Week 2 Rankings (2020): Top 40 Running Backs

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by Ray Kuhn

That certainly felt good to have some real, live NFL action this past week. Let’s cross our fingers that all goes well and we have 16 more weeks just like it. We learned a lot from our first look at live games, and while more questions are yet to be answered there is some knowledge than can be useful moving forward. Let’s jump right into how our options rank for this week:

  1. Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers – at Tampa Bay
  2. Ezekiel Elliot – Dallas Cowboys – vs. Atlanta
  3. Clyde Edwards-Helaire – Kansas City Chiefs – at LA Chargers
  4. Saquon Barkley – New York Giants – at Chicago
  5. Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans – vs. Jacksonville
  6. Dalvin Cook – Minnesota Vikings – at Indianapolis
  7. Josh Jacobs – Las Vegas Raiders – vs. New Orleans
  8. Aaron Jones – Green Bay Packers – vs. Detroit
  9. Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals – at Cleveland
  10. Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints – at Las Vegas
  11. Kenyon Drake – Arizona Cardinals – vs. Washington
  12. Jonathan Taylor – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Minnesota
  13. Nick Chubb – Cleveland Browns – vs. Cincinnati
  14. David Johnson – Houston Texans – vs. Baltimore
  15. Chris Carson – Seattle Seahawks – vs. New England
  16. Austin Ekeler – Los Angeles Chargers – vs. Kansas City
  17. Todd Gurley – Atlanta Falcons – at Dallas
  18. Raheem Mostert – San Francisco 49ers – at NY Jets
  19. David Montgomery – Chicago Bears – vs. NY Giants
  20. Devin Singletary – Buffalo Bills – at Miami
  21. Melvin Gordon – Denver Broncos – at Pittsburgh
  22. Nyheim Hines – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Minnesota
  23. Miles Sanders – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. LA Rams
  24. Mark Ingram – Baltimore Ravens – at Houston
  25. James Conner – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. Denver
  26. Malcolm Brown – Las Angeles Rams – at Philadelphia
  27. Ronald Jones – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – vs. Carolina
  28. Kareem Hunt – Cleveland Browns – vs. Cincinnati
  29. James White – New England Patriots – at Seattle
  30. Tarik Cohen – Chicago Bears – vs. NY Giants
  31. Adrian Peterson – Detroit Lions – at Green Bay
  32. James Robinson – Jacksonville Jaguars – at Tennessee
  33. Benny Snell – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. Denver
  34. J.K. Dobbins – Baltimore Ravens – at Houston
  35. Frank Gore – New York Jets – vs. San Francisco
  36. Peyton Barber – Washington Football Team – at Arizona
  37. Sony Michel – New England Patriots – at Seattle
  38. Latavius Murray – New Orleans Saints – at Las Vegas
  39. Jerrick McKinnon – San Francisco 49ers – at NY Jets
  40. Chris Thompson – Jacksonville Jaguars – at Tennessee

Notes:

