2020 Rookie Runningback Recap

(Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

The 2020 rookie Runningback class has been very impressive this season. Many of these players have made an impact on their NFL teams along with the fantasy football teams. Below, I have ranked the top 15 players from the class based on their outlook for 2021 and beyond. I have expanded on the top five to help you understand why they belong at the top of my list. Let’s dive into it!

1.) Jonathan Taylor / Indianapolis Colts

Taylor had been talked about as the best pure Runningback from the 2020 class for years. Landing in Indianapolis was perfect for him as their running scheme was similar to Wisconsin’s. For most of his rookie season, we saw him in a time share with Nyheim Hines and Jonathan Williams. Taylor did not look like the pure runner we had grown a custom to seeing. He was struggling as a rookie, and eventually it all came together for him. He finished his rookie season as the RB7 on the season. Taylor showed he can produce in the passing game as well as on the ground. This makes his floor and ceiling both high- making him a safe play week in and week out. The past few weeks, Taylor’s usage has increased and next season this should continue to increase.

2.) J.K. Dobbins / Baltimore Ravens

Dobbins has been a hot topic the past few weeks, as he has seen an increased workload. Dobbins was my RB1 in this class this spring. His knowledge of the RPO and zone running scheme made him a perfect fit in Baltimore. This season he did not have the opportunities that some of the other runningbacks had. The past few weeks the Ravens have increased Dobbins work load by scratching veteran Mark Ingram. He is still in a split role with Gus Edwards at the moment. His outlook for 2021 is great, as Ingram should be off the team and Edwards may be traded in the offseason. Dobbins ceiling is slightly limited at the moment due to the lack of receiving work. If he is given the lead role in the backfield, he can be a productive RB2 with the possibility for RB1 production. The Ravens offense this season was down from 2019, it has turned around this past few weeks. In 2021, I expect them to be more like the 2019 offense then the 2020 offense. Big things are in store for Dobbins in 2021!

3.) Antonio Gibson / Washington Football Team

Gibson emerged as a top running back this season finishing as the RB12. He was an under the radar player in the spring. Memphis did not use him as a traditional Runningback, and instead, he played more of a gadget type role. The tape was amazing even on the limited touches. Early in the season, Rivera made a comment comparing him to Christian McCaffrey. He spent most of this season in a time share with J.D. Mckissic, where Mckissic stole most of the receiving work. This caused Gibson ceiling to be very low. As the season went on, Gibson began to receive more work in the passing game. In 2021, plan to see Gibson in more of a three down role compared to this season. This is why he is ranked third on my list! If he turns out to be half of what McCaffrey is, we will have a very effective fantasy asset.

4.) D’Andre Swift / Detroit Lions

Swift was one of my top runningbacks at the time of the draft. The main skill Swift brought to the NFL was his pass catching ability. I believe he is the best pure ball catching runningback from this class. Because of this, I valued him very highly in my rankings. When the Lions brought in Adrian Peterson, his value dropped to an all time low. The Lions eased Swift into the NFL. Even with his limited touches, he continued to impress the coaches and football community. Swift should have the lead back role next season in Detroit. His usage in the passing game will give him a safe floor for 2021. If you can find an owner who is disappointed in his performance this season, I suggest sending an offer for him. Big things are coming for 2021!

5.) James Robinson / Jacksonville Jaguars

Robinson burst onto the scene this season. His performance has been truly remarkable and record breaking! He finished as the RB4 overall with 250.4 PPR points. However, I can’t see him recreating this type of season again. The Jaguars finished last in the NFL this season, and are expected to draft Trevor Lawrence. This should help Robinson as their passing game should improve. Unfortunately, I don’t see this happening for Robinson, as I think he will regress in 2021. He will no longer be the catalyst to the offense, and the Jaguars will be able to utilize Dj Chark, Laviska Shenault and their other offensive weapons. I do think he can finish 2021 as a useful Fantasy asset, but I don’t have faith that he will be the top Runningback from this class.

6.) Cam Akers / Los Angeles Rams

7.) Clyde Edwards-Helaire / Kanas City Chiefs

8.) La’Mical Perine / New York Jets

9.) Aj Dillion / Green Bay Packers

10.) Zack Moss / Buffalo Bills

11.) Darrynton Evans / Tennessee Titans

12.) Anthony McFarland / Pittsburgh Steelers

13.) Deejay Dallas / Seattle Seahawks

14.) J.J. Taylor / New England Patriots

15.) Joshua Kelley / Los Angeles Chargers

There are some other names to look out for outside my top 15. Salvon Ahmed (Miami), Ke’shawn Vaughan (Tampa Bay), Rico Doddle (Dallas), Scottie Phillips (Houston), and JaMycal Hasty (San Francisco). All of these Runningbacks are worth rostering if you need depth.

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