- Christian McCaffrey, Panthers
- Dalvin Cook, Vikings
- Saquon Barkley, Giants
- Aaron Jones, Packers
- Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys
- Josh Jacobs, Raiders
- Derrick Henry, Titans
- Alvin Kamara, Saints
- Austin Ekeler, Chargers
- Leonard Fournette, Jaguars
- Chris Carson, Seahawks
- Joe Mixon, Bengals
- Nick Chubb, Browns
- Raheem Mostert, 49ers
- Kenyan Drake, Cardinals
- Mark Ingram, Ravens
- Miles Sanders, Eagles
- James Conner, Steelers
- Le’Veon Bell, Jets
- Todd Gurley, Falcons
- Melvin Gordon, Broncos
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Chiefs
- David Montgomery, Bears
- Devin Singletary, Bills
- Sony Michel, Patriots
- D’Andre Swift, Lions
- Derrius Guice, Redskins
- David Johnson, Texans
- Marlon Mack, Colts
- Damien Williams, Chiefs
- Phillip Lindsay, Broncos
- Cam Akers, Rams
- Ronald Jones, Buccaneers
- Kareem Hunt, Browns
- Rashaad Penny, Seahawks
- Tevin Coleman, 49ers
- James White, Patriots
- Jonathan Taylor, Colts
- Kerryon Johnson, Lions
- Matt Breida, Dolphins
- Alexander Mattison, Vikings
- Jordan Howard, Dolphins
- Latavius Murray, Saints
- Duke Johnson, Texans
- Adrian Peterson, Redskins
- J.K. Dobbins, Ravens
- Chase Edmonds, Cardinals
- Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Buccaneers
- Boston Scott, Eagles
- Nyheim Hines, Colts
- Zack Moss, Bills
- Tarik Cohen, Bears
- Darrell Henderson, Rams
- Tony Pollard, Cowboys
- Justin Jackson, Chargers
- Jamaal Williams, Packers
- Ito Smith, Falcons
- Jalen Richard, Raiders
- Darrynton Evans, Titans
- AJ Dillon, Packers
a) Christian McCaffrey was the runaway choice for Fantasy MVP honors last year, the happy result of 2,392 scrimmage yards, 19 touchdowns and 116 receptions — the NFL single-season record for tailback catches.
McCaffrey’s fortuitous owners, many of whom scooped C-Mac up at picks 4-6 in Round 1, supremely benefited from his otherworldly production and bedrock consistency, accounting for 130 total yards and/or one touchdown 14 times.
Put it all together, and McCaffrey should be the No. 1 overall pick in 99.9 percent of 2020 drafts.
Of course, with the Panthers undergoing a regime change at the top (head coach Matt Rhule, offensive coordinator Joe Brady), there’s no guarantee of McCaffrey matching last season’s tallies with catches, targets (142) or receiving yards (1,005).
In fact, it’s implausible to believe McCaffrey will eclipse his scorching averages of 9.7 receptions/11.8 targets from the final seven regular-season outings.
Especially with receiver DJ Moore seemingly ready for a greater workload.
So, prepare yourself to be somewhat underwhelmed, compared to the massive numbers of 2019.
b) From a totality perspective, Saquon Barkley (1,441 total yards, 8 TDs last year) fell short of the sky-high expectations reserved for a No. 1 overall draft choice.
However, when extrapolating his per-game averages of 111 total yards and 0.62 touchdowns over a full season, it shakes out to 1,776 total yards and 10 TDs; and that includes Barkley leaving the Buccaneers game in the first half with a gruesome ankle injury.
All told, we’re talking about top-five numbers (among tailbacks) for a physical freak who should be a yearly candidate for 2,000 total yards and double-digit touchdowns.
As for the No. 2 ranking, we’re putting a lot of stock into Barkley’s finishing kick for Weeks 15-17, enjoying otherworldly averages of 180 total yards and 1.7 TDs.
c) Fantasy owners can expect a variance with Cook rankings. I have the Florida State product at No. 2 … but others might have Dalvin barely holding down the fort in Round 1.
The primary knock here: Cook has yet to play a full season in the pros, with last year’s output of 14 games serving as the career high.
Personally speaking, there are minimal worries about Cook’s longevity or sustainability:
****For his first 13 games in 2019, Cook reached the elite-level threshold of 110 total yards and/or one touchdown 13 times; and against NFC North foes, the Vikings star owned stellar averages of 121 total yards and 1.3 TDs.
****Citing the NFL’s eight worst rushing defenses from last year, in terms of touchdowns allowed, the Vikings will encounter six of the unique opponents in 2020 (nine games total) — including two meetings apiece with the Packers, Bears and Lions.
d) The top-five battle of Aaron Jones vs. Ezekiel Elliott represents a virtual coin flip.
For 2019, Elliott enjoyed the head-to-head edge with carries (301), rushing yards (1,357), total yards (1,777), catches (54) and targets (71); whereas Jones prevailed with yards per carry (4.6), receiving yards (474), rushing touchdowns (16), receiving scores (3) and total touchdowns (19).
The tiebreaker for 2020: Similar to Dalvin Cook, Jones should greatly benefit from a schedule that includes the Panthers (NFL-worst 27 rushing TDs allowed last year), Jaguars (bottom-5 ranking with rushing yards/rushing TDs surrendered) and Lions (bottom-10 with rushing yards/rushing TDs allowed).
Two more bonus tracks:
****In his final six outings last season (including the playoffs), Jones posted supreme averages of 116 total yards and 1.5 touchdowns.
****Last season, Elliott nearly doubled Jones’ amount of red-zone carries (59-33 disparity); and yet, the latter finished with more rushing touchdowns inside the 20 (14-11 advantage).
e) Last summer, I took social-media flak for minimizing Josh Jacobs’ Year 1 potential with the Raiders, believing his Alabama teammate Damien Harris might have been placed into a better backfield situation (Patriots).
In hindsight, that was an incredibly stupid declaration on my part, a mistake that won’t be repeated in 2020.
In just 13 games last year, Jacobs rolled for 1,316 total yards (1,150 rushing) and seven touchdowns; and if we extrapolate these rock-solid numbers, it converts to a 16-game campaign of 1,526 total yards and eight scores.
Here’s another slice of fantasy goodness: According to Pro Football Reference, Jacobs missed three games last season … and still earned top-10 marks (among tailbacks) with red-zone rushing attempts (8th), red-zone rushing yards (5th) and red-zone rushing scores (10th).
f) It’ll be interesting to see how fantasy pundits gauge Raheem Mostert, moving forward.
On the down side, Mostert will likely remain embroiled in a time-share situation, divvying carries and touches among the likes of Tevin Coleman, Jeff Wilson Jr. or Jerick McKinnon, a lightning-fast asset who’s been plagued by major injuries for back-to-back seasons.
That said, it’s impossible to ignore Mostert’s absurd finishing kick to last season.
Citing his final nine games (including the playoffs), Mostert accounted for 13 total touchdowns … without toting more than 20 carries in a single outing.
And during that prolific span, Mostert held sublime averages of 95.4 total yards and 1.4 TDs.
g) I owned Joe Mixon in seven different leagues last season, happily investing a second- or third-round pick in every draft opportunity.
For September and most of October, this all-in endorsement had the makings of a disastrous decision; but things turned for the better, once the Bengals returned from a London game against the Rams.
For Cincinnati’s final seven outings, Mixon stealthily averaged 124 total yards and 0.62 TDs; and for his final nine games, Mixon eclipsed 100 total yards and/or one TD seven times.