Fantasy Football: 2020 RB rankings (1-20) with projections

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - DECEMBER 29: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Saquon Barkley #26 of the New York Giants in action against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium on December 29, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New York Giants 34-17. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - DECEMBER 29: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Saquon Barkley #26 of the New York Giants in action against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium on December 29, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New York Giants 34-17. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /
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Tier 3

This is where it starts to get dicey. Not much separates the players in this large tier, but they all have something in common: they all have some issue that harms their value. Whether it’s a history of injuries, a lack of receiving work, or an ambiguous team situation, these players have flaws. They’re ranked this high for their RB1 upside. Just don’t call it a guarantee.

Las Vegas Raiders. player. 28. Scouting Report. RB. 11. Pick Analysis. Josh Jacobs

Rushing: 273 carries, 1310 rushing yds, 9 rushing TDs

Receiving: 39 targets, 30 receptions, 256 receiving yds, 0 receiving TDs

Scoring: 238.6 PPR points, Half-PPR rank 10, standard rank 9

I know young running backs are exciting to draft because their youth implies the potential to break out. However, I don’t see Josh Jacobs fitting this assumption, at least not this year, and especially in PPR scoring. The Raiders aren’t a good team, leaving Jacobs the struggle of overcoming bad game scripts while ceding receiving work to Jalen Richard. He’s a good running back behind a great offensive line, but that doesn’t mean he has top-5 upside.

13. Scouting Report. Los Angeles Chargers. 12. Austin Ekeler. player. Pick Analysis. RB

Rushing: 187 carries, 804 rushing yds, 4 rushing TDs

Receiving: 80 targets, 63 receptions, 617 receiving yds, 2 receiving TDs

Scoring: 237.1 PPR points, Half-PPR rank 18, standard rank 18

The Bills gave a 21.3% target share to their running backs during Tyrod Taylor’s three seasons as their starter. They did this despite having a near-peak LeSean McCoy all three years, the same guy who once had 91 targets in a season for the Eagles. Shady was constricted to 61.3 targets per year under Taylor, who opted to scramble instead of checking it down to the RB. The Chargers threw to their running backs at the highest rate in the league (31.7%) last year under checkdown king Philip Rivers. It goes without saying that Ekeler’s receiving numbers will regress with Tyrod Taylor at QB. He’ll have to rely on his rushing, which was not impressive last year, averaging 4.2 YPC with a measly 16 red zone carries for 19 yards. Melvin Gordon’s departure won’t give Ekeler the value to make up for Philip Rivers leaving. He’s still useful in PPR, just not the RB4 that he was last year.

RB. Clyde Edwards-Helaire. player. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. Kansas City Chiefs. 13. 124

Rushing: 170 carries, 765 rushing yds, 5 rushing TDs

Receiving: 76 targets, 59 receptions, 513 receiving yds, 4 receiving TDs

Scoring: 236.8 PPR points, Half-PPR rank 16, standard rank 19

It’s hard to see him starting Week 1, but Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s talent should win the coveted Chiefs backfield from Damien Williams at some point this season. It’s hard for a team to keep their first round pick and the preferred choice of Patrick Mahomes on the bench for too long. As a receiving threat, he should produce at a high level in PPR leagues, possibly top-10 in points per game once he gets the starting job.

Todd Gurley. player. 44. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. Atlanta Falcons. RB. 14

14 games

Rushing: 210 carries, 882 rushing yds, 9 rushing TDs

Receiving: 60 targets, 44 receptions, 334 receiving yds, 3 receiving TDs

Scoring: 235.6 PPR points, Half-PPR rank 14, standard rank 15

I know what you’re thinking. Having arthritis in the knee is something you expect out of your grandpa, not your 3rd round pick. I thought I was down on Todd Gurley again this year for that same reason. But while running the projections, I accounted for those concerns, and Gurley still finished as a high-end RB2. All running backs in this range come with risk, especially injury risk, so I’m willing to roll the dice on Gurley. Look at that knee go!

player. Pick Analysis. Cleveland Browns. 15. 53. Scouting Report. RB. Nick Chubb

Rushing: 271 carries, 1355 rushing yds, 10 rushing TDs

Receiving: 32 targets, 23 receptions, 179 receiving yds, 0 receiving TDs

Scoring: 234.4 PPR points, Half-PPR rank 11, standard rank 7

In the 7 fantasy-relevant games from Weeks 10-16 that Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt played together in, Chubb was the RB18 in PPR points per game; Hunt was RB22. The only reason Chubb isn’t lower for me is because Kevin Stefanski should run the ball a ton in Cleveland, just like he did with the Vikings, and Chubb should see positive touchdown regression. That being said, Hunt steals most of his passing volume and some of his rushing volume, making Chubb an easy pass at his ADP.

RB. Jacksonville Jaguars. Leonard Fournette. 52. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. 16. player

15 games

Rushing: 255 carries, 1097 rushing yds, 8 rushing TDs

Receiving: 53 targets, 41 receptions, 295.2 receiving yds, 1 receiving TD

Scoring: 234.2 PPR points, Half-PPR rank 13, standard rank 13

Leonard Fournette was finally properly used in the passing game last year, recording 76 receptions on 100 targets. Unfortunately, the Jaguars brought in Chris Thompson, who should take away a large chunk of those targets. Fournette hasn’t been particularly efficient with his touches while healthy, but he is a workhorse who anchors his offense and puts up fantasy numbers. Throughout his career, he has played 36 games and scored 610 PPR fantasy points, making a 16-game pace of 271 points. Even considering his health issues, he’s a safe bet for an RB2 season with RB1 upside.

Pick Analysis. RB. 17. player. 36. Scouting Report. Seattle Seahawks. Chris Carson

15 games

Rushing: 245 carries, 1090 rushing yds, 9 rushing TDs

Receiving: 50 targets, 40 receptions, 304 receiving yds, 1 receiving TD

Scoring: 233.4 PPR points, Half-PPR rank 15, standard rank 12

With Rashaad Penny likely beginning the season on the PUP list, Chris Carson should receive plenty of usage again this season. Carlos Hyde isn’t a major threat to Carson, as he isn’t talented enough to take the starting job. I’m somewhat concerned about Carson’s hip, but every running back in this range has injury concerns. He finished as the RB12 last year and the RB15 the year before, so he’s a value if he can overcome the hip injury and Hyde’s presence.

RB. Pittsburgh Steelers. James Conner. Pick Analysis. 18. player. 55. Scouting Report

14 games

Rushing: 205 carries, 914 rushing yds, 9 rushing TDs

Receiving: 59 targets, 46 receptions, 399 receiving yds, 1 receiving TD

Scoring: 233.3 PPR points, Half-PPR rank 17, standard rank 17

Just like I said in my ranking of JuJu Smith-Schuster, the Steelers offense suffered immensely without Big Ben last year, from running the 4th most plays in the NFL in 2018, to the 4th least in 2019. Connor’s bust status was (mostly) because of the team’s failure, not due to a lack of talent. He’d be higher in the rankings if he’d ever proven that he could handle a full workload, but I trust him enough to draft him given how insanely jacked he’s been looking this offseason.