Have you ever seen the show Alone on the History Channel? It’s a wilderness competition to see which contestant is able survive the longest in severe climates with no food and very few supplies. There’s no camera crew, each contest is responsible for filming all their own footage so they’re legit alone out there. A new season just started and *spoiler alert* one of the guys found an old boat which he repurposed into a hot tub by filling it with water and starting a fire underneath the hull. Man’s genius knows no bounds. Point of this tangent is I’m that guy. I’m out here alone in cold, ranking Austin Ekeler, Miles Sanders and Kenyan Drake acres ahead of the rest of the fantasy world. It’s alright though, I’m chilling over here in my homemade boat tub sipping on some juniper tea. Anyway, I went over most of these guys in my overall top 10 for 2020 fantasy football, but I won’t make you click—only click if you really want more nonsense—because here’s my top 10 running backs for 2020 PPR fantasy football with projections:
1. Christian McCaffrey – I didn’t want to put McCaffrey in a solo tier. But once I ran my projections it was unavoidable, like coronavirus on a cruise ship. That reminds me, I saw an interview with the CEO of Carnival Cruises on CNBC recently. Talk about delusional, this guy thinks there’s going to be demand for cruises starting in July. Those promotional offers better be to die for! See what I did there? Back to McCaffrey though, don’t expect him to score 19 touchdowns again, but low teens seems like a decent bet—similar to the odds of catching coronavirus on a cruise. There’s some minor risk here with new head coach Matt Rhule coming in and changing things up, but you’d have to be a madman (see: Gase, Adam) to move the offense away from the White Panther.
2020 Projection: 1,200 rushing yards, 105 receptions, 850 receiving yards, 14 total touchdowns in 15 games
2. Saquon Barkley – I bet Charles Barkley could’ve been a great tight end. Turrible running back, but great tight end. Did you know Antonio Gates played basketball in college? Probably not, no one ever talks about it. Chuck’s brother Saquon might be the most talented running back in the league. The Giants took their offensive line seriously this offseason, spending an early first rounder and a third rounder on upgrades to the frontline. I won’t be at all surprised if Barkley’s the #1 overall player in every format in 2020.
2020 Projection: 1,200 rushing yards, 80 receptions, 640 receiving yards, 12 total touchdowns in 14 games
PPR Pts: 336 | 1/2 PPR Pts: 296 | Standard Pts: 256
3. Ezekiel Elliott – Shout out to u/weeknee over on Reddit who hates all of my rankings and also wants to know why Zeke gets a pass for beating up his girlfriend (allegedly) but Tyreek Hill gets crucified for beating his kid (allegedly). It’s a fair question, I mean who knows if either actually did it (they did). Anyway, I don’t draft my teams based on what quality human being these players are, but rather how many fantasy points they’re likely to score. Elliott has piled up loads of carries in his young career, but isn’t showing any signs of physical battery yet. He’s in a great offense with the rare workhorse volume. But feel free to avoid if you don’t like players who may or may not have beaten up their ex-girlfriends—also cross 25% of the league off your draft sheet.
2020 Projection: 1,260 rushing yards, 50 receptions, 390 receiving yards, 12 total touchdowns in 15 games
PPR Pts: 287 | 1/2 PPR Pts: 262 | Standard Pts: 237
4. Alvin Kamara – AK-41 went off for 18 touchdowns in 2018, but the trigger got a little sticky in 2019 as he misfired for only 6 touchdowns. McCaffrey owners take note, the regression fairies can tickle the best of em. Don’t expect another 18 touchdown season, but somewhere between 2018 and 2019 seems like a trigger lock. Kamara brings a high floor with his consistent receptions. And I mean consistent. He’s caught exactly 81 passes each of the last three seasons. The odds on that have to be similar to the odds of not catching coronavirus on a cruise.
2020 Projection: 780 rushing yards, 81 receptions, 600 receiving yards, 10 total touchdowns in 14 games
PPR Pts: 279 | 1/2 PPR Pts: 238.5 | Standard Pts: 198
5. Austin Ekeler – I know what you’re thinking, “It didn’t take long for crazy ole Donkey to get all crazy Donkey on us!” It’s true, I am crazy! But have you seen my sweet boat tub? Now who’s crazy! Still me? Ok, anyway, there’s so much Ekeler disrespect in the air this spring. Is everyone trying to socially distance from Ekeler because he was in that pool at the Ozarks? I almost disrespected him myself with an original ranking in the teens, but once I ran the numbers I was forced to give him the respect like Aretha Franklin. Think about it, Dirty Eke was the #3 PPR RB last year and he only had four games without Melvin Gordon in the mix. If his usage mimics anything close to those first four games without Gordon (~72% of snaps vs ~55% of snaps the other 12 games) then these projections are actually conservative. I don’t expect bellcow usage, but I do expect a decent increase in work on the ground and continued peppering thru the air. Haters cite concerns for Ekeler’s receiving totals since captain checkdown Philip Rivers left town. Maybe those haters haven’t seen Tyrod Taylor play before.
