Last summer NFL teams were dishing out new contracts to running backs like the United States government giving away free money to the indispensable, too-big-to-fail, cruise lines. The year after Zeke hit the Jerrypot with a 7 bajillion dollar contract, Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara and Dalvin Cook each received upwards of 10 Bitcoin. Unfortunately, there were a couple stud backs whose team’s treated them more like the government has treated failing small businesses. Will these hard luck incumbents return or will they be in search of another source of crypto this off season? And if the incumbents are voted out of their backfields, what should we expect from the new regime? I’m glad you ask, here’s the top free agent running backs for 2021 fantasy football:Please, blog, may I have some more?
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.Please, blog, may I have some more?
All season long, we’ve been grinding through the top-60 rest of season running backs. There has been a lot of turnover, an excess of movement both in and outside of the top-24, and a heck of a lot of injuries and COVID-19 to navigate around — both in the fantasy realm and the real world. But, alas, we’ve finally made it to Week 14. Hopefully, for many of you, this means the start of a successful playoff run, as Weeks 14-16 is when the vast majority of fantasy playoffs occur. For this very reason, I find myself feeling sentimental as I write this. At times, I led you stray, and at others, I did my job well. Now, as we leave the regular season behind and enter the postseason threshold, I have the opportunity to provide you with one last set of running back rankings as it relates to the 2020 season. In this final installment, I’ll be focusing on the set of matchups each running back faces over the next three weeks, as I’ve replaced the previous “bye” week component in the rankings with a look at each respective player’s “upcoming schedule.” And before you ask, yes — I do have David Montgomery ranked as a top-10 rest of season, fantasy playoff run option for that very reason, among others.
But before we get to the rest of that top 10, let’s take one final, albeit emotional trip around the league together. Feel free to bring a pack of Kleenex or, if you wish, simply deploy your own makeshift snot sleeve. Personally, I haven’t cried this hard since I said goodbye to my foreign exchange student in 10th grade. It was emotional. We played a lot of ping pong together. To fully appreciate this last ROS top-60 segment, I highly recommend playing the song “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack. Blast it from the speakers as you digest the fickle words to follow.Please, blog, may I have some more?
In a casual conversation with my future mother-in-law this past week, she adamantly described Derrick Henry as “sexy.” Now, I’m no expert on the perceived attractiveness of 6-foot-3, 250-pound behemoth running backs, but I do know one thing: there’s only one. There’s only one Derrick Henry, and as he approaches a fantasy playoff schedule as easy as hiding a piece of Thanksgiving stuffing in Matt Patricia’s beard at the end of No-Shave November, we’re likely to see history repeat itself yet again. Remember, Henry averaged 24.2 half-PPR points in his final five games of 2019, which was only slightly better than the 23.1 points he averaged across the final five games of 2018. Historically, Henry is stretch-run hero — a fantasy playoff superman in a class all his own. Even if Henry hadn’t erupted for 37.5 half-PPR points in Week 12, he would likely enter the Week 13 rankings as the RB1 overall, as an upcoming matchup with the Browns is the only thing that stands between him and a remaining schedule against the Jaguars, Lions, Packers and Texans. No matter how your league is structured, those matchups scream league-winning upside, and there’s no doubt in my mind Henry will again have a high ownership percentage on championship rosters. But, since Henry did pop off in Week 12, let’s unpack it: 27 carries, 178 yards, three rushing touchdowns; two receptions (four targets), seven yards. All three of Henry’s rushing touchdowns came in first half, as he legitimately provided three healthy weeks of fantasy value in a single half. Now I understand the “sexy” part.
While Henry is up to RB1 this week, there’s a lot of other movement on the top-60 list and, as always, an overwhelming amount of injury updates to digest. So, before we get to the rankings, let’s take a quick trip around the league.Please, blog, may I have some more?
If you’re familiar with the backstory of Donkey Kong then you know that Mario is the villain of the series. Mario’s an abusive owner in the game and tries to keep Donkey Kong caged up. I always knew there was something off about that Mario dude. On Monday night, Darius Slay was cast in the role of Mario, attempting to lockdown D.K. Metcalf. But the beast could not be contained, going off for 10 catches and 177 yards as he demolished Philly. D.K. didn’t find the end zone, but could easily have finished with three scores if it weren’t for a misfire from Russ, a tackle at the one yard line and a drop. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy football:Please, blog, may I have some more?
