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This year, you will find the list of dependable RB1s shorter than ever and uncertainty underminding our confidence in setting the values of players in many backfields. We can go forward with our best guesses, but as always, being open to new realities no matter what we thought about 2020 fantasy running backs will be as important as ever. Let's survey the landscape.
Christian McCaffrey, CAR
Slam Dunk #1: McCaffrey
Strategy: How big is the gap between McCaffrey and the #2 back? Someone asked me whether I would rather have McCaffrey or Alvin Kamara and George Kittle in a redraft trade question and I had to give it a long pause before barely coming down on the side of McCaffrey because the team had Tyler Higbee as a #2 tight end. The point is that the #1 pick is a huge advantage this year and if you can trade up to #1, the answer is probably to do it.
McCaffrey was an unfair advantage at running back last year and losing pass-heavy game scripts plus the offensive coordinator (Joe Brady) who helped make Clyde Edwards-Helaire a sensation at LSU last year should keep him in that rarefied air.
Target at ADP: Barkley, Elliott, Kamara, Henry
Consider/Avoid at ADP: Cook
Strategy: These names and Michael Thomas are your choices if you draw a top seven pick in typical PPR leagues. You’ll need to decide where the Thomas breakpoint is and sort them out to your liking, although early indications are that Barkley will go second and Elliott third in most drafts.
Update: A representative of Cook has said that he won't be participating in any team activity including "camp and beyond" unless he gets a "reasonable" extension. The team has indicated some willingness to sign him long term, but this obviously injects a lot of uncertainty into his fantasy stock. It's "reasonable" to move him down your board within or out of the first round unless there are signs of positive movement in this situation.
Barkley’s injury cost him three games last year, but he probably wasn’t himself until December. He was a league winner in Weeks 15 and 16 and should probably be in a mini-tier as the clear #2 back behind McCaffrey. The only wrinkle to his outlook is a new offense and the new potential for a much more crowded passing game if everyone stays healthy.
The size of Elliott’s pass-catching role dropped off from 2018 highs last year, but his output was still well above his first and second year receiving numbers. The addition of Ceedee Lamb might cut further into his passing game production, but a more dangerous offense can increase his efficiency and touchdown opportunities.
When you look back at Kamara’s 2019, remember that he wasn’t really himself until mid-December after a leg injury cost him two games in October. Latavius Murray was as good as or better than Mark Ingram, but didn’t cut too much into Kamara’s goal line opportunities, so Kamara’s high weekly PPR floor and ceiling are safe, assuming he doesn’t hold out going into the last year of his rookie contract.
Ryan Tannehill changed everything for Henry, who should still get mostly favorable game scripts and remain the centerpiece of the offensive gameplan for Tennessee. He could even get more work in the passing game and was the clear #2 back behind McCaffrey after Tannehill took over, so it's possible that his mid-first price tag is actually a discount.
Cook was everything we could have hoped for in the Kubiak/Dennison/Stefanski offense that focused on his abilities as an outside zone runner and receiver. Unfortunately, he wore down and suffered multiple shoulder/collarbone injuries in the second half of the season and wasn’t available in Week 16 following four weeks of diminished production during a key moment in the fantasy season. His injury risk puts him at the bottom of the strong RB1 tier, and he also has a holdout risk after a representative said that he won't be joining any team activities including "camp and beyond" until he gets a "reasonable" extension.
Target at ADP: Chubb
Consider at ADP: Mixon
Strategy: If you get a late first draft slot, do you want to start WR-WR, but then have to forego the position during the best value rounds later, or take a running back with a lot bigger warts than the top six, but have more freedom to take running backs later? It will depend on how much you like the running backs in the mid rounds, but also how much you like this duo. Chubb has the higher floor, Mixon the higher ceiling.
Chubb, like Dalvin Cook last year, should be the focal point of the Browns offense, and they added new starters at both offensive tackle positions to facilitate the transition to the run-heavy Kevin Stefanski offense. Chubb took a hit in the passing game when Kareem Hunt came back from his suspension last year, but he should be right up there with Derrick Henry in carries in addition to being the first option at the goal line.
