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RB Apocalypse: 2020

The much lauded 2020 rookie class.  The earliest rumblings of its greatness started as early as 2017, as memory serves.  Tales of world-breaker running backs and earth-shattering wide receivers prompted many of us to buy in early, and often.  Those tales grew into speculation, and that speculation grew into what now seems to be common knowledge. 

This class will be special. 

Well, that is if the 2 handfuls or so of absolute studs do in fact, decide to declare.  If most or all of these players decide to make their way into the big leagues, we will see a culling, possibly unlike any we have ever seen, of veterans in the NFL.  As we know, RB is the quickest and easiest position to transfer to the NFL.  This will be put on display for the 2020 season, and almost no one is safe.  Let’s take a quick look at all 32 teams, and decide if their current RBs are survivors, or casualties. 


AFC EAST

New England Patriots: 

Current RBs – Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead, James Develin, Brandon Boldin, Damien Harris, Nick Brossette, Jakob Johnson

The Patriots have spent significant draft capital on RB in the two previous drafts.  Michel has a checkered injury history, which almost surely prompted them to draft Harris as insurance this year.  James White is 27, under contract through 2020, with a cap hit of 4.6 Million in that year. 

Verdict – There will be casualties on this roster.  The Patriots have given us no reason to believe they will stay loyal to their current stable of backs, especially if a stud falls into their lap at some point during the 2020 draft.  They could also look to cut White and replace him with a cheaper option for pass catching duties. 

Miami Dolphins: 

Current RBs – Kenyan Drake, Kalen Ballage, Myles Gaskin, Chandler Cox

With the departure of Frank Gore and Adam Gase, the Dolphins have achieved addition by subtraction in the RB room.  Drake and Ballage are very intriguing players that haven’t had opportunity to shine until this season.  Drake looks like a 3 down back, and Ballage was a pass catching specialist in college, with bellcow size to boot. 

Verdict – This is one of the more difficult rosters to decipher.  There are unknowns up and down here.  How will the new coaching staff decide to use Drake and Ballage?  How will the aforementioned players perform?  I’m giving these guys the Survivor title.  I’m betting Drake and Ballage perform well enough to keep their jobs, and that Miami will have more pressing concerns in 2020, being in full rebuild mode. 

New York Jets: 

Current RBs – Le’Veon Bell, Ty Montgomery, Elijah McGuire, Trenton Cannon

Welcome to projection hell.  The Jets just gave Bell a massive contract.  They also just hired the most bipolar coach in the league in Adam Gase.  News just came out that Gase did not want to sign Bell, following the news of Le’Veon deciding to skip out on the first voluntary workouts with his new team.  Bell’s contract doesn’t become scrapable until 2021, when the dead cap plummets 13 Million, to 4 Million total. 

Verdict – I think Bell will remain the RB through 2020, but that’s not to say the Jets don’t draft his replacement next year.  I believe Gase will draft the guy of his choosing in 2020, and replace Bell at the first financially viable opportunity.  This backfield will be a casualty, but not until 2021. 

Buffalo Bills: 

Current RBs – LeSean McCoy, Frank Gore, TJ Yeldon, Devin Singletary, Marcus Murphy, Senorise Perry, Christian Wade

This one is simple.  This roster is loaded with corpses and role players, some of which will be cut before training camp starts this year.  The Bills will get by with Singletary and Yeldon leading the charge, and occasional series run by Gore.  McCoy will be cut or traded before the season, and the other guys are fodder. 

Verdict – This is so Casualty, it looks like the walls of Winterfell after The Long Night.  Singletary is not explosive or well rounded enough to outlast the onslaught that will happen in 2020.  Yeldon is destined to be a secondary RB for the rest of his career.  Sell high this season after they gain some traction.  The Bills will draft a stud in 2020. 


NFC EAST

New York Giants: 

Current RBs – Saquon Barkley, Wayne Gallman, Rod Smith, ElijaahPenny

Headed by one of the greatest prospects we’ve ever seen enter the NFL, the Giants got a generational talent at RB last year in Saquon Barkley.  With the recent addition of Rod Smith, who many believe is good enough to be a starter in his own right, the Giants have locked the position down as tight as any team in the league. 

