Looking ahead to the start of the season, I wanted to find five running backs who will beat their finish from last year. We’ll consider this based on each running back’s fantasy points per game (FPTS/G) for players who played at least eight games in 2019.
Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
2019 FPTS/G Rank: #5
2019 Full Season Rank: RB4
Current ADP: RB3
Zeke entered the league with a splash and has continued making an impact year after year. Year 5 may prove to be his best yet. The addition of CeeDee Lamb may hamper the value of Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, but the addition of a third receiving threat will make the whole offense more potent. That provides Zeke plenty of red zone opportunities. It’s hard to improve on a FPTS/G rank of fifth, but I think Zeke is in the perfect position to do so.
Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
2019 FPTS/G Rank: #9
2019 Full Season Rank: RB12
Current ADP: RB4
While Zeke was a known commodity when he entered the league, Kamara made an equal splash while taking the entire league by surprise. By his standards, Kamara finished a pedestrian FPTS/G #9 last year, but he finished #3 and #4 in 2018 and 2017. Sure Latavius Murray will take some of the workload, but Kamara produced top five FTPS/G finishes while sharing a backfield with Mark Ingram. You can attribute that to the high powered offense engineered by Sean Payton. A top five finish may not be in the books, but Kamara topping last season’s production should be a slam dunk. For what it’s worth, Kamara suffered ankle and knee injuries in 2019, even missing two games in Week 7 and Week 8. He said he played the 2019 season “on one leg.”
Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles
2019 FPTS/G Rank: #20
2019 Full Season Rank: RB15
Current ADP: RB12
I’ve tried to avoid pointing out obvious players who will rise or fall when their situation has improved or deteriorated. Sanders is borderline too obvious, but I’ll take the low-hanging fruit here. His 50 receptions in 2019 just scratched the surface. From Week 11 on, Sanders had at least five targets per game. Despite his successful rookie season, Sanders only totaled six TDs. Assuming the Eagles can keep at least one or maybe two healthy wide receivers on the field for 2020, the offense should be much improved and provide more red zone work for Sanders. All of this means that Sanders should enter borderline RB1 territory in 2020.
Le’Veon Bell, New York Jets
2019 FPTS/G Rank: #21
2019 Full Season Rank: RB17
Current ADP: RB21
Raise your hand if you wasted a keeper pick on Bell in 2018. Now, keep your hand up if you made the same mistake and kept him again in 2019. Anyway, I just finished my walk down the streets of Westeros as everyone yelled “Shame!” *dong* at me.
We’re a few years removed from Bell being the premier fantasy back, but Bell received a major workload in 2019, with the 11th most rushing attempts and 78 receiving targets. All of those attempts and he amassed a measly 3.22 YPC and four touchdowns. If the Jets offense shows even modest improvement, Bell can easily enter in low-end RB1 territory. I still prefer him for his high floor, but his ceiling should improve in 2020.
Devin Singletary, Buffalo Bills
2019 FPTS/G Rank: #25
2019 Full Season Rank: RB31
Current ADP: RB25
If Sanders is the most obvious choice, Singletary may be the least. Frank Gore won’t be around to steal the goal line work, but it probably doesn’t matter. Singletary will have to battle 2020 third round selection Zack Moss for the lead job. Josh Allen is a mobile quarterback who is going to take some of the workload as well. Despite the dreary circumstances, Singletary only mustered four touchdowns last season. It doesn’t take much regression to see a huge improvement in that category. Plus, even if his yards per carry (5.1) declines slightly, he’ll still be productive with every handoff.