So Zeke caught the Rona? I’m not surprised, that guy is always asking for people to feed him. Just goes to show you how important it is to feed yourself during pandemics, there’s no telling where other people’s hands have been. So depending on who you talk to, this Zeke news means one of three things: 1) there will be no NFL season, 2) Zeke is now the #1 fantasy pick since he has all those glorious antibodies, 3) our lizard rulers are using 5G to control the population size. The clear answer is #3, but the idea of COVID-immunity really solidifies Elliott as #3 in my top 10 running backs for 2020 fantasy football. I need to figure out how to steal some sweet antibodies away from those reptiles on Capital Hill. Update: I just read that humans may never develop immunity to COVID-19. C’mon 2020, throw us a bone! Speaking of bones, here’s my top 20 running backs for 2020 PPR fantasy football:
Tier 4 (con’t)
11. 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
12. Le’Veon Bell – After a year long hold out and a year spent trying to avoid catching mono from Sam Darnold (and avoid being alone in the same room with Adam Gase), Le’Veon had faded to the back burner of my mind. And I only have a one burner mind—some say it’s a half burner mind. So I had Bell penciled in at the backend of my top 20 running backs and hadn’t even considered him for my now amended overall top 20 PPR rankings. But once I ran the numbers on my abacus, it was clear I had to move him up. I mention in my top 20 quarterback rankings that I believe Darnold was hampered by the kissing disease for the majority of the 2019 season; a rising Darnold should lift all Jets. And Le’Veon is likely out to show he’s still one of the top backs in the league after a disappointing first season in the Big Apple.
2020 Projection: 910 rushing yards, 65 receptions, 450 receiving yards, 8 total touchdowns in 15 games
PPR Pts: 249 / 16.6 ppg | 1/2 PPR Pts: 216.5 / 14.4 ppg | Standard Pts: 184 / 12.3 ppg
13. Derrick Henry – The Predator is an interesting case to consider for PPR leagues. He’s not going to catch many passes, but if he runs anything like he did down the stretch and in the playoffs last season then it doesn’t matter. But beware, the big man did take on a huge workload last year, tallying 386 carries including the playoffs. In my March Derrick Henry Fantasy Outlook article I took a look at all other RBs who compiled 300+ carries in a season since 2010. It was a small sample size (that’s what she said), but it’s not uncommon for runners to take a large step back and/or miss some time in the season following such massive usage numbers. I’m not crossing Henry off my draft board by any means (especially in standard leagues—he’s my #4 RB in standard), but I’m likely priced out in PPR at his current first round cost.
2020 Projection: 1,300 rushing yards, 15 receptions, 150 receiving yards, 12 total touchdowns in 14 games
PPR Pts: 232 / 16.6 ppg | 1/2 PPR Pts: 224.5 / 16 ppg | Standard Pts: 217 / 15.5 ppg
14. Jonathan Taylor – And here’s what I said about Young Taylor in the top 20, “Hello, my name is Donkey Teeth and I’m an upside addict. Give me that sweet, sweet, shiny rookie upside. The kid from Home Improvement has a vaulted ceiling. I know my projections point to the guys above in tier 6, but what’s 30 made up projection points between fantasy friends? Taylor’s huge upside is slightly muted in PPR, but the talent’s off the charts and Indy has one of the best offensive lines in the league. Don’t fade special talents because of format.”
2020 Projection: 1,150 rushing yards, 30 receptions, 240 receiving yards, 11 total touchdowns in 14 games
PPR Pts: 235 / 16.8 ppg | 1/2 PPR Pts: 220 / 15.7 ppg | Standard Pts: 205 / 14.6 ppg
15. Aaron Jones – We all knew some touchdown regression was in the cards after Jones hit pay dirt 19 times last year. But the dedication of a 2nd draft pick to prototypical power back, A.J. Dillon, has me pumping the brakes harder than a Driver’s Ed teacher with Amy Tan at the wheel. Have you seen Dillon’s legs by the way? We discussed his tree trunk lower body on this week’s Razzball Fantasy Football Podcast with guest (Packers fan) Pat Fitzmaurice of The Football Girl. Fitzmaurice was a little more optimistic on Jones than I, but don’t forget he’s a free agent after this season so a hold out isn’t out of the question.
