Top 80 Running Backs For 2020

Erik Smith ranks his top 80 running backs for the 2020 season, with ranks updated on August 30.

Tier 9: Death Stranding


61. Bryce Love (Washington Football Team) – Reports seem to indicate that Bryce Love is behind Adrian Peterson, J.D. Mckissic, and Antonio Gibson on the depth chart, and isn’t even certain to make the team. The talent is there if healthy, so there is some reason to keep an eye on him. But he probably needs another injury or suspension ahead of him.


62. Corey Clement (Philadephia Eagles) – With Miles Sanders sitting out with an injury and the Eagles giving us few updates, Corey Clement is taking advantage and having a nice camp. Boston Scott isn’t a three-down back, so if Sanders’ injury is worse than the Eagles are letting on, Clement could have a decent early-season role. The upside is probably lacking to get too excited here, however.


63. Ito Smith (Atlanta Falcons) – The backup to Todd Gurley could be a position that matters later in the season, but we don’t really know who it is. Ito Smith, Brian Hill, and Qadree Ollison are all in play to win the job, I am defaulting to Smith because he has the highest draft capital and has played as the backup before. But if something happened to Gurley, we are likely looking at a committee in Atlanta.


64. Jerick McKinnon (San Francisco 49ers) – Jerrick McKinnon is drawing rave reviews in camp, and maybe I’m missing out by not being higher on him. But I can’t imagine him receiving a heavy workload after two years out of the league, so we should expect very few rushing attempts, and while he is certainly an asset in the passing game when healthy, the 49ers aren’t known for feeding their running backs in the passing game. This is certainly a good story, but I can’t imagine him getting the touches needed to truly matter in fantasy.


65. Dare Ogunbowale (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) – The signing of LeSean McCoy wasn’t great news for Dare Ogunbawale, making him off the draft radar for now. There’s still a chance Ogunbawale could steal the third-down role if the other running backs on the depth chart struggle with drops, but there are too many players in the way right now for Dare to be on your draft radar.


66. Chris Thompson (Jacksonville Jaguars) – Chris Thompson is reunited with offensive coordinator Jay Gruden in Jacksonville, and if Thompson can stay healthy he could carve out a meaningful third-down role. The upside is too limited, and the durability concerns too real, for us to get too high on Thompson, however. But there could come a time in the season where he is a useful emergency flex option.


67. Giovani Bernard (Cincinnati Bengals) – Joe Mixon has been in and out of camp, so maybe I’m too low on Giovani Bernard. But at age 28, I’m not counting on another gear from Bernard, who hasn’t topped 500 yards rushing since 2015 and has seen his targets decrease in each of the last three years. I don’t know who the back to own would be if Mixon missed time, but I’m not banking on it being Bernard.


68. Malcolm Brown (Los Angeles Rams) –  A veteran presence on the team, Malcolm Brown could carve out a goalline role, but that’s about it. Brown has yet to surpass 300 yards from scrimmage in his five-year career.


69. Ryquell Armstead (Jacksonville Jaguars) – I don’t think we necessarily know who would be the back to own if something happened to Leonard Fournette, so Ryquell Armstead is way down my ranks. There’s a chance we don’t want any of the backups, as the Jaguars figure to be playing from behind most of the year. Armstead is a 2019 fifth-round pick, and I haven’t seen anything to suggest he is a diamond in the rough. I’ll wait for something to happen (if it does) to Fournette before investing in these backups.

*Well, something happened to Fournette, and he was released. Armstead is probably the back to own, but he’s not going to replicate Fournette’s 2019 season. He will likely slot into the RB37-47 range on my next update*


Tier 10: Overwatch


70. Brian Hill (Atlanta Falcons) – The final tier is no more than a group of names to put on your watch list. Brian Hill could be the backup to Todd Gurley, we just don’t really know. But Hill fell flat in his opportunity last year, and there just isn’t a ton on his resume that suggests there is much potential here.


