MUST Own Running Backs (Rounds 1-3) in 2020 Fantasy Football

MUST Own Running Backs (Rounds 1-3) in 2020 Fantasy Football


Round 1 - Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints

Similar to that of Saquon, Kamara's 2019 season will run its course through the analysis put behind his high-ankle sprain. 

Weeks 1-5, Kamara leads all NFL RBs in evaded tackles/attempt (per PFF), and it wasn't actually close. He was the single most elusive back in the NFL, as per what we expect from a typically healthy Alvin Kamara. 

Those next 6, 7, 8 weeks, where he's attempting to return and gut through his high ankle sprain, Kamara's elusiveness rating drops to RB40. Biggest drop since Kendrick Lamar's DAMN - kendrick where you been homie :(

And then, the final few weeks of the season, similar to Barkley, similar to Anthony McFarland the gawd - Kamara goes out and secures the bag on 5 tugs in their Weeks 16, 17 and playoff game.

The TDs were definitely funky in 2019. Kamara scores 31 touchdowns through the first 2 seasons, 31 games. Last year, he scores just 6, in 14 games. Am I worried? No. People might point to Latavius Murray being there or something. Did Latavius take the GL role, is that what happened in NO?


Kamara still lead the team in GL carries, he had 7 of then, Murray only had 3, they didn't scede that to Murray. Kamara had 7 targets inside the 10, Latavius had 0, and MT only had 2 more than Kamara did. The role is still undeniably his, the Saints just didn't score as many TDs. So, depending on how you think they're going to be this year at scoring, which I think will be fine - they have Brees healthy, still a top-3 offensive line - adding Emmanuel Sanders to the offense -- they play in a division who features Carolina and Atlanta, the point donators and the Bucs with Brady and an ehh pass defense. I like their odds of being a high-powered offense once again, which should result in another double-digit TD season for Kamara in 2020.







Round 2 - Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles

I'm taking Miles Sanders in the first round, and I'm not hesitating in doing so.

Now, I know in high-stakes leagues - he's probably in the 1st round - FFPC - but FFPC is only full ppr so it might be a little skewed, regardless 4for4 has a cool ADP tool, they bring in all the regular sites - the Yahoos, ESPNs, CBS along with the FFPC to average shit out - which is super cool and probably more relatable to most of your guys' leagues, thus Sanders is going halfway through round 2 - and that is the easiest smash since the female version of Dak.

Miles Sanders led all rookies last year in yards from scrimmage: 1,327 total yards, catching 50 passes on 63 targets. While playing on 52% of the team’s snaps. While in a committee. While being a rookie. Sanders is going to be THE GUY in 2020 behind what PFF literally graded as the #1 run-blocking offensive line in the NFL. **Injury to Brandon Brooks is obviously a blow, but won’t ruin their line.

In high-stakes leagues, Sanders’ ADP has rapidly corrected itself (as shown above) over the ebb-and-flow of this off-season, thanks to the Philly organization choosing to forego a rookie back in this year’s draft or inking a veteran during free agency. The lack of action by the organization has slowly hushed the ‘Doug Pederson only uses RBBCs’ crowd. There’s still time left for PHI to sign a veteran to compete with Sanders on early downs and short yardage, but the clock’s ticking and the only remaining options on the market, *enter Devonta Freeman*, run more like a green light than a red flag for Sanders’ 2020 fantasy outlook.

Is Boston Scott going to be involved? Sure. But the question isn’t if, it’s how? Let’s take a look back at last year’s snap counts for Sanders and Scott to paint a clearer picture.


Obviously, Miles Sanders was stuck behind Jordan Howard for the first half of his rookie campaign, like many virgins tend to be upon entering the NFL. Once Howard went down, Sanders’ moon-targeted spaceship took flight. Starting in Week 11 (Howard’s first game missed) through the end of the year, Sanders saw nearly 21 opportunities/game — while Boston Scott was very much alive and well. Scott was involved in the offense over the last four weeks of the season, and admittedly looked great – in those 4 games, Scott saw 6, 7, 6 and 4 targets (23). Sanders saw – 5, 6, 6, and 5 targets (22)… those totals (23-22) include Philly’s Week 17 contest which saw Sanders depart early with an ankle sprain. With the pass-catching chops of both Sanders and Scott, it’s not one or the other. Sanders’ upper-percentile athleticism and plus-receiving game skills made sure that he commanded targets regardless of Scott’s status. Here are the two RBs’ numbers in Weeks 14, 15 and 16 (again Sanders left with ankle injury in Week 17).



