It seems like we’ve been waiting for football for a long time. I promise it’s not too far away! Though it’s a bit early for most drafts, our analysts have been hard at work all offseason. With limited distractions from the mess that is the real world right now, they have had more time to focus than ever before. I think you’ll see that in all of our content here at Fantrax and certainly in the first iteration of our 2020 PPR Running Back Rankings.
Below you’ll find PPR Running Back Rankings from four of our top analysts. They are ranked by the consensus now, but you can also sort by each analyst.
Meet the Rankers
Below are the analysts that will be pouring over our PPR Running Back Rankings for the next few months. We’ve included their initials so that you know who is who in the rankings table and also their Twitter handles so you can give them a follow and let them know what you think of their rankings.
- MC – Mick Ciallela – @themick23
- MS – Meng Song – @FFA_Meng
- CY – Corbin Young – @corbin_young21
- BL – Brent Langlois – @_FootballJesus_
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2020 PPR Running Back Rankings
|30||Ronald Jones II||33||27||33||33|
|68||Benny Snell Jr.||71||69||71||74|
|75||Lynn Bowden Jr.||NR||58||NR||63|
Breaking Down the Position
Running back is the one position where a fantasy player is a bit hamstrung by his or her draft spot. You can grab a top-five quarterback, wide receiver, or tight end from any draft spot, Hell, you can draft the top quarterback or tight end late in the first round if you wanted to. However, to snag a consensus preseason top-five running back, you would almost certainly have to secure a top-seven first-round pick. If you have a late first-round pick, you have zero chance at drafting Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, or Ezekiel Elliott. In theory, you are already behind the eight-ball at the running back position. The good news is that not all hope is lost. There are still plenty of solid backs out there who can keep you afloat.
Regardless of where I am picking, I want to draft a surplus of running backs. Even if I go Zero-RB, I would still take a bunch of them in the middle rounds. My preference is for well-rounded backs. That is a strategy that is obvious for PPR formats but applies in standard leagues as well. Running backs who can catch the ball out of the backfield are worth their weight in gold. Austin Ekeler finished with the 33rd most rushing yards among running backs in 2019, yet finished seventh in standard scoring. Kareem Hunt finished as a top-19 fantasy back in four of his first five games despite accruing just 153 rushing yards during that span. PPR scoring tilts the playing field even further. Of the 18 running backs who scored at least 200 PPR points last year, 12 caught at least 49 passes. Only 11 surpassed 1,000 rushing yards.
I mentioned above that I look to grab a surplus of running backs. This is where drafting can get tricky. I made the mistake last year of drafting too many handcuffs. I had a team with Darrell Henderson, Justin Jackson, and Darwin Thompson. Those ended up being dead roster spots. Having dead roster spots is unavoidable in fantasy football, but you must know when to hold and when to cut bait. Think of some of the running backs who led teams to fantasy championships in 2019. Players like Raheem Mostert, Boston Scott, DeAndre Washington, and even Mike Boone came from relative obscurity to post big numbers in December. Kenyan Drake and Miles Sanders were top-10 running backs down the stretch after essentially being irrelevant for half a season. If you want to handcuff your primary back, fine. Just do not be afraid to cut bait and hit the waiver wire.
Many industry analysts are touting a draft strategy that focuses on early-round running back selections this year, and for good reason. Outside of the top-10 or so backs with guaranteed heavy workloads, there are a lot of risky backfields for which it’s unclear which players will receive the most snaps and touches.
However, it’s important to remember that if this NFL season goes as planned (*fingers crossed*), a lot of players will likely miss time as a result of testing positive for COVID-19. 2020 may be a good year to avoid handcuffing top running backs, as it’s very possible that players in the same backfield could transmit the virus to each other. Instead, the smarter approach would be to diversify and invest in a variety of backfields to hedge your bets at running back, so to speak.
A handful of rookie running backs muddied up the running back room for several teams. Exciting rookies like Jonathan Taylor, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Cam Akers, D’Andre Swift, and J.K. Dobbins could all make an impact in fantasy leagues this year. The big questions being when and how much they’ll share with the other running backs on their team.
With so many teams spreading touches between multiple running backs, it’s important to target the players involved in the passing game. It’s rare for running backs who mainly run the ball to finish at the top of the running back rankings. Some sleeper running backs going later that I like are Tarik Cohen, James White, and Boston Scott.
Running back seems to be a position that people always go about targeting differently. The good news is, you can miss out on the top 2 running back tiers and still end up with some pretty solid players without selling your dog. This year in particular there are a lot of cheaper rookie running backs that could carve out big roles. Jonathan Taylor (63 ADP) D’Andre Swift (78 ADP) and Cam Akers (90 ADP) may end up being ridiculous steals when all is said and done. All are highly talented and profile as RB’s who are well suited for large workloads. They also have very little standing in the way of them earning large workloads. You could even wait a little longer and land Tampa Bay’s lead back. If you guess right or are lucky enough to grab both, Ronald Jones (95 ADP) or Vaughan (117ADP) could end up being league winners in what should be an elite offense. Additionally, committee backfields in Buffalo, Miami and Kansas City may have cheaper options who could reach RB2 production. The running back position isn’t as deep as QB, but you can load up at wide receiver in the first 3 or 4 rounds and still be very competitive at running back.
More 2020 Fantasy Football Rankings:
Standard: QB | RB | WR | TE |
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