The self-confessed fantasy degenerate is back, this time looking at the running backs I just can’t seem to stay away from in the mocks and league drafts I’m completing. I’m starting to build a stable of running backs that I’ve fallen for in fantasy in 2020 as I love the combination of the value and upside they offer for my teams for the upcoming season. You can find my quarterbacks here, and I’ll back with the receivers later in the week.
(Note: Current ADP is from fantasyfootballcalculator.com and is based on PPR leagues)
Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers (ADP 2.04)
Last year’s RB4 is getting some disrespect in drafts in 2020, currently going off the board as the RB12. Let’s not forget that Ekeler stepped in when Melvin Gordon held out and promptly went bananas, scoring 26.3 fantasy points per game as the lead back. Even after Gordon returned to the team and Ekeler saw just six rushing attempts per game, he still averaged 16.6 points per game and outscored his more illustrious team mate by two points per game. With Gordon gone, Ekeler find himself back in the lead role and ready to go nuts again. Even if his receiving work is not as productive (993 receiving yards in 2019 and eight touchdowns), I’d expect to see him more than make up for it in his rushing numbers (557 yards, three touchdowns). When I’m drafting at the back end of Round 1, I’m looking for Ekeler every time.
David Johnson, Houston Texans (ADP 3.06)
With the receiver position seemingly endless with depth in 2020, as long as I can get one of my top guys in Round 1 or 2, then I’m looking for my second running back in Round 3. The running backs here all seem to have some knocks on them either through injury history (Todd Gurley, James Conner, Chris Carson), form (Leonard Fournette, Le’Veon Bell) or a new team (Melvin Gordon). Johnson hits the trifecta of all three but I’ve been a Stan for him since his rookie season and the first six weeks of 2019 before he suffered ankle and back injuries and lost his job to Kenyan Drake, still have me believing he can be a stud in 2020. In Houston he becomes the starting running back and in a receiving corps that lost DeAndre Hopkins, there are targets available to exploit his skillset as a receiver and I’m banking on a return to health and fantasy dominance for Johnson this year.
Kareem Hunt, Cleveland Browns (ADP 5.07)
If there’s one running back I think can go from the middle of the pack to fantasy gold its Kareem Hunt. I’ve written multiple times how I believe he’s the better running back in Cleveland, and his versatility in the passing game means he’s a better fit for Kevin Stefanski’s offense than his running mate Nick Chubb. With a fifth round ADP and the 27th running back off the board in PPR drafts, Hunt is undervalued and can be the difference make on your fantasy squad in 2020.
Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts (ADP 12.05)
With the all drama around Jonathan Taylor being drafted to compete with Marlon Mack, Hines continues to fly under the radar as a genuine breakout star for 2020. Neither Mack in the NFL or Taylor in college have shown any great ability to catch the ball, Hines should see his targets increase on the 58 he saw in 2019. With Philip Rivers now at quarterback, the Colts have a passer who has thrown the third most passes to running backs over the last three years, and this is the role for Hines that I’m counting on. When compared to players at similar ADPs, Hines is the only one with a defined role and is someone I’m grabbing in every draft.