Mixon came alive at the end of the season for the second straight year and should be poised to benefit from an improvement at quarterback and on the offensive line. If he doesn’t hold out entering the last year of his rookie contract, Mixon is a justified pick as high as #8, but if you are drafting early be sure to take Giovani Bernard later as a holdout hedge.
Target at ADP: Gordon
Consider at ADP: Carson, Drake, Ekeler, Sanders
Avoid at ADP: Jacobs, Jones
Strategy: These backs won’t cost you a first because of risk factors, and all have flashed the ability to put up RB1 numbers. Ekeler, Sanders, Jones, and Jacobs are all likely to be second round picks and certainly fit well in an RB-RB start or paired with a Michael Thomas first round pick. Drake could in the second or third, and both Gordon and Carson tend to fall to the third. Gordon is the best value in the tier and Jacobs is often the most overdrafted.
Ekeler was a strong to elite RB1 when Melvin Gordon was holding out and still a low RB1 after Gordon returned to the field, but his floor and ceiling are in question with a quarterback change from Philip Rivers to Tyrod Taylor/Justin Herbert. The passing efficiency will drop, but how much? Will Ekeler get goal line love? Without regular touchdowns or big receiving games, Ekeler won’t live up to his ADP.
Sanders finished with a flourish and helped his fantasy teams to win championships, and he appeared to be set up as a feature back heading into the 2020 season. The Eagles have been sniffing around veteran backs, and if they sign one, his aspirational ADP will seem too high, although his talent could still force the Eagles hand into playing him over any veteran.
Drake was a fantasy playoffs MVP last year, with huge performances in Week 15 and 16 that put many teams at the top of the heap. The Cardinals kept him with a transition tag, which means he should be the lead back in an offense that will be improved by the acquisition of DeAndre Hopkins. His price is on the rise, often going in the top 10 backs, so he’ll likely cost a second round pick.
Gordon ended up getting a modest two-year, $16 million deal from the Broncos, but it could actually end up being a better fantasy situation than the one he left with the Chargers. He should be the primary passcatching and goalline back in a Pat Shurmur offense with a good chance at being a top 10-12 fantasy back this year.
Jacobs outplayed his stats last year, including playing seven plus games with a fracture in his shoulder, but limited passing game involvement and sporadic touchdown outbursts made him less impactful for fantasy than he should have been. The team brought back Jalen Richard and drafted Lynn Bowden Jr as a running back in the third round, so they don’t seem to have plans to make Jacobs a bigger part of the passing game, which makes his price closer to his ceiling than his floor.
Jones wasn’t the only Aaron on the Packers roster that saw his future replacement drafted in April. Even though he had a career year as the #1 back last year, the team saw it fit to draft a hard-charging power back from Boston College - AJ Dillon - in the second round. It’s hard to know exactly how this will affect Jones’ ceiling and floor this year, but it can’t be a good thing. Jones receiving numbers also became inconsistent once Davante Adams returned from a foot injury last year. He’s more boom/bust RB2 than the RB1 his year-end numbers paint.
Carson had yet another season-ending injury last year after the Seahawks rode him hard in their run first offense. He had a strong season and made strides as a receiver before fracturing his hip. Carson will have to contend with Carlos Hyde, but Rashaad Penny is likely sidelined for the beginning of the season if not longer, so that’s a wash at worst. Carson promises RB1 numbers at a discount, but the other injury shoe is always threatening to drop.
HIGH CEILING ROOKIES
Consider at ADP: Edwards-Helaire, Taylor
Strategy: Will these rookies be inconsistent because they are in even committees with veterans? Will their talents and the efficiencies of their offenses mean that doesn’t matter? Will they take over from lesser veterans and end up being league winning talents worth fantasy first round picks in hindsight? I won’t discourage you from drafting them at ADP.
Edwards-Helaire fits in the Chiefs offense like a hand in a glove with his natural route-running, hands, and quick takeoff on runs out of the shotgun. The only question is whether the Chiefs will move Damien Williams to a secondary role to pave the way for Edwards-Helaire’s production to top out. Williams injury history suggests that Edwards-Helaire will get a chance to seize control of this backfield sooner or later.
