Top 5 Rookie Running Backs for 2020 Fantasy Football

Jason Schandl
Top rookie running backs for 2020 fantasy football, including Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
Top rookie running backs for 2020 fantasy football, including Clyde Edwards-Helaire. / Alika Jenner/Getty Images
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Running back tends to be the position that creates the most rookie year fantasy football success. Six RBs went off the board in the first two rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft, and this season it looks like plenty of backs will get opportunities to contribute as rookies.

With that in mind, here are the top rookie running backs for the 2020 fantasy football season.

5. Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams

Cam Akers joins a crowded Los Angeles Rams backfield with no clear top fantasy option.
Cam Akers joins a crowded Los Angeles Rams backfield with no clear top fantasy option. / Joe Robbins/Getty Images

With Todd Gurley gone, there's a ton of volume to go around in the Los Angeles Rams' backfield. Cam Akers will certainly have a ton of competition for that volume, which keeps him from landing higher on this list, but he also may have the most upside of any Rams' RB. The rest of the stable is made up of backs who have at least had some opportunity at the NFL level without impressing much, so Akers will have a chance to set himself apart from the crowd.

4. J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens

J.K. Dobbins' fantasy football value is held back by the presence of Mark Ingram.
J.K. Dobbins' fantasy football value is held back by the presence of Mark Ingram. / Christian Petersen/Getty Images

J.K. Dobbins could also have a hard time getting many touches as a rookie, playing behind Mark Ingram. His upside if his team's top RB gets hurt could be higher than anyone else on this list, however, because of how good the Baltimore Ravens offense is. Ingram and Gus Edwards both averaged at least 5.0 yards per carry in 2019, putting up a combined 112.3 yards per game on the ground. A 2,000-yard rusher that averaged 6.7 yards per carry as a junior at Ohio State, Dobbins is more than capable of thriving in Baltimore if he can get enough volume.

3. D'Andre Swift, Detroit Lions

D'Andre Swift will compete for the Detroit Lions' RB1 role.
D'Andre Swift will compete for the Detroit Lions' RB1 role. / Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions' offense isn't as exciting as the Ravens', but D'Andre Swift also has less competition for the lead back role. Kerryon Johnson is the incumbent, and he's already missed 14 games due to injury in his first two NFL seasons. The Lions offense is sneaky good with Matthew Stafford at the helm (12th in the NFL with 25.5 points per game through Week 9 last year), and the team clearly likes Swift, having taken him No. 35 overall.

2. Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts

Jonathan Taylor's fantasy value will depend on whether he can win the starting job from Marlon Mack.
Jonathan Taylor's fantasy value will depend on whether he can win the starting job from Marlon Mack. / Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Jonathan Taylor is the most accomplished player in this group, having run for over 2,000 yards in back to back seasons at Wisconsin. He only barely missed making that three straight, having tallied 1,977 yards as a freshman in 2017, and he averaged at least 6.3 yards per carry in all three seasons. He'll have to fight for carries with Marlon Mack, but Taylor is more than capable of beating out Mack for the Colts' top RB spot.

1. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City Chiefs

Clyde Edwards-Helaire fantasy outlook has him as the top rookie option.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire fantasy outlook has him as the top rookie option. / Alika Jenner/Getty Images

The previous four players on the list are all reasonably close in value, but Clyde Edwards-Helaire is in a tier of his own. With Damien Williams having opted out, CEH is set to be the Kansas City Chiefs' lead back. That translates to massive fantasy potential, as a likely workhorse in the league's best offense — especially with Andy Reid historically getting his backs involved as receivers. Edwards-Helaire proved himself to be a complete player at LSU, catching 55 passes while rushing for 1,414 yards in 2019, and he should be up to the task of leading this backfield. Not only a great option among rookies, Edwards-Helaire ranks No. 8 among all running backs in our 2020 fantasy football rankings.


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Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.

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