Frank Reich is a fine man. A good man, even. Sometimes, I sit around daydreaming, wondering what it would be like if he were my father. He would no-doubt instill many wholesome values in me, his son, and be a great fishing partner. He simply has that look about him — the one that comes with a Geppetto-eque twinkle in one’s eye — that exudes wisdom and level-headedness. Personally, I believe he’s a tremendous football coach, perhaps one of the most underrated in the entire league. The Indianapolis Colts are incredibly fortunate that Josh McDaniels spurned their head coaching offer back in the February of 2018 to remain with New England, leading to Reich landing the job as a sort of second choice candidate at the time. Since then, he’s done wonders with the team and carries many strengths as the man in charge, but he’s largely been a fantasy enemy to this point — especially as it relates to the running back position. That’s because he treats his backfield like a true father figure would: he believes in all of his backs, especially the young Jonathan Taylor, and is always willing to give dish out a second chance. The issue is… it’s hard to predict when those second chances are going to come. Heading into the week, Nyheim Hines was one of the highest risers up most rest-of-season rankings after receiving 12 carries in Week 10, rushing for 70 yards and one touchdown in addition to his typical receiving workload: five receptions for 45 yards and another touchdown. Jonathan Taylor saw just seven carries in that game, to which he translated to a mere 12 yards, which came on the heels of a Week 9 game in which Reich gave Taylor a measly six carries. Fast-forward to Week 11: Taylor rushed 22 times for 90 yards, also catching four passes (on four targets) for 24 yards. Those 22 carries equated to 68.8% of running back carries (22/32), as his 26 total touches were by far the highest amongst the Indy trio. Jordan Wilkins (four carries, 21 yards; one reception on one target, 15 yards) touched the ball just five times, while Hines (six carries, two yards; three receptions on four targets, 31 yards) registered nine touches. It’s certainly encouraging to see Taylor so involved in a crucial, competitive game that the Colts ultimately won in exciting fashion — but what can we expect from him moving into the home stretch of the 2020 fantasy football season?
After sinking to RB30 overall in my rankings last week, Taylor is back up into RB2 territory thanks in large part to an incredibly easy schedule from here on out. The only truly difficult matchup remaining for Taylor will come in Week 16 against the Steelers, which isn’t ideal as it’s when most fantasy championships will occur, but until then he’ll go up against the Titans, Texans, Raiders and Texans, again. There are certainly RB2 options with safer floors, but Taylor is once again trending up and represents a much more attractive Flex play than he did one week ago.
There’s a lot more to dive into this week, so before getting to the rankings, let’s take a quick trip around the league.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Remember Jason Pierre-Paul’s infamous firework accident that resulted in a mangled hand, and eventually a club hand which he’d use to beat offensive linemen over the head? We came into Thursday night’s Cardinals at Seahawks game expecting all kinds of beautiful fantasy fireworks, but instead we were left with a limp disfigured hand. Hopefully we can transform this disappointment into our own club hand. It wasn’t all bad news though, as Carlos Hyde played it safe with bottle rockets and sparklers in his return from his hamstring injury. Hyde took 14 carries for 79 yards and 2 catches for 16 yards, adding in his 3rd touchdown. But don’t get too excited about playing Hyde the sausage with Carlos, odds are Chris Carson (foot) makes his return in week 12. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday for fantasy football:Please, blog, may I have some more?
THUMP. That was Week 10 crushing us in the face. It was unpredictable, I know, but let’s begin the conversation about the running back position this past week with a look at some of the names that finished inside RB1 territory, with their overall rank listed: RB3 Nyheim Hines, RB4 Ronald Jones, RB5, D’Andre Swift, RB6 Devontae Booker, RB7 Rex Burkhead, RB8 Antonio Gibson, RB10 Wayne Gallman, RB11 Malcolm Brown and RB12 Salvon Ahmed. That’s three-fourths of the past week’s RB1 finishers going to running backs that were likely all drafted outside of the first five rounds in your fantasy draft and at least three, maybe four players who may not have even been rostered in your league as of Sunday night. Next, let’s move over to RB2 territory: RB14 J.D. McKissic, RB15 Boston Scott, RB17 Kalen Ballage and RB23 Alex Collins. Overall, that’s 12, or half, of Week 10’s RB1-2 crop going to names that likely required very little draft capital to make your roster. Some of those names are less surprising, like Swift and Gibson, but for the sake of argument, both running backs finished outside the top-28 running backs drafted in 2020. It’s already been a miraculous year at the position — for some, perhaps heart-breaking is a more fitting adjective — and the madness ensued in Week 10, to put it lightly. Fortunately, we can at least say we did not see the same absurd number of running back injuries as we’ve grown accustomed to.
Even so, it was a truly unpredictable week. Before you begin beating your forehead against the keyboard and your boss yells at you (or partner/child/parents/etc. for those still stuck at home) for disrupting the workplace over fantasy football for the umpteenth time since the onset of September, remember this: we’re all in it together. We’re all playing the same game, with the same weekly uncertainty factored in and with the same information at our fingertips. That’s reason for composure. That’s reason to keep fighting the good fight because, as you may have heard me say many times before, the grinders beat the whiners. I’ve actually never said that before, but you get the point.