Taylor is set up in a perfect scheme for his style and he is in an offense that will keep defenses honest now that Philip Rivers has been added at quarterback. The team has a lot of respect for Marlon Mack and he could be an obstacle to Taylor’s breakout this year, but Taylor could also force the coaches hand with long touchdown runs that Mack just can’t match. Taylor’s lack of passing game prowess will lower his floor and ceiling, but he could defy it the same way that Derrick Henry did once Ryan Tannehill took over.
HOW MUCH IS LEFT IN THE TANK?
Consider at ADP: Johnson
Consider at ADP, Sell High in October: Gurley
Avoid at ADP: Bell
Strategy: All three of these back could be ready to go over a cliff, but all are also set up to lead their team’s backfields in touches by a large margin. The decline risk is priced into ADP with none of them costing more than a third round pick. The best angle here might be to draft them at ADP and sell high if they get off to a hot start, especially Gurley, who has the biggest health concerns and best opening schedule against the run.
Johnson was a lukewarm at best runner last year, but still very effective as a receiver last year before he seemed to lose his nerve and yielded his job to Kenyan Drake. If he is rejuvenated with the Texans and gets Carlos Hyde’s workload in the running game with the passing game involvement he deserves, Johnson will outperform ADP, but that’s asking a lot after the Kliff Kingsbury seemed to give up on him last year.
Gurley was released in a move that no one would have predicted two years ago. The Falcons swooped in to offer him a modest one year, 5.5 million dollar deal, but Dirk Koetter indicated that the Falcons aren’t any sure about the condition of his knee. If Gurley can stay healthy and collect the short yardage touchdowns, he can be a solid RB2 and justify ADP. A soft early schedule including Seattle, Dallas, Green Bay and Carolina in the first five games could help him get off to a hot start.
Bell underachieved last year in the Adam Gase offense and the team drafted a back in the fourth round (Lamical Perine - Florida) and added Frank Gore in free agency, so there could be a drop in touches for Bell. Hopefully the second year in the Gase system and improvements in the offensive line can make up for better backup running backs, although the Gase-Bell marriage has always seemed tentative at best.
PROVEN ABILITY + SITUATION, QUESTIONABLE OPPORTUNITY
Target above ADP: Hunt
Consider at ADP: Mostert
Strategy: If you wait to get your RB2, Hunt should be on your target list, and Mostert has potential if he's still on the 49ers roster come Week 1. Both are available in the fifth round or later, both have proven they have a high weekly ceiling, and both are in schemes that accentuate the volume and efficiency in the running game.
Hunt was a bigger hit than expected last year upon his return because of his passcatching ability. We can’t be sure he’ll be used to that extent under the new regime, but they did keep him despite an offseason run-in with the law. His ability is unquestioned and if Nick Chubb goes down, Hunt will be a league winner.
Mostert looked like the best back in San Francisco and put on a show in the NFC title game with 220 yards and four scores. The team kept Tevin Coleman despite rumors of him being a possible cap cut, but traded away Matt Breida to help clarify the backfield. Mostert will still share with Coleman and a receiving back (Jerick McKinnon if he stays healthy), but Coleman’s injury history could open the door for Mostert to shine again, if the 49ers don't meet his trade demand since they would not give him the raise he thought he deserved.
Consider at ADP: Conner
Avoid at ADP: Fournette, Montgomery
Strategy: This group is in line to lead their teams in running back touches, but can they be efficient enough to make it matter in fantasy leagues? Fournette is the most expensive, Conner is probably the best value with the Steeler offense bounceback possibilities, and Montgomery is the cheapest.
Conner has bulked up in the offseason in an attempt to become more durable, but will he lose burst and flexibility? He showed good receiving skills last year, but was a much less efficient runner, perhaps because the Steelers had laughable quarterback play. He could hit at a huge discount from his 2019 first round ADP.
