In May 2020, we delivered the RotoHeat 2020 Redraft Rankings Series, bringing you a look at the top-12 rankings for each position. As we enter August and Redraft season, the rankings have been updated. Next up in the the updated series is the Updated 2020 Redraft Running Back Rankings.
The RotoHeat 2020 Redraft Rankings Series brings you a look at the top 12 rankings for each position. Next up in the Series – 2020 Redraft Running Back Rankings. In Redraft Leagues, your team roster starts fresh each season. The RotoHeat 2020 Redraft Rankings Series takes a deep dive into those players that we feel are at the top of their positions entering 2020. Engage with passionate fantasy football managers, and let the RotoHeat content team know what topics YOU want to hear about by visiting our RotoHeat Redraft Fantasy Football Facebook page.
Since the start of the 2010 season, it has taken on average 219.02 PPR points to finish a season as a top 12 fantasy running back. There are a handful of elite running backs as we enter the 2020 season. It has been a volatile position over the last few seasons, and we have seen plenty of movement within RB rankings and end of season numbers.
While we are not in the bell cow running back days anymore, there are more names starting to get the rock at a steady rate. Predicting RB usage and productivity gets more and more difficult with each passing season.
Updated 2020 Redraft Running Back Rankings
13. Honorable Mentions
16. Todd Gurley – Atlanta Falcons (Previously 15th)
Todd Gurley finished 2019 as RB14 with 219.4 PPR points in 15 games played. The 219.4 points were Gurley’s lowest in a season since 2016 when he scored 198.2 points in Jeff Fisher’s offense. In the Sean McVay era in Los Angeles, Gurley averaged 324.93 points a season.
Last season, the Rams attempted to limit Gurley’s workload in an attempt to limit the wear and tear on his arthritic knee. In the previous three seasons, Gurley averaged 329 touches a season and finished 2017 as RB1 and 2018 as RB3. In 2019, his touches dropped to 254, and his offense line went from being the best blocking unit in 2018 to 26th best in 2019. Gurley was released by the Rams and signed a 1 year $6 Million contract. He joins an offense in Atlanta that has a much better blocking line than what he had in LA a year ago and one that like LA, can move the ball and score points. Signing in Atlanta is a homecoming for the former Georgia star as well.
The problem with Gurley is not talent, but it is workload. Atlanta should give him all he can handle, and if he knee can tolerate it, this ranking will be way too low. Gurley slips slightly from 15 to 16 due to my slight concern about his health and my desire to move Aaron Jones up in in my updated 2020 Redraft Running Back rankings.
15. Aaron Jones – Green Bay Packers (Previously 16th)
Aaron Jones enjoyed his best season a year ago, finishing the season as the second highest scoring RB with 314.8 PPR fantasy points. 2019 was Jones’ first full 16 game season, it was also his first season north of 1,000 yards rushing.
The number that leaps off the page when looking at Jones’ season from a year ago is the 19 total touchdowns. Those 19 scores were tied for the most in the league with Christian McCaffrey. Jones will almost certainly regress in 2020 from a touchdown and workload perspective.
Green Bay selected AJ Dillon in the draft, and still employ Jamal Williams. The addition of Dillon should impact Jones’s goal line carries and the Packers have a desire of a balanced attack with their running backs. Aaron Jones remains the most talented of the group, and his ability to catch the football will bolster his overall value. Jones leaps a spot from 16 to 15 due the fact I feel that the Packers are going to run the ball heavily in 2020, and Jones, despite the competition, remains the primary ball carrier.
14. Leonard Fournette – Jacksonville Jaguars (Previously 12th)
Leonard Fournette appeared in 15 games in 201–a career high. His 341 touches, 1,152 rushing yards, 76 receptions and 522 receiving yards were also all personal bests. The fact that with all those touches and yards resulted in only 3 touchdowns is somewhat mind-boggling.