It’s time to get to the rankings, but before we do, let’s take a quick trip around the league.Please, blog, may I have some more?
What in the Anthony Lynn is going on in San Diego!? I mean, Los Angeles!? Justin Jackson (zero carries; zero targets) seemed like a safe RB2 play with upside heading into the weekend, but suffered a first quarter knee injury and exited the contest prior to receiving a touch. In his stead, it was Kalen Ballage (15 carries, 69 yards, one rushing TD; two receptions on three targets, 15 yards) who burst onto the scene and answered the call. With the opportunity, Ballage finished as Week 9’s RB4, posting 15.4 half-PPR points. That was good for RB4 overall, you might say? Yes, indeed. Times are tough. The RB landscape has a bleaker outlook than the FBI Director’s job security. Joshua Kelley (nine carries, 28 yards; five receptions on five targets, 31 yards) did very little with his 14 touches, managing just 3.1 YPC and finishing outside RB2 range as the week’s RB25 with 8.4 points. Ballage, on the other hand, cruised his way to 4.6 YPC and was targeted three times by Justin Herbert in his debut. If you didn’t even know Ballage was on the Chargers until this past Sunday night, don’t fret! You’re not alone! With Troymaine Pope out with a concussion, Los Angeles elected to activate Ballage off their practice squad just over one month after the New York Jets cut him on Oct. 5 — making this entire situation all the more hilarious.
As we attempt to forecast the weeks ahead, there is still no official word as to when fantasy managers might expect Austin Ekeler to return outside of details provided on his Instagram account. For some of you, that may be the definition of a scholarly source. Ekeler showed that he started running last week and is ever-so-slowly increasing his activity, making a Week 12 return seem like a possibility, albeit an optimistic one. I speculated last week that his chances of returning at all seemed to be dwindling, but we may in fact see him on the field again in 2020. In the interim, I’m going to go out on a limb and state that Ballage is the Chargers running back to own. *hears a crack, stops to think, then plummets to the ground* It was an incredibly precarious limb.
There’s a lot more to discuss and break down this week, so before getting into the Week 10 rest of season running back rankings, let’s take a quick trip around the league.Please, blog, may I have some more?
To begin Week 9’s rest of season top 60 running back rankings, I’m going to get up on my body wash box. What is a body wash box, you ask? Well, I don’t use soap, so I don’t have a soap box to stand on. *someone whispers* “That’s just a phrase, Mr. Hobbs.” To which I reply, “Your face is just a term, and Mr. Hobbs is not my name.” Anywho, as I was balancing on top my mountain of body wash bottles, which was rather precarious and not at all safe, there was a particular player I kept thinking about; a running back I love for the rest of the 2020 fantasy football season and don’t quite understand why he’s being undervalued in so many industry circles. And to be clear, this is a player I have zero — you heard that right — zero, total shares of across the 11 fantasy football leagues I play in. None. Zip. So, there’s no self-serving bias here. That player is Josh Jacobs (31 carries, 128 yards; zero receptions on one target). Jacobs is currently positioned as RB9 overall on the season, averaging 14.5 FPPG, which is tied for 13th among running backs. So why do I like him even more than that as we forecast the rest of the 2020 season?
For starters, I’ve taken some heat as a result of my bullish ROS ranking of Jacobs in recent weeks. I expect to take even more this week, as I’ve moved him up to RB6 overall despite an RB15 finish in Week 8. But with my madness, comes reason. Through Week 8, the Raiders are 4-3 despite playing a brutal schedule that featured a combined opponent winning percentage of .623. Five of their seven games have come against teams with five-plus wins and, amazingly enough, they have won three of those games (Chiefs, Saints, Browns). Now, that doesn’t mean all of those high caliber teams Las Vegas has played feature elite front sevens, but the point is as follows. Jacobs didn’t exactly have positive game script on his side throughout the first half of the season, but he will moving forward, as the Raiders face one of the NFL’s easiest remaining schedules. Jacobs will see even more positive game scripts as the Raiders play with a lead more frequently. Plus, Jacobs is third in the entire NFL in touches with 165, trailing only Derrick Henry and Ezekiel Elliott. That’s 23.6 touches per game. On top of that, much of Jacobs’ issues in 2020 have come via a lack of ground efficiency, but I don’t think any of us are doubting his talent between the tackles. If Las Vegas can get Trent Brown and Richie Incognito back healthy, which appears to be on the horizon, Jacobs could very well be one of the five best backs to have in your lineup for the remainder of the season. He’s up to RB6 overall this week. I already told you to buy low last week, and now this window is closing faster than my high school ex-girlfriend’s when she saw me coming down the street with a boom box.
Before we get to the entirety of the week 9 rest of season running back rankings, let’s take a quick trip around the league.Please, blog, may I have some more?