The Jaguars were looking to deal Fournette during the draft but overestimated his value. Chris Thompson will take away his receiving upside as long as Thompson is healthy and the team could look to give younger backs more touches as the season goes on as they are in rebuilding mode. Stay away.
Montgomery looked like he was running in wet cement at times last year, but the Bears did nothing to upgrade the running back room in the offseason, so it appears he is still the man in their backfield. The hope is that Nick Foles improves the passing game and Montgomery gets quicker and more efficient in year two to take advantage of another huge opportunity.
HIGH CEILING ROOKIES, PART II
Consider at ADP: Akers
Target at ADP: Dobbins
Strategy: Fantasy players are wary of the Rams RBBC and still letting Akers fall to the 5th/6th round even though he could lead the backfield in touches and perhaps even take over. Dobbins is falling to the 8th round, and while he needs an injury to really pay off, his talent and excellent situation is tough to ignore at that cheap price.
Akers is a three-down back with well-developed passing game skills, but he’ll have to hold off Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown to be a clear lead back. That could be tough in a year with a shortened offseason, but Akers has latent ability that wasn’t apparent behind the poor Florida State line.
Dobbins has long speed and should house some carries that Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards merely turned into 10-20 yard gains. It’s tough to see him becoming a lead back without a Mark Ingram injury, but Dobbins can still be a good boom/bust flex if he just gets 8-10 touches a game. He’s a good gamble on talent+situation.
TALENTED TIMESHARE BACKS, PART II
Consider at ADP: Singletary, Johnson, Henderson, Guice
Avoid at ADP: Swift
Strategy: Without injuries, none of these backs will be featured, but they are all talented and on the upslope side of their career arc. They could impose their will on touch/snap splits with their teammates and outperform ADP without increased work due to teammate injury, but the weekly and season-long ceilings are lower because of situation. Singletary is the most expensive by far, with Swift second, going multiple rounds ahead of his teammate. Guice is reasonably priced since he has already flashed gamebreaker upside on limited touches, but Henderson is the best value. All of these backs fit well in an upside down/do the opposite/zero RB strategy.
Singletary’s burst and efficiency stood out last year and he didn’t miss a beat when he returned from an early season hamstring injury. He was effective when he got a lead back load and made an impact in the passing game even though he was underutilized. His role won’t be more central this year with the addition of Stefon Diggs and Zack Moss, but he could still be better per touch than he was last year in a better offense.
Johnson has had trouble being consistently effective in the Lions running game and staying healthy, he has been underused in the passing game, and now he has a fellow second round running back to share with. He is the same caliber of talent as D’Andre Swift, but will only be a flex play at best as long as Swift is healthy.
Swift is a similar level talent to Kerryon Johnson and the two should be interchangeable in the Lions offense. Chances are Swift will only be a flex play if Johnson stays healthy, but he hasn’t been able to do that so far in his first two years. Be patient if you draft Swift because his best chance of hitting is a Johnson injury.
Guice has proven to be a rugged, explosive back when he has been on the field, but he has barely been on the field so far in his career. Washington brought back Adrian Peterson to split the backfield work, and Guice’s injury history ensures that they won’t give him a feature back workload. He could still hit if he can stay healthy and consistently break off big runs.
Henderson was the apple of Sean McVay’s eye in the 2019 draft, with the team trading up in the third round for him despite recently signing Todd Gurley to a long-term deal. Gurley is gone, but the team drafted Cam Akers in the second round this year, and visions of Henderson in a Chris Thompson role last year never materialized. Henderson will have to earn whatever part of the backfield he gets this year, but his ADP justifies the bet on his talent rising to the surface in year two after a dud of a rookie season.
HOLDING OFF THE CHANGING OF THE GUARD
Target at ADP: Williams, Mack
Consider at ADP: Ingram
Strategy: We are all waiting for these veterans to give way to the talented rookies behind them, but they are dependable and well-versed in their offenses, and perhaps the coronavirus shortened offseason will encourage these Super Bowl contenders to use the shelter of their veteran backs more than expected. Ingram is more expensive, and in fact going ahead of his rookie competition JK Dobbins. Williams and Mack can be had in the seventh round or later, which makes them cheap enough to consider taking them along with their earlier drafted rookie competition to corner the backfields.
Ingram was a low-end RB1 last year and didn’t look like he was wearing down at all. If the Ravens ease JK Dobbins in, he’ll be a value RB2, but at only a small discount from the 2019 ADP that he outperformed.
Williams had trouble staying healthy last year, but somehow still finished the season as the clear lead back and once again showed his prowess in the passing game and red zone. If the Chiefs aren’t ready to trust Clyde Edwards-Helaire in key situations, Williams could be a big hit at a deep discount from his 2019 price.
Mack is getting respect from the coaches and certainly improved every year, but he can’t hold a candle to second-round pick Jonathan Taylor’s speed and tackle-breaking ability. The coaches could keep an RBBC installed out of deference to Mack and to get value out of him before he leaves in free agency, but even that “good” outcome will probably just make Mack a matchup flex.
HIGH CEILING HANDCUFFS
Target ahead of ADP: Mattison, Murray
Strategy: Mattison is a must if you draft Cook to protect your first round investment, especially later in the season, and you should consider him even if you don’t take Cook. Murray has a smaller chance of getting starts due to an Alvin Kamara injury, but has proven his league-winner upside. Both are reasonably priced and musts in an upside down/do the opposite/zero RB strategy.
Update: Mattison just got a lot more interesting with the news of Dalvin Cook potentially holding out into the season if he doesn't get a "reasonable" extension. He could move up into the 8th-9th round range.
Mattison ended up injured himself when Dalvin Cook finally missed time last year, but he should be first in line to start if (when) Cook misses time this year. He’s probably the most valuable handcuff and could have matchup flex potential this year. Mattison also has some extra value with the news that Cook will hold out into the season if he doesn't get an extension.
Murray was a monster when Alvin Kamara missed two games last year, but he didn’t fully take over the Mark Ingram role when Kamara was on the field. Without consistent goal line looks, it’s tough to plug Murray in as a flex when Kamara is playing, but what Murray did when Kamara was out in 2019 justifies his ADP.
FLEX APPEAL/USEFUL DEPTH
Consider at ADP: Howard, Coleman, Jones, Breida, Lindsay, Moss
Strategy: We are to the purely bench backs portion of the draft. There are scenarios where members of this group could be difference makers - they all have at least injury upside and none of them are over the hill in their career arc. If expectations for the season hold to form, none will be more than matchup flex plays, but there are always backfields that go counter to expectations. None are screaming values or avoids. Don’t assume getting the top two Tampa or Miami backs will ensure that you have a starting fantasy back. Lindsay and Moss are reasonable handcuffs to protect earlier investments in Gordon and Singletary, but if there aren’t injuries to the top drafted back in those backfield, they may be wasted picks unless Moss can become a top goal line option. Coleman might not get a value bump no matter what happens to other 49ers backs. The reality is that this tier is unlikely to produce a fantasy difference maker, but these backs could save your bacon in weeks that you have injuries and byes that force you to play someone off of your bench.
Howard is still more than competent between the tackles and a natural choice for goal line work in Miami, but this offense wasn’t good ast year at creating touchdown opportunities or game scripts that would allow a back like Howard to shine. He’ll be a matchup flex with Matt Breida injury upside.
Coleman was a rumored cap cut before the 49ers traded Matt Breida to the Dolphins. Now that he’s back, he probably won’t take a back seat to Raheem Mostert and instead form a committee with the back who outplayed him last year. A third down back could complicate things further, but Coleman did have six touchdowns in a four game stretch last year and he’s in a good situation.
Jones made it through draft weekend with a chance to lead his backfield in touches. He has more quickness and burst than Ke’Shawn Vaughn and made strides last year, but he also clearly has less than full trust from the coaches and is likely to truly assert control of this backfield. Like Vaughn, he could be helped by a winning season from the Bucs.
We know Breida can play, but we also know he can’t stay healthy and he is downgrading in surrounding running game about as severely as any back that changed teams this offseason. He is still a fine second half of the draft bet on pure talent, but he needs to stay healthy and limit fumbles to pay off. Improvement from the offensive line and the possibility that Jordan Howard’s shoulder injury recurs could help him.
