TOP 10 Fantasy Football Running backs 2020 – The Super Early List
The Fantasy Football Counselor gives you the running backs he likes at top 10 very early on. We dive in with special guest Nick from https://www.rotostreetjournal.com/
Joe: The top 10 running backs for fantasy football 2020 early… the ridiculously super early list. And I’ve got a special guest on today, it’s Nick from Roto Street Journal. I’m going to be introducing him in a moment. Fantasy football top 10 running backs 2020… the very early list. So, I want to introduce this show. Nick, what’s going on, Nick?
Nick: Joe, I’m thrilled to be here. Thanks so much for having me on. I’m excited to talk running backs. As you said, so early, but it’s never too early for us fantasy football addicts, right?
Joe: It’s never too early, and I’m excited that you’re on the show. So, can you introduce your website… what you do, how long you’ve been at this, and give us a little bit of insight about yourself, please.
Nick: Absolutely, I’d love to. Thanks for that. I go by RotoStreetWolf on Twitter. Our site is RotoStreetJournal.com, and our tagline, we breed and feed fantasy wolves. We’re all about treating it kind of like a stock market because values are always up and down, and always changing, and we try to figure out what factors are changing those. So, you can always follow us: RotoStreetJournal on Instagram, Facebook. Our podcast is the Fantasy Fullback Dive. And we’re always loving to talk fantasy football, so anybody that likes that stuff out there, come on over. We’re always interacting, just like you are with your audience, too, my man.
Nick: It’s early, but it’s never too early to become a wolf.
Joe: Right. I want to do more shows where I feature guys that are out there grinding and hustling, and I really do like your website; very clean, very easy to follow. A lot of insight, a lot of information for fantasy football, and some. So, I am excited to have you on the show, and today… we can’t wait. We just can’t wait. I mean, the Super Bowl hasn’t even happened for this current 2019 year, but for 2020 fantasy football, we’re talking top 10 running backs.
Joe: So you’ve got a list, I’ve got a list, and everybody listening: listen, don’t come back and tell me in September, “You told me this list back in January. That’s who you chose.” No, listen, this is just having some fun, laying it out… you know what I mean, Nick? We can’t be taken seriously on this episode too much, right?
Nick: I agree. Obviously, some huge things are going to change. I mean, I’m sure in your list Derrick Henry is probably in your top 10, but he’s also a free agent, so if he’s not back in Tennessee, where does he end up… things of that nature? There’s definitely tons of stones we still have to unturn here in this offseason. But that being said, it’s still kind of fun just to dive in and see where we were at and see how right we were, too, at the same time, as well.
Joe: Yeah, I’m just having fun here. I kind of laid it out. Now, this is definitely going to change. Again, a lot of it is predicated on the draft… who are the teams going to pick up? Who are they going to pick up to add to the depth chart? It’s going to be interesting to see the depth charts change, the coaching; there’s going to be so many different things. Who’s getting paid? Who’s not? But let’s just have some fun, let’s dive into it.
Joe: So why don’t you start off with your top 10 list? Why don’t you start with one and go all the way to 10?
Nick: All right, I’ll give you the names first and then we can start kind of breaking down why on whoever you want to dive into.
Nick: But at the top, it’s got to be Christian McCaffrey. I mean, after last season, there’s no real doubt in my mind. That guy has to be at the top of any respectable list. But right after him, I go, Dalvin Cook, Saquon Barkley, Zeke Elliott, and then Derrick Henry is my five right now… that’s kind of my next tier… and then the tier after that, for six, I go Kamara; seven is Nick Chubb; eight, Aaron Jones; nine, Joe Mixon; and then 10 might be the bigger surprise of them all, it’s Austin Ekeler right now. Of course, he has a lot to figure out this offseason, but that’s kind of my top 10 right now. What do you think of that?
Joe: Yeah, so many question marks. And Christian McCaffrey is rock solid; you can’t argue that at one. But what a pinnacle year! I mean, literally, next to like… who was it? LT back in 2006… nobody has scored that many fantasy points. I’ve got to say, the decline is imminent, but what’s a decline going to be? Is he going to be at 385 points again like the year before? So, I can’t argue that.
Joe: Looking at that list, from what you just said, the only thing I don’t believe is going to turn out is Dalvin Cook. The guy has been injury-prone for the past couple years; again, showing signs of injuries near the end of the season there. And again, he kind of wants that big mega-contract so he had to prove himself. I think Dalvin Cook blew his load. I don’t think he’s going to finish top 10. Again, this is me assuming, and that’s just predicated on the history.
Joe: Those are kind of my objections there. Other than that, I like the list.