Verdict – This backfield is a major survivor of 2020.  No need to get cute with it. 

Washington Redskins: 

Current RBs – Adrian Peterson, Chris Thompson, Derrius Guice, Samaje Perine, Bryce Love

Chances are, Guice and Love will be broken in slowly in 2019.  Peterson and Thompson will rule the roost for most of the season, giving the young guns a chance to fully heal before taking the field.  Guice and Love should be fully healthy and ready to break out in 2020, but don’t discount the chance that WAS drafts another back in 2020.  Both Guice and Love have serious injury concerns, and need to be insured, one way or the other.  Thompson also has his own injury history, and is an unrestricted free agent in 2020.  They will likely let him test the market, either losing him in FA, or resigning him for cheap. 

Verdict – Survivor-ish?  Let’s be real.  Guice is a top-notch talent at the position, and Love has shown spectacularly in the past.  But their respective injury concerns can not be forgotten, and the Redskins will draft accordingly to how this season plays out for them. 

Dallas Cowboys: 

Current RBs – Ezekiel Elliot, Tony Pollard, Mike Weber, Jamize Olawale

Headed by one of the premier RBs in the NFL, the Cowboys also drafted Pollard and Weber this offseason.  While Pollard looks to be more of a special teams guy, Weber appears to be the main backup after the departure of Rod Smith.  This backfield is wholly centered around Zeke though, with no apparent designs of change.

Verdict – Here’s the worst case scenario.  Elliot decides he needs to make 14-16 Million per year, and the Cowboys realize that’s a stupid amount of money to pay a RB.  They trade him, or he moves on after his contract expires in 2020.  Likely?  I don’t think so, but stranger things have happened.  Expect Zeke to be a survivor of the 2020 RB assault, whether it’s with the Cowboys or elsewhere. 

Philadelphia Eagles: 

Current RBs – Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood, Donnel Pumphrey

The Eagles have one of the biggest RB stables in the league.  After acquiring Jordan Howard for a 6th round pick, they went out and grabbed one of the best backs in the draft in Miles Sanders.  Sanders has the potential to be a 3 down stud, and players like Howard aren’t going anywhere for now.  As far as Clement, Smallwood, and Pumphrey, they have their roles, but they won’t be leading a backfield.

Verdict – The depth here is, well, deep.  After picking up Miles Sanders in the 2nd round of the 2019 draft, I seriously doubt they dip their toes into the RB pool again in 2020, at least early enough to matter.  This backfield will be a survivor in 2020, but what iteration we see is anybody’s guess. 


AFC WEST

Denver Broncos: 

Current RBs – Phillip Lindsay, Royce Freeman, Devontae Booker, Khalfani Muhammad, Devontae Jackson

Lindsay was a breakout star last year at the position, seemingly coming from nowhere and exploding onto the scene as a UDFA.  His speed and agility catapulted him into the lead role in Denver, ahead of their assumed starter Royce Freeman.  Freeman profiles as a lead back, with size, speed, and skill to match.  But once Lindsay got the ball in his hands, it was all but over for Royce.  Booker is also a usable back, should the need arise, as he has proven before. 

Verdict – With Lindsay recovering from a wrist injury, the iron is hot for Freeman to strike.  Will he make the most of it?  Freeman and Lindsay’s futures depend on it, I say.  Lindsay is not an every down back, though he was used as such for much of last season.  He simply isn’t built for it.   If Royce has a good showing in Lindsay’s absence early in the program, it could become a vicious 1-2 punch for the Denver Broncos.  If Freeman flops, and forces Booker back into the lead role, you better believe Denver will be on the lookout for a stud in 2020.  I’m calling them survivors for now, but they’re teetering on the precipice. 

Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders: 

Current RBs – Josh Jacobs, Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington, Doug Martin, Chris Warren

Marshawn Lynch is no more.  Not that he was much of anything last year, but he had his shot with his hometown Raiders.  Enter Josh Jacobs, many dynasty owners 1.01 in rookie drafts, and with good reason.  Jacobs waltzes into the best RB situation in football.  He is THE guy.  What he does with the opportunity remains to be seen, since it’s fair to say we don’t know a ton about him from his limited reps in college.  Richard is a good RB, but no lead back, and Doug Martin is practically a player-coach at this point.  Chris Warren was a hot add last season, and may have the opportunity to take the lead role, should something happen to Jacobs. 