  • At least there was one backfield where a running back received 100% of the carries last week, but who would have thought that it would be in Jacksonville? Things get even crazier if you had that player as being James Robinson. The results weren’t great, 16 carries for 62 yards and one catch for 28 yards, but things could have been worse. As far as questions being answered, that isn’t an issue as it’s obvious that Robinson is the running back to own and the value is there. The Jaguars offense did show the ability move the ball and score with ease against the Colts last week, and opportunity should continue to be there for Robinson moving forward. I’m not sure a 100 yard effort is in store for the rookie running back, but a game similar to what we saw last week is a reasonable floor with the possibility for a touchdown.
  • Compared to the last time we saw him, Malcolm Brown looked a lot better. With Cam Akers breathing down his neck Brown has to keep things up, but he did get off to good start on Sunday. The veteran picked up 79 yards on 18 carries, but more importantly he rushed for two touchdowns. Brown also added three catches for 31 yards, and as long as he continues to produce there is no reason not to expect him to hold onto his share of the touches. With that being said, Akers is still the better running back and I would take it on a week to week basis. Akers just needs to improve on his 14 carry for 39 yard performance in which he wasn’t a factor in the passing game with one catch for four yards.
  • With the way the Washington defense found its way into the Eagles’ backfield, it didn’t matter who the running back was. At this point, it appears that Miles Sanders will be ready to go for the Eagles and at this point, we have to consider him a lower end RB2 to start based both on any potential physical limitations as well as those of Philadelphia’s offensive line. In filling in for Sanders, Boston Scott had issues finding room to run gaining just 35 yards, but it only came on nine carries as the Eagles couldn’t generate much in the way of offensive momentum. Scott will regress to a supporting role, but there is value as a FLEX option in PPR leagues as he is the clear number two. Just give it another week with Sanders until we truly see that the hamstring can handle a full load.
  • It’s possible we have seen the last of Le’Veon Bell in a Jets uniform, but at the very least he will be sidelined for the next few weeks with a hamstring injury. The good news is that there is a clear replacement and beneficiary for Bell in the form of veteran Frank Gore. Adam Gase likes Gore better anyway as there is a trust factor from their days in Miami together and Gore has proved that he can still be a dependable runner. Gore gained just 24 yards on six carries last week, but the problem is strictly related to the fact that when he entered the game the Jets were already trailing by three touchdowns. I’m not expected great things from Gore, especially because game flow likely won’t be his friend, but we know the carries will be there and that counts for something.
  • One target. One reception for three yards. That’s it. To say that we have expected more from Austin Ekeler would an understatement after he caught 92 passes for 993 yards and eight touchdowns last season. To make matters worse, Chargers’ coach Anthony Lynn said on Monday that based on Los Angeles’ new offense we will likely see less action from Ekeler in the passing game this season. I can’t imagine there will be more weeks where he catches just one pass. This is especially true against the Chiefs on Sunday as the Chargers will likely be playing from behind. The good news is that Ekeler did carry the ball 19 times for 84 yards after gaining just 557 yards on the ground last season. With 50 snaps for Ekeler compared to 18 for Joshua Kelley, the backfield still belongs to the veteran, but we do need to keep an eye on his usage and adjust his value accordingly. It is also clear that Kelley will be a factor in the running game with 12 carries for 60 yards and a touchdown last week.
  • At this point in the week, it looks like James Conner will be a go against the Broncos after leaving early with ankle sprain on Monday. As he injured the ankle early on, Conner wasn’t much of a factor with just nine yards on six carries, but Benny Snell certainly picked up the slack. Snell looked a lot better and more explosive than when we last saw him in 2019 as he gained 113 yards on 19 carries against the Giants. If Conner is healthy, he is still going to be the guy in Pittsburgh’s backfield (for now at least), but Snell is hot on his tail. Should Conner be inactive, then Snell deserves a trip up the rankings.

Make sure to check out all of our Week 2 rankings:

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defenses



9 COMMENTS

  1. Hi, Prof. 0.5 PPR. Need 2 from Hines, Ingram, Chase Edmonds, and D’Andre Swift.

    Also, should I consider dropping Chase Edmonds and snap up either Gaskin or McKinnon off waivers, or would you rather wait another week to do so? Thanks.

  2. There’s also Duke Johnson available on the waiver wire in addition to Gaskin and McKinnon. Please advise. I’ve got Chase Edmonds stashed on my bench for now. My other RBs on the bench are Phillip Lindsay and D’Andre Swift. The question is should I drop Chase Edmonds for any of the waiver wire fodder available? Thanks.

    • Hey Sheldon, wait for the professor to answer but IMHO, keep Chase Edmonds as he is a great flex/handcuff for this team…for the week my suggestion is to play Hines and Ingram…Ingram didn’t do too well last week but he is the #1 back for now on an explosive offense. McKinnon is intriguing but in a RBBC for now and similar for Gaskins in Miami behind Breida (who should improve) and Howard. Duke is also a no for me. Good luck!

  3. 14 Teams. 1/2 PPR

    1. RB’s are Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, Nyiam Hines, Leonard Fournette, Latavius Murray and Tony Pollard. Start Chubb and ___? Hunt?

    2. Assuming you’d also start WR’s Deandre Hopkins and Stefon Diggs, who would you flex from who’s left above, Nkeal Harry or Preston Williams?

  4. What up roto!

    Mostert or Hines? Diontae johnson or Kupp?

    Other league; 2 WR, and FLEX. Moore, Kupp, mclaurin, Montgomery, lamb, jeudy.

    Thanks roto! Much appreciated

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