71. DeAndre Washington (Kansas City Chiefs) – It looks like Darrel Williams has passed DeAndre Washington on the depth chart as the primary backup to Clyde Edwards-Helaire in Kansas City, so his stock takes a hit. But if news changes, be prepared to jump on Washington, as he showed capable of taking on a volume role in Oakland when called upon.


72. Jamaal Williams (Green Bay Packers) – Jamaal Williams might find his way onto the field after all, as news from Packers camp seems to have him holding off the rookie A.J. Dillon so far. Williams was sneakily playable at times last year sharing snaps with Aaron Jones, so we might be too low on Williams, as his dependability in the passing game has earned him the trust of his coaches. But his competition is tougher this year, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him lose snaps to Dillon as the season progresses.


73. Eno Benjamin (Arizona Cardinals) – As a seventh-round rookie, we aren’t even certain if Eno Benjamin will make the team. But he was projected to go earlier than he did in the NFL Draft, and outside of Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds, this Cardinals backfield is pretty bare. An injury to either could open up an interesting role in the passing game for Benjamin.


74. Benny Snell (Pittsburgh Steelers) – Snell has drawn some rave reviews in camp, and we saw James Conner make a big jump from his first year to his second year in Pittsburgh, so maybe they just know how to develop running backs. But you probably won’t get a pass-catching role here, and there is a lot of competition for backup duties, so even in the event of a Conner injury Snell may not be the back to own. I would rush to grab Snell at the first sign of trouble with Conner, however.


75. Jaylen Samuels (Pittsburgh Steelers) – Speaking of competition for backup duties in Pittsburgh, Jaylen Samuels could be as low as RB4 on the depth chart, but his pass-catching track record keeps him from falling off the list completely. He saw a whopping 38 targets combined in a five-game stretch last year, but his role got smaller later in the year, and the Steelers proceeded to draft another running back in the offseason. Samuels would be intriguing if given snaps in the event of a Conner injury, however.


76. Darwin Thompson (Kansas City Chiefs) – We are really late in the ranks, and while I don’t expect Darwin Thompson to have much relevance this year, he did show some real flashes in preseason last year. If something happened to CEH, Thompson could make sense in a decent pass-catching role. But without injury, he should remain on free agency.


77. Rex Burkhead (New England Patriots) – If Sony Michel has injury issues pop back up, and the coaches don’t feel Damien Harris is ready, Rex Burkhead could find himself on the field plenty. Burkhead is now 30, however, and has had numerous injuries of his own, so the chances are slim of a breakout, even if everything works out perfectly for him.


78. Devine Ozigbo (Jacksonville Jaguars) – Off the draft radar, but if something happened to Leonard Fournette, Devine Ozigbo might be a priority add. I don’t think we know who the backup to own is in Jacksonville, and Ozigbo would represent the option that would require less FAAB spending, so he would be my preferred target.

*With Fournette released, Ozigbo gains relevance. He’s probably just in the RB45-55 range, but he’s worth a speculative add at the end of benches.*


79. Lynn Bowden Jr. (Las Vegas Raiders) – There’s a ton to like about the versatile Lynn Bowden Jr. in dynasty leagues, but I think there’s just too much competition in his way for 2020. Bowden played quarterback, running back, and wide receiver in college, and could be someone the Raiders try to get the ball to in space. But Henry Ruggs III is the superior option in the passing game for that role, and Josh Jacobs and Jalen Richard will be tough to overtake on the depth chart, if not impossible. An injury to Jacobs, however, would make things very interesting for Bowden’s outlook.


80. JaMycal Hasty (San Francisco 49ers) – JaMycal Hasty is behind Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, Jerick McKinnon, and Jeff Wilson Jr. on the depth chart, so fantasy relevance is unlikely. But it is worth a reminder what Kyle Shanahan has done with undrafted running backs in San Francisco, as both Matt Breida and Mostert were also undrafted free agents. There are a lot of players for Hasty to overtake, but Mostert, Coleman, and McKinnon have all had injury issues in the past, and Wilson is no more than a role player. Hasty is worth a late stash in dynasty and would be interesting if he saw the field in 2020.

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