Nick: Yeah, yeah. I mean, the McCaffrey question… it almost seems inevitable that he’s going to regress. But I thought your follow-up question, how far will he regress, is a great one, because I don’t see him dipping below… as you know, he had 326 and 403 touches over the last two years… I see him still hovering right in that 320-or-so range. I’m really intrigued… you mentioned coaches as a huge aspect of fantasy? I love that they got Joe Brady out of LSU. I mean, that historic offense; I’m starting to write an article on him and research him; he’s all about getting his players in space and using them in unique ways. Even if the usage, the total number drops for him, I could see him being used even more creatively under a guy that just completely turned around that LSU offense this year. So, I’m so thrilled with him; I’ve got to keep him at number one.
Nick: The Cook one… the injury history is tough to argue. I know he definitely… maybe he’s hit with a stroke of luck. It’s only been three years, though, and the one thing I do love is, despite losing Kevin Stefanski as offensive coordinator, Gary Kubiak has now taken over. He’s the one that Stefanski was learning under, and he has just a ridiculous track record, even back with the Broncos and no names, developing these nobodies into huge running back seasons. So as long as he stays healthy, he’s going to blow up. But maybe I do have to factor in that injury risk a little more when you’re drafting such solid studs like Ezekiel Elliott… and Barkley, I know, got hurt a little bit last year, too… but there are some guys right in that range that, the injury risk could certainly factor in there.
Nick: Who do you have at number two, right? Do you have McCaffrey at one, or are you saying that someone else could take over?
Joe: I’m crazy. I’m crazy. I’ve got him at three. So, I went Saquon… stick with us, guys, we’re going to elaborate on all this stuff, so there’s some justification. Saquon, Ezekiel Elliott, Christian McCaffery, Derrick Henry, Leonard Fournette, Josh Jacobs slipping into number six, Alvin Kamara, Aaron Jones, Todd Gurley, and number 10 is going to roll some eyebrows here… but Miles Sanders, man! He turned it up near the end of the season. You never know, right?
The Counselor’s Top 10 Fantasy Football Running backs 2020- Way too Early list
- Saquon Barkley
- Ezekiel Elliott
- Christian McCaffery
- Derrick Henry
- Leonard Fournette
- Josh Jacobs
- Alvin Kamara
- Aaron Jones
- Todd Gurley
- Miles Sanders
Nick: Very interesting list! Very buzzy! I’m excited to hear some of these justifications here, for sure!
Joe: I guess I’ll start. It’s never too early for fantasy football rankings.
Nick: Did you not have Nick Chubb in there? Is Nick Chubb gone from your top 10?
Joe: Well, as long as Kareem Hunt stays out of trouble because we saw a pretty much 50/50 workload share in regards to fantasy points… not so much in regards to attempts and volume, but in regards to fantasy points, they were pretty equal the last six weeks, I would say. So, I definitely feel Kareem Hunt is going to be a factor if he stays on that roster. So, I mean, it’s going to be interesting. If it stays the way that it is, you’ve got to assume that they’re going to feed Odell Beckham a little bit more, but I don’t see Nick Chubb again finishing with these numbers, especially with Kareem Hunt starting at the beginning of the year with him equally. I don’t see it.
Nick: It’s an interesting point, too, because Hunt had the third most receptions on the team and he was only there for half the season, so he definitely… I see that point, that he’s certainly very involved in this offense. The question is, does he stay… his nose clean? He already got pulled over for speeding, he had marijuana in the car. Are they just going to move on and get rid of this headache, because then Nick Chubb might even in my top five.
Nick: I am thrilled… the whole Dalvin Cook, I mentioned Stefanski was his offensive coordinator, that zone blocking scheme. He’s bringing that over to Cleveland now as their new head coach, and I just think it fits Chubb so perfectly; like, even if Hunt’s there… his receiving upside, yeah, a little bit lower; not quite the true three-down back of some of these guys. But ultimately, I think he could run for 1,800 yards alone rushing in this type of scheme that we saw Dalvin Cook put up 1,600 and 14 touchdowns. Chubb could totally do that, in my opinion, so I’m still… even if Hunt stays, I love him, but obviously if Hunt leaves, the ceiling is limitless for me.
Joe: Yeah, if Kareem Hunt leaves, then I’m definitely going to be on the Chubb train. But look at him this year; I mean, even with Kareem Hunt there, he finished eighth. So what I’m thinking, logically… if he finished eighth with Kareem Hunt there, I could definitely… and he came in later. Remember, Kareem Hunt came in later in the season. So if Kareem Hunt is there at the beginning of the season, that’s definitely going to bump him, I think, out of that top 10 contention.
Joe: So I think, logically, I try to say what goes up must come down. I factor in all these different variables when I look at it, and I always look… I’ll give you an example. Everyone was so high on Odell. I go, okay, well, Odell Beckham. Let’s think logically. Let’s step back here. He’s crapped the bed for two years in a row, and injury played a part of that. Now, we’re looking at an offense where Landry is the wide receiver one, everyone thought I was crazy. “Oh, Jarvis Landry this, Jarvis Landry that; he’s not as good as Odell.” I’m like, “Yes! You’d be surprised!” And then look at the target count; the target count had 149 targets for Landry. Now, to be a top receiver in the league… a top five, anyway, which is where Odell was being drafted… you want to see a massive target count; at least around 150 would be ideal.
