2020 RSO Contracts: RBs

Updated: August 30th 2020

My annual look at RSO auction values moves to running backs.  The series was designed to give the reader help in planning for upcoming auctions by looking at actual RSO auctions already finished this year.  The data comes from a variety of different types of leagues with varying scoring rules and starting requirements which can drastically alter player values so be cautious in expecting values to match your particular league.  The information does provide a useful starting point for examining how RSO owners value players at a certain position relative to one another and the length of contract they are willing to invest.  Provided fantasy stats and rankings utilize PPR scoring.

Average RSO Running Back Contracts

Top Five

Barkley, McCaffrey, Elliott and Kamara are high-end talents with extreme workloads in the rushing and/or receiving game without many significant questions.  No need to discuss them in much detail here.  One interesting player in this group is Joe Mixon who joins the top running backs at RB5 in RSO startup auctions just below Kamara.  The argument for the Cincinnati RB1 is not hard to make.  He has one of the best all around skill-sets of any back in the league including being a fantastic receiving prospect out of Oklahoma.  Mixon accumulated 1,400+ scrimmage yards over the last two seasons despite playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL.   The Bengals upgraded at QB, in many people’s views, with the selection of number one overall pick Joe Burrow.  There are a number of concerns, both long and short-term.  The offensive line should be better and healthier but most would still consider it a bottom-level group.  Cincinnati has limited Mixon’s receiving work, mixing in Gio Bernard.  Mixon is also in the final year of his rookie deal and the running back market could be saturated with free agents and incoming rookies to take jobs.  In the end, Mixon provides the ultimate bet on talent versus situation.

Second Tier

Cook looks like one of the best running back when on the field and broke out with a RB2 per game finish in 2019.  He also missed a lot of games in the NFL due to injury with a lengthy history of shoulder problems dating back to college which may indicate structural issues.  Like Mixon, Cook is in the final year of his rookie deal with no long-term contract done.  Henry, Chubb and Jacobs obtained PFF’s #6, 1, and 2 rushing grades among running backs, respectively.  Each was also among the bottom of PFF’s receiving grades for RBs.  Henry is a known zero as a route runner and Kareem Hunt likely limits the volume Chubb receives in the passing game. Jacobs presents the most hope for increased receiving production among this group given his collegiate record and the fact he was playing with a broken shoulder for much of his rookie season, but having mainly receiving specialists as his potential backups gives pause.  Sanders accumulated over 1,300 yards as a rookie and finished strong in the fantasy world after an injury knocked out Jordan Howard.  His real life play did not match his statistics as he ranked as only PFF’s RB50 and was losing work to Howard while being outplayed before Howard’s injury.  CEH is set up perfectly for a huge rookie season with Kansas City in the NFL’s best offense after presumptive starter Damien Williams opted out this year.  We don’t know what his role necessarily will be and perhaps KC limits his work as a rookie.

Third Tier

We are already at the point with running backs where significant questions exist with regards to roles.  Jones broke out as the RB2 in 2019 thanks, in part, to 19 total touchdowns and has been an efficient producer throughout his career.  The Packers have always limited his touches and added massive 2nd round thumper A.J. Dillon to the running back mix which likely caps Jones’ touches.  Jones is another quality back in the last year of his rookie contract.   Ekeler racked up 92 receptions and just under 1,000 receiving yards last year.  The Chargers consistently used a committee approach with departed Melvin Gordon and moving from Philip Rivers to Tyrod Taylor and/or a rookie at quarterback is likely a huge loss to the receiving work of Los Angeles running backs.  Taylor, like formerly mentioned Edwards-Helaire, is set up for a big rookie season, with a tremendous offensive line and many projected run-heavy game scripts.  The Colts talked up a three-heady committee all offseason which could limit Taylor’s usage, particularly early in the season.  Drake flashed big-time rushing ability throughout his career and finished with a huge 2019 after the trade to Arizona.  He is a thin running back who struggled with injuries going back to college and most of his work last year occurred with the corpse of David Johnson and Chase Edmunds (who also flashed) injured.

Former Stars and Rookies with Potential Workhorse Roles and Questions

Gurley lands in a high-output offense with no real competition for touches.  His weekly status due to knees remains unknown.  Fournette should maintain a workhorse role with Jacksonville.  The Jaguars offensive line and overall team could be among the worst in the league leading to touch and production issues.  What role does Gordon have in Denver with Lindsay still available?  He also has extensive knee issues.  Bell’s 2019 is a perfect example of running back situation dependency after moving to the Jets bad offensive line and finishing with an awful 3.2 yards per carry. David Johnson lands in a spot with tons of vacated touches at running back.  The Texans’ inside-heavy, early down thumper role does not really fit his skills and he’s probably not the best DJ in Houston at this stage.  Baltimore, Detroit, and LA spent high draft capital on Dobbins, Swift, and Akers respectively so expect a big role eventually, though when that happens is somewhat in question.

Committee Backs

Mostert exploded down the stretch last season for the run-heavy 49ers but is a career special teamer who will have limited passing game chances.  Does Hunt maintain the passing down role for Cleveland with a new coaching staff in town?  He is an interesting long-term investment with demonstrated three-down ability.  How long do Ingram, Mack, and Johnson keep fantasy relevancy with the afore-mentioned rookies ready to step in?


Bio:  Bernard Faller has degrees in engineering and economics.  He currently lives in Las Vegas and enjoys athletics, poker, and fantasy football in his free time.  Send your questions and comments (both good and bad) on Twitter @BernardFaller1.

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