Since 2015, there has been 8 RB’s drafted in the first round. This RB class doesn’t seem to have any potential stars at the Saquon Barkley-type level, but there should be a couple of potential first and second round picks that could be taken in this year’s draft.
The NFL has been valuing RB’s less and less in recent years. More teams have been turning to multiple RB’s in their offense and it has been hurting the RB position group. This may be for the best for NFL teams considering that they can still get good production, while not having to spend an early round draft pick, or invest in a lucrative contract, and hope that the RB stays healthy (which is very unlikely).
The NFL has seen more teams take a run-heavy approach, and it has been successful considering the Ravens, 49ers, and Titans success (especially in the playoffs). The Ravens averaged over 200 rushing yards PER GAME. Obviously it helps when you have Lamar Jackson finishing with 1206 rushing yards, but they also had Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards putting up solid years with over 1700 yards between the two of them. All 3 RB’s averaged over 5 yards per carry in their unique style offense. The 49ers did an excellent job of utilizing 3 RB’s and avoided injuries and major contracts. Tevin Coleman, Raheem Mostert, and Matt Breida all rushed for over 500 yards each, and they only cost a little over $6 million on the salary cap combined.
I think a lot of teams will try to apply this same style of offense in this upcoming season, considering how effective and cheap it was. This means teams will have less quality running backs, and more quantity running backs. The Titans were carried deep into the playoffs by Derrick Henry and the run game. The Titans upset the Patriots AND the Ravens by implementing a run-and-D style of play, and it is likely to be copied by other teams.
What does this mean for fantasy? Well in deeper leagues, it can lead to more RB2/FLEX plays which is good, but it won’t be that good for smaller leagues such as 8 or 10 team leagues. It seems like the higher end RB’s will be valued even higher because more teams will implement multiple RB’s in their offense. So the middle rounds of fantasy drafts could be very difficult for the RB position.
That’s where the rookies will fall.
Looking at this year’s draft class, there are two or three running backs who have potential to be drafted in the first or second round.
First up is D’Andre Swift. Swift is a VERY elusive running back. He seems like a new LeSean McCoy and who likes LeSean McCoy-type running backs more than Andy Reid. The Chiefs and Swift would mesh together perfectly. The Chiefs have the perfect offense for Swift. This move would add even more speed to the fastest offense in the NFL and there will be tons of opportunities for big plays and touchdowns.
PREDICTION: Round 1, Pick 32 Overall – KC Chiefs
Another running back that could be drafted early in this year’s draft is Clyde Edwards-Helaire from LSU. CEH shined in 2019 with 1,414 rushing yards, 55 receptions, 453 receiving yards, and 17 total touchdowns. I predict CEH to be the second running back selected in the 2020 virtual NFL draft. Tom Brady needs somebody to throw to, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire is a good fit. CEH had 55 receptions in his last year at LSU and with the Buccaneers lacking a receiving running back that “Tampa Brady” LOVES to throw to (A.K.A James White), I think they are a perfect match. Another team I could see CEH going to would be the Dolphins with one of their three first round picks to compliment Jordan Howard.
PREDICTION: Round 2, Pick 45 Overall – TB Buccaneers
Next up is Jonathan Taylor from Wisconsin. Taylor has a good build for an NFL running back, and he possesses NFL talent that could lead to him being a workhorse. He has been phenomenal in his three years in college averaging over 2,000 rushing yards per year. He is patient behind the line of scrimmage and he can consistently pick up chunk gains in the NFL. Taylor will need a good o-line so he can find the open gap and exploit it in a zone scheme. Taylor will make a perfect replacement for Todd Gurley if he falls to the Rams in the second if the Rams don’t trust Darrell Henderson.
PREDICTION: Round 2, Pick 52 Overall – LA Rams