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.

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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.

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It’s 7AM Tuesday morning. Blair wakes up. Pours the coffee, adds the half and half. Toast with butter and jam. Three kids shouting about Cinnamon Toast Crunch fill the background. His wife returns home from a shift in the ER. More drunken ATV crashes. The smoke from the west coast fires has arrived in the midwest, the morning sun shining red through the haze.

“It’s time to check the Razzbowl standings!” Blair shouts to his family audience, nobody caring in particular. Phone in one hand, coffee in the other, he opens the NFC app on his phone, looking at the league summary. “First place!” he exclaims. But wait. Razzbowl Satellite Rank: 1. He scrolls up. The Razzbowl Online Rank: 234. A tear forms. “Covid patients for covid reasons last night,” his wife says. Another tear forms. 

Looking for solace, he checks his neighbors in the standings. Ah! Yes, there are some powerful names around me. People from Rotoviz, Rotoballer, people who have big publications. People who are leaders in the industry. Blair thinks back to last year, when he drafted Andrew Luck and then Zay Jones in the 8th round. He was in 6th place in a competitive league at one point! Before, well, falling to 11th place and feeling the sting of defeat. 

Blair scrolls to his roster, eyeing Leonard Fournette. “You can do it, Lenny!” he whispers, hardly noticing the two kids hammering cereal spoons at his shins. 

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Welcome back to another trek to the highest peak. If you followed me last year, you’ll know that I am going to be your guide through this fantasy season. The first checkpoint in 2020 feels like the 50th as we have all already weathered a storm much more dangerous than fantasy football. However, we’re here now and ready to work. 

Take a sip of your morning coffee, brewed extra strong for the journey ahead. Week 1 is behind us and now there is much work to be done. I will group the adds by position and then within the position, rank them in order of preference. You’ll also be able to tell who is more valuable by the free agent acquisition budget (FAAB) suggestion, assuming a $100 budget. The sherpa will only advise players who are rostered in less than 33% of ESPN leagues. DISCLAIMER – at press time Tennessee and Denver had not kicked off yet. 

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There are a few theories to why the Bears brought Nick Foles into the quarterback room in Chicago. My guess was that it was to light a fire under two and a half year starter Mitch Trubisky. You know, make him realize that there is a possibility that he wouldn’t be the starter and it would be a motivator. It appears that the Bears are willing to do what it takes to win right now just one year removed from a playoff appearance. They still have a pretty good defense and Allen Robinson in his prime. 

Reports suggest that Nick Foles has a slight edge in the pursuit of the starting job over Mitch Trubisky. The Rotoworld blurb continued by saying Mitch is making a bunch of mistakes and struggling with accuracy while Nick has been steady but not spectacular. From a fantasy perspective, Nick Foles is what Anthony Miller and Allen Robinson enthusiasts like myself want to see. While Nick Foles’ ceiling height is that of an upstairs attic in a horror movie, he will at least be able to get the ball to Miller and Robinson without too much of an issue. 

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There was a conspiracy theory that was being widely floated that the Patriots planned on tanking the 2020 season to put themselves in position to draft Trevor Lawrence in the 2021 draft. As far fetched as it was, I wouldn’t put anything past Bill Belichick. The man isn’t getting any younger and finding success without Tom Brady is clearly at the top of his priority list. 

It was only a matter of time before the Patriots brought in Cam Newton. Apparently this deal has been in the works for a while but Covid provided difficulties with physicals and workouts. But alas, Cam will be an NFL starting quarterback on a very team friendly deal that probably comes with some under the table cigar shop investments from Robert Kraft. The personality fit will be the most interesting part of this whole experiment. Cam Newton has always been a player to show a lot of personality. He’s honest, willing to talk, he loves to smile, he loves to celebrate, and he loves to interact with fans. He’s the exact opposite of Tom Brady during his time with the Patriots outside of a few instagram productions and a very weird Facebook show.

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I have been tiptoeing around writing about Allen Robinson as a fantasy target. I really like Allen Robinson, which I will get to, but I have been writing a lot about players in the 25-40 ADP range as targets and I would love to focus on all parts of the draft board. But this year, more than ever, it is important to be diverse on the draft board. Especially if you play in more than one league. Every year you should have backup plans and tier your rankings because it’s assumed that you are going to get sniped at some point in every draft. But also, we need to assume that players that we draft will test positive for Covid-19 at some point in the season, so diversifying and not putting all of your eggs in one basket in every league is ideal. After all, if you play in a lot of leagues, it’s about return on investment. If you miss badly in one league, you can still have fighting chances in others. 

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We have been discussing overarching themes to the 2019 fantasy football season and how that may affect the 2020 season. During this time, I’ve been beating around the bush. We all know the biggest story of 2019, and what the biggest question of 2020 will be: To Lamar, or not to Lamar? I’ve avoided the question for the past month. Why? Because, my answer is going to be on the very unpopular side of the aisle. Lamar Jackson is going to be worth a 1st round pick in 2020.

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Welp. Last week was a kick in the pants, but don’t fret I was right there taking it with you. People are saying it was the Vegas sportsbooks worst weekend of the year. Favorites went 9-4-1 ATS on the closing line, while underdogs are 87-70-4 ATS overall this year on the closing line. Finding any edges in this fake sport we all have an unhealthy obsession with is a process over the course of the season. That process has led me to a 4 pieces I found in research this week that have implication on not only this week, but the rest of the season overall. 

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Welcome to Stat-o-Matic where we will look at some advanced stats around the NFL. As a disclaimer, I am using this space to play around with some numbers and present some interesting findings. But, by no means is this validated or predictive data. I hope that it will lead to meaningful discoveries or it could inspire you to go down your own rabbit hole. We’re going to explore together, crunch some numbers and see what pops out. Stats courtesy of PlayerProfiler.com.

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