2020 Projection: 920 rushing yards, 40 receptions, 360 receiving yards, 8 total touchdowns in 14 games
PPR Pts: 216 / 15.4 ppg | 1/2 PPR Pts: 196 / 14 ppg | Standard Pts: 176 / 12.6 ppg
16. Joe Mixon – The Mixon fan club has been after me ever since I snubbed Joe in my 2020 Dynasty Rankings. The echo chamber loves to talk about Mixon’s strong 2019 finish where he scored 5 touchdowns over the final 7 weeks, but where are the echos about his pathetic first 8 weeks which dragged fantasy teams out of contention? I get the first half usage was far from ideal, but the team will now be led by rookie QB Joe Burrow—in my opinion, also not ideal. Could the 2nd half Mixon reappear for a full season with a healthy Jonah Williams blocking out front? Absolutely, but I’m not betting my first rounder on it.
2020 Projection: 1,070 rushing yards, 35 receptions, 285 receiving yards, 8 total touchdowns in 15 games
PPR Pts: 218.5 / 14.6 ppg | 1/2 PPR Pts: 201 / 13.4 ppg | Standard Pts: 183.5 / 12.2 ppg
17. Josh Jacobs – I just realized I wrote up most of these players in my overall top 20 and now I’m doing double work! I need to stop working harder and start working smarter. Here’s the cliff notes from the top 20, “Gruden showed no signs of limiting [Jacobs’] carries at any point in 2020. But after the “broken shoulder” Jacobs battled thru up until week 14 last year, maybe that changes in 2021? J.J. was on pace for a 1,400 yard rushing season prior to week 14, so I get why there’s a group of fans calling for him in the top 10 ahead of Miles Sanders. But these have always been forward looking rankings and I think these two young backs just might be two ships passing in the night.”
2020 Projection: 1,200 rushing yards, 20 receptions, 160 receiving yards, 9 total touchdowns in 14 games
PPR Pts: 210 / 15 ppg | 1/2 PPR Pts: 200 / 14.3 ppg | Standard Pts: 190 / 13.6 ppg
18. David Johnson – I never thought I’d rank D.J. this high after being burnt by him two straight years. What’s the definition of insanity again? Much like Le’Veon, my bias was strong against Johnson. I didn’t want to touch the sweaty Johnson. But the Texans paid up for him, so you know the usage will be there if he’s healthy. That’s a big IF and it’s the reason he’s not in the tier above, despite projections that would place D.J. at #12 on the list. And those lofty projections below are based on 14 games and 250 carries which seems totally reasonable. So fool me thrice Mr. Johnson, fool me thrice!
2020 Projection: 1,100 rushing yards, 40 receptions, 350 receiving yards, 9 total touchdowns in 14 games
PPR Pts: 239 / 17.1 ppg | 1/2 PPR Pts: 219 / 15.6 ppg | Standard Pts: 199 / 14.2 ppg
19. Todd Gurley – Speaking of unsexy . . . Actually, the Toddfather’s eyes are still pretty dreamy. But for fantasy purposes the shine has faded fast, as it tends to with running backs. But his upside is still huge in a great Falcons’ offense with fairly unexciting competition for backfield touches. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Gurley posts first round fantasy value this season, but the risk in his old man knees can’t be ignored.
2020 Projection: 970 yards, 25 receptions, 200 receiving yards, 11 total touchdowns in 14 games
PPR Pts: 208 / 14.9 ppg | 1/2 PPR Pts: 195.5 / 14 ppg | Standard Pts: 183 / 13.1 ppg
20. Melvin Gordon – Word on the street is Royce Freeman is no lock to make the Broncos roster. He could be a real Freeman later this summer! But really, I don’t think it matters much for Gordon. It’s a Gordon-Lindsay one-two punch and I expect they’ll both be fantasy relevant in an exciting young offense with an improved front line. Drafting Melvin won’t excite you, but the numbers should be there if healthy; every pick can’t be sexy time Jonathan Taylor.
2020 Projection: 860 rushing yards, 35 receptions, 320 receiving yards, 8 total touchdowns in 14 games
PPR Pts: 207 / 14.8 ppg | 1/2 PPR Pts: 189.5 / 13.5 ppg | Standard Pts: 172 / 12.3 ppg