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:

Tier 1

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

PPR Pts: 394 | 1/2 PPR Pts: 341.5 | Standard Pts: 289

Tier 2

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

Tier 3

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

Tier 4

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, 8 total touchdowns in 15 games

PPR Pts: 217 | 1/2 PPR Pts: 204.5 | Standard Pts: 192

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. Leonard Fournette – I didn’t expect to rank Fournette in the top 15 coming into this exercise and I might come to regret it. Jeff Erickson of RotoWire came on the Razzball Fantasy Football Podcast this week and we discussed the possibility of Fournette holding out this year. The Jags declined his 5th year option for 2021, so you know what that means: Leo should see more work than your mom on a Saturday night—which would be a good reason to hold out at least a few weeks. If playing the question is whether the body can handle that workload. Fournette, not your mom. Answer: Probably not, but he did manage 15 games last year, so anything’s possible. Another minor concern is incoming pass specialist, Chris Thompson, a year after Fournette saw his highest usage in the pass game—76 receptions on 100 targets. But he still checks in at number 10 in the RB rankings, even with my hedged 13 game projection and a 33% decrease in receptions baked in.

2020 Projection: 1,030 rushing yards, 50 receptions, 350 receiving yards, 8 total touchdowns in 13 games

PPR Pts: 236 | 1/2 PPR Pts: 211 | Standard Pts: 186 

 

SEE RUNNING BACKS 11-20

  1. Dase says:
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    Good night or is it good morning? I don’t know but I thank you for some new reading as sleeping does not appear to be in the near forecast.

    There is another running back in Philadelphia, Boston Scott that also put up a impressive receiving line during that same five weeks (four regular and one playoff game). He caught 26 passes, on 28 targets (pro-football-reference). Let me make myself clear I’m in know way saying that Miles Sanders is not going to lead the Eagles in targets among running backs. A player like Scott is going to remove that ability of Sanders having “room for more”. I would like to add that Scott does have a current ADP of 50th RB off the board in best ball drafts over the last month. His involvement in the passing game makes for a strong, value play as a RB4 in PPR formats.

    Thanks for the reading and responding to my past comments, look forward to more of both this offseason.

    • Donkey Teeth

      Donkey Teeth says:
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      Yo Dase!

      I like Boston Scott as a late flier, especially if they don’t bring anyone else in. I think I was pretty conservative on Sanders’ rushing projections so even if there isn’t room for more in the pass game, I think there’s upside in the rushing numbers still. We’ll see how it all plays out…still time for them to bring someone else in.

      Thanks for reading as always!

    • Steve says:
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      As an eagles fan, Scott was a delight to watch during the stretch run, but I think both his and Sanders contributions in the passing game should be looked at, with at least a bit of skepticism. Towards the end of the season the eagles were trotting out practice squaders at receiver as DJAX was out, Alshon was too busy talking to reporters, and Agholar was a headcase. I think they looked over the room and asked, “ok, seriously who can catch the damn ball?” and the RBs came up as the answer. I think if they get some competent receiver play the running backs will probably see a drop in passing game usage.

      • Dase says:
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        I agree it’s not realistic at this moment in time to think that both will be seeing 6+ targets per game, like they both did down the stretch. I think it’s fair to say that if the backfield stays as it’s currently rostered, that both of them will get over double digit touches per game, with Sanders obviously leading the way in both carries and targets (targets being much closer). It’s also within very realistic reason that the likes of a Jackson, Jeffery miss time due to injury, you have a rookie (Jalen Reagor), not a guarantee to be ready to make a fantasy impact, a castoff from the 49ers bench (Goodwin), a 2nd round pick (Whiteside), who we can all say underperformed last year and we could be back to both of these back needing to get those 6+ targets each per game.

        • Donkey Teeth

          Donkey Teeth says:
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          Sanders’ touches seem so safe to me. You have to get the ball into his hands, he’s too explosive not to.

      • Donkey Teeth

        Donkey Teeth says:
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        Good point, Steve. But I do think competent receivers would hurt Scott way more than Sanders since Sanders is the type of player you wanna get the ball any way possible…

  2. Nick says:
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    Did you just copy and paste some of your explanations about players? That MaCaffrey, Saquon, and Zeke take seemed awful familiar. Maybe more too, but I can’t remember word for word that far back…

    • Donkey Teeth

      Donkey Teeth says:
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      Yes majority with some minor tweaks, that’s why the intro says I won’t make you click to the top 10…I had already written 9 out of the 10 up there.

      Thanks for reading!

      • Nicholas Mazzone says:
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        Well at least you know I like and read your content. Keep up the good work. I’ll be using this for my draft. But given the choice I might lean Kamara over Zeke

        • Donkey Teeth

          Donkey Teeth says:
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          I appreciate that!

          Can’t argue with Kamara over Zeke, those career carries for Zeke are really starting to add up…I debated putting those two in their own mini tier.

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