I can’t believe the start of the NFL season is only a few days away. With everything going on in the world, the football season is quickly sneaking upon us. Limited training camps and no preseason games can make it difficult to prepare yourself for this years’ draft. But, don’t worry, we here at Gridiron Experts are here to help give you a leg up on your competition. I will be going over all the players I plan on targeting and staying away from at each position. These will be players I believe to be undervalued (or overvalued) at their current ADP, as well as a few players I see as possible league winners. All ADPs are based on 12-team PPR leagues from fantasyfootballcalculator.com. And be sure to check out our Staff’s Running Back Rankings here!
There seem to be more and more question marks surrounding some of the first-round RB options every day now. However, my plan is still going to be to go after them early because I feel there is a bit of a dropoff after the top 16 or so. I don’t think I have to tell you that CMC, Saquon, and Zeke are all great options to have on your roster if you’re picking at the front end of your draft. So I will go through all of the RB’s I am targeting based on their current ADP, round by round.
Average Draft Position: 7
We saw CEH’s ADP soar after the news broke that Damien Williams opted out for the season, and for good reason. It may seem a little high but the rookie RB out of LSU is in for a massive workload in 2020. He also fell into one of the most prolific offenses in the NFL led by Patrick Mahomes. The last time Andy Reid’s offense featured a rookie RB (Kareem Hunt), he totaled 272-1,327-8 on the ground and 53-455-3 through the air, while receiving 65% of the snaps. Yeah, sign me up!
Miles Sanders (PHI, ADP 12) – Another young RB who looks poised to be in line for a monster workload. Jordan Howard signed with the Dolphins and the Eagles did not bring in another RB of note which leads me to believe they plan to make Sanders their workhorse back. He flashed how talented he was in his rookie season finishing as RB13 in PPR formats (Wks 1-16) but really turned it on in the 2nd half, finishing as RB3 (Wks 11-16). He’s a powerful runner and can also catch the ball out of the backfield, he caught 50 balls on 63 targets last year. The injuries on his O-line are a bit worrisome, but that won’t scare me off Sanders towards the end of the 1st round.
Average Draft Position: 13
Mixon’s ADP has fallen into the 2nd round after him missing some time due to “migraines”. But, the migraines quickly subsided on the same the day the Bengals signed Mixon to a 4-year extension, worth $48 million so I think we’ll see that ADP creep back into the 1st over the next few days. Over the past two seasons, Mixon has recorded back to back 1,110+ seasons leading to top 13 finishes in both years. I expect some of the pressure to be taken off Mixon’s shoulders with the stud rookie QB in town which should open things up. I really hope Gio Bernard is not a thing anymore and Mixon becomes more involved in the passing game. Even if he does not see an uptick in targets, he’s still going to produce and will be in the RB1 conversation at years end.
Average Draft Position: 16
Chubb is coming off a year where he ran for 1,494 yards, good 2nd most in the NFL. He would be a no brainer 1st round selection if it wasn’t for someone named Kareem Hunt also being on the roster. Will he lose touches to Hunt? Yes. Will you want to throw your remote through your TV when Hunt scavenges a TD from him? Probably. But, we’re playing the long game here and Kevin Stefanski will run the ball a ton so I have faith Chubb will get his. Even with Hunt in the backfield from week 10-16, Chubb still saw 64% of the offensive snaps and was RB14 for that period. He makes for a great RB2 with upside the finish as an RB1.
Average Draft Position: 18
Disclaimer: I am a Packers fan. So while I may be a little biased, I have watched every single game this kid has played and he is a very talented back. Jones is a tough runner and he also is a solid receiver out of the backfield. He was the 2nd highest scoring RB last season and is currently being taken as the 14th RB off the board. I know we will see some TD regression with him, but that is just way too low. Even if we were to take away 10 TDs from him last season, he still would’ve finished as a top 10 RB. LaFleur clearly wants to run the ball and Aaron Jones will be the main beneficiary yet again in 2020.
Average Draft Position: 32
By this round, I hope to already have 2 RBs on my roster and to start attacking WR. If not, I will be actively targeting Taylor in the 3rd round. The rookie RB broke almost every college rushing record there is and now finds himself in a great situation in the NFL. The Colts moved up in the draft to select Taylor with the 41st pick so it’s clear that they are very high on him. We know the Colts plan is to pound the rock behind (quite possibly) the best O-line in the league so he should see plenty of opportunities to show why they traded up for him. Marlon Mack is still around, as well as Nyheim Hines, so they will take some touches away from him to start the season. However, I believe the most talented back will prevail and we see Taylor win over the job a few weeks into the season.
Average Draft Position: 51
His price tag may seem a little high for some, but Akers is a guy I found myself drafting quite often. He’ll step right in and take over Gurley’s role and his 250+ vacated touches. This is another situation where I think we see the cream rise to the top. Akers is the most talented back in the Rams backfield and I expect him to be the lead back. Both Henderson and Brown have not shown that either can be a bell-cow back in this league, which is probably the reason the Rams spent a high draft pick on Akers. I also still have plenty of faith in Sean McVay and his scheme so I am investing in Akers and his potential upside.
Average Draft Position: 53
If I have Chubb on my roster, I 100% want to make it a point to handcuff him with Hunt. But even if you don’t own Chubb, Hunt will have standalone value. He’s still a young talented back who has had some off the field issues, but hopefully, he’s worked on those and can stay out of trouble. From weeks 10-16 last season, he was a top 15 RB and that was with Chubb also on the field. If something happens to Chubb, Hunt immediately becomes a top 5 RB. He’s a guy with league-winning upside in the 5th round, count me in.
