There is no position in fantasy football that sees a bigger immediate impact than running back. Here are 20 running backs from the 2020 class fantasy owners should be aware of entering the 2020 NFL Draft.
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CREAM OF THE CROP
Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin: He showed up in a big way during his final season of college action and backed it up with a stellar showing at the combine (40 Time: 4.39). During his three-year run at Wisconsin the workhorse back rushed 926 times for 6,174 yards (6.7 YPC) and 50 touchdowns. He also posted some decent receiving numbers in 2019, catching 26 balls for 252 yards and five more scores. Taylor is viewed by many as the back to most likely go first off the board and it’s hard to argue with it when looking at his complete resume.
D’Andre Swift, Georgia: Swift averaged 6.2 yards per carry in 2019 and netted 1,432 total yards and eight touchdowns. He displayed a great ability to make plays after he got the ball in his hands, averaging 3.83 yards after contact per attempt during his college days. He enters the pros with a little less wear and tear than some other high-end backs in this deep class. Questions remain about his pass blocking and that could limit his snaps, but his comps to Jamaal Charles, Alvin Kamara and Miles Sanders definitely spread light on his upside.
J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State: Dobbins enjoyed a nice run as a Buckeye that saw him find his way into the end zone 43 times over three years while averaging 6.2 yards per carry. He’s got the build to break through between the tackles and the speed to make big plays. A high-ankle sprain kept him from participating in the combine and that could hurt his draft stock, but his long-term NFL upside is immense.
Cam Akers, Florida State: An impressive combine performance has seen Akers’ stock rise rapidly as the draft has approached. His frame matches up closely with Dobbins and his 108.7 Speed Score in Indy opened some eyes. The former Seminole yielded 3.91 yards after contact per attempt last year. He played on some subpar teams at Florida State, offering value as a runner and a receiver as he finished with 1,369 total yards to go along with 18 scores.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU: The junior was a key cog in the Tigers’ attack during their National Championship run. He netted 6.6 yards per carry as he rushed for 1,414 yards and 16 touchdowns. Edwards-Helaire also finished with 55 catches for 453 yards and a score. He showed great elusiveness, forcing 84 missed tackles in 2019. CEH is on the smaller side (5-7, 207) and would benefit greatly to land with a play caller that will be able to utilize him properly.
Zack Moss, Utah: After a disastrous combine performance and some nagging hamstring issues, Moss enters draft week with some question marks surrounding him. There was no question about his 2019 performance for the Utes through. He yielded 4.45 yards after contact per attempt, rushing for 1,146 yards and 15 touchdowns. Moss was a three-year workhorse for the Utes as he posted the straight 1000-plus yard and double-digit TD rushing campaigns.
Most rushing yards after contact per attempt
1. Zack Moss – 4.45
2. J.K. Dobbins – 4.01
3. Jonathan Taylor – 3.93
4. Cam Akers – 3.91 pic.twitter.com/Rwf39Wo5iI
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) April 18, 2020
A.J. Dillon, Boston College: Dillon boasted three straight seasons with over 1,000 yards and double digit TD’s. He possesses a rare combination of size (6-0, 247) and athleticism and is seeing his stock soar after a stellar combine which included a 4.53 40 Time.
From The GetSportsInfo Podcast:
BEST OF THE REST
Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Vanderbilt: The Commodores got solid production from Vaughn during his senior season, including 28 catches out of the backfield (10% target share). Despite playing on a subpar team, he still managed back-to-back 1000-yard rushing seasons.
Eno Benjamin, Arizona State: He finished his college career with two straight 1000-yard rushing campaigns and caught 77 balls during that span while scoring 30 total touchdowns. While his speed isn’t special, Benjamin did post a 127.3 Burst Score (top 13%) and displayed solid footwork.
Darrynton Evans, Appalachian State: After a stellar showing at the combine where he turned in a 4.41 40-yard dash, 37-inch vertical, and a 125 broad jump, Evans has emerged as one of the more intriguing small-school prospects at the position.
Anthonio Gibson, Memphis: The explosive playmaker scored 14 touchdowns on just 77 touches and had seven plays of 50-plus yards. His 4.39 40-yard dash at the combine turned some heads and offered optimism on what he might do at the next level.
Lamical Perine, Florida: The Gators’ offensive front was young, but Perine still managed to make some big plays in 2019 as he averaged 5.1 yards per carry and produced 938 total yards and 11 touchdowns. He showed his worth as a receiver catching 40 balls last year.
Anthony McFarland, Maryland: McFarland may never be a workhorse running back, but he undoubtedly has electrifying moves and could be a nice find for a NFL team if he slides into Day 3 of the draft.
— John Chapman (@JL_Chapman) April 10, 2020
OTHERS TO WATCH
Joshua Kelley, UCLA: Kelley only played two years of college football, but managed 1000+ yards and double-digit TD’s in both seasons despite playing behind a terrible offensive line. He’s athletic and has decent size, suggesting he could play all three downs.
Michael Warren II, Cincinnati: The Bearcats’ bell-cower back shouldered a heavy workload over the past two seasons as he rushed for 2,594 yards and 33 touchdowns with 46 catches for 385 yards and three more scores during that span.
Rico Dowdle, South Carolina: Despite lackluster numbers and durability concerns from his days as a Gamecock, Dowdle showed well at the combine and definitely has a nice mix of speed, size and athleticism.
James Robinson, Illinois State: He ran for 1,234 yards and 15 touchdowns last year for the Redbirds on his way to First Team FCS honors, but didn’t do himself many favors with his 4.64 40 Time. He will need to play special teams to compete for a NFL roster spot.
Darius Anderson, TCU: Struggles in pass protection at the college level are concerning, but showed he could run through the tackles well and took care of the football (just 4 fumbles at TCU). He definitely has enough wiggle to create opportunities in space.
Scottie Phillips, Ole Miss: Phillips lost a chunk of his 2019 campaign due to ankle injury, but his power-running style cannot be ignored. His 3.08 yards after contact per attempt tempers expectations a bit though.
J.J. Taylor, Arizona: He lacks the size to be viewed as anything more than a rotational back at the next level, but he’s shown flashes that have led some scouts to compare him to Tarik Cohen.
Patrick Taylor, Memphis: He suffered through an injury-riddled 2019 season, but still averaged 4.5 yards per carry while rushing for 350 yards and five scores in limited action.
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