It’s not mutually exclusive that Sanders can be very involved in the passing game, while Boston Scott forces a minor RBBC.

In the wildcard playoff game, Sanders out-targeted Scott 5-3.

Just how good is Sanders in the passing game? I went back and looked at every rookie running back since the year 2000 and Sanders’ 50 receptions ranked 14th on that list. Among the 31 rookie RBs since 2000 that saw at least 50 targets, Sanders’ 8.1 yards per target ranked 2nd and his 10.2 yards per reception ranked 3rd. 


We also aren’t taking into account his TD upside. Jordan Howard had 8 GL carries in basically 8 games, 16 games and you’re looking at a top-5 pace. He’s gone, you think they’re giving those GL carries to Boston Scott, or Miles Sanders? Thought so.

From my league-winning RB video a couple of weeks ago - breaking down what actually makes up a league-winner - 


12 of the 20 saw 18.6 touches/game or fewer, 6 of them were under 18, 4 of them were at 16.3 of fewer - you don't need 20+ touches/game to ball. Not in today's NFL.


Once the Penn State product took over the second half of 2019, he was a top 5 fantasy RB – and now he has very little competition in an offense that should be, at worst, above average.

The offensive line, I hear seems to be worrisome for a lot of people after losing the elite Brandon Brooks - a hit no doubt, but they were able to resign Jason Peters who will be moving to guard in his spot. It's definitely a downgrade but Philly ranks top-10 in both PFF and FantasyPros' 2020 offensive line rankings POST Brooks injury - so I'm not too worried.


Round 3 - Melvin Gordon or Chris Carson

I'm hoping that I grab two RBs in the first two rounds, and put myself in a position to hammer WRs from rounds 3-6, but that's not always how the cookie crumbles, how the marg spills, so if you don't go 2-for-2 I wouldn't slip past the first 3 rounds without a second RB - by way of Melvin Gordon or Chris Carson.

I like both of them, a lot this year. Depending on how you feel about Carson, and his injury risk, he's the easier fade of the two. I tend to go risk-averse early on in drafts, so Gordon makes more sense. But I don't think people actually understand just how much of a workhorse Carson was last year:


Now Melvin, is a year and a shit offensive line removed from being a top-3 fantasy RB on a ppg basis. People are ZLEEEEEPING on his upside in this Denver offense.

Now, I'll lay out the concerns, first and foremost - there's a chance Drew Lock isn't any good and tanks the offense. There's a chance this is a bit of a committee between Melvin and Lindsay. There's also a chance Melvin just isn't a top-tier running back anymore. Those swings happen quickly, but I'm here for Melvin in Denver man.

I think this is one of the underrated great fantasy moves of the off-season.

It's clear that the Broncos have 0 faith in Royce Freeman, shocked he's still on the team. It's also clear that they don't have faith in Lindsay carrying a big workload. Melvin Gordon signing gives the Broncos someone that can take on a big workload, both on the ground, but more importantly through the air. Say what you want about Lindsay being explosive and small, he's been quietly bad for the Broncos through the air over the L2 seasons, where Melvin had been the opposite for LAC. They don't want Lindsay to be their bruising back, but they had no choice but to force him into the role because Freeman was a terrible fit for their scheme - their coaches came out and literally said that. 

Gordon is going to run behind arguably, probably not arguably the best offensive line in his career. The Broncos were pretty good last year in run-blocking and now added Graham Glasgow, PFF's 6th highest graded run-blocking guard to the line. This is an offense looking to move the ball downfield, IE - the pieces they added to this offense, and I think Gordon will finish with a wildly underrated number of scoring opportunities - it won't surprise me one bit if Gordon finishes the year with double-digit TDs and as a top-10 fantasy RB. I think they want to use him primarily as the workhorse, with Lindsay sprinkled in for explosive plays.

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