Much like the quarterback position this year with Jackson and Mahomes, the top two fantasy running backs are locked in, with Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley being 1A and 1B options.
After those two, there is a deep pool of talent that ranges from rushing and receiving combo backs, like Alvin Kamara and Austin Ekeler, to traditional bell cows such as Nick Chubb and Derrick Henry. There has been a movement away from relying on running backs to carry fantasy teams to championships with the zero RB approach, resulting in some owners waiting until rounds 5, 6, or later to select their first running back and instead loading up on receivers, tight ends, and quarterbacks while other teams spend their early draft capital on RBs.
While it's certainly possible to win your leagues using this strategy, I still prefer to land at least one high level back within the first two rounds, especially if that player is going to be able to contribute as a receiver as well.
One concept that I have gone away from is "handcuffing" backups to their starting counterparts. It was a popular strategy to snag the backups as a kind of insurance for your highly priced first or second round pick, but ultimately I just began to feel like I was handcuffing myself by wasting a pick on a player that would only see my starting lineup in case of a catastrophic injury, which would likely derail that fantasy season anyway.
I found it was better to instead draft the high ceiling backups for running backs not on my roster. For instance, Kenyan Drake is someone a lot of experts are high on, but it's not someone I'm necessarily interested in for my teams heading into 2020. Instead, I am keeping Chase Edmonds on the back burner as someone to snag in one of the last few rounds to keep on my roster in case Drake gets injured at some point this season. Edmonds showed the ability to excel in Arizona's offense last season in limited work, and Drake is currently in a walking boot, although he's expected to be ready for the season opener. Tony Pollard of the Cowboys is another guy I consider to be in a similar situation to Edmonds, and Latavius Murray is one of the few number two guys on his team that can be a reliable flex play for your fantasy squad on a week to week basis.
Now let's take a look at a few RBs to be thinking about during your upcoming draft:
Ezekiel Elliott Dallas Cowboys
Findbet Overall ADP 3
Findbet Position ADP 3
I must preface this by admitting that I am a huge Zeke fan, personally, and have stock in him in a dynasty league, to the point that he earned my team's namesake, Triple Zeke. I certainly think that you must take McCaffrey and Barkley ahead of Elliott in drafts, due to both being the focal points of their respective offenses, but I still think Zeke can finish this season as RB1 in the high octane Cowboys offense if he is able to vulture touchdowns in the red zone. Elliott is an adept pass catcher out of the backfield and is one of the few true every down backs in the league. At just 25 years old, it's likely that we haven't even seen the best from Zeke yet, and the Dallas offense is loaded with talent. The Cowboys should provide plenty of goal line opportunity for Elliott this season, and he could finish the season as the league's leader in touchdowns because of that. If you have the third pick in your draft, just take Zeke and thank me later.
Chris Carson Seattle Seahawks
Findbet Overall ADP 25
Findbet Position ADP 14
There are a lot of questions surrounding Chris Carson this year, and I think that's why we see him a little lower on ADP than how I value him. It's true that he has dealt with injuries throughout his career, and last season was truncated due to a fractured hip. The organization also added some competition in the backfield, signing veteran Carlos Hyde who rushed for 1,070 yards with Houston in 2019 and drafting DeeJay Dallas from the University of Miami. Rashaad Penny was already proving a capable runner prior to tearing his ACL last year but is still on the PUP list and his return is unknown. Carson, however, is looking on pace to be ready for the start of the season and resume his role as feature running back. Because of the injuries to both of their top running backs last season, Seattle likely wanted to have depth at the position in case neither were able to go. But Carson has been able to overcome injuries and fumbling issues in the past and he has always been greeted back as their starter. Carson has produced and is a difficult runner to bring down. It's a contract year for him and will be looking to stay healthy and earn a big deal next year.
J.K. Dobbins Baltimore Ravens
Findbet Overall ADP 86
Findbet Position ADP 32
Dobbins, in my estimation, was the most talented running back in the 2020 draft class. The fact that he landed in Baltimore certainly helps his outlook for his rookie season. Even though there are plenty of mouths to feed in that backfield (including Lamar Jackson) for rushing attempts, the Ravens have an offensive system that can accommodate for that. Mark Ingram should maintain a prominent role, but I suspect that Dobbins' talent will push him past Gus Edwards and Justice Hill, eating into their touch share. It's unlikely that Dobbins will usurp Ingram, but considering he is already impressing the team with his versatility as a pass catcher, he could earn some extra field time resulting in fantasy value.
Bryce Love Washington Football Team
Findbet ADP Not Ranked
Findbet Position ADP Not Ranked
Following the release of Derrius Guice, Washington now has to decide how they will fill out their running back depth chart. Adrian Peterson has continued to produce and will likely get early down carries and some touches around the goal line. Antonio Gibson, a third round pick in this year's draft, will serve as a change of pace option. It's Love however that has the best chance to steal the show as a do it all, every down back. If Love is able to prove a reliable pass blocker, he may be their best option in an every down role. Even if Love does win the starting role at some point this season, temper your expectations in regard to production, but if you can snag a starting running back at the end of your draft Love could be a flex play for you on a weekly basis.
This week, the league's greatest quarterbacks had a chance to battle it out: Tom Brady took on Aaron Rodgers in a surprise blowout win, while MVP candidate Josh Allen lost to Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes.
The lesson to be learned here is don't count those MVP votes before Week 6 (and never, never slander Tom Brady before a big game).
As Ferris Bueller might say: The world of sports moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around at least once a week, you could miss it.Here we'll review what you might have missed in the past week all in one place. Why spend hours scrolling through Twitter to catch up on the news you want? We've already done that for you, so remember to check back every Monday to get your dose of weekly sports review.
Fall is in the air—so are a hell of a lot of changes in the NFL.
Le'Veon went from worst to first, Dan Quinn is out of job, and like college athletes, sports journalists apparently aren't allowed to make money from sponsorships. Meanwhile, coronavirus is running in the background, taking out teams before opponents even get the chance.
Here are the oofs and ahhs in this week's edition of Shots Taken.