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?

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?

We are now in the Fantasy Football home stretch, week 11! Hopefully you’re reading this because you’re making your playoff push or fighting for a high seed and want to keep winning. Most league’s regular season ends week 13 or 14, so we are in the crucial weeks of the season that can shape the playoff landscape in your league. If you’re not mathematically eliminated, don’t give up, it’s a crazy year! It is make or break time and it is extremely important to find productive players to put in your flex spots. That is exactly why I write this column, to help you make these tough decisions and win your weeks!

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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?

Our expectations for Monday night’s Patriots against Jets showdown were lower than my expectations for the art fair my lady made me attend over the weekend. Or as I call it, the fart fair. One of these events yielded more entertainment than expected (hint: it wasn’t the fart fair).  Two under the radar receivers put on a show for us as the Jets attempted to steal their first win and the Patriots attempted to avoid the embarrassment of losing to the Jets. Breshad Perriman erupted for 5 catches for 101 yards and his 1st and 2nd touchdowns. But on the other side of the ball, Jakobi Meyers had a response, reeling in 12 catches for 169 yards (nice). I’m not sure I’ve ever properly highlighted the boldness factor which makes our Pigskinonator projections bot so valuable. For instance, this week the Bacon-bot ranked Jakobi Meyers as it’s #11 fantasy wide receiver, ahead of some big name players who busted like Adam Thielen, Michael Thomas and Marquise Brown. This hunk of metal certainly ain’t shy! Now, it’s worth pointing out that these computer generated projections and rankings aren’t intended to be used as gospel, but they’re a phenomenal complementary data driven reference point which pays off week in and week out. Sign up now for your free trial! And to answer your question regarding Meyers and Perriman moving forward: they’re both worth adding if you’re needy at wide receiver; Meyers and his 14 targets should be prioritized first. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday for fantasy football:

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?

Seven weeks of NFL action are now in the past and the sample size makes it more difficult to find easy trade targets. But there is still value and volume to be found in both the trade market and on the waiver wire. Be sure to check out AlFFred AKA the BOOF’s waiver wire article that came out earlier today. In this week’s edition, every player’s situation is in some way affected by an injury on their offense. 

Sometimes a player’s misfortune leads to a new opportunity in this dog eat dog world of fantasy football. But on the bright side, we will soon be getting a few of fantasy stars back in line ups. By week 9, we should have Christian McCaffrey, Nick Chubb back and although news hasn’t been great with Michael Thomas the last couple of weeks, he could be back in the fold that very same week. Keep those names in mind as targets as you are sending out trade offers this week to teams that are desperate for wins now to stay alive for the playoff hunt.

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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.

Please, blog, may I have some more?