Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings

Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings: Running Backs

The Scorecrow Dynasty Fantasy Team | May 7th, 2020

The 2020 NFL draft is in the rearview mirror and dynasty fantasy owners are having their rookie drafts. During these drafts, dynasty owners have either helped or hurt the future of their teams. To help dynasty owners with their rookie drafts, six of The Scorecrow’s fantasy football writers have put together a list of their top rookies.

In addition to the list, each writer will give a quick explanation of a player at each position they are targeting and a player they are avoiding. In the second part of our four-part series, our writers list off their top 10 running backs. Without further ado, let’s get started!

For all of our rookie rankings click here.

Mike Fanelli 

Joshua Abbe

Connor Neal 

Brady Podloski

Frank Ammirante

J.R. Duren

Clyde Edwards-Helaire

Clyde Edwards-Helaire

Clyde Edwards-Helaire

Clyde Edwards-Helaire

Clyde Edwards-Helaire

Clyde Edwards-Helaire

Jonathan Taylor

Jonathan Taylor

Jonathan Taylor

Jonathan Taylor

Jonathan Taylor

Cam Akers

Cam Akers

Cam Akers

J.K. Dobbins

Cam Akers

J.K. Dobbins

D’Andre Swift

J.K. Dobbins

J.K. Dobbins

Cam Akers

J.K. Dobbins

D’Andre Swift

Jonathan Taylor

D’Andre Swift

D’Andre Swift

D’Andre Swift

D’Andre Swift

Cam Akers

J.K. Dobbins

Zack Moss

Ke’Shawn Vaughn

Ke’Shawn Vaughn

Ke’Shawn Vaughn

Ke’Shawn Vaughn

Zack Moss

Ke’Shawn Vaughn

Zack Moss

AJ Dillon

Antonio Gibson

Antonio Gibson

Darrynton Evans

AJ Dillon

AJ Dillon

Zack Moss

AJ Dillon

Zack Moss

Joshua Kelley

Antonio Gibson

Anthony McFarland

Anthony McFarland

Zack Moss

AJ Dillon

AJ Dillon

Anthony McFarland

Antonio Gibson

Antonio Gibson

Joshua Kelley

Anthony McFarland

Eno Benjamin

Player I’m Targeting

Mike – Antonio Gibson, Washington Redskins

The hype of a Christian McCaffrey like clone is way overboard but Gibson is a threat in both the run and pass game. While the Redskins have a million running backs on the roster, Gibson is in line for a consistent workload. If Derrius Guice can stay healthy, he will be the early down back while J.D. McKissic will have a role on third downs. However, Gibson will be the catch of pace back and be used as a slot receiver too. If you’re expecting weekly RB2 play from Gibson, you need to think again but for someone going in the third round or later of rookie drafts, he could provide to be a solid bye week filler in your flex spot, especially in PPR.

Josh – Anthony McFarland, Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers took McFarland in the fourth round of the 2020 draft in a nice low-end pick that could play wonders for dynasty drafters. He has the quickness and elusiveness to make gains in open space when the opportunity presents itself to the 5’ 8”, 208 lb running back out of Maryland. With the injury history of James Conner, McFarland is in a grand spot to make an impact when he gets his touches and ultimately move Conner out of the starting role.

Connor – Anthony McFarland, Pittsburgh Steelers

McFarland will be the perfect change of pace back for the Steelers and should get plenty of playing time because of that. Conner is also on the hot seat after getting injured multiple times last season and if he gets injured again, McFarland will be their starting running back.

Brady – Joshua Kelley, Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers use a running back by committee approach, meaning Austin Ekeler will not get 300 touches, but rather someone will assist him. Kelley has sneaky value as he may be able to replace Melvin Gordon in terms of goal-line work and a good share of the carries. Kelley is a better runner than receiver but should get enough carries to fantasy relevant.

Frank – Antonio Gibson, Washington Redskins

Gibson has a high upside due to his ability to break tackles and rack up YAC. At 6’0, 228 lbs with 4.39 speed, Gibson has ideal measurables. The Redskins intend on using him at running back and splitting him out wide or in the slot just to get the ball in the hands of this playmaker. Ron Rivera compared him to CMC. Scott Turner’s scheme emphasizes the use of running backs in the passing game. Gibson is headed for a big role. Incumbent Adrian Peterson is a cut-candidate and while Guice is talented, he’s struggled to stay healthy.

J.R. – Darrynton Evans, Tennessee Titans

Evans enters a Titans running back room dominated by Derrick Henry. However, Henry surpassed 300 carries last year and loves contact, two factors that could contribute to a quick decline. Evans has the talent to be a starter in the league and, should Henry lose his speed and become a lumbering, inefficient back, Evans would be ready to take the reins. It’s not all roses for Evans as Henry could remain healthy, Ryan Tannehill’s phenomenal 2019 season could be an outlier, and Evans could become the next Bishop Sankey.

Player I’m Avoiding

Mike – Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Much like Joe Burrow, the hype has gotten out of hand. Whether you believe Ronald Jones II is a bust or not, the Buccaneers didn’t put a lot of effort into replacing him. They let Peyton Barber walk, didn’t attempt to sign Todd Gurley or Gordon, nor did they try to trade for Kareem Hunt. On top of that, they could have taken Dobbins or Akers in the second round. Yes, Vaughn only has to beat out Jones for a starting role and he does offer upside in the passing game but for anyone who is taking him with a top 18 rookie pick, you are reaching.

Josh – D’Andre Swift, Detroit Lions

The Lions selected Swift with the 35th pick of the 2020 draft which would normally be a day one starter, However, with Kerryon Johnson returning from an injury, the Lions’ backfield seems to be as crowded as ever and Swift heads into a running back by committee role for his rookie season. Unless Johnson gets the injury bug, Swift could be set for a third-down role or touchdown-dependent situation.

Connor – Joshua Kelley, Los Angeles Chargers

Last year when Gordon sat out, the Chargers showed they had two good running backs behind him in Ekeler and Justin Jackson, both of which are very versatile. I don’t see Kelley getting much playing time because he doesn’t have any skills that would put him ahead of either Ekeler or Jackson in any category.

Brady – D’Andre Swift, Detroit Lions

For Swift to be a high end RB2, you are banking on Johnson getting hurt. He will be a running back by committee where he’ll have to fight for carries over Johnson. There are also concerns about Swift’s durability. If Johnson does get hurt, can Swift hold up with a 20 plus touch workload? I think the talent is there, but the limited opportunity makes me avoid him.

Frank – AJ Dillon, Green Bay Packers

Dillon is a big, bruising back that figures to steal a few goal line carries from Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. The issue here is that Williams is still a competent back who will still be involved in the offense and Jones, who’s coming off a big season; this will limit Dillon’s volume. Another problem is that Dillon offers next to nothing in the passing game. Running backs who can make things happen in the passing game are the way of the future. I don’t think Dillon will ever be the bell cow back in this offense, which is a problem because he needs more carries to be at his best. I’d prefer to look for a back that can produce in the passing game.

J.R. – AJ Dillon, Green Bay Packers

Jones is the king of Green Bay’s backfield, and at 25 years old, he’s still got good years ahead of him as a three-down back. Behind him sits Williams, who is capable of solid fantasy performances. Scouts see Dillon as a big bruiser and rightly so at 247 lbs. However, he doesn’t grade out nearly as high as the league’s typical big back. Dillon could be a red-zone beast but, if you’re looking for a sleep in rounds two and three, Kelley may be a better fit.

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