Lindsay is a proven NFL caliber back, but he’s not a big weapon in the passing game, and it’s clear that the Broncos want him to be a complement to Melvin Gordon. He still has Gordon injury upside and has excelled against the odds at every stop, so he’s worth the bench stash to see how things go in this backfield.
Moss is a big bruising back who should collect the rushing touchdowns that aren’t bogarted by Josh Allen, and he is a good third down back too, but he’s a plodder compared to Devin Singletary and shouldn’t be expected to overtake Singletary. He has some Singletary injury upside, but otherwise is a matchup flex at best.
Target Above ADP: Hines
Consider at ADP: Johnson, Scott
Avoid at ADP: Cohen, White
Deep Draft Specials: Thompson, Ogunbowale
Strategy: Pass-catching backs can help a lot in bye and injury jams and if they get hot, they can be surprise RB2s with 20+ point ceilings in PPR leagues. Hines is the best value and most exciting with Philip Rivers in town. Duke Johnson Jr is priced about right with at least some David Johnson injury/breakdown upside. Cohen and White are overpriced because of quarterback uncertainty, but Cohen could surprise. Scott is priced about right, but will likely be joined by a veteran back. Thompson is worth a very late pick to see if he can stay healthy, his track record when on the field speaks for itself. Ogunbowale is a deep league late-round shot in the dark sleeper with the chance that he becomes the James White for Tom Brady in Tampa.
Hines has always looked like one of the most explosive players in the Colts offense, but he was sorely ignored last year. That should change with Philip Rivers at quarterback and the team has already said Hines should be excited to play with Rivers. After watching what Rivers did for Austin Ekeler, you should have Hines on your second half of the draft target list.
Bill O’Brien traded a third-round pick for Duke Johnson Jr and still used him sparingly. He still looks good and David Johnson’s last team basically abandoned him. There’s almost no scenario where Duke becomes the lead back despite perhaps having the ability to do it, but if David Johnson breaks down, there’s no solid Plan B on the roster, so that makes Duke worth carrying into the season with a pick in the double digit rounds.
Scott was a late season revelation for the Eagles last year and should retain the Darren Sproles role that made him a suitable PPR RB2 in December last year. If the Eagles don’t sign a veteran back (they have shown interest in a few), then Scott will be more valuable than his ADP, and he might outplay that veteran anyway.
Cohen’s big play and touchdown well ran dry last year, but he could still be a 10-15 point in any given week and could surprise if Nick Foles is better than he was with the Jaguars last year.
White can still be a big part of the passing game with the Patriots carrying an unimpressive wide receiver group into 2020, but how efficient will Jarrett Stidham be at using White in the passing game. After finally achieving consistent fantasy relevance, White may be tough to count on this season.
Thompson has always been very effective as a receiver out of the backfield and new Jaguars offensive coordinator Jay Gruden knows how to use him. As long as he’s on the field, he’s a viable flex, if not PPR RB2, but usually he’s not on the field for long.
Ogunbowale is the closest thing the Bucs have to James White in the backfield and we all know how well Tom Brady has made use of that kind of back in the past. He could spoil the stock of the other two Bucs backs and turn this into a three-headed backfield with a New England split but without the peak New England backfield productivity.
LATE ROUND LOTTERY TICKETS
Keshawn Vaughn, TB
Strategy: Think upside late in your drafts. All of these backs have it for one reason or another.
Pollard proved he is a good NFL running back last year, but Ezekiel Elliott is incredibly durable and there’s only one football. He could still surprise and force himself into a regular role with his explosiveness and pass-catching ability.
Armstead is the first in line for touches if Leonard Fournette gets traded or falls out of favor. He showed more pass-catching ability than expected last year and has some long speed.
Edmonds was the “it” back in Arizona for a blink of an eye last year after a breakout performance against the Giants, but a hamstring injury opened the door for the Kenyan Drake trade and the rest is history. He’s also a good passcatcher and might play his way into a role even if Drake stays healthy.
