2020 Fantasy Football Running Back Busts: Don’t Shoot the Messenger

by Jeff Hicks
2020 Fantasy Football Running Back Busts

The 2020 Fantasy Football running back busts list that I'm about to go through might surprise a lot of you. There are big names, early-round picks and high-profile rookies.

I previously looked at running backs that could smash ADP, as well as help you win your fantasy league. As spicy as they might have been this year’s busts out of the backfield may be spicier.

When I say bust I'm not saying they will terrible players. Bust in this case mostly means they will not return value on where they are currently being drafted.

2020 Fantasy Football Running Back Busts

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Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City Chiefs

The love that CEH is receiving is warranted, but the expectations are officially out of control. I have little to no faith that a rookie without any camps is going to usurp the player who should have won the Super Bowl MVP last season.

Damien Williams is still a Chief and has been in the offensive system for two seasons. CEH will command a workload because he is an exceptional runner and pass-catcher but in no way will he demand the majority of the load.

The only running back near Edwards-Helaire's ADP with an iffy workload is RB 22 Jonathan Taylor. RBs being drafted after CEH with guaranteed carries or known volume include Leonard Fournette, David Johnson, James Conner, Melvin Gordon, Chris Carson, LeVeon Bell, and David Montgomery.

Edwards-Helaire needs to be closer to RB 25 than RB 10 before he would be a safer pick.

Johnathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts

Colts head coach Frank Reich has already said that Marlon Mack will be shown respect in the offense. It is easy to forget that Mack rushed for 1,000+ yards and eight TDs in 14 games. Taylor is not going to run roughshod in whatever camp time the team will have to overtake Mack, as well as command receptions at a consistent pace with Nyheim Hines on the team.

Three backs, all that can run and catch, fighting for touches. That is gross. Indy has enough pieces of the offensive pie to target that are not in the backfield. Players such as David Montgomery and Raheem Mostert are being drafted after Taylor.

Kenyan Drake, Arizona Cardinals

Good gravy is recency bias an issue.

Kenyan Drake has averaged 20 carries once in his career (2017), and nearly doubled his touchdown total after being traded to the Cardinals (8, 9 before trade). He has also never carried the ball 200 times in a season, a red flag if you are looking for a steady workload. This is an issue for an RB being taken in the top 10 of the position.

Drake’s arrival to the desert happened because of injuries to David Johnson and Chase Edmonds. Edmonds will be a factor in 2020. He has rushed the ball exactly 60 times in each of his first two seasons and saw his yards per carry spike from 3.6 to 5.1. Coincidence it happened with offensive-minded coach Kliff Kingsbury in town? I doubt it.

Drake could be a solid fantasy player in 2020, but his career workload is low and he has true competition in a younger running back.

Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns

Touchdowns and receptions.

Nick Chubb has started his career by rushing got eight touchdowns in back-to-back seasons. Great, right? The issue is he rushed for eight last season on 108 more carries than in 2017. He also added two in the receiving game in 2017 and zero last season. This happened in part because of the arrival of Kareem Hunt.

Hunt is now in the fold for a full season and is expected to see the majority of the targets out of the backfield. Hunt saw more receiving targets in fewer games last season than he did with KC in 2017. Chubb also has less combined TDs than Hunt over their first two seasons in the league.

Sure it can be blamed on Cleveland’s offense being different than Kansas City’s, but it also shows that the Browns would rather have the runner run, and the complementary back catch.

Duke Johnson’s time with the Browns accentuates this point as his targets were comparable to his rushing attempts. Hunt’s 2019 with the Browns? 43 rushes, 44 targets. Chubb’s upside is limited, especially if the Browns offense stumbles for a second consecutive season.

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Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers

Zero running backs have repeated as the RB1 over the past twenty years. Does that mean Christian McCaffrey does not return value as a top-3 running back? Maybe, but putting that high of draft capital hoping for 80-90 percent of what he put up last season is troublesome.

It is very tough to not draft CMC at the 1.01, especially in traditional leagues, but his ROI is a good reason to weigh someone else.

Another issue that he faces is the complete retooling of the offensive line. In is left tackle Russell Okung. Out is right guard Trai Turner. This awful trade may shore up the pass game protection but weakens the rush protection. The Panthers will have to suffer through another season of Matt Paradis at center, as well as *insert names here* at the guard positions. CMC can move fine behind a bad line, but “Check Down” Teddy is going to have issues handling pressure in his face if the middle of the o-line is trash.

There are blemishes that could make McCaffrey's price tag an issue this season.

Visit the F6P Fantasy Football page for more advice to get you prepared for the 2020 season.

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