A couple weeks back I gave you the recap of top 20 quarterbacks for 2020 fantasy football. Turns out, I was more than proficient at ranking QBs this year. At least I can tell my lady I was proficient at something in 2020. Alright, you got me, the lady’s actually Kerryon Johnson and I’ll have to communicate with him from at least 500 feet. After digging through the QBs I began to look at the year end running back rankings, comparing them to my preseason rankings. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t pretty. Of course, we all missed at the top with Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott. Even if I give myself a pass at the top end, it wasn’t good. I blame that whole pandemic thing. You may have deduced it from the title: in this series I’m going over the top players at each position, listed in order of how many fantasy points they actually scored this season. This is not a ranking for 2021 fantasy football. I repeat, THIS IS NOT A RANKING FOR 2021! Anyway, here’s the top 20 running backs for 2020 fantasy football and how they compared to where I originally ranked them:
1. Alvin Kamara – Two items of note: a) Kamara did this in spite of a mediocre four game stretch with Taysom Hill at the helm vulturing six touchdowns, b) He scored six touchdowns in week 16. What does it mean? Nothing. Or something. How am I supposed to know, the top end of my RB rankings were a mess this year! Preseason Rank #4, 2020 Projections: 780 rushing yards, 81 receptions, 600 receiving yards, 10 total touchdowns in 14 games. Final Numbers: 932 rushing yards, 83 receptions, 756 receiving yards, 21 total touchdowns in 15 games.
2. Derrick Henry – Oooof! Swing and a miss! I had Henry #3 overall in my standard league rankings, but a pinch of injury concern due to workload combined with his lack of receptions had me bumping him below consensus in PPR leagues. Fail. Preseason Rank #11, 2020 Projections: 1,300 rushing yards, 15 receptions, 150 receiving yards, 12 total touchdowns in 14 games. Final Numbers: 2,027 rushing yards, 19 receptions, 114 receiving yards, 17 total touchdowns in 16 games.
3. Dalvin Cook – My preseason failings of foresight on Cook were similar to Henry, except the second mark against The Chef was holdout concern rather than lack of receptions. Of course we found out last minute prior to week one that everyone and their mother’s uncle was receiving a contract extension. Cookie has now played 14 games each of the past two seasons, shaking the injury prone label like it was a high school cornerback trying to wrap him up. Preseason Rank #10, 2020 Projections: 1,035 rushing yards, 45 receptions, 360 receiving yards, 9 total touchdowns in 13 games. Final Numbers: 1,557 rushing yards, 44 receptions, 361 receiving yards, 17 total touchdowns in 14 games.
4. David Montgomery – The greatest bargain of 2020 was not that case of 2-ply you bought on eBay for $70, it was the Full Monty. He went down in training camp with an ugly looking groin injury and I was told he’d miss at least a few weeks. LIES! He was back for week one, played 15 games and made me look like a fool for drafting J.K. Dobbins over him. Alright, I looked like a fool well before that, but Monty made me look like an even bigger fool. Preseason Rank #25, 2020 Projections: 950 rushing yards, 25 receptions, 190 receiving yards, 7 total touchdowns in 14 games. Final Numbers: 1,070 rushing yards, 54 receptions, 438 receiving yards, 10total touchdowns in 15 games.
5. Aaron Jones – Wow, my RB rankings were uglier than if the Chiefs Super Bowl performance had a baby with Gary Gaetti. I thought A-A-Ron Jr. was in for severe touchdown regression after his 18 scores in 2019. I also thought second round rookie bulldozer A.J. Dillon would steal a bunch of goal line touches by midseason. Turns out I need to stop thinking. Preseason Rank #16, 2020 Projections: 920 rushing yards, 40 receptions, 360 receiving yards, 8 total touchdowns in 14 games. Final Numbers: 1,104 rushing yards, 47 receptions, 355 receiving yards, 11 total touchdowns in 14 games.
