Now that the 2020 fantasy football playoffs are upon us, my job overseeing the rest of season top 60 running back rankings here at Razzball are as through as the chances of Carson Wentz inviting Doug Pederson to this week’s Bible study. Last week, I put a bow on that project with one final, playoff edition of the top backs to target for those still in hot pursuit of a fantasy championship. Friends, we’ve come a long, long way from the initial set of rankings I constructed in the preseason edition, when I was young and naïve and my only prior experience with Reddit commenters was through the illegal streaming of countless sporting events. But now, since there are truly only two weeks of fantasy football remaining, my job is done. Instead, for those looking for rankings to use the next couple weeks, look to Donkey Teeth & Co. for further insight. All season long, Razzball’s Donkey Teeth and MB have been providing excellent work as always with their weekly fantasy football rankings. That’s the place to go for any and all remaining decisions. As for me, my final fantasy football post for 2020 will look ahead to 2021. Who is an early favorite for that first overall pick in drafts? Which 2020 rookie backs have put themselves in the conversation for a first round pick? And hey, how about the incoming 2021 rookie class? Any early-round selection potential there? You already know I want me some Najee Harris the same way I wanted to be in bed with Dobbins the Take-it-to-the-House Elf all season long. But first, before you all take your Sunday wizardry robes off,  I’d like to take a few moments to reflect briefly on what we observed in 2020 (in lieu of a trip around the league), and how maybe we can use it as a learning experience to improve as fantasy owners in the years ahead.

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What. A. Mess. Have mercy on us, 2020. To anyone who owns or has ever owned a pet, or is a parent, you may have experienced a scenario much like the one I am about to lay out. You turn your back for a few minutes, heck, maybe even just a few seconds. Perhaps you had to take the garbage out, or quickly snuck away to take a shower, and left your furry friends unsupervised for a brief moment. Upon your return, you are shocked to find the stuffing of a destroyed pillow strewn about the room, or a box of tissues shredded throughout your home — maybe, for the most unfortunate of souls, even some poopy footprints scattered across the floor. That feeling is what Week 7 felt like, at least to me. We let our guard down for just a second, reclined on the couch to relax and enjoy a pleasant Sunday afternoon of football — and we returned to reality to find an array of crap flung all across our roster and, more importantly of course, the top 60 rest of season running back rankings. Sure, we didn’t see the high-caliber superstars do gown that we saw earlier in the season, but that’s more so because, well, there are only a few healthy ones left unscathed at the position as is.

Let’s run through it. Chris Carson. Kenyan Drake. Devonta Freeman. Phillip Lindsay. Thankfully, one previously injured back, Raheem Mostert, was replaced via a breakout from Jeff Wilson, who finished as Week 7’s RB1 with 31 half-PPR points. Oh, yeah. Right. INJURED. Out several weeks. Then we have the lingering injuries from Week 6 that are accompanied by just as much, if not more, uncertainty than the aforementioned names. Miles Sanders. Joe Mixon. Let’s go a degree deeper. Nick Chubb. Austin Ekeler. All of this, crumpled together one layer after another, has created arguably one of the most clouded RB groups in recent memory. Even the top 24 is incredibly weak, relatively speaking, at the tail end. It’s ugly — and it’s tough to project considering many of these injuries come with timetables of “several weeks.” Or “for a while.” I especially get a kick out of “some time” and wouldn’t be surprised to hear a head coach give a *shrug* followed by “beats me, man, you heard anything?”

In this week’s column, I’ll do my best to make sense of it all. The rest of my colleagues here at Razzball are doing an incredible job attempting to do the same at their own respective positional assignments, so be sure to check out all of our rest of season positional fantasy football rankings. Before I get to mine, let’s take a quick trip around the league.

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Two days, football fans! Two days! That means the 2020 NFL Season will be upon us in a smaller span of time than your average game of cricket. Quicker than your seven round NFL Draft. And much faster than it takes Kirk Cousins to get rid of the ball on a typical pass play. Just two days and we’ll have NFL football. Two days until you get to turn months of research and late-night draft parties into something that actually matters as all the projection slowly turns into production. Today, we’ll begin with the former as I reveal my top 60 running backs heading into week one of the 2020 season. As a general baseline, I’ll be using half-PPR scoring for these rankings. Moving forward, I will continuously update these 60 backs on a weekly basis to provide an up-to-date snapshot at the top options at the position moving forward. Before we get into the actual rankings, here are some highlights from the opening list.

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And now after I have teased you with 2 days of WR rankings, it’s time for the pièce de résistance: rookie RBs! Nothing has the potential to shift a fantasy league like a freshman RB who finally gets hot come playoff time. We saw with David Johnson in 2015, Alvin Kamara in 2017, Nick Chubb in 2018 and Miles Sanders a year ago. 

If you’ve been following my offseason process, you know what I look for when ranking prospects. If you are a first timer please check out this article explaining my general rationale. 

Additionally, you can see the ascent and decline of various RBs since February with my pre-combine rankings and post-combine rankings

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Welcome to my first attempt at formal rookie rankings for the world to see! I have used a mix of metrics that seem to matter based on my research, mock draft projections and a sprinkling of film analysis (done by people better at it than me) to arrive at this list.  

I explain why I chose the stats I did in the linked article above. While career yards and dominator rating are solidified, we don’t have verified numbers on some metrics.  To rank these RBs pre-combine I had to make some assumptions on the 2 values below. 

Height-adjusted speed score (HaSS)

This is a metric that takes into account height, weight and forty time into a single number that can be compared across players. I landed on 92.6 as a cutoff but think of that as a general threshold. I don’t think 92.5 dooms a player who looks good elsewhere.

While official measurements will be taken at the combine I calculated whether I think each player will make that 92.6 cutoff based on listed ht/wt and a forty time of 4.59. The letter “P” means that player will probably hit the threshold and “M” stands for maybe. Since it is a subjective estimation at this point, I have put an asterisk by that metric.

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A few weeks ago, I sat down with the great Peter Howard’s (@pahowdy) college market share database and created a set of filters for college production that had a better hit rate than selecting just 1st round NFL WRs. This time I intend to do the same but with running backs. I have seen a lot of chatter on the Twitter site about characteristics shared by fantasy RB1s. For instance I saw that most of them run under a 4.6 forty. However, looking at just the successful players doesn’t make that a helpful nugget. You see, if ALL NFL RBs mostly run under a 4.6, then the fact that the best ones do still doesn’t help us when selecting from a giant pool of players.

Please, blog, may I have some more?