RUNNING BACK CLASS OF 2020…AN UNSOLVABLE SERIES OF PUZZLES

The 2020 running back rookie class is a special one. This article will explore which rookie running backs are worth adding to your roster and which running backs to avoid. Without further ado lets get into this!

  1. Clyde Edwards-Helaire

Drafted: Round 1, pick 32

College: LSU

Team: Chiefs

Edwards-Helaire is the sole back for the Kansa City Chiefs since Damien Williams has opted out of the 2020 football season. His current ADP is 1.06 which I believe is slightly high as the Chiefs have a fairly tough running back schedule, ranked third toughest according to fantasypros. Also with Patrick Mahomes under center, the Chiefs will be passing a lot more than running. Even then I believe that Edwards-Helaire should be taken in the second round. There are many running backs who have already proven their worth available at CEHs ADP. However, If CEH does fall to the second round he could be a league winner. The Chiefs offensive line ranks 12th best in the whole league. The last time the Chiefs had a true workhorse back was in 2017, Kareem Hunt who ran for 1327 yards. Finally CEH was a valuable asset at LSU in the passing game due to his quickness and lateral speed.  He was also an average pass blocker. Edwards- Helaire is definitely worth targeting in the second round!

  1. Cam Akers

Drafted: round 2, No. 52 overall

College: Florida State 

Team: Los Angeles Rams 

Akers was drafted to replace Todd Gurley for the Rams. Currently he is on a committee with Darrell Henderson Jr. and Malcolm Brown. Les Snead, the general manager for the LA Rams said he wants a committee approach in the LA backfield. This is not ideal for fantasy purposes, however, I believe McVay will roll with the “hot hand” as the season progresses. In 2018, McVay acquired CJ Anderson right before the playoff run and Anderson quickly took the majority of the snap shares from Gruley before heading into the playoffs. I believe a similar scenario will play out with Akers and Henderson. Akers, the talented back from Florida State, should take the majority of the snaps as the season progresses. Again don’t focus on him being a rb1 in 2020 but yet a lowend rb2/rb3/flex option on a matchup basis. 

  1. D’Andre Swift

Drafted: Round 2, pick 35 overall

College: Georgia 

Team: Lions

Perhaps the most skilled running back on this list, D’Andre Swift finds himself trapped in the midst of the Lions committee. Swift was a beast in college: he averaged 6.6 yards per carry and 9.1 yards per reception, along with a great combine. He certainly has the talents for a lead back in the NFL. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, Swift was drafted to a backfield with fantasy heartbreaker Kerryon Johnson. Johnson has struggled the past two years, averaging 3.6 YPC in 2019 and missing 14 games in the past two seasons. While the Lions (and fantasy owners alike) were high on Kerryon Johnson, his recent inability to stay healthy and productive pushed the front office to draft Swift. With the return of Matthew Stafford, the Lions should see a massive increase in scoring and Swift should see ample opportunities for touchdowns. If Johnson goes down with an injury, it is very possible Swift takes over the backfield for good. This dark horse candidate could win leagues if he is given a chance. His ADP is 73 and that’s a perfect spot to claim him as a flex with decent upside.

  1. Jonathan Taylor

Drafted: Round 2, pick 41 overall

College: Wisconsin 

Team: Colts

Taylor in drafts is going late third, early fourth rounds and that is way too early. Yes, Taylor was a beast in college; he actually led Wisconsin for three straight years averaging 2000 yards a season and 6.7 yards a carry. And now he’s coming into a Colts offense who has the best Offensive line in the league so why will he not produce? Here is why the backfield for the Colts is way too crowded. Marlon Mack is coming off a 1000 yard season and he will continue to get carries and as of now Colts are starting him. It’s likely that Taylor will split the early down work with him. Third down work will mainly go to Hines who as Reich claims is a “role playing starter.” Even though Colts ran the ball 46% of the time in 2019 there still won’t be enough carries going Taylor’s way for him to produce as a third round pick. Taylor also has some very big weaknesses that will hinder his performance. He was a bad pass blocker, at best he could only cutblock. Which is why he wasn’t used in the pass game very often. Secondly, his hands were questionable during college; he had a 20% drop rate. Thirdly he has big fumbling problems he fumbled 17 times in 41 games. He is a talented back but in 2020 is not worth his ADP, if he is available after round 6 he is worth a draft and stash. 

  1. Ke’Shawn Vaughn

Drafted: Round 3, 76 overall

College: Vanderbilt

Team: Buccanears 

Vaughn is currently sharing the backfield with Ronald Jones and LeSean McCoy for the Bucs. His ADP is number 113 which in our opinion is a steal in the draft and here is why. Vaughn averaged 4.4 yards after contact in the SEC and he also was a very talented receiving back in his college days. If you look at Brady he loves his receiving backs, in New England, Brady had James White. Ronald Jones will come out as the starter for the Bucs and Vaugn will have a limited number of early downs carries and some third down work. This is because Jones has struggled pass blocking and Vaughn excels in that area. Vaughn was also drafted by Arians so it’s likely that Arians has a plan for him. Even with the recent addition of McCoy, Vaughn is a good late round pick to stash and see how the season progresses. If Vaughn can make the most of his carries he will gain the majority of the snaps and could come to be the biggest steal of the draft. Also the cherry on top is that the Bucs have a favorable schedule for running backs. 

  1. Zack Moss

Drafted: Round 3, pick 86 overall

College: Utah

Team: Bills 

Moss was drafted for a specific purpose for the Bills and that is to fill Frank Gore’s role. Gore had 166 carries for 599 yards in 2019 he also had 16 catches. But keep in mind that Gore was 36 years old last year and way past his prime. Zack Moss given a similar amount of looks should produce much more. Moss will also get tons of red zone carries as that was his strength in college. In college he had a 38% forced missed tackle rate. Moss also is a very talented pass catcher, he surpassed 25 catches two seasons at Utah. Moss does have many weaknesses especially in his speed but Singletary fills in that weakness. Together Moss and singletary make a great 1,2 punch. Moss’s ADP is currently 146 he’s even going undrafted in many drafts and that could end up being a steal if Singletary gets hurt or if Moss starts cutting into SIngletary’s work load. 

  1. JK Dobbins

Drafted: Round 2, pick 55 overall 

College: Ohio State

Team: Ravens

J.K. Dobbins was drafted into the already crowded Raven’s backfield. There is way too much talent in the running back room to fit another fantasy viable player. They have Mark Ingram starting who had a 1000 yard season in 2019 and was a machine in the red zone. In 2018, Gus Edwards started six games and averaged 12.5 yards a carry. He proved to be a capable backup to Ingram in case of injury and offers a good sub when Ingram comes out. Justice Hill hasn’t even gotten his chance to prove himself but the Raven’s coaching staff has expressed their love for him multiple times. Dobbins will be in the mix with these running backs and will get his chances. However, unless there is an injury to the backfield, it is hard to see Dobbins as a viable fantasy option in 2020.

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