6. Jonathan Taylor – Finally here’s a running back I can take the W on. While the Clyde Edwards-Helaire highspeed hype train was running full steam in the the late summer, I was still trying to jump start the Taylor hype train. Of course the Marlon Mack early injury helped and even then it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns for us JT owners. But he was who we thought he was by late season. Preseason Rank #12, 2020 Projections: 1,150 rushing yards, 30 receptions, 240 receiving yards, 11 total touchdowns in 14 games. Final Numbers: 1,169 rushing yards, 36 receptions, 299 receiving yards, 12 total touchdowns in 15 games.
7. James Robinson – Every season there’s a league winning running back or two who comes out of the woodwork. This year it was JRob. I snagged him at the end of a couple last minute drafts but I never bothered to insert him into my rankings after all the Fournette, Armstead, Ozigbo dominoes fell. Mea culpa. Preseason Rank #N/A, 2020 Projections: None. Final Numbers: 1,070 rushing yards, 49 receptions, 344 receiving yards, 10 total touchdowns in 14 games.
8. Josh Jacobs – It was a tale of two season for the Jinglehammer who was looking like an elite fantasy back in the early going. He scored nine touchdowns in four games and three touchdowns the other 11 games, only reaching 100 rushing yards twice. The takeaway here is that it only took a few big games to finish as a top 10 RB this year. Also, Jacobs is good not great, just like we prophesized. Preseason Rank #15, 2020 Projections: 1,200 rushing yards, 20 receptions, 160 receiving yards, 9 total touchdowns in 14 games. Final Numbers: 1,065 rushing yards, 33 receptions, 238 receiving yards, 12 total touchdowns in 15 games.
9. Nick Chubb – My Chubb went limp from weeks 5-9. By the way, is there anything worse than when your stud RB misses that middle stretch of the fantasy regular season? I mean other than kale salads, is there anything worse? On a per game basis, Chubb was the #5 running back and that’s with Hunt stealing a bunch of work. Prettay, prettay good. Preseason Rank #8, 2020 Projections: 1,250 rushing yards, 25 receptions, 190 receiving yards, 10 total touchdowns in 15 games. Final Numbers: 1,067 rushing yards, 16 receptions, 150 receiving yards, 12 total touchdowns in 12 games.
10. Kareem Hunt – Kareem had the sky hook going in the first half, but from week 11 forward he only got more than 14 touches in one game. Still Hunt had a knack for finding the end zone, and at least the work in the passing game was consistent. The dog can Hunt when he’s on the field. Preseason Rank #27, 2020 Projections: 460 rushing yards, 60 receptions, 480 receiving yards, 4 total touchdowns in 14 games. Final Numbers: 841 rushing yards, 38 receptions, 304 receiving yards, 11 total touchdowns in 16 games.
11. Ezekiel Elliott – Turns out Zeke without Dak is like mashed potatoes without gravy. They’re alright, but that gravy is what brings those taters up into the elite foods tier. Good thing the gravy will probably be back in Dallas early in the 2021 season. But the career carries are really piling up for Zeke. Preseason Rank #3, 2020 Projections: 1,260 rushing yards, 50 receptions, 390 receiving yards, 12 total touchdowns in 15 games. Final Numbers: 979 rushing yards, 52 receptions, 338 receiving yards, 8 total touchdowns in 15 games.
12. Antonio Gibson – Remember when I asked if there was anything worse than losing your stud RB for weeks 5-9? You don’t? It was just two blurbs ago! Turns out there’s a few things worse. Like when you only need 5 points from your stud back on a Sunday night and he gets hurt in the first quarter causing you to lose out on your first round bye. Then that same stud back misses the next week causing you to be eliminated from the playoffs. Then you cry hysterically for the next two months. This is all hypothetical of course. Preseason Rank #25, 2020 Projections: 400 rushing yards, 60 receptions, 540 receiving yards, 6 total touchdowns in 14 games. Final Numbers: 795 rushing yards, 36 receptions, 247 receiving yards, 11 total touchdowns in 14 games.