Joe: Now, if Landry had 149 and he was their top receiver, how was Odell going to come in… he’s going to get 150 himself? Are they going to have 300 targets amongst both of them? So, I look at logic, I look at volume share, I look at depth charts, I look at talent; there are so many variables. This is why I do not think Nick Chubb is going to finish top 10 if Kareem Hunt is there.
Joe: So, this is what makes fantasy so much fun, right? The difference of opinions and a great topic of conversation. We could talk about this all day.
Nick: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I’m intrigued to hear… absolutely, I totally get that, because we grade our players in six different categories, as well, so I totally know what you’re saying there. You’ve got to consider every variable possible.
Nick: I’m very intrigued, too, to hear… Barkley’s my number three, but you have him all the way up at number one over Christian McCaffrey. What’s your… it’s easy to love a guy like Barkley, but all the way at 1? What’s your thinking behind that one?
Joe: Again, going back to what goes up must come down; so sitting there the way that it was, Barkley got hurt, played around 13 games; had 240-ish fantasy points. 244, okay? Christian McCaffrey had 471. So, that gap is definitely going to close in if Barkley stays healthy, plays the entire season. You’ve got to imagine that Jones is going to probably get in the groove as a quarterback. I assume they’re going to beef up the O-line a little bit. Saquon’s hungry. He had a good year prior to that with 385 fantasy points. No way but up for Saquon Barkley… reliable workhorse who is not going to get a job stolen as we saw with guys like David Johnson. Saquon is the guy, the workhorse. The talent is there. They fix that O-line, this is a guy that’s going to eat. He’s going to feast. He can catch the ball.
Joe: And that’s the thing… it’s just one of those things. I’m basing this on talent, and I’m basing it on the whole, what goes up must come down and vice versa theory. I’m all in on Saquon Barkley. I have to be.
Nick: I love him, too. I mean, at number three, I totally get it, and with Jason Garrett now coming in at offensive coordinator, maybe he takes that similar approach where they just beefed that line up so much and just feed Zeke these last few years. I would love to see that for Barkley. He did call him… Garrett, when they faced him earlier this year… he called him an elite player that can do it all, so you know they’re going to build this offense around him.
Nick: And actually, I mean, he said he was never fully healthy until about Week 14. He had that mental block, and after that, he was actually the only person to score more points than Christian McCaffrey last year; 94 points in his last three games, so 32 a game, which is just insane, for Saquon Barkley.
Nick: So, I could see it, but to me, it’s got to be Christian McCaffrey after these last two years. So historic for me.
Nick: I’m trying to remember… you have Leonard Fournette, right, at number, I think, five or six?
Joe: Number five, yeah. I’ve got him at five.
Nick: So you’re pretty high on that guy! What’s your thinking behind Leonard? He’s my number 11, so he’s not far from my top 10… knocking on the door, but maybe you can convince me. Let’s hear it.
Joe: Talent is there. I mean, 265 attempts, which puts him seventh at attempts. I love attempts. When I look at running backs, I look at attempts. That’s huge for me.
Joe: So, I like the fact that he was around seventh in attempts, which is very appealing; seventh in fantasy points. I like him. I mean, the talent is there. He’s going to be the workhorse. And here’s the thing: he had three rushing touchdowns. I definitely see that going up! I definitely see around eight touchdowns coming up next year. Three rushing touchdowns! That’s it! I mean, the ceiling is still there, I think, for him. 1,152 rushing yards… not bad. I think that’s going to be about where it’s going to be.
Joe: So, no way but up for him if he stays healthy, and again, we’ve seen the injuries in the past. Would I draft him as my RB1? Maybe late first round, early second, but I always go robust RB anyway so I cover myself no matter what. But I like him… I mean, again, this is early, right? So, I may change my mind later on.
Nick: Yeah. Oh, of course, yeah, no… I love that you said I go robust at running back early. I mean, we call it the bell cow breeding, that building a stable of horses… because you have to, right? That position, there’s so many injuries and there are so many variables that… especially at running back, if you can get yourself two to three workhorses, despite whichever ones miss or whichever ones hit, there’s nothing better than having two great guys in a with just… you know they’re getting 20 catches a week, so I’m totally with you there.
Joe: Love it.
Nick: What do you think of… did you have Joe Mixon in your top 10, or are you down on him? I’m pretty excited about Joe Burrow going there. I mean, he was the running back 4 from Week 10 on after their bye week. It seemed like the team finally committed to him, and now they ideally… Burrow does, in my opinion, seem like the real deal. If that offense takes a big step forward, and they get the line beefed up, just as you mentioned with Saquon… Jonah Williams, their first-round pick, maybe comes back this year, and hopefully, they add another piece or two to that line… I could him really blowing up and continuing that RB4 pace that he was on for the end of the season there. What are your thoughts on Mixon?