Verdict – Unless something catastrophic happens, this backfield will survive the 2020 class.  There’s too much depth and talent to assume otherwise.  The RB room in Oakland is set up for 2019 and beyond. 

Los Angeles Chargers: 

Current RBs – Melvin Gordon, Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson, Detrez Newsome, Troymaine Pope

The Chargers picked up the 5th year option in Gordon’s rookie contract, and have said an extension for Melvin is at the top of their priority list.  Meanwhile, Ekeler and Jackson have proven that they have what it takes to propel the team forward in the absence of Gordon.  The Chargers are a stacked team, and poised to make a serious run at a championship with the remaining years they have with Rivers at QB. 

Verdict – LAC doesn’t want to fix what ain’t broke, so I believe they sign Gordon to a comparably affordable extension to the other top end RBs in the league.  Ekeler has flourished as a satellite back, and Jackson flashed when called upon late last season.  RB will not be a top priority for them entering 2020, so I call this backfield a survivor. 

Kansas City Chiefs: 

Current RBs – Damien Williams, Carlos Hyde, Darrel Williams, Darwin Thompson, James Williams, Marcus Marshal

The most explosive offense in the league gave their star RB the boot last year.  They leaned on Damien Williams to great effect to close out their season, but was his success a symptom of fresh legs vs season-weary defenses?  Carlos Hyde has been unfairly maligned, dating back to the midseason trade to Jacksonville last season.  But, age is no friend to RBs, and his keeps going up.  The Chiefs also drafted Darwin Thompson and James Williams in 2019.  These players have high upside, and many including myself, believe Thompson has the skills to be a 3 down back, should Williams not get the job done. 

Verdict – We know Andy Reid likes to utilize bellcow RBs.  What we don’t know is if Damien Williams or Darwin Thompson can adequately fill that role.  These guys could be major casualties in 2020.  If that’s the case, expect the player that usurps them to be the 1.01 in most rookie drafts. 


NFC WEST

Seattle Seahawks: 

Current RBs – Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, JD McKissic, CJ Prosise, Travis Homer, Adam Choice, Bo Scarbrough

What a mess!  And what a mess it has been since the pseudo-retirement of Marshawn Lynch.  Seattle desperately wants to run the ball, (against modern conventional wisdom and the presence of an elite QB) but hasn’t been able to nail down an elite runner in some time.  While Carson is certainly a useable player, and Penny has great potential, no one has come forward as a game changer at the position. 

Verdict – This will be a major casualty in 2020.  I can’t imagine the Seahawks allow this class to pass them by without taking yet another stab at finding their elite back.  This is the kind of class Pete Carroll and Brian Schottenheimer wet-dream about at night.  Book it.  And sell high on Carson and possibly Penny this season, if situation allows. 

San Francisco 49ers: 

Current RBs – Matt Breida, Jeffery Wilson, Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, Jerick McKinnon, Austin Walter, Kyle Juszczyk (FB)

Here we go.  No one, including the players or the coaches, know what’s going to happen here.  So I’ll give my best shot at a projection.  Breida starts the season as the early down back, with McKinnon being the primary satellite back.  Tevin will sub in for Breida and McKinnon whenever and wherever Shannahan decides it’s a good idea.  Breida will go down at some point, and Coleman will take his place.  He won’t be as effective as Breida, so it becomes a 50/50 split between Coleman and McKinnon.  Dynasty owners smash many things.  Wailing and gnashing of teeth ensue. 

Verdict – Who the f*ck knows, 

Arizona Cardinals: 

Current RBs – David Johnson, Chase Edmonds, TJ Logan, DJ Foster, Wes Hills, Xavier Turner, Dontae Strickland

New Coach, new QB, new offense.  David Johnson returns to reprise his role as lead RB, under very different circumstances.  At 27 years old, DJ recently inked a contract extension through 2021.  In the final year of his contract, his base salary and dead cap drop dramatically, making him questionable at an advanced age for RBs, and the end of a big contract.  Chase Edmonds is a solid player, but probably not lead back material. 

