Running Backs – 2020 Outlook

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Running Backs Targets and TDs

The upcoming Fantasy Football 2020 season has me looking at the Running Backs after looking over the Quarterbacks – 2020 Outlook last week. When it comes to Running Backs their outlook can be greater if they are on a more offensive team which would be more likely that they receive more Targets and Touchdowns! Below I go through the available Running Backs this year using my initial 2020 rankings and group them in tiers with feedback and thoughts.

Running Backs – The Best

  • Christian McCaffrey
  • Ezekiel Elliott
  • Saquon Barkley

These three Running Backs are at the top of the list and you really aren’t going wrong with any. McCaffrey is the presumptive #1 and you can’t argue with it. He tied for the top running back in Touchdowns and had the most Targets in the 2019 season. Elliott is the model of consistency and last year was top 6 for running back Touchdowns and top 9 for running back Targets. While Barkley is looking for the bounce back opportunity after a down year last year. A down year that he still found himself tied for top 12 running back Touchdowns and top 8 in running back Targets last year. These guys are going in the first half of Round 1 in most drafts if you want one.

Running Backs – Really Good

  • Alvin Kamara
  • Dalvin Cook
  • Derrick Henry
  • Aaron Jones

Here is a group of running backs with some great upside. Kamara looks to have the chance to increase the Touchdowns this year as they were a bit lower last year. Kamara was the 5th among running back in Targets in 2019 and that has been consistent since he has come into the league. Cook is looking to continue riding the run first offense with the Vikings. He was in the top 100 of all players for Targets in 2019 while being top 7 for running back Touchdowns.

Henry is the first option in the Titans offense while finishing top 3 for running back Touchdowns in 2019. He is of the thought that his Targets from 24 last year could increase a bit. Jones had a fantastic year last year and that probably won’t be replicated this year. Tied with McCaffrey at the top Touchdowns for running backs (with 19!) and 68 Targets in 2019. I do think though that in a more run heavy offense that Jones will still have his chances to really make an impact on the game and will. Looks like these guys are going between mid/late Round 1, early Round 2. Of this grouping I like Kamara the best.

Running Backs – Top Ten

  • Kenyan Drake
  • Nick Chubb
  • Joe Mixon
  • Austin Ekeler
  • Miles Sanders
  • Josh Jacobs

Drake is full of upside as he finished tied top 12 at running back Touchdowns last year and received 68 Targets as well. With looking to be the full time, year long starter in 2020 the optimism is there for him to improve on those numbers. Chubb is right there with Drake on the Touchdowns last year (tied top 12 at the running back position) and there is the thought that Chubb has an opportunity to grab the rushing title this year at the position. Mixon joins the group tied at the top 12 running back Touchdowns in 2019 and came away with 45 Targets too.

Ekeler flourished last year while Melvin Gordon initially sat out some time to start 2019. Ekeler finished top 8 in running back Touchdowns and was the 2nd most in Targets behind McCaffrey. Sanders got better as the season went last year. He had 6 Touchdowns and 63 Targets still in last years season. Jacobs finished last year top 7 in rushing yards for running backs and continued improvement is expected this year. These guys can be had in between Rounds 2 – 3 in most drafts. In this grouping I would lean toward Ekeler as my choice but could understand going Drake if someone was more excited about his upside.

Running Backs – Quality Starters

  • Leonard Fournette
  • Todd Gurley
  • James Conner
  • Chris Carson
  • Melvin Gordon

Fournette feels like he is falling down draft boards but still was top 6 in running back rushing yards and had 100 Targets in 2019. Gurley switched teams and it seems to be a divide between opportunity and health. He finished top 5 in running back Touchdowns last year, so if he can stay healthy you know the Falcons will give him his shot. Conner with injury last year still was top 20 for running back Touchdowns and has been known to be in the passing mix as well in the Steelers offense.

Carson is looking to get the initial start in 2020 (with Rashaad Penny injured still) and is returning from a tied top 10 running back Touchdowns performance and 47 Targets in 2019. Gordon was sent to the Broncos and looks to get the lead nod here. He tied for top 10 running back Touchdowns last year. I am seeing this group of Running Backs go between Round 3 – Round 6. Of this grouping I would go with Todd Gurley and him staying healthy enough.