Joe: Mixon, last year… not this year… I mean, this year he finished, I believe, 13th in PPR amongst running backs; the year before, I believe he was 10th. He doesn’t really excite me, man. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s just the fact that he doesn’t really crack the top five. He doesn’t have that ceiling for me. I mean, he could easily make the top 10, there’s no doubt about it. But again, suspect offense… how much improvements will they make, as you said?
Joe: I think they can come back around when they pick second, probably grab a good O-line guy, beef that up; get a good quarterback. But again, what about their wide receivers? Do they have a good enough wide receiver to distract the defenses? I don’t know. I think the focus will be on Mixon still, and I think he’ll get some stacked boxes and get neutralized. I don’t know. Suspect offense… and when I have a suspect offense like that, I kind of try to stay away.
Nick: Absolutely. I mean, that’s what killed him at the beginning of the year. I couldn’t even believe the fact that he was a top-five running back for the second half because of how bad he was in the first half. The offense couldn’t do a thing. It gives me a little hope that they were finally able to get some footing. Maybe AJ Green… he’s a free agent, but if he returns… and now you’ve got Tyler Boyd, who I do think is a good number two; definitely not a number one, in my opinion… but you get AJ Green, you get Tyler Boyd, Joe Burrow… maybe it makes that whole offense, in my opinion, just so much more explosive. So, I could see them taking a nice turn there.
Joe: I hope so.
Nick: What other running backs would you like to talk about, my man?
Joe: You know what? I want to talk a little bit about Miles Sanders, and again, I may change my mind on this.
Nick: Yeah, number 10, yeah! Love it. Let’s hear it.
Joe: Now, listen, he finished 15th, which, to me, says that… okay, it was his first year really going at it. There’s no way but up for him. 179 attempts; that can only go up. But what’s really intriguing is near the end of the season, we saw a big, massive volume increase in attempts. We saw 17 attempts in Week 13; 15, 19, and 20, respectively, as the weeks go up, 14, 15, 16. So, 20 attempts in Week 16, 26 points, 35 points the week before in Week 15; I mean, the guy was putting up some safe and solid numbers.
Joe: I mean, Week 15 and 16? Amazing RB1 numbers. Is that going to continue? I don’t know. I hope so. The talent is there. I mean, he’s got the build, he’s got the work ethic. I mean, I’m excited! The upside is there.
Joe: But Eagles running backs? I don’t know, man. They need some wide receivers. I mean, I’ve never trusted Eagles running backs. There’s something about them. I don’t know what it is. But he’s intriguing, man! I don’t know what it is. I think that the upside is there, and I like the ceiling. And if you go back… I’ve got to just go off on a quick tangent here… if you look at running backs, okay… let’s go back to 2018. I mean, it always changes.
Joe: This is the thing with running back I want to get across and I want people to understand. If you like at 2018 running backs, it never turns out to be the same way. James Conner, for example, right? He would probably be in our top… he wasn’t in my top 10, but he’d be in a lot of peoples’ top 10. “Oh, let’s just put James Conner,” but you’re not looking at the whole scenario. Now, why is James Conner not in that?
Joe: So, that’s why I kind of get upset with the copy and paste rankings, and you’ve got to start thinking outside that. Who has got that ceiling to crack the top 10? And that’s the difference-maker with me, and you’ve got to have that vision.
Nick: Oh, absolutely. I’m fully with you. And you brought up both the things I love about Sanders and the things that I’m nervous about… the Eagles running backs, right? It is always such a crapshoot because Pederson has historically been a very big committee guy, so if you’re going off those last few weeks… and I’ve got some stats for you that you might like if you’re trying to make a case for Sanders.
Nick: Pederson had never… only one other time in all the years he’s been the Eagles club coach, 57 games… he had never had a running back other than one a 75 percent snap total. In those last five weeks, Sanders was 85 percent snaps, 84 percent, 87, 56, 71, 82… over six weeks, once Jordan Howard got hurt… and so, he was on the field more than Pederson had ever used a running back. He was a running back 3 for those games. So if he does get that work, if that does carry over in this year, then not only will he be top 10, he might even be top five.
Nick: My question is, can we be confident… Jordan Howard is a free agent, so if he leaves, then yes, that would be a huge step for him. Boston Scott, though, kind of came on at the end of the year. But Sanders, right there… he’s, I think, my running back 13, if I look at my list right now, so he’s on the cusp of it, and if Howard leaves, I could totally see him cracking it.