Verdict – While DJ appears to be locked in for 2020, it would not surprise me at all if his replacement is drafted that year.  David Johnson will be a casualty of the 2020 draft, but his demise won’t take place in Arizona until 2021 or later.

Los Angeles Rams: 

Current RBs – Todd Gurley, Darrell Henderson, Malcolm Brown, Justin Davis, John Kelly

The Rams are loaded with talent at RB.  On top of the highest paid back in the league, they’ve been sure to acquire and retain talent at the position for insurance.  And it looks like 2019 might be the season they finally file a claim.  Gurley’s declining health was evident by the end of last season.  The secrecy and deception surrounding his knee was deafening though, especially when they matched the offer sheet for Brown, and traded up 24 spots in the 3rd round to snag Henderson, a home run hitting, big time playmaker at RB.  On top of that, John Kelly was a coveted prospect among the dynasty community as well, before he seemingly got freeze dried and vacuum sealed behind Gurley. 

Verdict – I don’t expect the Rams to reach back into the RB cookie jar in 2020.  They’re loaded with guys at the position that can fill roles extremely well, and even take the lead role if necessary.  This backfield is full of survivors.  Even if their leader becomes a wounded vet. 


AFC NORTH

Baltimore Ravens:

Current RBs – Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards, Kenneth Dixon, Justice Hill, Christopher Ezeala, Tyler Ervin, De’Lance Turner

The Ravens added Mark Ingram this offseason, but will he be a huge improvement over Gus Edwards?  I’m not convinced.  Was Ingram buoyed by a great offensive line and passing threat in New Orleans, or does his talent stand alone?  There is a ton of talent in this backfield, between Edwards, Dixon, and the newbie Justice Hill, who is a playmaking threat every time he touches the football.  This could turn into the biggest RBBC in the league. 

Verdict – There are tons of talented backs in this stable, but none of them are tried and true studs.  However, in this case I don’t believe that is necessary for their success.  Lamaar Jackson will do his share of running, and the pure depth of talent at the position means they’ll always have fresh legs.  I think this backfield is a 2020 survivor, but who to start on any given Sunday could be your real dilemma

Pittsburgh Steelers

Current RBs – James Conner, Jaylen Samuels, Benny Snell Jr, Trey Edmunds, Malik Williams, Ralph Webb, Travon McMillian

James Conner, while not an overly exciting or explosive back, can do it all, and do it all fairly well.  He’s shown that when healthy, he is a good fit in this explosive offense, behind a fantastic offensive line.  Jaylen Samuels is a versatile player that can slide into different roles as needed, and the freshly drafted Benny Snell Jr, although seriously lacking in the athleticism department, can probably fit the early down thumper role if necessary if Conner goes down, 

Verdict – Conner has had some serious health scares in his past, and while we hate to even think of it, cancer has an ugly tendency to resurface.  Forgive me if this sounds callous, but I don’t believe the Steelers are so naive as to pass on a stud RB in 2020 if given the opportunity to select one.  That’s not to say that he would supplant Conner right away, but when it comes time to pay him the big bucks, I believe the Steelers will prefer to go with a younger, cheaper option, with less potential for devastating health problems. 

Cincinnati Bengals: 

Current RBs – Joe Mixon, Giovani Bernard,  Trayveon Williams, Rodney Anderson, Darrin Hall, Quinton Flowers, Jordan Ellis

Wow.  What a group here in Cincinnati.  Mixon is a bellcow.  I won’t let anyone tell me otherwise, and neither should you.  Gio is probably not long for this team, with the drafting of Williams and Anderson.  These guys are explosive playmakers.  Anderson was one of, if not THE best back in the 2019 class if not for catastrophic injury. 

Verdict – Let’s keep this simple, folks.  This backfield survives with flying colors.  Especially since Cincinnati has so many other needs across their team.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t take a RB until very late in 2020, if at all.