The biggest challenge that Fournette has had in his three professional seasons is his health and his ability to remain on the field. He has missed on average 4 games a season. As we enter the 2020 season, the Jaguars have made some significant changes to their offense. The have hired former Washington Redskins Head Coach Jay Gruden to lead the offense, drafted Laviska Shenault and signed former Redskins RB Chris Thompson.
All of these additions indicate the Jaguars desire for a more diverse offensive approach in 2020. Fournette’s 341 touches last season were second only to the 403 of Christian McCaffrey. I anticipate a reduced workload of touches, along with some positive regression in the touchdown category, in 2020. Fournette slides from 12 to 14 due to the Jaguars likely not scoring much and the additions of Thompson and Shenault. As as a result, LF27 comes in as RB14 in my updated 2020 redraft running backs rankings.
13. Nick Chubb – Cleveland Browns (Previously 9th)
Nick Chubb finished his sophomore season as RB8 with 255.2 PPR fantasy points. There is concern in terms of Chubb’s workload with Kareem Hunt sharing the backfield in Cleveland. The concern is valid. In 2019, in Weeks 1-9 (8 games), Chubb totaled 964 total yards and 6 touchdowns on 179 touches, (22.38/game). Through 9 weeks, Chubb was RB6 with 151.4 fantasy points. In Weeks 10-16, Chubb totaled 766 yards and 2 touchdowns on 141 touches, (20.14/game). In those 7 games he was RB14 with 98.6 fantasy points.
As we enter the 2020 season, I do believe that Hunt will limit Chubb’s workload, if I didn’t, I would have Chubb much higher in my updated 2020 Redraft Running Back Rankings. Regardless, Chubb remains a top 15 fantasy running back. The new coaching staff in Cleveland is vastly superior to the regime in 2019. Kevin Stefanski utilizes the running back heavily in his offensive scheme.
The Browns as a whole will improve in 2020 and score more points. Chubb’s touches may come down to the 20 per game he averaged with Kareem Hunt around in 2019. In this offense, that workload is plenty for him to remain fantasy relevant, but it does result in him falling from 9 to 13.
12. Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans (Previously 7th)
In 2019, Derrick Henry picked up where he finished off at tail end of the 2018 season. Henry finished 2019 as the leagues leading rusher with 1,540 yards, 183 yards more than second place Ezekiel Elliot. In addition to his 1,504 rushing yards, Henry added 206 receiving yards on a career best 18 receptions. He scored a total of 18 times in 2019, third best in the league. His 294.6 PPR fantasy points ranked 5th best.
Henry’s lack of involvement in the passing game continues to stunt his fantasy potential. Add to this the certain regression of quarterback Ryan Tannehill and the departure of Jack Conklin via free agency and I would expect Henry, along with the entire Titans offense, to regress in 2020. Henry is still a top-12 RB, I just don’t see him eclipsing 1,500 yards and scoring 18 times again on 2020, as a result I have dropped him from 7 to 12 in my updated 2020 Redraft Running Back Rankings.
11. Josh Jacobs – Las Vegas Raiders (Previously 11th)
In his rookie season a year ago, Josh Jacobs finished as the RB21 with 191.6 PPR points in 13 games played. He totaled 1,150 rushing yards and 7 touchdowns on 242 carries and added 22 catches for 166 yards. What I like the most about Jacobs in the 2020 season is his elusiveness with the ball. His elusive rating (103.6) was 2nd among 61 qualified RBs a year ago. In addition, he was second in broken tackles (78), 8th in yards after contact, (3.48) and 3rd in runs 15+ yards (16).
The Raiders added to their offensive arsenal this offseason adding Henry Ruggs III, Bryan Edwards and Lynn Bowden Jr via the draft. Las Vegas should be an improved offensive unit in 2020, limiting the numerous 3rd and long situations that took Jacobs off the field in his rookie season. If Jacobs can stay healthy and play in all of the Raiders 16 games this season, I would expect him to make his first appearance in the top 12, and as such, Jacobs remains at RB11 in my updated 2020 Redraft Running Back Rankings.