Nick: The guy I do have at 10, Austin Ekeler… you’re talking about who is going to really break out? This guy was insane last year! I mean, even with Melvin Gordon, the running back 6 and running back 4 last year. And now, Gordon’s obviously a free agent this year. Ekeler was the number two running back for those first four weeks when Gordon wasn’t there. Anthony Lynn’s back and he always schemes a ton of pass-catching volume to his running back, and Ekeler gets almost 1,000 yards receiving last year. Only McCaffrey had more than him.
Nick: I love Ekeler. I think he’s a baller. He kind of reminds me of like an Alvin Kamara-type that… yeah, he’s small, but he’s physical. He gets it done. And if he is that lead back come next year, I’m going to take him in the first round of every single draft. Do you like Ekeler? Do you not like Ekeler? What are you thinking?
Joe: I don’t trust him. I think he’s one of those guys-
Nick: Oh, you don’t trust him. Okay.
Joe: I think he’s one of those guys that’s going to be like… oh, he was just kind of a thing of last year; he was a one and done. I’m not buying the hype. He’s going to be one of those I’m not buying the hype on. 132 attempts, so I don’t think he’s going to get it done in the rushing game at all. If he’s going to do anything, it’s going to be in the receiving game. I can’t imagine them making him… if Melvin is gone, I can’t imagine him being the guy. I don’t see it. If he is, then props to him; I wish him the best. But I don’t trust it. I think people are going to pay too high for him and I think he’s just going to be one of those novelty things that kind of fades out. I don’t believe in it yet.
Nick: We’ll see. I mean, they did make him the guy when Gordon was out for those first four weeks holding out, so we’ll see. Maybe they add a big back in free agency, as well, and whatnot, but if it does look like Ekeler is going to be the guy and they commit to him as they did at the beginning of the season… I mean, only Christian McCaffrey had more points than him over those first four weeks, so I think the juicy upside is there.
Nick: The only other running back we… I’m trying to think of who else we had on our lists… I mean, we both had Henry. He’s a free agent. I imagine you want to see him go back to Tennessee, or is there any other slot you’re hoping he’d land?
Joe: Man, I think he’s okay. I hope he stays in Tennessee. I hope they found their workhorse. But, again, it scares me with Henry… I was the guy that was on Henry out of the entire industry. A lot of people weren’t in on Henry. I was in on Henry, and he was my guy, but again, now if he gets paid, is he going to be as incentivized? Are defenses going to plan accordingly more to try to stop him?
Joe: He’s a beast. I like him. I think he’s finally found his groove. Will he have the same type of year? It could be one of those things again, man, where I’m having a hard time. I don’t know if I trust him coming up this year. I’ve got to decide on that still.
Nick: Yeah, that will be interesting. I mean, I do hope he goes back to Tennessee. I think they finally, with Arthur Smith, their new coordinator, committed to him. I don’t know why it’s taken so long for a Tennessee offensive coordinator they’ve got a steamroller who just pulverizes defenses! Feed the man and let him do his thing because it was insane! Obviously, led the league in rushing; he had over 1,000 yards after contact, which was just crazy.
Joe: That’s crazy.
Nick: But what I would really like to see is if they do commit to Henry, then hopefully they also commit to Tannehill, because I don’t think Tannehill’s anything insane; he’s not this great world-beater quarterback. But he got the job done a whole lot better than Mariota! In fact, Henry had over 23 fantasy points per game from Week 7 on once Tannehill took over; he was only outscored by Christian McCaffrey… as compared to Mariota, where he only had 14. So, he almost had 10 more points per game with Tannehill than he did with Mariota.
Nick: And they could also get him involved a little bit more as a pass-catcher. He’s not the best receiver, but only 1.6 targets per game after he averages over 10 yards per catch in his NFL career. He averaged over 13 yards per screen pass. I mean, second highest among running backs there. Imagine if they not only feed him that rushing workload, but then also give him some more receiving spike… and Tannehill’s back, and the line’s busy… I mean, I have him at five, but the upside is truly number one, in my opinion, if they do get him involved as a receiver a little bit more.
Joe: It’s exciting, and I love talking running backs. It’s such an intriguing position. There’s some volatility. Injuries happen frequently. You’ve got to have depth. I love this position, but I’m all about securing, again, those three running backs so you cover yourself.
Joe: Yeah, I messed up early, maybe, if I had David Johnson or several… he was a top-five pretty much across the board… but I covered myself. I had Derrick Henry in Round 2 pretty much. So, that’s why I like to have that safety and security.
Nick: Oh, yeah!
Joe: Two guys I think that has a massive ceiling, and again, Nagy kills me. I don’t trust David Montgomery because of Nagy, but… Montgomery and Josh Jacobs. Do you feel that either one of them could crack the top 10 this upcoming season?
Nick: I mean, definitely the better bet would be Josh Jacobs. I know you said you had him, what, at like six or something?
Joe: I’ve got him at six. I’m going on youth, upside, and volume.