13. Melvin Gordon – El Gordo preformed right inline with my preseason projections but, to be honest, I think he got a bit lucky. Lindsay missed weeks 2-5 allowing Melvin to establish his role on his new team. He was also able to dodge a DUI suspension which will likely be served at the start of next season. Can anyone explain why these millionaire athletes can’t hire someone to drive them around while they get hammered? Preseason Rank #18, 2020 Projections: 860 rushing yards, 35 receptions, 320 receiving yards, 8 total touchdowns in 14 games. Final Numbers: 986 rushing yards, 32 receptions, 158 receiving yards, 10 total touchdowns in 15 games.
14. Kenyan Drake – Even with Murray “vulturing” 11 touchdowns, Drake still punched it in 10 times himself. Although five of those touchdowns came during a four game stretch where Kyler was nursing a shoulder injury and very tentative on the ground. Point is, the year end production looks nice but Drake was far from a consistent gold record producer. Preseason Rank #7, 2020 Projections: 960 rushing yards, 50 receptions, 325 receiving yards, 11 total touchdowns in 14 games. Final Numbers: 955 rushing yards, 25 receptions, 137 receiving yards, 10 total touchdowns in 15 games.
15. Mike Davis – Did you draft Christian McCaffrey? I hope you picked up Mike Davis and/or James Robinson. Otherwise it was a painful season, like Game of Thrones season 8 minus the Arya/Night King episode. Preseason Rank #N/A, 2020 Projections: None. Final Numbers: 642 rushing yards, 59 receptions, 373 receiving yards, 8 total touchdowns in 14 games.
16. Ronald Jones – Woof. Another whiff for me in the preseason. I went for the bait on the Leonard Fournette signing even though Bruce Arians plainly told us RoJo was still his guy. Who would have guessed that an NFL coach would be telling the truth! First time of everything. Of course, Fournette did show up in the playoffs which really just added insult to injury. Preseason Rank #41, 2020 Projections: 600 rushing yards, 25 receptions, 230 receiving yards, 4 total touchdowns in 14 games. Final Numbers: 978 rushing yards, 28 receptions, 165 receiving yards, 8 total touchdowns in 13 games.
17. Chris Carson – My fade of Carson was looking pretty stupid around week 6. Then I was bailed out by his week 7 foot sprain, after which his fantasy production never recovered. My Chris Carson voodoo doll took some time to work, but it worked. I’m kidding. I don’t play with dolls. Except Barbies. And Beanie Babies. Preseason Rank #20, 2020 Projections: 1,030 rushing yards, 25 receptions, 180 receiving yards, 6 total touchdowns in 13 games. Final Numbers: 681 rushing yards, 37 receptions, 287 receiving yards, 9 total touchdowns in 12 games.
18. D’Andre Swift – I’m just going to pretend this says Kerryon Johnson. What a great season for Kerryon! Still so young and so much potential! KJ and I celebrated with a romantic Valentine’s weekend together. Preseason Rank #28, 2020 Projections: 600 rushing yards, 45 receptions, 400 receiving yards, 5 total touchdowns in 14 games. Final Numbers: 521 rushing yards, 46 receptions, 357 receiving yards, 10 total touchdowns in 13 games.
19. David Johnson – One of my friends mocked me for ranking DJ as a solid RB2 in the preseason. Is a friend really a friend if they aren’t mocking you? I had a feeling Johnson would be inserted as a big part of the Houston offensive game plan considering he was the centerpiece of the DeAndre Hopkins heist. Johnson was inserted. Preseason Rank #17, 2020 Projections: 1,100 rushing yards, 40 receptions, 350 receiving yards, 9 total touchdowns in 14 games. Final Numbers: 691 rushing yards, 33 receptions, 314 receiving yards, 8 total touchdowns in 12 games.
20. Nyheim Hines – In retrospect, how obvious was this buy in PPR leagues? We’re talking about shot putting Philip Rivers. King of the check down. The same guy who brought you Darren Sproles, Danny Woodhead, Austin Ekeler and 27 children. Preseason Rank #51, 2020 Projections: 155 rushing yards, 45 receptions, 400 receiving yards, 3 total touchdowns in 16 games. Final Numbers: 380 rushing yards, 63 receptions, 482 receiving yards, 7 total touchdowns in 16 games.