10. Austin Ekeler – Los Angles Chargers (Previously 14th)
Austin Ekeler took full advantage of the opportunity that the Melvin Gordon holdout presented in 2019. Gordon sat out the first 4 games of the season, and Ekeler in those 4 contests averaged 26.8 PPR points a game. In the end, he finished the season with 309 points (19.3/game). In the games that Ekeler and Gordon were both dressed, Ekeler’s average dropped to 16.8 points per game.
Entering the 2020 season, Austin Ekeler will be the Chargers’ primary back, and I would expect that Justin Jackson and Joshua Kelley will be involved with regularity as well. The Chargers offense should deteriorate in 2020 as well with Tyrod Taylor and/or Justin Herbert taking over for the departed Phillip Rivers. Ekeler will likely struggle to repeat the 92 receptions for 993 yards and 8 touchdowns from a year ago.
Where I see Ekeler excelling is on the ground. He has a career yards per carry of 4.8 yards and the Chargers have improved their offensive line this offseason. I initially had Ekeler outside of my top-12, but upon further review, he slides back in at 10 in my updated 2020 Redraft Running Back Rankings.
9. Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals (Previously 6th)
Joe Mixon finished 2019 as RB13 with 225.4 PPR points. The Cincinnati Bengals were 26th in total yards (5,269) a season ago, 25th in rushing yards, (1,517) and 30th in total points scored (279). His final stat line was 278 carries for 1,137 yards, 35 catches, 287 yards and 8 total touchdowns. Basically if Joe Mixon didn’t do anything last year, neither did the Bengals.
Entering 2020, the Bengals have added Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Joe Burrow, and Clemson WR Tee Higgins. They also have WR A.J. Green and 2019 1st round pick OT Jonah Williams returning from injury. Stacking the box against the Bengals will not be as easy as it was a year ago. Mixon’s career high in rushing yards in a single season is 1,168, and his career high in receptions is 43 both set in the 2018. He finished 2018 as RB10 in 14 games played. I believe that in 2020, Mixon will set a new career high on the ground and through the air.
I previously was overly optimistic ranking Mixon 6th. Burrow will struggle at times in his rookie season, and it’s likely that the Bengals will not be as good of a team as I had initially projected. As a result, I am sliding Mixon back to 9th in my updated 2020 Redraft Running Back Rankings. Mixon remains a RB that I am high on and hope to own in 2020.
8. Clyde Edwards-Helaire – Kansas City Chiefs (Previously 13th)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire was the first running back selected in the 2020 NFL draft and his landing spot couldn’t be better. CEH joins a Chiefs roster that is returning 20 of 22 starters from their Super Bowl season from a year ago. The only perceived change on offense is the insertion of Edwards-Helaire.
In 2019, the Chiefs as a team ran the ball 375 times for 1,569 yards and scored 16 touchdowns. KC was led by Damien Williams and LeSean McCoy who combined for 213 of those 375 carries. In addition to the work on the ground, the duo combined for 58 catches 394 yards and 3 touchdowns via the pass.
A season ago at LSU, CEH totaled 1,867 yards and 17 touchdowns on 270 touches. 55 of those touches were receptions for 453 yards and a single score. Landing in an Andy Reid led offense that employs the best quarterback in football sets Edwards-Helaire up to be extremely relevant in his rookie season.
When Damien Williams decided to opt out of the 2020 season, fantasy managers and analysts lost their minds and CEH shot up the rankings and ADP lists. The rookie RB clearly benefits from this occurrence, no doubt, but I can’t help to think l that I have him ranked too high at 8 in my updated 2020 Redraft Running Back Rankings. In fairness to me here, many have him ranked even higher.
7. Kenyan Drake – Arizona Cardinals (Previously 10th)
Kenyon Drake‘s fantasy managers have longed for one thing–consistent workload. In three seasons in Miami, Drake’s usage by two different coaching staffs was frustrating based on the results Drake was putting up with the ball in his hands. In those seasons, Drake averaged 5.6 yards per touch, but he also averaged 7.9 touches a game. In 2017, Drake finished as RB33 on 165 touches, and RB14 in 2018 on 173 touches.