Nick: He’s actually my 11. He’s literally knocking on the door. It’s between him and Fournette at number 11 for me. Nobody broke more tackles, actually than Josh Jacobs. I think he’s an absolute beast. I think that offense can only go up. I mean, they’re linked to Tom Brady. Imagine they get a huge quarterback upgrade, who obviously loves using his running back in the passing game. Josh Jacobs definitely could crack that top seven, the top eight in my opinion, for sure.
Nick: It’s just a matter of who’s the quarterback. Is it still Derek Carr? But they truly committed to him like a workhorse he is; he was never used that way at Alabama, and he showed he can shoulder that load. He missed a couple of games late, but ultimately, he was a beast. I love watching him play. What a beast of a runner, a great receiver. The line is mediocre, but maybe they beef that up a bit more. I totally could see him… Montgomery, I think, has a much tougher chance.
Nick: As you already mentioned, Nagy… so inconsistent week to week with his running back. Tarik Cohen there… you never know how involved he’s going to be. I like the player; another great tackle breaker himself. He was one of the better in terms of broken tackles, too, but what is the usage? I don’t like Mitch Trubisky. I think that offense is completely anchored down with the crap quarterback of Trubisky’s nature. So, for a guy that you’d think would have a ton of touchdown opportunities in Montgomery, when you’re attached to this low scoring of an attack, and when you can get so game-flowed by Tarik Cohen, I don’t love Montgomery. He’s definitely a lot lower in my opinion than Josh Jacobs.
Joe: Yeah, I don’t feel warm and fuzzy about Montgomery, either, and again, I don’t trust Nagy. He just doesn’t want to get off this whole Tarik Cohen thing. It’s ridiculous. Just run your workhorse, and he just doesn’t want to do it.
Joe: Josh Jacobs, again, really appealing; again, 4.8 yards per carrying, an average. Only seven touchdowns; I think that goes up. And 1,150 rushing yards; 13 attempts. That’s appealing to me. It shows that there’s a higher ceiling. He did that in 13 games. No way but up for him. The talent is there.
Joe: But all of this, again, means nothing if the draft changes stuff… free agency… all the moves that are going to happen. I mean, Leveon Bell, right? Let’s say he ends up in Oakland. I don’t think he will. I’m just saying. There’s talk about him going to KC, there’s… Oakland is not going to have it, I don’t see that.
Nick: Imagine that.
Joe: But I’m saying, what if, for example, Bell ends up in Oakland? This whole conversation means nothing, right? So, it’s just fun to talk in hypothetical and that type of thing; it’s exciting, man. I love this!
Nick: I think… of course, all those points you bring up are huge, and I mean, Leveon Bell to the Chiefs… who is going to be the Chiefs running back? That’s a crucial storyline for the offseason. Where is Derrick Henry going to go? Where is Melvin Gordon going to go?
Nick: Is Kareem Hunt going to leave Cleveland? Who’s going to be the Chargers’ running back if Melvin Gordon leaves? Is it going to be Ekeler? Are the Steelers… are they going to commit to James Conner again, or is that going to be a new potential workhorse? You saw Leveon Bell dominate there for so long. Does Tomlin find his new guy in the draft this year? There’s just so many question marks to fill in.
Nick: Raheem Mostert, for example. We saw, what, 220 yards and four touchdowns in the playoff games. Are the 49ers going to commit to him all year? Is this a flash in the pan? There’s just so many… one that I am most intrigued to answer, but beyond all those ones, the Chiefs one probably the most important… but the Cardinals; you mentioned David Johnson. What a bag of dirt he was come to the end of the year! I mean, that killed fantasy seasons. I had him in so many leagues. He looked like he was going to be a season winner for the first half, only to give it up to Kenyan Drake for that second half of the year.
Nick: But now Drake’s a free agent; are they going to bring him back? Because that guy, once he went there, scored the fifth-most points among running backs once he got to the Cardinals. So if he goes there, if Drake’s back, do you consider him the potential top 10 guys?
Nick: Or how are you approaching that, that Arizona offense? It intrigues me a lot.
Joe: Yes, but I don’t have any loyalty. I don’t trust these guys. They’ve got no loyalty to running backs. Drake comes in, and then they get somebody else, they get a third-stringer from KC… they get Darrel Williams or someone like that, and they get him to start. I don’t trust them! I don’t trust Kingsbury. I don’t trust that offense. They have no integrity. That’s how I feel. I’m going to probably stay away, but the ceiling is high for Kenyan Drake, for sure. That offense only gets better. They build on Kyler. They build on that offense.
Joe: But again, I don’t trust it. The ceiling is there, but I’m staying away. I’m so bitter about the David Johnson thing. I know he looked a little sluggish at times, I get it, but I mean, he was still performing from a fantasy perspective. He was their workhorse guy, and they just treated him like a piece of garbage, and it’s so upsetting to me, man. If I was David Johnson, I would be livid, and I would be vocal. I would not stand for that! “I’m your guy! How dare you bring in some third-, second-stringer from Miami who has done nothing there, and you get him to take my job?” I would have cussed the coach out, and I probably would be suspended, but I don’t care!