2020 Projection: 620 rushing yards, 80 receptions, 840 receiving yards, 8 total touchdowns in 14 games
PPR Pts: 274 | 1/2 PPR Pts: 234 | Standard Pts: 194
6. Miles Sanders – Colonel Sanders is crisping up the wings over in Philly. It’s very encouraging that the Eagles haven’t felt the need to bring in another running back via the draft or free agency this spring. They still may bring a veteran in but with Carlos Hyde just signing in Seattle, there’s only one real free agent bullet left to dodge (Devonta Freeman). Even if Freeman is an Eagle come week one, I’ll still be all over Sanders like gravy on The Colonel’s taters. Like Kamara and Ekeler, it’s all about the receptions with Sanders. I’m projecting the second year stud for 65 catches, which I’ll admit is aggressive, but there’s actually room for more. The kid caught 23 of 27 targets over the final five weeks in 2019 which prorates out to 69 catches over 15 games. Nice. Also, he’s an explosive gamebreaker who can take it to the kitchen anytime he touches the drumstick. Gimme dat chicken.
2020 Projection: 830 rushing yards, 65 receptions, 620 receiving yards, 9 total touchdowns in 14 games
PPR Pts: 264 | 1/2 PPR Pts: 231.5 | Standard Pts: 199
7. Kenyan Drake – Whoa, Donkey’s going off the deep end again! Did he confuse Kerryon and Kenyan? Wait, they aren’t brothers? Well it’s too late to change the rankings now. The Drake showed elite RB1 potential down the stretch back in 2017 going of for 120 yards on 23 carries and 114 yards on 25 carries in weeks 13 and 14. Then over the next 22 games (he didn’t miss a game) in Miami he reached 15 carries exactly zero times and 12 carries only four times before being shipped off to Arizona. Guess what, Drake saw 15 carries in his first game as a Cardinal, running for 110 yards and a touchdown. The Cards let the Kenyan run wild late in the year, giving him 22 carries in week 14 which he took for 137 yards and then 24 carries in week 15 which he took for 166 yards. Oh, and he scored 7 touchdowns over the final three weeks. Drake can run with the best of the Kenyans.
2020 Projection: 960 rushing yards, 50 receptions, 325 receiving yards, 11 total touchdowns in 14 games
PPR Pts: 244.5 | 1/2 PPR Pts: 219.5 | Standard Pts: 194.5
8. Nick Chubb – I’ve been having Chubb issues. Not like that! My junk works fine, I swear. The water in this boat tub is just getting a little cold! But I wanted to insert this Chubb in a higher place. No, not there! A higher place in these rankings. Alas, these are PPR rankings and Nick Chubby won’t get much work in the pass game. I still want Chubb and don’t believe Kareem Hunt eats too much into his fantasy production on the ground, but the already minimal targets in the pass game will dip even more. Then again, that was never what you were drafting him for anyway, it was just a little Chubb sweetener. Mmmm, Chubb sweetener.
2020 Projection: 1,250 rushing yards, 25 receptions, 190 receiving yards, 10 total touchdowns in 15 games
PPR Pts: 229 / 15.3 ppg | 1/2 PPR Pts: 216.5 / 14.4 ppg | Standard Pts: 204 / 13.6 ppg
9. Dalvin Cook – The big news this past week is the Dalvin Cook hold out. I don’t know if he’ll hold out, but I do know he won’t be on any of my teams until the hold out’s resolved after seeing LeVeon Bell and Melvin Gordon ruin fantasy teams the past two years. And I know, if playing, everyone wants to rank Cook ahead of Ekeler and Sanders, but I had him down at #7 even before all the holdout talk. I’m not changing my projections just yet, but I am knocking him down two spots. It makes sense why folks rank him in the top 3-4, he had a #1 overall season stew on the stove last year until the shoulder injury ruined the recipe. Obviously the big knock on Dalvin is injury concern after missing 12 games to an ACL in 2017, five games to a hamstring in 2018 and two games to the shoulder last year. On the plus side, the direction of that trend is encouraging and we know he can cook up Michelin fantasy stats when on the field. Outside of the injuries, my other concern is the Vikings may lean a little more on Alexander Mattison in 2020 in an effort to keep Cook healthy and fresh for their playoff run. Something like how the Rams handled Gurley’s workload early last year. Oh, and if you missed it, The Boof and I talked about the Cook holdout implications on our new show which was recently voted #1 new YouTube show featuring a fake doctor and a real Boof:
2020 Projection: 1,035 rushing yards, 45 receptions, 360 receiving yards, 9 total touchdowns in 13 games
PPR Pts: 238.5 | 1/2 PPR Pts: 216 | Standard Pts: 193.5
10. Clyde Edwards-Helaire – The only first round running back from this years draft class landed in a dream situation, allegedly hand picked by Patrick Mahomes. I already wrote a bit about Clyde as well in my top 10 rookies for 2020 fantasy football where I said, “I’ve seen folks on Twitter projecting crazy workloads for Edwards-Helaire out of the gates–like 250+ carries. It’s certainly possible, but remember Kareem Hunt’s huge workload during his 2017 rookie season with the Chiefs came on the legs of a Spencer Ware preseason knee injury. I think Damien Willliams will still have a decent role in this offense in 2020, just my guess.” And that’s a jackass quoting a donkey. UPDATE 8/7/20: Damien Williams has officially opted out of the 2020 season opening the door for a possible huge workload for CEH in his rookie season. I still expect DeAndre Washington or even Darwin Thompson to take a fair share of the touches, but it’s now hard to ignore the massive upside Edwards-Helaire brings to the table in the high powered Chiefs offense.
2020 Projection: 980 rushing yards, 40 receptions, 380 receiving yards, 8 total touchdowns in 14 games
PPR Pts: 224 / 16 ppg | 1/2 PPR Pts: 204 / 14.6 ppg | Standard Pts: 184 / 13.1 ppg