Drake appeared in six games for the Dolphins in 2019. He averaged 58 total yards and 11.5 touches a game. Following his trade to Arizona, Drake appeared in 9 games and averaged 101.8 yards and 18.9 touches a game. In those first 6 games, Drake was RB38 (9.2 points/game), and in the 9 games with Arizona he was RB8 (18.7 points/game).
The backfield is his for 2020 with David Johnson off to Houston and Chase Edmonds and Eno Benjamin being complementary change of pace options and nothing else. Drake will be heavily involved on the ground and through the air and will reward his owners in 2020. Downgrading Nick Chubb, Derrick Henry, and Joe Mixon benefited Drake in my updated 2020 Redraft Running Back Rankings, and as a result Drake moves up from 10 to 7.
6. Miles Sanders – Philadelphia Eagles (Previously 8th)
In his first year, Miles Sanders finished as RB15 with 218.7 fantasy points. Sanders started slow, averaging 63 yards a game on 12 touches in the Eagles first 7 weeks of 2019. During that span, Sanders was RB31 with 65 fantasy points.
Over his final nine games of the season after Jordan Howard was hurt, Sanders averaged 16.3 PPR points, including four games with at least 21 points. During that span, he had four games with at least 15 carries and eight games with at least three catches. He will share touches with Boston Scott, especially in the passing game, but Sanders should have the chance for a sensational sophomore campaign in 2020. His value is highest in PPR leagues, but Sanders has the potential to be a top-5 Fantasy running back in all formats this year.
The deciding factor that resulted in moving Sanders up to 6 in my updated 2020 Redraft Running Back Rankings is it appears the Eagles are not bringing in another back to join the backfield. If Doug Pederson does add a RB, Sanders will slide back down.
5. Dalvin Cook – Minnesota Vikings (Previously 4th)
Dalvin Cook has had some injury concerns to start his career, but for the most part he was healthy in 2019. Cook put together a strong season, averaging over 20 PPR points per game on a run heavy Minnesota Vikings offense. Cook had 250 rushing attempts in 14 games, and finished 6th in PPR scoring among running backs with 292.4 PPR points. This was with him missing two games due to injury.
Kevin Stefanski is off to Cleveland, and Gary Kubiak takes over the Vikings offense. The zone blocking scheme that the Vikings implemented a season ago is his baby. One of the true workhorses of 2019 was Dalvin Cook. He had over 300 total touches and played 14 games. He had 63 targets in the passing game, and was efficient, catching 53 of them for 519 yards. While he didn’t have any receiving touchdowns, I would expect some positive regression in that department.
As far as rushing yards, he finished with over 1,100 and he had a 4.5 yards per carry. In his career he has shown the ability to produce, even behind a lackluster offensive line. He had 13 touchdowns, and his usage around the goal line was everything we want in a fantasy back. Barring injury or a contract dispute, Dalvin Cook was 4th in my rankings, and moving him back to 5 in my updated 2020 Redraft Running Back Rankings has more to do with my thoughts on Alvin Kamara than it does Dalvin Cook.
4. Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints (Previously 5th)
After starting his career with RB3 and RB4 finishes in 2017 and 2018, Alvin Kamara slid back to a RB9 finish in 2019. He finished last season as QB8 with 297.3 fantasy points in 14 games. In his first two seasons in New Orleans, Kamara averaged 15.5 touchdowns per season, while in 2019 he scored a total of 6.
The Saints will face 6 teams in 2020 that ranked in the bottom 10 against running backs in 2019. They are also return the #1 run blocking offensive line from a season ago. The ceiling for Kamara also remains limitless due to the return of Drew Brees and the team’s commitment to running the ball on early downs.