Nick: I get it, man. I was pissed as a fantasy owner, for sure, but did you see some of those runs where David Johnson literally looked like he had a piano strapped to his back? I don’t know what happened there, man! He was running like he was stuck in quicksand the entire second half of the year.
Nick: The one thing I do… I don’t want to trust him, but in that same time, if you look at the backfield as a whole, it almost was… whether it was David Johnson those first six weeks or so, then we had a Chase Edmonds one, then we had Drake for the last half of the season… you combine them all and you’ve got the running back dream in fantasy, in terms of total points. So if they do have a guy they commit to… let’s say it is Kenyan Drake, and maybe they trade David Johnson, who I’d love to say get it back, get his feet under him… maybe with the Chiefs; we mentioned them as a potential hole.
Nick: But to me, if they do have Drake and they do commit to him, I totally could see top seven numbers just because the offense always was built around a workhorse. It wasn’t clear who that workhorse might be every week, but once they had a guy they liked… whether it was David Johnson early, whether it was Drake late… they did seem to ride him. So, I’m not totally on the, abandon the Cardinals, quite like you… at least, not yet.
Joe: We’re going to have to get you on. There’s so much to talk about. We’re going to get you on again.
Nick: Oh, yeah, dude.
Joe: We’re going to get you on again. We just kind of wanted to get everybody a little bit in the zone here, get them in the mood, get them built up. We’re ramping up here. So, yeah, I mean, we have a lot of fun here.
Joe: I want to just end it off with one more player here, your thoughts on him. I have him at eight now, but I don’t really trust him because of this offense, the Packers offense… Aaron Jones… the Packers offense was more of a throw-first offense. This year, they went more to the run. His numbers are inflated. He had an amazing Week 5, 49 points; amazing Week 8, 41 points; crapped the bed Week 6, 9, 12, and 13; little bit inconsistent, little bit of volatile, Aaron Jones.
Joe: Do you still like him, and do you think they go back to throwing it more going into 2020?
Nick: It’s a great question because I owned him this year, and that love/hate relationship that you just highlighted with the blow-ups and then the disappearing act… you never knew what you were going to get, which did suck. Ultimately, I do think… I’m not worried about them going back to a pass-first team. I think Matt LaFleur is definitely a very run-heavy guy; he’s always been that way; he’s learned it from McVay with the Rams, who have ridden Todd Gurley; he learned with the Titans. He’s always based his offense around the run and pass and kind of marrying it with the kind of play-action.
Nick: I do think that the system stays in place and they do feed their running backs a lot more. I would love to see him pull away a bit more from Jamaal Williams. It seemed like by the end of the year… 16, 13, 23, 25, 21 carries… it seemed like he started to finally get that consistent groove, and he was a monster once he got that workload. He was the number two running back in fantasy, but again, so much of that was concentrated in those couple blow-up spots. It didn’t feel consistent until that late-season stretch.
Nick: I still believe him because I love the talent. I do think they might commit to him a bit more next year and give him some more consistent volume so that you’re not worried about Jamaal Williams. He did have that goal-line goal on lock, too. That is the one thing I love. They never really kind of split it at the goal line, even if they were pass-catching downs and things of that nature. But once he did get that more consistent receiving role, he seemed to really blow up, and I think he does carry that over. He’s still in my top 10. I’m a believer because I love the talent so much.
Nick: What do you think?
Joe: I met him. I think his personality is great. I think his work ethic is great. I mean, he’s what, 25 years old? Still, a lot left in that tank. He’s strong, he’s durable. He’s going to be a guy that I would feel comfortable as my RB2 if I can get him. So, if I get myself, Barkley, I swing back around and get Aaron Jones as an RB2 as part of my robust RB strategy, I would love it! Give me Aaron Jones, Round 2. I feel comfortable with it. That offense… it’s good.
Nick: Man, you’re going to miss out on him, then, I think. I can’t see him falling out of the first round after being the number two running back last year. He’s going to go top 10, in my opinion. If you’ve got Barkley and Jones, forget about it. That’s a title, man.
Joe: Depends, man. We’ve seen crazier stuff! We’ve seen guys fall off. I mean, it always happens like that.
Joe: And again, I want to give you a couple… we’ll play a little game here. You’ve got to tell me what you see here. So, this is a quick game here. You’re going to understand once we get going here, okay?
Nick: Okay. Love it.
Joe: I’m kind of making this up on the fly here. So, I’m going to say a name here, okay, and tell me when I repeat myself. There’s a point to all this. Stick with me, okay?
Joe: Okay, Devonta Freeman… I’m going to say a name here, okay? David Johnson. Todd Gurley. Saquon Barkley… and Christian McCaffrey. What did I just list here? Can you tell? Let’s see if you know.