Running Backs – Expected Starters

  • Jonathan Taylor
  • Le’Veon Bell
  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire
  • Devin Singletary
  • Raheem Mostert
  • David Montgomery
  • Mark Ingram

Taylor and Edwards-Helaire are the rookie upside plays being drafted high and expected to see opportunities but I could see the strange off season delaying how quickly their talents are seen on the field. Bell finished last year top 7 in running back Targets. Singletary is expected to improve on his role from last season with the Bills. Mostert exploded last year late in the season and finished top 9 in running back Touchdowns. Montgomery is expected to see improvement from a lower than expected performance last year. Ingram finished top 4 in running back Touchdowns last year and is expected to see that drop a bit this year while having another young running back in J.K. Dobbins join the bunch with the Ravens. I am seeing this group of Running Backs go between Round 3 – Round 6. Of this grouping I would go with Jonathan Taylor.

Running Backs – Possible Starters

  • Damien Williams
  • Ronald Jones
  • Kareem Hunt
  • J.K. Dobbins
  • James White
  • Jordan Howard

Williams is looking to hold onto a role in Kansas City that drafted Edwards-Helaire in the first round of the NFL Draft this year. Jones will look to grab the lead role in a Tom Brady led Buccaneers offense this year. Hunt did well in his half season last year and is looking to cut into Chubb’s role and opportunities a bit. Dobbins the rookie in Baltimore is going to push for playing time and is explosive if he sees the field in 2020. White was top 6 in running back Targets in 2019, has led in running back Touchdowns in the past but with changes in New England there is hesitation that his opportunities will be similar to previous years. Howard after injury last year finished top 20 in running back Touchdowns and will be getting a shot in Miami this year. I am seeing this group of Running Backs go between Rounds 5 – 9. Within this group I would lean towards Williams and Hunt.

2020 Running Back Sleepers

  1. Nyheim Hines – coming off a year with 58 Targets and 2 Touchdowns I have joined the thought that his new quarterback, Phillip Rivers likes the running back check down. Hines has a nice opportunity to do more of the passing work among the running backs in Indianapolis in 2020. To think that he finds the endzone more than twice this season isn’t a hard stretch and if Targets go up he could enjoy more value this season.
  2. Tarik Cohen – comes off 2019 being the 3rd in Targets among running backs and that isn’t anything too new. While just in 2018 he found himself in the top 20 for running back Touchdowns. Last year he just did minimal with his yards and catches that with improvement and any other opportunities could make for a leap back up the ranks this year. Definitely value with him going later in drafts here in 2020.

2020 Running Back Upside

Call them dart throws, late round Running Backs with upside that may already have a role but could be due or are an injury away from a larger role in 2020. Some of the following are top of mind:

  • Boston Scott
  • Latavius Murray
  • Dare Ogunbowale
  • Antonio Gibson
  • Damien Harris
  • Zach Moss
  • Matt Breida

Running Backs Final Thoughts

It can be tough to predict which players will be getting Targets and Touchdowns each year. So by getting a Running Back with upside for the 2020 Fantasy Football season you can set yourself up for success. It seems like you may need to use more early round draft capital at the position but keep an eye out for those late round Running Backs that continue to get Targets. More and more upside is given to those Running Backs that will have the Targets, receptions and receiving yards. It is a differentiator at the position. If you believe a Running Back is set to be in the mix for many Targets & Touchdowns this season you know I would be interested in them!

Running Back Resources

If you missed any recent posts, check them out below as you get your mind focused on fantasy football opportunities!

I hope everyone continues to stay safe and healthy! Enjoy the journey in the upcoming 2020 Fantasy Football Season!

Reference the Targets and TDs pages to see who had the opportunities and end-zone appearances through the 2019 regular season. Statistics courtesy of The Football Database , a great resource for your NFL players statistics. If you enjoyed the article please share it with others (via the social media links).

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