Fantasy owners preparing for 2020 can expect production more like his first two years than his third. After suffering a high-ankle sprain against Jacksonville and battling knee issues throughout the season, Kamara will return to the Saints at full strength. Furthermore, Kamara will have added motivation as 2020 is the final year of his rookie contract. Assuming he’s 100% for the regular season after foregoing surgery, Kamara is a top-four overall pick in fantasy drafts, and therefore gets moved up accordingly in my updated 2020 Redraft Running Back Rankings.
3. Ezekiel Elliott- Dallas Cowboys (Previously 3rd)
There’s only one running back over the last five years who’s finished top-six three times, and that’s Ezekiel Elliott. He had over 300 rushing attempts, and was second in the NFL to Derrick Henry in rushing attempts and yards last season. Zeke posted a double-digit touchdown year, and also had 54 receptions. In 2020, Elliott projects for much of the same. While the offensive line took a hit with Travis Frederick retiring, Zeke is still rushing behind a strong line and in one of the better fantasy offenses there is.
Elliott’s 2019 season got a bit overlooked by the monstrous season of Christian McCaffrey. He wasn’t talked about much, despite finishing as the 3rd best PPR scorer (311.7). Elliott is a true workhorse back, and his numbers last season were stellar. He was one of two backs who had over 300 rushing attempts, and he had 72 targets in the passing game. He caught 54 of them for 420 yards and two touchdowns.
Elliott gave you everything you could ask from a top tier back. He was a strong floor play each week, averaging 19.5 points per game, and he dominated in the second half of the season, scoring 20, 23, 31, 15, and 27 fantasy points over the final five weeks of the season. Ezekiel Elliot remains is in a tier of his own and ranked 3rd in my updated 2020 Redraft Running Back Rankings.
2. Saquon Barkley – New York Giants (Previously 1st)
The 2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year cracks the top two in my 2020 Redraft Running Back Rankings. Heading into the 2019 season, Saquon Barkley was one of the most coveted NFL players to draft in fantasy football. He was my top ranked fantasy asset a year ago. Unfortunately, Saquon was unable to live up to my ranking due to a nagging ankle injury that prevented him from playing in three games last season, and clearly limited him in many others. There is a great opportunity for Barkley to rebound in 2020 and excel as the top RB in fantasy football.
Despite this injury, Barkley was still able to play well as RB10 in PPR scoring (244.1 points). In his 13 games, he carried the ball 217 times for 1,003 yards, and six touchdowns. In addition, Saquon was productive in the receiving game with 52 catches on 73 targets for 438 yards and two touchdowns. While these stats are declines from his 2018 totals, he was still a reliably efficient player who ranked seventh for fantasy points per game.
Throughout Barkley’s tenure with the Giants, his offensive line has ranked 25th and 29th for run-blocking efficiency. The addition of Andrew Thomas in round one, and Matt Peart in round three in this season’s draft should improve that ranking in 2020. Entering 2019 Barkley was the consensus #1 ranked RB. I don’t like abandoning my opinion of the back because he suffered an ankle injury last season. The reality is that I am not as confident having Saquon Barkley atop my rankings . I reluctantly move Saquon back one spot to 2 in my 2020 Redraft Running Back Rankings
1. Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers (Previously 2nd)
Christian McCaffrey was the NFL’s best fantasy player in PPR leagues after having the second-best fantasy season in NFL history. Throughout the season, McCaffrey accumulated 471.2 fantasy points, 1,387 rushing yards, 1,005 receiving yards, and 19 total touchdowns. He also became the third player in NFL history to record 1,000+ receiving and 1,000+ rushing yards in the same year.
As great as Christian McCaffrey is, regression in 2020 is almost certain. After all, he is coming off the second best fantasy season in league history. His role in the passing game likely remains unchanged. Teddy Bridgewater, his new quarterback, thrived on throws close to the line of scrimmage, and the Carolina Panthers are a bad football team. Carolina likely trails more than not in 2020, forcing them to the air to compete. I expect regression in the running game where CMC put up 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2019. I have decided, despite certain regression, to join those who have CMC ranked as the top back. I have him at #1 in my updated 2020 Redraft Running Back Rankings.