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Running Back Roundup Week 1: Nyheim Hines, Raheem Mostert, Joshua Kelley (2020 Fantasy Football)

by Zachary Hanshew | @ZaktheMonster | Featured Writer
Sep 16, 2020

Raheem Mostert had a monster Week 1, piling up 151 total yards and a TD

Week 1 is in the books, and it’s time to take stock of the opening week of the NFL season. What better way to do that then with a retrospective of the top stories from fantasy’s favorite position – the running back. Each Wednesday, we’ll look back on studs, busts, breakouts, timeshares, situations to monitor, and all things RB from the past week.

So settle in, partner. It’s time to saddle up for the first RB Roundup of the 2020 season. Yeehaw.

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Stud of the Week : Josh Jacobs (LV) 35.9 Fantasy Points
Jacobs torched Carolina for a hat trick in Sunday’s victory, and in the early goings, he looks like a locked-and-loaded RB1 with top-5 potential.

Bust of the Week: Mark Ingram (BAL) 2.9 Fantasy Points 
Ingram mustered just 29 yards on 10 carries and received no work in the passing game. Meanwhile, J.K. Dobbins scored twice in the blowout victory. The rookie saw some additional work due to the blowout nature of the game, and Ingram should be more successful moving forward, however, it seems almost certain that his 2020 value will take a hit due to the presence of the talented rookie. Dobbins will be the guy to own by mid-season.

Breakout of the Week: Clyde Edwards-Helaire (KC) 20.8 Fantasy Points
Edwards-Helaire looked every bit the part of the fantasy stud he was drafted to be, rolling Houston for 125 yards in his much-anticipated NFL debut on Thursday Night Football. If you took a chance on him in the first round of fantasy drafts, you’ve got to be giddy with excitement after this performance.

Surprise of the Week: Malcolm Brown (LAR) 26.0 Fantasy Points
Brown shocked the fantasy world with an 18/79/2 rushing line on SNF, and he could have a leg up on both Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson for lead-back duties in Week 2 as well. Despite the big showing, Akers is fully expected to control this backfield by season’s end, but Brown should still be picked up off waivers and rostered until that happens.

Austin Ekeler, Meet Joshua Kelley

Week 1 proved a difficult pill to swallow for those who rostered Ekeler, as Joshua Kelley split work out of the backfield and scored the team’s only rushing TD.

Carries Rushing Yards Receptions Receiving Yards Total TDs Fantasy Points
Joshua Kelley 12 60 0 0 1 12.0
Austin Ekeler 19 84 1 3 0 9.2

The writing was on the wall for this backfield to be a timeshare, and Week 1 did little to change that narrative. Touchdowns aside, it was concerning to see Ekeler finish with just one reception after grabbing 92 just a season ago. Fantasy managers shouldn’t panic yet, but this is obviously a situation to closely monitor moving forward. Kelley should be a priority waiver wire add this week.

Raheem Mostert: A True Must-Start

Yeah, I’m dusting off an old Raheem Mostert pun. What of it? Mostert comfortably led the 49ers backfield in touches in Week 1, turning 19 into 151 total yards and a score. Tevin Coleman finished with five touches for 24 yards, and Jerick McKinnon totaled six touches for 44 yards and a score.

The 2019 breakout back was undervalued heading into the 2020 season due to concerns about his potential workload, but after the huge Week 1 showing, those concerns have been allayed. As the feature back on a highly-efficient offense, Mostert has definite RB1 appeal moving forward. He is indeed a must-start back.

The Taylor/Hines Experience

No, this isn’t the name of a new prog rock super group, but much like the Alan Parsons Project before it, the Taylor/Hines Experience delivered hard-hitting jams that were music to fans’ ears in Week 1. Hines plowed his way through the Jacksonville defense for 73 total yards and two touchdowns on 15 total touches. Marlon Mack tore his Achilles and will miss the rest of the season, leaving rookie Jonathan Taylor and Hines as the two top options in the backfield. In the season-opener, Taylor finished with 15 touches of his own, racking up 89 yards in the process, including a healthy six receptions.

In Mack’s absence, Taylor should vault into high-end RB2 territory, while Hines is a weekly set-and-forget flex, especially in PPR formats. Both are highly valuable in the Colts’ run-first offense that features one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. Hines may shape up to be one of the biggest steals in 2020 fantasy drafts by season’s end.

Quick Hitters

  • Peyton Barber: destroyer of fantasy dreams. He vultured two touchdowns Sunday and led the backfield in carries much to the horror of Antonio Gibson stans. Barber is unlikely to maintain a stranglehold on the backfield all season, but as we saw in Tampa Bay last season, Barber can be a real caterpillar in the buttermilk for fantasy managers. Week 2 is a great chance for Gibson to get back on track when Washington faces Arizona’s soft run defense, and the touch distribution should be monitored closely.
  • Adrian Peterson rocks for another new team. AP displayed some vintage running in Sunday’s loss to the Bears, racking up 93 yards on 14 carries and adding a 3/21 receiving line in the process. He looks to have a leg up on Kerryon Johnson and D’Andre Swift at the moment, and his presence will bring both of those players’ values down.
  • Chase Edmonds vultures a touchdown from Kenyan Drake. Edmonds got a red-zone reception and touchdown and ultimately finished with the better fantasy line than Drake. Edmonds’ receiving score was a nuisance, but it’s nothing to be overly concerned about. He finished with nine total touches compared to 18 for Drake, and those who rostered the latter have no reason to panic.

  • A rare Jerick McKinnon sighting. It was his first NFL action since 2017, and McKinnon was able to capitalize with 44 yards and a score. It’s unclear if he’ll continue to see this level of involvement moving forward, but he would be flex-worthy in deeper leagues with 6-8 touches per week.
  • D’Andre Swift drops a would-be game-winner. The rookie had a chance to catch the game-winning touchdown with six seconds on the clock, but he dropped the ball in the end zone, and the Lions lost 27-23. He was out-touched by both Adrian Peterson and Kerryon Johnson but figures to see more work as the season goes on.

  • Zack Moss and Devin Singletary split work evenly in Week 1. The Buffalo backfield looks like it will be a full-blown timeshare. Both backs recorded nine carries, but Singletary had a 5-3 advantage in receptions and total yards, 53-27. Moss scored a short receiving TD and finished with the better fantasy line. Both will be useful options in 12-team leagues, but Moss should have the upper hand sooner than later.
  • Benny Snell comes alive on MNF. James Conner was forced out of Monday Night’s game early, leaving Benny Snell to rumble for a career-high 113 rushing yards. Benny Bell-Cow should be the week’s top waiver wire pickup as it’s unclear when Conner will be able to return. Also, Snell looked pretty cool Monday night.

  • Is James Robinson a thing? At least for now, that appears to be the case. Even the most elite backs cede a carry or two to a backup or pass-catcher, though Robinson was the only player to handle all of his team’s RB carries in Week 1. If Jacksonville can stay competitive or even competent this season, Robinson has some RB2/flex value due to volume alone.

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Zachary Hanshew is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Zachary, check out his archive and follow him @zakthemonster.

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