Welcome to the first installment of my 2020 fantasy positional recaps. In this series, I’ll take a deeper dive into how the season played out for the relevant players at each position. To kick things off, let’s review the 2020 season for running backs!
*All fantasy stats are based on PPR scoring*
2020 RB Results (via FantasyPros)
The Jaguars left many scratching their heads after releasing Leonard Fournette a few weeks before the season started. Now, it’s safe to say they made the right decision. Undrafted rookie James Robinson stepped into Fournette’s role and delivered — rushing for 1,070 yards and catching 49 balls. The Illinois State product was the only consistent factor in Jacksonville’s offense, and it resulted in a massive first-year fantasy showing. Robinson finished as RB7, and he should be in store for another tremendous sophomore season with Trevor Lawrence likely coming to town.
After a slow start to the season, David Montgomery showed why Chicago was so high on him heading into 2020. The Bears’ offense has always been at its best with a true workhorse back to rely on, and Montgomery certainly filled the role in his sophomore season. He finished as RB4, including a phenomenal six-game streak of 20+ point performances to end the year. Monty will likely be the focal point of Chicago’s offense for years to come.
Taylor had an up-and-down rookie campaign to say the least. He began the year as Indianapolis’ workhorse, but a lingering ankle issue dropped him down to third on the Colts’ depth chart. For a stretch in the middle of the season, many wondered if Indy was failing to use the rookie correctly, or if Taylor simply wasn’t that good. From Weeks 11-17, he answered that question emphatically, scoring 15+ points in every game. With Taylor getting 16+ touches per contest, the Colts offense found new life and made the playoffs, cementing his spot as their workhorse for the foreseeable future.
Sanders began to figure things out with Jalen Hurts under center at the end of the season, but his final RB23 ranking compared to the insane preseason hype earns him a spot as a bust. The sophomore back was widely regarded as a breakout candidate heading into 2020, which was reflected in drafts by his first-round ADP. Unfortunately for those who drafted him, it ended up being a sophomore slump for Sanders instead of a breakout season. To be fair, it wasn’t all his fault. Doug Pederson clearly didn’t understand how to utilize him in the offense correctly, but even when Sanders played he was underwhelming at times. Overall, it was a forgettable season that Philly’s star back will look to bounce back from in 2021.
Fournette’s ugly season began with him getting cut in preseason, as was covered in James Robinson’s breakout section. He eventually signed with Tampa Bay, and subsequently battled with third-year back Ronald Jones for the starting job. This was a fight that Fournette ultimately lost, but Bruce Arians’ infuriating impatience with Jones always kept Fournette in fantasy relevancy. Every few games, RoJo would fumble or drop a few passes, and Arians would roll with Fournette as the feature back. Overall, the former Jaguar never found a consistent role in the Buccaneers’ offense and finished as RB35, a shadow of his RB7 campaign in 2019. Now, Fournette will hit free agency with no clear landing spot or market value established.
Mostert struggled with a series of injuries which only allowed him to play in eight games this season. However, when he saw the field, he didn’t look like the dynamic back many were expecting. Mostert scored 15+ points just twice and was outplayed by fellow undrafted free agent Jeff Wilson in the final stretch of the season, before being placed on IR one last time with an ankle injury. Mostert will look to stay healthy and bounce back from this disappointing year in 2021.
Best Bangs for Their Buck
Kareem Hunt (ADP: Round 5/6)
Entering the season, many were eager to see what Hunt’s role would be in Cleveland’s revamped offense. With Kevin Stefanski calling plays, Cleveland adopted a run-first system which their head coach had utilized in Minnesota. To everyone’s surprise, Hunt and backfield-mate Nick Chubb consistently tore apart opposing defenses, forming the best 1+2 punch in the league. With Chubb missing a portion of the season, Hunt remained a constant factor in the Browns’ offense, finishing as RB10, which was well above his expected production.
Nyheim Hines (ADP: Round 12/13)
If I told you before the season began that Nyheim Hines would finish as a better fantasy RB than Kenyan Drake, D’Andre Swift, Chris Carson, Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Miles Sanders, you would have laughed at me. Well, that’s what happened. The Colts’ change-of-pace back finished as RB15, as Hines played a huge role in his team’s success this year. Depending on the Colts’ QB situation, Hines could be primed for a large role next season as well.