Bernard isn’t the same back he was a few years ago, but he’s still the best Joe Mixon holdout insurance.
Peterson has a good chance to be the lead back for at least a few weeks in light of Derrius Guice’s injury history. His upside is limited but he still showed he’s got it last year.
Gibson is a dynamic runner with long speed and the ability to run routes out of the slot and make plays downfield as a receiver. Washington should give him a few touches a game and if he makes some explosive plays he could grow his role as the season goes on.
Vaughn is a competent, dependable back who has more long speed and checkdown passing game possibilities than Peyton Barber, so he could be more valuable than Barber was last year, but like Barber, he doesn’t have the talent to truly pull away from Ronald Jones II. He could outperform ADP if the Buccaneers have a strong season and control game scripts. Continued inconsistency from Jones will help his case.
DEEP LEAGUE BENCH PICKS
Mike Boone, MIN
Sony Michel, NE
Deep leagues allow for extra bench slots to stash part time backs worth a spot either because of their situation or being on the upside of their career arc. Jackson and Kelley will share with Austin Ekeler and keep each other from having a big role, but both are more than capable. Evans could revive the role that withered on the vine when Dion Lewis lost his effectiveness last year, and there’s a sliver of Derrick Henry injury upside. Dillon should have a role right away and has some Aaron Jones injury upside. Hill and Edwards have ability and they are in an ideal situation, but blocked for significant opportunity. McFarland could get a chance to show his speed and might be the next back the Steelers turn to if James Conner can’t stay healthy. The Rams liked Brown more than we did last year and he should get short yardage work, and Hyde is behind Chris Carson, whose body has been through a demolition derby. Boone could be the #2 to open the season if Dalvin Cook holdout goes into the regular season with Alexander Mattison injury upside.
UPDATE: Michel should get the call at the goal line and in run-friendly game scripts more often than his backfieldmates, but how often will that happen in the Tom Brady-less Patriots offense? He was inefficient last year, but did finish with a bang. His lack of usage in the passing game makes it tough to get excited about drafting him, and the news of offseason foot surgery relegates him to the end of drafts until we see him back on the practice field.
WAIVER WIRE WATCH LIST
Devine Ozigbo/James Robinson, JAX - This backfield could reshuffle by the end of the season
Jalen Richard/Lynn Bowden Jr/ Devontae Booker, LV - The #2 Raiders back had value last year
Jaylen Samuels/Kerrith Whyte/Benny Snell, PIT - Conner’s injury history creates upward mobility
Damien Harris/Rex Burkhead, NE - Don’t be surprised if Sony Michel breaks down
Eno Benjamin, ARI - Cardinals ended up on their third back by the end of the season
Darwin Thompson/DeAndre Washington/Darrel Williams, KC - Scheme creates production
Raymond Calais, TB - Scatback longshot in backfield that needs a receiver
Jerick McKinnon/JaMycal Hasty/Jeffrey Wilson, SF - Scheme creates production, third down back opening
John Kelly, LAR - Longshot in a backfield with opportunity
Jordan Wilkins, IND - Has shown ability but blocked from opportunity
Jamaal Williams, GB - Got better last year but blocked from opportunity
Dion Lewis/Wayne Gallman, NYG - Someone has to back up Barkley
Bryce Love/J.D. McKissic, WAS - Passing down back role up for grabs
Trayveon Williams/Rodney Anderson, CIN - Could be surprise factors if Mixon holds out
Buddy Howell/Karan Higdon/Scottie Phillips, HOU - Could matter if David Johnson breaks down
Bo Scarbrough, DET - Lions likely to stick with RBBC if a top two back goes down
Ryan Nall/Artavis Pierce, CHI - Someone has to back up Montgomery
Reggie Bonnafon/Mike Davis/Jordan Scarlett, CAR - Someone has to back up McCaffrey
Lamical Perine/Frank Gore/Josh Adams/Kenneth Dixon, NYJ - Someone has to backup Bell
Qadree Ollison/Brian Hill/Ito Smith, ATL - Someone has to back up Gurley