I first started working on 2020 NFL projections back in January. To say there have been a lot of adjustments since then would be an understatement. And there will be even more in the next four months as we prepare for the start of the NFL season. There's nothing stagnant about these rankings this time of year, but there are a few running backs whose projections seem to change with every update. For backs like James Conner and Leonard Fournette, I'll find myself moving them up one week and down the next.
These are the types of backs who could make or break your Fantasy season. Both Conner and Fournette have shown glimpses of first-round upside, but there has also been large amount of speculation about their job security and role this offseason. That didn't come from nowhere. So before we get to the projections update, here are some quick thoughts on these two backs and a few others who I haven't quite nailed down yet.
Fournette just set a career high with 341 touches and 1,674 total yards, but it seems like no one wants him. The Jaguars reportedly tried to trade him and couldn't find a partner, and Fantasy managers are letting him fall into the fifth round. I'm hedging for now. With Chris Thompson signed, it's quite possible Fournette's volume in the pass game disappears and Ryquell Armstead could steal a few more carries. But Fournette is the best back on the roster and he's in a contract year, so there's plenty of motivation and upside beyond my projection of 1,161 total yards and seven scores.
There were rumors the Steelers were going to take a back in the second round. Or maybe even trade for Fournette. Thankfully, that didn't happen. The only new competition Conner got was fourth-rounder Anthony McFarland. I don't believe McFarland (nor Benny Snell or Jaylen Samuels) are real competition to take the job from Conner. I do believe the Steelers want to limit Conner's workload to try to keep him healthy. For now I've got him projected for 218 touches, which keeps him just outside the top 20. Like Fournette, he has upside from there.
Some quick hitters:
- I decided if I'm not going to discount Dalvin Cook for injury risk, it doesn't make much sense to discount Derrick Henry because of last year's workload.
- Aaron Jones took a hit due to AJ Dillon, but not near as much of a hit as Damien Williams and Marlon Mack.
- I'm fighting quite an internal battle over Le'Veon Bell. Bell was terrible last year, but I don't believe Frank Gore or La'Mical Perine are actually better.
- I'm going to stop fighting Kareem Hunt as a top-20 PPR back and just embrace the Browns backs. Don't underestimate how much upside Hunt would have if Chubb got hurt.
- I still have Ronald Jones projected for more Fantasy points than Ke'Shawn Vaughn. Early mocks suggest you should take Vaughn first if you want to pair the Tampa Bay backs.
And here are my updated running back projections for 2020: