Every year fantasy football grows in popularity. Long gone are the days that you and a small group of friends used the USA Today newspaper to check boxscores and calculate who won in your “TD-Only” leagues. Heck, it seems like a lifetime ago that you and a larger group of friends played fantasy football on software that didn’t update statistics in real-time. It’s 2020, and once again the demand for fantasy content, analysis, and of course rankings has grown. RosterWatch is a year-round fantasy football intelligence gathering company that is well prepared to meet the demand for early content. Below are not our official rankings, rather some thoughts as we begin to construct our RB ranks for 2020.
The industry consensus #1 overall player in “start-1QB” leagues. Though RosterWatch Co-Founder, Byron Lambert has Saquon Barkley at #1 over CMC, he is one of the best PPR players in the history of our beloved game. A minor concern is that new Panther’s QB Teddy Bridgewater had an adverse effect on Alvin Kamara in the screen game last year when he started a string of games. Also, there is some concern that new HC Matt Rhule’s staff may not saddle Run CMC with the borderline-irresponsible level of volume he received under previous HC Ron Rivera’s regime.
Zeek is a locked-in top-five fantasy pick for 2020. He represents a safe pick with a high floor and mega ceiling. His numbers in the passing game came down last season from his career-best 71 receptions in 2018 but stabilized at a very impressive 54 catches. Elliot has not been an injury headache either like Dalvin Cook who is going back to back with Zeke in some drafts. In fact, Elliot very rarely even shows up in midweek injury reports. He will likely be our RB3 this season in both standard and PPR.
The Vikings look poised to rely upon the run even more so than last year. Dalvin has more injury concerns than the top three RBs ahead of him which is enough to move him to four. Cook has all of the skills to be a threat in both running, pass, and short yardage. Furthermore, he comes with one of the league’s highest-efficiency-yield handcuffs in Alexander Mattison which brings inherent value in the form of cheap insurance on your stud runner.
Fantasy owners were slightly disappointed by Kamara in 2019. Mostly because of his total TD number, as everyone should have expected, regressed — just a little more than they’d have liked — from 18 in 2018 to 6 in 2019. Kamara is still insulated in PPR leagues by his astonishing 81+ receptions in all three of his NFL seasons thus far. The Saints like to diversify who they utilize on the goal line, but as long as Kamara and Brees are healthy he is a safe bet in the first round.
Fantasy football players finally saw the full wrath of what King Henry was capable of last season. He was running over, through and past defenders on his way to 1500 yards and 18 TDs. The concern for Henry is the lack of pass-catching so far. Even in a career year like 2019, his 18 receptions landed him as the RB6 on the year. That means we need to project an uptick in the passing game along with another season like 2019 to justify a high first-round draft pick on Derrick Henry. Someone in your league is going to do it, and it very well could pay off. However, it’s important to remember the Titans did draft capable pass-catcher Darrynton Evans in 2020, most likely as a replacement for Dion Lewis in the passing game.
When you watch Joe Mixon play, it is obvious he is one of the most skilled running backs in the game. He has been productive even with the suboptimal conditions around him in Cincinnati. If you drafted Mixon at his mid-round two ADP in 2019, you were likely disappointed at first, as he had a bad start to his fantasy season. Looking at the last half of 2019, Mixon came on strong and the team has improved the conditions around him. The Bengals get 2019 first-round pick, OT Jonah Williams, back, a pro-ready rookie QB, Joe Burrow instantly should upgrade the passing game, and superstar WR AJ Green projects to be healthy. All of this adds up to Mixon starting 2020 how he finished 2019.