Nick: That was the… what, the top-scoring running backs over the last five years?
Joe: Correct! Yes! You know your stuff. And what did you notice? I did not repeat a name. So, what I was trying to tell you is, yes, Christian McCaffrey could probably finish top three, but to have him finish back-to-back? Very unlikely! Do you know what I’m saying? That’s why I kind of go with the upside and I slide Barkley in there. Do you kind of see my thought process a little bit?
Nick: Oh, yeah, absolutely. At the top spot, plus the top 10, it’s always… of all the positions, it seems like there’s always the most change in the top 10 at running back a year to year. It does seem like we’re kind of getting back to where there are some workhorses that are going to be steady and stable. You know Zeke’s going to be in your top 10. You know Barkley, as long as he stays healthy, is going to be in your top 10.
Nick: But who would have thought Aaron Jones would have been the number two guy last year?
Nick: All these other guys… Austin Ekeler the number four guy. There are so many guys that got worked in that you would never have guessed, and we know that’s going to happen yet again. There’s going to be some rookies that land in great openings… maybe a Chiefs guy. I really think whoever ends up being the Chiefs’ lead guy… I doubt it’s going to be Damien Williams again… that’s always going to be top 10.
Nick: You mentioned Leveon Bell going there? I mean, he could be the number one running back if he goes to the Chiefs. You know how explosive that overall offense is! So, there is tons to figure out, but it is, in my opinion, and I think it sounds like it is for you, by far the most important position. You’ve got to just load up and take as many stabs as you can.
Joe: Load up!
Nick: Because if you do have those three bell cows, those three 20-plus touches that are getting carries, that are getting receptions, that are getting the goal line… if you can somehow find three of them… I mean, I had a team last year where I had Zeke, Dalvin Cook, and Aaron Jones as my first three picks. I went one, two, three running back, and obviously, that one went pretty well for me! So, I’m with you, man. I love loading up on backs, and I figure out the wide receivers and whatnot later.
Joe: Yeah, I mean, anything can happen, and… guys that can crack the top 10. I’ll give you a couple of names here. Kenyan Drake, Josh Jacobs… maybe David Montgomery, but that’s a reach… Raheem Mostert… Devin Singletary, if Bell doesn’t end up there and he becomes a workhorse.
Nick: I’m a huge fan of Devin Singletary this year! I think he could really blow up!
Joe: Damien Williams, even… I mean, he could… now, he’s kind of found his groove. I’m not a fan of him, but he may be found his groove. He remains the workhorse back… I don’t think he will be, but I think they find someone else.
Joe: But, I mean, anyone of these guys could easily slide up in there, and anything can happen. Sony Michel could come back and have a good run. I mean, you never really know.
Nick: Think about Mark Ingram, right, with the Ravens last year. He was right on the cusp of the top 10. He finishes the number 11 PPR back. Chris Carson, if he gets himself fully healthy, the number 12 back last year. It does seem like there’s a little bit more depth now at the position. It used to be 26 teams… there was only Ezekiel Elliott and David Johnson. There weren’t really any other week-to-week reliable guys for you.
Nick: There definitely is maybe 15 to 20 guys that I really like, and I want to do my best to get at least two, if not three, of those guys because it’s a huge edge when you can really find those running backs.
Joe: Yep. I mean, we could talk about this all day!
Joe: Nick, thanks for coming onto this show. How do they find you again? Can you shout out your website?
Nick: I appreciate that. Yeah, so it’s RotoStreetJournal.com, where we breed and feed fantasy wolves. We also have a fantasy football app that we just… it’s getting better and better, but we have all our news, and it’s a good, clean way to consume our content. You can just search the Roto Street Journal in your app store. I’m RotoStreetJournal on Instagram, Facebook; I’m RotoStreetWolf on Twitter; and our podcast is the Fantasy Fullback Dive, where we’ve kind of paved your path to 2020 titles. It’s great that we’re already saying that and it’s not even the Super Bowl yet! I love it, man! Thanks so much for having me on.
Joe: No, I appreciate you coming on. I like the whole wolf thing because we teach the lion thing. So, lions and wolves!
Nick: Yeah, it’s cool.solutel
Joe: You’re in the right spot to get fantasy advice, let’s put it that way!
Nick: Right, brother. Some predators right there! Get you tearing up the sheep of the league base!
Joe: Thanks for coming on! I appreciate it, and we’re out. Make sure you guys go follow him.
Joe: So that was Nick from Roto Street Journal. I appreciate him coming on. That was a lot of fun talking running backs. Hope you guys enjoyed that. Thank you for being here. We are doing a Super Bowl preview tomorrow… coming up very, very soon for you guys… get you guys ready for the Super Bowl. 49ers-Chiefs, going to be exciting! Make sure you guys click subscribe. And I’m out!
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