Three RBs to Remember in 2020 (Fantasy Football)
To continue the Players to Remember series, I focus on three running backs that aren’t getting much attention or hype in the fantasy world as of late. I previously published Three TEs to Remember in 2020, focusing on late or undrafted gems in the upcoming season. The three running backs to remember in this article are going in the 9th Round or later in PPR and half-PPR scoring.
The purpose of this series is to give you some names to consider for their upside but also are not a big investment of your draft capital. We all have a pretty good idea of who to target in the early rounds of our drafts, but what about those middle and late rounds? You can find fantasy gold here and perhaps these players may intrigue you enough to give them a shot.
Matt Breida – Miami Dolphins
Since 2017, Breida has been a spoke in the ever-turning wheel of the San Francisco backfield. He has made an impact in the run game, rushing at least 100 times each year, and was also involved in the passing game seeing no fewer than 22 targets during his three years in the NFL. If you had a piece of that RB corps, you remember that it has been a perennial guessing game about which player would get the volume.
Brieda is finally out of a minimum three-man backfield but is now in competition with RB Jordan Howard with the Miami Dolphins. While one could argue that he simply made a lateral move, Breida has a chance in 2020 to have his best season yet.
We all know that Howard isn’t exactly known for his ball-catching ability, but Breida has averaged a 75.3% catch rate since 2017. He is explosive on the field with the ability to make hyper-cuts at supersonic speed. In Week 5 of 2019, he logged his longest run of 83 yards where he reached 22.3 mph. He is fast, competent, and can be a dual-threat in the run and passing game.
The idea that Breida will be competing with Howard for the starting role is misleading, in my opinion. Both backs have a unique identity that is different from one another. I have every reason to believe that Breida will be more involved in the passing game than many may give him credit. In 13 games last year, Breida rushed 123 times for 623 yards and a touchdown while also catching 19 passes on 22 targets for 120 yards and touchdown. It wasn’t as impressive as his 2018 year, but he did not disappear in a backfield loaded with RB talent.
Breida has also been known to play through injuries while Howard only played 10 games in 2019 with the Eagles. We cannot predict injury, but Breida will be the defacto RB1 if Howard does miss time. He is being drafted in the 10th Round in PPR formats, anywhere from the middle to late position. At worst, you have a solid pass-catching flex option you can start depending on matchups. But, you could also have the starting running back for the Dolphins if Howard gets hurt or if Breida beats him out of the starting role.
I will add a word of caution with the Dolphins. The game script will most likely lead to Miami playing from behind. This means whoever is at QB will need to throw the ball. A lot. The obvious beneficiaries will be Devante Parker, Preston Williams, and even Mike Gesicki. However, because of Breida’s explosive playmaking abilities and his ability to catch the ball, he could be the only back to benefit from a negative game script.
Phillip Lindsay – Denver Broncos
Lindsay has been overlooked and underestimated since his introduction to the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2018. I remember very distinctly (as the Royce Freeman GM) when Lindsay’s name became a verb to describe what happened Freeman. He was Lindsay’d.
In that year, he had 192 rush attempts for 1,037 yards and nine touchdowns over 15 games. He saw 47 targets with 35 receptions for 241 yards and touchdown in the passing game as well, effectively shutting out the Broncos’ 3rd Round draft pick. After coaching changes, many people assumed that Lindsay would take a back seat in the RB tandem. Surely the Broncos would need to justify their high draft capital and showcase Freeman in 2019, right? (Full disclosure, I was all aboard that train. You can read Three Potential Busts in 2019 for a deeper look.)
Well, I wrong. Lindsay rushed 224 times for 1,011 yards and seven touchdowns as well as caught 35 receptions on 48 targets for 196 yards from two different quarterbacks in 2019.
His 2020 season has an even more daunting hurdle to conquer with RB Melvin Gordon now thrown into the mix. No offense to Freeman, but Gordon is a back that won’t play second fiddle. However, Gordon has been known to play quite nicely in the RB sandbox. Just ask Austin Ekeler. You can draw a lot of similarities between Ekeler and Lindsay with their explosive play-making ability and pass-catching chops. Gordon is no slouch in the passing game, either, so Lindsay will have an uphill battle.
Signing Melvin Gordon has pushed Lindsay’s draft stock all the way down into the 10th Round. Remember, he was going off the board in the 4th or 5th Round in 2019. I am all about drafting Lindsay, especially as late as the 10th Round. I will not underestimate Lindsay’s talent again, especially with his ambition to stay on the field and prove himself in the NFL.
I am not saying you will get a bonafide RB1 in Lindsay, but he’s another excellent RB2/Flex option you can get cheap. I have concerns about Gordon’s sustainability. He has not played a full 16 games since 2017 and a shunted offseason due to COVID-19 may see a lot of players dealing with soft tissue damage. Gordon is an aggressive runner which makes him a powerful weapon in the offense, but that can also lead to injury. We never wish injury on anyone, but if Gordon does miss time, Lindsay should be the primary beneficiary.
Boston Scott – Philadephia Eagles
Before you scoff and roll your eyes at my third RB to remember in 2020, let’s take a look a quick look at what happened to the Eagles last year. I know that everyone wants sophomore Miles Sanders to become Philadelphia’s featured back, but I think everyone needs to slow their roll on this idea.
First of all, head coach Doug Pederson has yet to lead a single running back to a 1,000 yard plus season. Sanders came the closest last year with 818 and LeGarrette Blount comes in second in 2017 with 766 yards. It’s also important to point out that the RB2 in the backfield had 400 yards or more except in 2018 when five running backs shared the field. In that year, Josh Adams rushed for 511 yards and Wendell Smallwood rushed for 364 yards.
When Howard went down due to injury in 2019, Sanders’ GMs were hoping he would finally get that featured-back role. He certainly did get the nod in Weeks 11 through 13 where he finished as the RB43, RB19, and RB6. While this was great for fantasy owners, it was disastrous for the Eagles who lost all three games in a row. One of those losses was to the Miami Dolphins in Week 13.
Enter Boston Scott. Pederson went back to the scheme that wins, the running back by committee (RBBC) approach. Scott finished the last four weeks of the season as the RB7, RB27, RB46, and the RB2 and the Eagles won all four games in a row with Sanders and Scott as the two-headed monster in the backfield.
There is speculation floating around that the Eagles’ are looking for a veteran back to sign, but they have yet to do so. Pederson had a vague quote about a veteran RB slipping through their fingers, which we believe was Carlos Hyde. Either way, they have not added a veteran to the RB room. Unless this changes in the future, Scott should continue to be the guy on the field with Sanders in 2020.
There is nothing in Pederson’s history in Philadelphia that makes me think he will abandon the RBBC approach. Sanders’ draft capital is sky high and I believe GMs will be disappointed with the return on investment if they draft Sanders in the 1st as their RB1. However, Scott is being drafted as low as the 13th Round or later and has just as much of a chance to have RB1 weeks as Sanders does if he remains the second head in the RBBC. I am targeting him in every draft possible. If he doesn’t pan out, I can easily drop him with no wasted draft capital. If he hits, I have a productive running back that I drafted for pennies or for free.
These players stand out to me in the middle to late rounds of 2020 drafts; however, they are not the only options to explore. Remember, these rounds are just as important for your fantasy team as the early picks. I encourage you to research some lesser-known players and see what sticks out to you. Make sure to get the 2020 Ultimate Draft Kit. You can find invaluable tools like consistency charts, target and market share reports, and accurate ADP rankings. Not only do I use the UDK to prepare for my drafts, but I also use it for my research to bring you the most accurate fantasy data and insights as I can.