Cleveland Browns: 

Current RBs – Nick Chubb, Duke Johnson, Dontrell Hilliard, Trayone Gray, D’Ernest Johnson, Kareem Hunt

There are some unknowns flying around the Browns right now, between the role that Hunt will play when he returns, and the trade rumors around Duke Johnson.  Regardless, Nick Chubb has a 3 down skillset, and will be deployed as such moving forward.  The Browns felt so confident in this, that they traded Carlos Hyde mid-season last year, and did not draft a RB in 2019.  They did pounce on an opportunity to add Hunt, who will not return until after week 8.  That combination could very well become the most dangerous in the league. 

Verdict – The Browns are working with some high level talent here, but not a ton of depth.  Expect them to add depth in 2020, but not to spend precious capital on it.  The Browns backfield will survive the 2020 class. 


NFC NORTH

Detroit Lions: 

Current RBs – Kerryon Johnson, Theo Riddick, Zach Zenner, CJ Anderson, Mark Thompson, Ty Johnson

Kerryon is near the top of everyone’s list when it comes to running back expectations.  I have some trepidation about this, with Matt Patricia at the helm of this team.  It’s apparent that he wants to be a carbon copy of the New England Patriots, and we all know the stigma surrounding their RBs.  Riddick is a pass catching specialist, and Anderson is an accomplished thumper.  Not to mention the addition of Ty Johnson, a super-explosive player out of Maryland. 

Verdict – I think this backfield survives 2020, based on depth and the talent of Kerryon.  Survival does not always equate to quality of life, however.  Temper expectations for KJ moving forward, until the Lions show us that they are ready to put the dinner bell around his neck. 

Green Bay Packers: 

Current RBs – Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams, Dexter Williams, Tra Carson, Kapri Bibbs

Dynasty darling Aaron Jones was finally set free last season.  His explosiveness and top of the heap YPC seemed to prove everyone right.  But then he got hurt, which is what his detractors have been saying all along.  Jamaal Williams is a good back.  Your “Jack of all trades, master of none” type, but solid enough to carry the load when needed.  Dexter Williams is a very interesting add, and seems to be the insurance policy for Jones, as they are very similar players. 

Verdict – New head coach Matt LaFleur likes to run the football.  I believe he will pursue a stud RB in the 2020 draft, and look to to implement the type of thunder/lightning attack that New Orleans had with Ingram/Kamara.  This backfield survives, but not in its current iteration.  Expect Jones to become a high efficiency, low volume player in 2020. 

Minnesota Vikings: 

Current RBs – Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison, Michael Boone, Ameer Abdullah, Roc Thomas, Khari Blasingame

Can Dalvin Cook ever stay healthy?  That should be the question on everyone’s mind.  They drafted Mattison in 2019 to replace Latavius Murray, but he lacks the all-around athleticism of Murray, so it’s not a 1 for 1 swap.  Boone and Thomas have both flashed, but obviously not enough to earn the trust of the staff in MIN.  And let’s not even go there with Abdullah.

Verdict – As good as Cook can be, it would not surprise me at all to see the Vikings take a stab at a stud RB in 2020.  That’s the final year of his contract, and if he hasn’t proven the ability to stay healthy, I don’t think the Vikings will be willing to spend big bucks on him.  Mattison is a replacement level player, so don’t expect the torch to be passed to him.  There will be casualties in the Vikings backfield in 2020. 

Chicago Bears: 

Current RBs – Mike Davis, David Montgomery, Ryan Nall, Tarik Cohen, Taquan Mizzell, Kerrith Whyte Jr

The Bears got serious about the RB position during the 2019 offseason.  They gave one dimensional Jordan Howard the boot, and added 2 versatile RBs in his wake in Mike Davis and David Montgomery.  The explosive Tarik Cohen remains an integral part of the system though, so don’t expect him to disappear in 2019. 

Verdict – The Bears are rich in talent at the position, including two guys who profile as 3 down backs in Davis and Montgomery.  It’s obvious that Montgomery will be the lead back.  His athleticism and talent is the trump card.  But Davis can pick up any slack that’s left, and Cohen will see usage in any and all situations moving forward.  This backfield survives the RB Apocalypse of 2020.


