negative; there have been numerous reports accusing Fournette of being a bad teammate and wanting out of Jacksonville, reports from which he defended himself last week. Despite the negativity, you can’t deny Jacksonville knows how to use a featured back and will likely afford Fournette plenty of opportunities to tote the ball in 2020 while maintaining a sizeable role in the passing game. Minshew targeted the former LSU stud early and often as he finished 2019 with 76 receptions on 100 targets after only being targeted 74 times the previous TWO seasons. I don’t see Jacksonville targeting him less than 75 times again. Thanks to his increased targets, Fournette finished as an RB1 despite only scoring three touchdowns.
If the positive touchdown regression Fournette truthers speak of occurs, Fournette will be a value at his ADP while putting up RB1 numbers.
Jonathan Taylor (RB17)
I don’t believe a single word Frank Reich is saying when it comes to the situation unfolding between Marlon Mack and Jonathan Taylor. You’re telling me the Colts, one of the smartest franchises in the league, used a second-round pick on a running back only to have him be in a timeshare? Not only that, but the running-back that was drafted was a consensus Top-3 player at his position. It doesn’t make sense to me, and it doesn’t make sense to rein in Jonathan Taylor as he runs behind the best offensive line in the league.
Jonathan Taylor’s college career was a highlight reel. Running behind a dominant Badgers offensive line, Taylor ran for 2,003 yards and averaged 6.3 YPC in 2019, the latter figure actually being his lowest YPC in a season. He is a decisive runner that is patient enough to wait for holes and quick enough to accelerate through them when they do open. There are those who give more credit to the Badgers offensive line than to Taylor for his amazing college production. Even if that is true, Taylor is going to have a similarly strong offensive line to run behind thanks to the Colts dominance in the trenches. While he won’t be on the field much on third down, his early-down role should be secured fairly early in the season and he could have a season rivaling that of Josh Jacobs last season.
Currently, Taylor is the 22nd RB off the board with an ADP of 4.04. This is an insane value for a running back that very well could return RB1 numbers. As the Clyde Edwards-Helaire hype goes wild thanks to the opt-out of Damien Williams, Taylor is in line to be the best value among rookie running backs this season.
James Conner (ADP RB26)
James Conner had an injury-riddled, disappointing 2019 season and now many fantasy football managers are fading him because of it. Those managers are making a mistake. Conner is entering 2020 as an incredible value that could return RB1 numbers yet has an ADP of 45.5 (RB22). Let me remind you, James Conner made Le’Veon Bell expendable to the Steelers as he proved to be a dual-threat back (973 rushing yards, 497 receiving) and showed incredible explosiveness (15 breakaway runs in 2018). 2019 was primarily a lost season for the Steelers offense after the loss of Ben Roethlisberger, but I fully expect Conner to resemble the player we saw in 2018 as he rebounds in a large way this season. Don’t fade him at his current ADP and reap the rewards.
Cam Akers (ADP RB28)
Sean McVay has already stated that the Rams backfield will be a RBBC, but that doesn’t sway my opinion when it comes to Cam Akers.
The second-round pick out of Florida State landed in a solid situation as he enters an offense that runs through its running backs. Unfortunately, Akers will also be running behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league. Still, currently coming off the board as the RB28 (Raheem Mostert (RB21) and Devin Singletary (RB27) are being drafted ahead of him), he is one of the few running backs available at that stage of the draft that has true workhorse potential.
Akers possesses the traits of an elite running back, running a 4.47 yard 40 while also squatting over 600 LBs (!!!). He also has the size of a starting RB in the NFL and the pass-catching skills needed to stay on the field at all times. Akers is a great value pick in the sixth round if you’re looking for a flex/ low-end RB2 with tons of upside.