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.

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The choice for this week’s lede seemed obvious heading into the final game of the Week 6. Fresh off the Chiefs’ signing of Le’Veon Bell to a one-year deal, Clyde Edwards-Helaire erupted for 161 yards on 26 carries, adding another four receptions on four targets for eight yards. Other than the fact that CEH remains allergic to the end zone, it was an outstanding performance, as he cruised to 6.2 yards-per-carry while handling all of his targets with ease. Meanwhile, Bell saw a much different line in the box score: three plane rides, two luxury hotel stays, seven tweets and a new Mahomes. A big boost to the fantasy value? Well, it depends on how you look at it, as they say. All things are relative. It’s certainly a worse landing spot compared to somewhere like Miami or Buffalo where Bell would have a much greater likelihood of handling lead-back duties. However, playing second fiddle to CEH (which we have to assume for now, based on his Week 6 performance) still beats being the feature back for the New York Jets. Hell, being Andy Reid’s butt-scratcher beats being the No.1 running back for Gang Green. Still, I have to mention that it was in fact Darrel Williams (six carries, 16 yards, one rushing TD; one reception, 15 yards) that found pay dirt, running in a 13-yard score in the third quarter.

As of 8:15 ET on Monday night, that was the clear headline for my top 60 rest of season running back rankings. Well, that was until early in the second quarter of the nightcap between the Cowboys and Cardinals, where we saw the second highest paid running back in the NFL, Ezekiel Elliott, cough up his fourth and fifth fumbles of the season — and it’s only Week 6! By the way, that gives Elliott a share of the NFL lead for fumbles alongside Joe Burrow, Derek Carr and Carson Wentz. That’s right, he leads all running backs. Notably, the Cowboys actually showed a willingness to move away from Elliott for much of the second quarter after that, likely out of an attempt to both wake Elliott up and prioritize salvaging the game as it quickly got away from them. Tony Pollard ended up with a season-high seven carries in the first half, which he turned into 26 yards on the ground. In the end, however, it was obviously still Zeke’s backfield in the second half. Zeke finished with 12 carries for 49 yards, but he also caught eight of 11 targets (most on team) for 31 yards. Pollard finished with 10 carries for 31 yards, adding another two catches for nine yards. It’s reasonable to be concerned if you own any fantasy weapons in the Dallas offense after their performance on Monday night. Abysmal just doesn’t seem to be the right word, but it’ll do for now. The remainder of Dallas’ schedule is also pretty tough against running backs, so I’ve downgraded Elliott one spot.

Before we get to the Week 7 rankings, let’s take a quick trip around the league.

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Two weeks to go before the NFL season begins. Training camp coming to a close and position battles and injuries shaping the landscape. There are a few changes we need to pay attention to. Here are my updated LB rankings for your IDP drafts.  

Stock up

TJ Watt moves up from 11 to 8 as a lot of IDP leagues are starting to adjust their scoring systems and I think this helps Watt.  Look for Watt to dominate again this season and compete for the top spot in defensive player leagues.

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One of the keys to IDP leagues is knowing your scoring system. They are sort of like dates, whether it be a guy or girl, they all have the same two chromosomes, but they can all be vastly different. If you’re just starting out playing in an IDP league this is the most important thing to know before you draft. Your rankings will be highly dependent on the scoring system so do not go into it blindly with some list of rankings.

The scoring for IDP generally breaks down into three categories, similar to standard and PPR scoring for offense, and they are based on the ratio of points given to tackles and “big plays”. Balanced scoring systems will have a ratio of big play to solo tackle points of 3:1 to 4:1.  If it’s above 4:1, the scoring is considered ‘big play heavy” and if it’s less than 3:1, it’s “tackle heavy”.

I’ve played in an IDP league for about 15 years and it’s big play heavy.  So what I’ve done is look at two other scoring systems and compared the players who finished 1-25 in my league with how they would finish in the other scoring systems.  It’s obviously not the complete picture, but it gives you an idea of the types of players that are favored in each format. I used the scoring from Fantasy Pros to use as our “tackle heavy” format as their big play to tackle ration is a little less than 3:1.  For the balanced approach I used the IDP 123 system from Expand the Boxscore’s Jordan Rains.  The scoring categories included are Solo Tackles, Assisted Tackles, Sacks, Forced Fumbles, Recovered Fumbles, Interceptions, Passes Defensed, and TDs. Each player’s stats are from MyFantasyLeague.  The scoring systems points are in the chart below.

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If you’ve never played in an IDP league you probably have one major question. When do you start taking defensive players in your draft? With July’s arrival the fantasy draft season starts to ramp up and we can take a look at early ADP. The linebacker position is your bread and butter when it comes to consistent fantasy scoring and finding value here can allow you to take a top defensive lineman early in your draft.  

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If you play in an IDP league, you already know that linebackers are the bread and butter of defensive scoring.  If you are trying to learn about IDPs or deciding whether to convince your fellow league mates to switch from the hum-drum team defense to the dynamic scoring of individual defensive players, this is a good place to start.  We’ll start with the top 25 linebackers and then cover 25-50 and the top 50 at DL and DB.

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Whenever you see an overall ranking for IDP leagues, linebackers will dominate the list.  Some will have the top 10-20 players be linebackers and that would be true if you only based the rankings on projected points, but draft strategy has to come into play.  As in your offensive player part of the draft, position scarcity and tiers come into play.  There is a large core of players in each of the three positions that don’t vary much, but the start of each of these cores varies greatly between positions.  

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