AFC SOUTH

Indianapolis Colts: 

Current RBs – Marlon Mack, Nyheim Hines, Jordan Wilkins, Jonathan Williams, Spencer Ware

This team is serious about producing a successful running game.  Just take a look at their offensive line rankings from 2018 and the addition of Quenton Nelson.  The Colts are full of over-achieving RBs, from Mack, to Wilkins, even Williams and Ware.  All players that have outperformed their athletic testing, to some degree.  Mack profiles as a 3 down back, and found success last season.  Despite missing 4 games, he reached 1000 yards including playoff games.  Although he can catch passes, most of those duties are relegated to the explosive Hines. 

Verdict – Marlon Mack is signed through 2020 on a very cheap contract.  If 2019 yields similar results to 2018, which I believe it will, Mack, along with Wilkins and Hines, will be survivors of 2020.  If sh*t hits the fan in Indy, and Mack implodes, you can fully expect them to pursue a stud in 2020.  I don’t believe this will happen, but it is a possible outcome.

Houston Texans: 

Current RBs – Lamar Miller, D’Onta Foreman, Cullen Gillaspia, Taiwan Jones, Josh Ferguson, Karan Higdon, Damarea Crockett, Buddy Howell,

There is a lot to unpack here, so I’ll be concise.  Miller is an aging, average athlete who maintains just that.  The average.  Foreman is coming off an Achilles tear, which is almost always a death knell for the explosiveness of a RB.  Higdon and Crockett are very interesting moving forward, but as UDFAs, there is no telling what will come of them. 

Verdict – I’ve Dr. Strange’d my way through all possible outcomes in the future.  There are none where the Texans don’t take a stab at RB in 2020.  Expect major casualties here. 

Jacksonville Jaguars: 

Current RBs – Leonard Fournette, Alfred Blue, Thomas Rawls, Benny Cunningham, Ryquell Armstead

Fournette was the cream of the crop in the 2017 draft class, and the Jaguars made a big move selecting him 4th overall.  That selection has proven to be somewhat fruitless, even though he’s been a solid player while on the field.  Between suspensions and injuries, the rumors have flown over Leonard’s future.  Increasingly so with the drafting of Ryquell Armstead this year.  His traits are very similar to Fournette’s, and many believe he could fill in quite nicely, were Fournette to be absent for any number of reasons. 

Verdict – Fournette’s rookie deal runs through 2020, but that’s no reason why JAX wouldn’t consider drafting a stud replacement that year.  I think Armstead will get an opportunity this season to prove his metal.  There’s nothing the Jaguars would like more than to erase the mistake of a way too high draft pick wasted on a RB, and what better way to do that than to replace that player with a value pick?  There will be casualties in this backfield for 2020.  Either by the hand of Armstead, or a rookie. 

Tennessee Titans: 

Current RBs – Derrick Henry, Dion Lewis, David Fluellen, Jeremy McNichols, Dalyn Dawkins, Alex Barnes,

Mike Vrabel wants to pound the rock.  For better or worse, in this day and age of pinpoint analytics that tells us the passing game is more efficient than running the ball, that’s what he wants.  That being said, Derrick Henry is a match made in heaven for this scheme.  He’s massive, durable, powerful, and scary.  Dion Lewis is no slouch either and will get his fair share.  Alex Barnes is a very interesting pick in this year’s draft, and could seemingly fill in very well for Henry, were he to go down.  I would be remiss to leave out my boy McNichols.  He’s got loads of potential, but unfortunately just hasn’t been able to put it together. 

Verdict – Henry’s contract expires in 2020, but the Titans will be able to resign him for a team friendly deal, since he hasn’t transformed into a superstar.  This bodes well for Henry and the Titans, as they seem to be the perfect fit.  With the role players and depth filling in behind him, I see no reason why the Titans would venture into unknown territory in 2020.  This backfield is a survivor. 


NFC SOUTH

Atlanta Falcons: 

Current RBs – Devonta Freeman, Ito Smith, Kenjon Barner, Qadree Ollison, Brian Hill, Tony Brooks-James

Devonta Freeman has struggled with staying healthy his whole career.  His small size and aggressive running style make it almost inevitable.  Now, with Tevin Coleman in San Fran, Ito is forced into the role of backup/change of pace.  We will see if he is up to the challenge this season.  Meanwhile, many folks, including myself, are very interested in Qadree Ollison.  With the appropriate size to be a lead back, behind a newly revamped offensive line in ATL, things could break well for the rookie if he puts it together. 

