Do Not Draft List: Running Back (2020 Fantasy Football)
Pretty much every player is draftable at a certain point. Having said that, the following duo of running backs are a poor investment at anywhere near their average draft position (ADP). Thus, this should be thought of as a do-not-draft list — near their ADP. The first of the pair of highlighted backs are coming off of finishing in the top 10 in fantasy points in point per reception (PPR) leagues at the position in the fantasy season (Week 1 through Week 16) last year. He’s joined by a sophomore who flashed in his rookie campaign but faces competition for work in year two.
Leonard Fournette (RB – JAC): ADP — 28.0, RB16
My distaste for Fournette in fantasy football isn’t a new revelation. Back in early April, I highlighted him as a player to avoid in best-ball formats. Traditional season-long leagues are a different animal, though, but I still suggest avoiding him even at his current cost of one of the top RB2 options following a season in which he finished sixth in PPR scoring among backs.
Fournette backers will point to probable touchdown regression to the mean after an unlucky showing of scoring only three touchdowns in 2019. However, I’ll counter with him playing in a career-high 15 games after managing 13 games as a rookie and eight in 2018. Further, he also set a new single-season high with 100 targets after amassing just 74 in his first 21 games in the NFL.
The story with Fournette remains the same; he’s entirely volume driven and extremely inefficient. Out of 45 running backs who rushed the ball 100 times last year, he ranked 34th in Football Outsiders’ metric Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA). As a receiver, he ranked even worse. Out of 50 backs targeted a minimum of 25 times, he ranked 42nd in DVOA. Additionally, out of 48 backs Pro-Football-Reference credits with at least 25 targets last year, Fournette’s 5.22 yards per target ranked 41st.
Fournette’s career body of work doesn’t paint a much more favorable picture. Out of 42 backs who’ve carried the ball at least 300 times since he entered the NFL in 2017, Fournette’s 3.95 yards per carry ranks 33rd, just a pinch above former backfield mate — and basically journeyman — Carlos Hyde’s 3.93 yards per carry. Once again, he checks out even worse as a receiver. Out of 49 backs targeted at least 75 times since 2017, his 5.80 yards per target rank 34th.
The Jaguars have opted not to pick up his fifth-year option, and perhaps this means they won’t force-feed him the ball to justify their ill-advised decision to spend the fourth pick in the 2017 NFL Draft on him. Adding fuel to that fire is a pair of off-season additions. The team hired Jay Gruden as their offensive coordinator and signed pass-catching back Chris Thompson to add to the running back mix.
Gruden’s routinely utilized a pass-catching back both as an offensive coordinator for the Bengals and as the head coach in Washington. Fournette’s putrid efficiency as a receiver last year should incentivize Gruden to utilize him less frequently in the passing attack. Also, with the team seemingly prepared to move on from Fournette after this year, they could opt to give 2019 fifth-round pick Ryquell Armstead some work to evaluate his long-term value — a notion that’s supported by the Jaguars projecting to be one of the worst teams in the NFL and having a team over/under total of only five wins, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Simply put, after totaling 341 touches last year, I don’t expect him to best even 300 touches this year. Add in the fact receptions are more valuable than carries and Thompson’s presence to siphon receiving work away from the inefficient Fournette, and he’s an easy fade for me as a top-20 back. He’d have to slide to RB3 territory (i.e. RB25 or later) in order for him to find his way onto my rosters, and that’s not a probable scenario.
Devin Singletary (RB – BUF): ADP — 48.8, RB22
Singletary is the anti-Fournette from an efficiency standpoint as a runner. As a rookie, Singletary ranked 13th out of 45 backs in DVOA and ranked tied for fourth among qualified runners with 5.1 yards per carry. However, he was worse as a receiver.
Out of 48 backs targeted at least 25 times, he ranked 45th with 4.73 yards per target. He also ranked 47th out of 50 backs Football Outsiders credited with at least 25 targets in DVOA. Despite the struggles as a receiver, as Singletary’s FantasyPros player card notes, Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic believes the young back could receive a bump in usage in the passing attack in his sophomore year. Given his inexperience being used in the passing game (he caught only 51 passes in 28 games in college, per Sports-Reference), it’s not outlandish to think he could improve in that facet of his game. Although, the leash might not be long for him showcasing improvement as a receiver after the addition of fresh blood to the running back room.
One year after using the 11th pick in the third round in the NFL Draft on Singletary, the team used the 22nd pick in the third round in this year’s draft on Zack Moss. The draft capital used to add Moss alone should raise a red flag for Singletary’s 2020 outlook, but it doesn’t stop there. While Singletary was rarely used as a pass-catching option in his collegiate career, Moss demonstrated receiving chops at the college level. Also, Moss is a bigger, between-the-tackles bruiser who should immediately slide into the Frank Gore short-yardage role.
In 2019, Gore had 11 carries from the five-yard line or closer to scoring. Comparatively, Singletary toted the rock just two times from inside the five-yard line. There’s also the presence of mobile quarterback Josh Allen, who accounted for five carries (all resulting in touchdowns) from the five-yard line or closer to scoring.
Singletary’s a shifty back who’s fun to watch and can help the Bills a great deal in real life. However, his fantasy value probably doesn’t align with his real-life value due primarily to his projected lack of usage near the end zone. Toss in the threat of Moss earning a shared backfield load between the 20’s and/or stealing some receiving work, and Singletary’s floor and ceiling are both too low to warrant being selected as a top-25 back. He’ll likely have a handful of RB2 weeks and mix in some flex weeks, too, but the probable duds are too big of a pill to swallow at his current cost. If he slips closer to RB30, then he’s worth a look.
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