Average Draft Position: 66
Yet another rookie RB that I am interested in. He is in a crowded backfield and the Ravens do have veteran RB, Mark Ingram, so he will have to earn his time on the field. However, he has already been impressing coaches early on and HC, John Harbaugh, has said he will have a significant role in the offense. As with the other rookie RBs, I am expecting a bit of a slow start out of the gate due to missing time and no preseason games because of COVID. But, he rushed for over 2,000 yards at OSU last season and now is in one of the most prolific offenses the NFL season has ever seen. As he continues to grow, I think he will play a significant role in the Ravens backfield and is another guy that is a potential league-winner.
Average Draft Position: 85
I’m expecting a bounce-back season for Mr. Cohen. After turning in a top 15 performance in 2018, he had a bit of a disappointing season in 2019. But, it wasn’t for a lack of opportunities as he racked up the 3rd most targets (104) and 3rd most receptions (79) by RBs last season. However, he didn’t turn these touches into the big plays that he did in 2018 when he averaged 10.2 YPR whereas he only produced 5.8 YPR in 2019. He’s currently being taken as the 37th RB coming off the board which is just absurd. Cohen is almost a lock to see 100+ targets again, making him a great pick at this point in the draft, especially in PPR leagues. And if he can turn in some more of those big plays, he smashes his value.
Average Draft Position: 93
For a little while, it looked like Kamara may miss some time. But, it sounds like the Saints and Kamara are negotiating and will eventually be able to come to terms. However, he did receive an epidural shot earlier this week so that is a bit concerning. If Kamara ends up missing time, Murray almost becomes a must-start. In the two games Kamara missed last season, Murray posted over 300 yards from scrimmage while finding the endzone 4 times. That was good for 32 and 36 FPPG. If you draft Kamara, you better not leave your draft without Murray. Even if you don’t end up with Kamara, I still suggest getting some shares of Lat Murray.
Average Draft Position: 101
Don’t sleep on Chase Edmonds. He is the clear number 2 option behind Kenyan Drake in Arizona this year with David Johnson moving on to Houston. When David Johnson went down last year, Edmonds was given the opportunity to handle the lead role. He did a fine job compiling 126 rushing yards and 3 TDs on 27 carries before injuring his hamstring the next week. He seems to fits the offense well and Kingsbury expects him to play a significant role. Edmonds is another one of the high-end handcuffs to own, especially with Drake already battling some minor injuries.
Average Draft Position: 118
The 5’6″ 203 lbs. little wrecking ball made a name for himself in Week 17 of last season when he rushed for three TDs helping the Eagles find their way into the playoffs. Scott caught 24 balls last season with 23 of those receptions coming in his last four games. He also received at least six targets on all four of those games. In that same period (Weeks 14-17), he also turned in 38-151-4 on the ground. He is Miles Sanders’ clear backup but will have a role in the passing game going forward. Scott makes for an interesting flex option in deep PPR leagues.
The RB talent is pretty dried up at this point in the draft so I hope to already have at least 4 RBs on my roster
Average Draft Position: 154
Originally I never planned on being in on McKinnon. I swore off him after yet another injury sidelined him in 2019. However, here we are again with reports from camp that he looks amazing. He is still only 28 years old and we know the kid is uber-talented, he just hasn’t been able to stay on the field. But, I’ve said it before, I’m all in on investing in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. I am still a bit of a Mostert guy but his ADP has risen too high so I will look to go after the cheapest of the 49ers backs. Mckinnon is essentially free in drafts and well worth the late-round flier.
Average Draft Position: 157
The rookie RB out of UCLA looks to be part of a committee to begin the season. He will be competing for touches with Justin Jackson behind Austin Ekeler. However, Jackson has missed some time over the past weeks, giving way to Kelley. He has impressed with his running ability as well as his receiving abilities. The Chargers lead back, Ekeler also has said that he is dealing with a toe injury so that is something to monitor. If Jackson and/or Ekeler miss time, Kelley will be in line for a huge workload.
Players to Avoid
Average Draft Position: 29
RB17 is too rich for my blood. For me it’s pretty simple, I don’t trust him and I don’t trust Bill O’Brien. I re-watched a couple of his games from last year and he just looked slow out there. After his monster 2016 season, he just hasn’t been the same, averaging 2.1, 3.6, and 3.7 YPC respectively, and only played in 30 games. At this point in the draft, I’d prefer to go after one of the top WRs. If I do want a piece of this backfield, I’d take a chance on Duke Johnson at a much cheaper price.
Average Draft Position: 28
Gurley is typically coming off the board one spot after Johnson. Again, in this spot, I am more interested in going after one of the stud WRs (or possibly Kelce/Kittle) than take a chance on an RB that has battled knee injuries throughout the past few years. I get that he has virtually no competition behind him other than Ito Smith and Brian Hill, but I just don’t see the upside with Gurley. The fact that the Rams were willing to let him go leaving them with $20.15 million in dead cap space really worries. I think his best days are behind him and I’ll let someone else take a chance on Gurley.
Ronald Jones/Ke’Shawn Vaughn
Average Draft Position: 55 / 136
Well, this situation just got really sticky after the signing of Leonard Fournette. I was a Rojo believer, however, I can’t trust him now with the Bucs adding Fournette to the backfield this week. I was also targeting Vaughn as Jones’ handcuff, but I am steering away from the two of them now at this price point. If their ADPs continue to fall over the next few days, I may buy back in but there are too many mouths to feed now hurting all of their fantasy values.