Verdict – While I believe Freeman is a great play in 2019, the Falcons built an out into his contract for 2020.  While I don’t believe they will flat out cut him in 2020, it’s apparent they did not want to be tied down by his contract.  I believe they will test the RB waters in 2020, and casualties will ensue, but possibly not until 2021.  Whether by the hand of Ollison, or a rookie with a 3 down profile.  Freeman will be a sell high after or during the 2019 season. 

New Orleans Saints: 

Current RBs – Alvin Kamara, Latavius Murray, Devine Ozigbo, Dwayne Washington, AJ Ouellette

The Saints allowed Ingram to walk in free agency, and in a master stroke move, signed Latavius Murray for much less than they would have been forced to pay an aging Ingram.  Murray is at the very least, a 1 for 1 replacement in this system.  He is bigger, stronger, and faster than Ingram, with less wear on the tires.  Kamara is the defacto #1 in this backfield, and will continue to be so, even if his volume decreases slightly.  Ozigbo is also a must-add in all dynasty leagues, with a potential 3 down skillset on this kind of offense. 

Verdict – I don’t foresee the Saints spending any meaningful draft capital on RB in 2020, but they could very well add to their depth at position with later picks, especially if Ozigbo progresses slowly, or doesn’t fit the system to their liking.  Regardless, this backfield is a survivor in 2020, but like Ozigbo in 2019, be sure to pick up and stash any viable players they add for depth.  This offense is too good to ignore. 

Carolina Panthers: 

Current RBs – Christian McCaffrey, Cameron Artis-Payne, Jordan Scarlett, Elijah Holyfield, Elijah Hood, Alex Armah (FB)

CMC is the real deal.  We all understand and believe that now, despite the concerns of some that he was too slight to carry the load coming out of Stanford.  This offseason he’s put on what appears to be a metric ton of muscle, and seems poised to be a real-deal 3 down back.  The depth of this team raises some concerns though.  CAP has done well enough filling in periodically, but isn’t anything special.  Scarlett may be an upgrade, with lead back size and good athleticism.  Holyfield is about as sluggish as they come, and only a depth piece in my mind.  Elijah Hood is another heartbreaker for me.  Loved his game coming out of college, but he’s bounced around between practice squads and never put it together. 

Verdict – CMC isn’t going anywhere.  That being said, I believe the Panthers will once again dip their toes into the RB pool in 2020, just to secure some depth that can at least hold a candle to McCaffrey’s ability.  CMC is certainly a survivor, but don’t count on any one of the depth pieces making it through. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 

Current RBs – Peyton Barber, Ronald Jones, Shaun Wilson, Dare Ogunbowale, Bruce Anderson, Andre Ellington

Bruce Arians is known for his high flying offenses, based primarily on the pass.  That’s not to say that he doesn’t value the running game, though.  There are many unanswered question in this backfield, with the primary one being, is Ronald Jones any good?  My inclination is, no, he is not.  But, rumors are flying that he has impressed coaches during OTAs, and he’s the most improved player, etc.  But how difficult is it to be the “most improved”, when you sucked so bad last year?  I believe Barber is a good enough back to make this offense work in 2019, but it would not surprise me if the Bucs pursued a trade for a top-notch back before the 2019 season begins. 

Verdict – Arians also added Ellington this offseason, who has worked effectively in his schemes in the past.  Coupled with the UDFA Bruce Anderson, there is some potential for some serious RBBC action in this backfield in 2019.  If things stay as they are currently, there is no doubt in my mind that the 2020 draft will bring some serious carnage to the Tampa Bay backfield, and you’ll want to be a part of it.  

Top Candidates for RB Casualties in 2020:

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Buffalo Bills
  • Jacksonville Jaguars
  • New York Jets
  • Kansas City Chiefs
  • Seattle Seahawks
  • Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Houston Texans

My best advice is to carefully examine your dynasty teams, and react accordingly.  There will be upheaval in 2020, and you don’t want to be left out in the cold. 

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