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Who’s the RB2 for 2019 PPR Redraft Leagues? (Fantasy Football)

Mar 20, 2019

Elliott should once again see all the carries he can handle

While it’s not quite unanimous, the favorite for the No. 1 overall pick in 2019 fantasy football drafts is Giants RB Saquon Barkley. All Barkley did in his rookie year was take the fantasy world by storm, finishing as the highest-scoring RB in PPR formats (he was RB2 in standard and half-PPR, too). Barkley gets it done on the ground and through the air. He should continue to see steady volume and potentially even more following the departure of All-Pro receiver Odell Beckham Jr. this offseason.

But what if you have the No. 2 pick in redraft leagues and Barkley’s off the board? Even in PPR leagues, our experts believe the top six picks should be RBs. Which RB to take after Barkley is the question we’ve asked our writers. Here are their responses.

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Who’s your RB2 for 2019 PPR redraft leagues?

Ezekiel Elliott (DAL)
“To be fair, Ezekiel Elliott isn’t my RB2. My RB2 is Saquon Barkley. Elliott is my RB1. Through three seasons, Zeke has never missed a game. He’s carried the ball over 300 times in each of his first three seasons (extrapolating 2017 for 16 games). He’s a true three-down back tethered to an above-average offense that dominates goal-line carries. In 2018, he added passing game proficiency with 95 targets, finishing with 2,000 yards from scrimmage in 15 games. Zeke is as safe as they come and while it is extremely close between he and Barkley, the edge goes to the guy on the offense without the washed up, old QB, garbage offensive line, and no true WR1.”
– Jason Katz (@jasonkatz13)

“Zeke is the clear choice here behind Saquon Barkley. He returns to a stable team with most of the same pieces in place, a great offensive line, and a game plan to get him the ball early and often. Since entering the league, he’s led the NFL in rush yards per game and in fact, he’s second all-time in rush yards per game with 101.2. Only he and Jim Brown have averaged at least 100 per game in their career — that’s elite company. He doesn’t rely on receptions as does Christian McCaffrey, and he has no injury concerns like Todd Gurley. He’s not a slouch in the passing game either, catching a career-high 77 receptions in 2018.”
– Zak Hanshew (@ZaktheMonster)

“When drafting in the first-round, you want to take players who offer zero risk — just ask Le’Veon Bell owners last year. You want to select a player that, when on the field, will produce like an RB1 more often than not. Ezekiel Elliott should be in the conversation for No. 1 overall pick due to his stability. He’s guaranteed a massive workload, is now involved in the passing game, and didn’t even tap into his touchdown capabilities last year, yet still finished as the RB5 while playing 15 games. The Panthers have said they’ll look to lighten Christian McCaffrey’s workload by adding a running back, the Giants traded away Odell Beckham, which won’t make life on Saquon Barkley any easier, and Todd Gurley is dealing with arthritis that has the Rams talking timeshare. Elliott is currently my RB2 behind Barkley, but I wouldn’t mind taking him as the RB1 due to the safety he presents.”
– Mike Tagliere (@MikeTagliereNFL)

“Dallas doesn’t have the best offensive line in football anymore, but it is still close. Even if it weren’t, any time a player gets 20 to even 30 touches every single game, they have to be in contention for the first-overall pick. When it is someone as talented as Zeke, you’ve got to lock him into your top three. No matter the game script, Zeke is going to get his and has shown no signs of slowing down so grab him at No. 2 with confidence.”
– Bobby Sylvester (@bobbyfantasypro)

“With Saquon Barkley slated as the consensus RB1, the RB2 spot could be up for debate. However, given the uncertainty surrounding Todd Gurley’s arthritic knee. Plus, the fact that the Panthers could reportedly scale back Christian McCaffrey’s workload and Le’Veon Bell will be playing in a new offense, the one tier-one rusher figuring to open 2019 in a consistent situation is Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott. With the offensive line, quarterback, and skill position players all intact from 2018, there shouldn’t a lot of change in Elliott’s opportunities or production. In fact, barring injury, there is only one way for it to go. UP! Not only did the Cowboys elect to bring back Jason Witten, who is regarded as one of the best run-blocking tight ends in the history of the league, but Elliott will also open the year with Amari Cooper in the huddle, a luxury he did not enjoy in last year’s opener. In the seven games prior to Cooper’s Week 9 arrival last season, Elliott averaged 19.2 FPPG in PPR scoring formats. But in the eight regular-season games they played together from Week 9 and beyond, Elliott’s average elevated to 25.4 FPPG. Since the Cowboys added Cooper, the enemy defense had a hard time stacking the box against Elliott, which the elite rusher clearly took advantage of. And I’d expect more of the same in 2019. Another aspect to investigate when evaluating Elliott is his sudden emergence in the passing game. While Elliott didn’t begin his career as a legit pass-catching threat, his numbers had been trending upwards. Following a respectable 32/363/1 stat line on 40 targets in 15 games in 2016 — Elliott averaged 2.7 targets per game in his rookie campaign — his presence in the passing game began to increase with a 26/269/2 line on 38 targets the next year. And despite only playing in 10 games due to his 2017 suspension, Elliott still averaged over a full target per game more (3.8 TPG), which was a prelude for things to come in 2018. Hauling in 77-of-95 targets for 567 yards and three scores last season, Elliott solidified himself as a dominant pass-catching RB alongside Todd Gurley, Christian McCaffrey, and Alvin Kamara. His 6.3 targets per game nearly doubled his average from the previous year and is a trend that will likely continue in 2019.”
– Anthony Cervino (@therealnflguru)

Christian McCaffrey (CAR)
“With rosters as they currently stand, my RB2 is Christian McCaffrey. In any redraft taking place prior to the NFL Draft, CMC would be my only target at second overall. I prefer Ezekiel Elliott, but with the Cowboys flirting with a Duke Johnson trade, 2018 may go down as his career high watermark in receptions. Conversely, due to his elite ability in the passing game, Christian McCaffrey is unlikely to ever be unseated from his high volume role. The same cannot be said for Zeke, as in the past the Cowboys, rather perplexingly, have trotted out low talent receiving specialists to siphon targets, and look to be keen on doing so again in 2019. CMC had Zeke beat with 1.12 fantasy points per opportunity to 0.82 in 2018, and also generated more yards per touch with 6.0 to 5.3. Yes, this pick comes down to why not Elliott as much as it does why McCaffrey. McCaffrey is the clear choice here, for now.”
– Raju Byfield (@FantasyContext)

“Christian McCaffrey scored one touchdown through his first six games of 2018. He then went berzerk over his next seven contests, scoring a whopping 12 times and carrying fantasy owners to the playoffs. The positive touchdown regression was inevitable for a player who was seeing the field and touching the ball as much as McCaffrey was, but what makes him so appealing in drafts next year will be his floor. It went somewhat unnoticed but McCaffrey’s 107 receptions last year were an all-time high for a running back, besting Matt Forte’s 102-catch season from nearly a decade ago. That type of production in a PPR league is tough to beat. There aren’t many players who stay on the field as much as McCaffrey does, and it’s no secret that snaps/opportunity are very closely tied to fantasy output. 23 years old in June, McCaffrey should have another monster year with a healthier Cam Newton under center in 2019.”
– Brendan Tuma (@toomuchtuma)

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