Fantasy Football 2020: Updated Rankings for Christian McCaffrey, Top RBs

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMay 2, 2020

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (22) runs against the New Orleans Saints during the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)
Brian Blanco/Associated Press

Christian McCaffrey will not only be the first running back selected in most fantasy football drafts, he could be the No. 1 overall pick in a majority of leagues. 

The Carolina Panthers running back carries even more value in points-per-reception leagues because of his pass-catching ability.

The 23-year-old could increase most of his totals again in 2020 with a new offensive coordinator and more weapons around him for Matt Rhule's first year as head coach.

A pair of stars from the NFC East could follow McCaffrey in most drafts, as Dallas' Ezekiel Elliott and Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants are once again projected to have stellar seasons. 


Fantasy Football RB Rankings

1. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina

2. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas

3. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants

4. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota

5. Derrick Henry, Tennessee

6. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans

7. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati

8. Nick Chubb, Cleveland

9. Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas

10. Aaron Jones, Green Bay


Christian McCaffrey

Brian Blanco/Associated Press

After producing 2,392 total yards in 2019, McCaffrey likely will not last longer than the second overall pick. 

McCaffrey doubled his career high in rushing touchdowns by finding the end zone on 15 occasions, and he brought in 116 of his 142 targets in the passing game. 

At this point in his career, he is a perfect fantasy player because he brings value in all aspects of the offense. 

In PPR leagues, McCaffrey has to be the No. 1 choice since he has put together back-to-back 100-reception campaigns.

Carolina's passing game could be more spread out in 2020 with Robby Anderson added to a wide receiver group that includes D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel.

With Teddy Bridgewater at the helm and Joe Brady added as offensive coordinator from LSU, the Panthers should have more consistency and creativity than what came out of Kyle Allen for most of 2019.

Of course, Bridgewater has to prove he can be a 16-game starter again after spending two seasons as a backup with the New Orleans Saints. 

In his last season as a starter with the Minnesota Vikings in 2015, Bridgewater threw for 3,231 yards and 14 touchdowns.

If he increases his production under Brady, it could open up more lanes in the short passing game for McCaffrey to work in.

The feature back will still have extra defensive eyes on him, but if the Panthers wide receivers connect with the new quarterback, they could keep some interest away from McCaffrey.

McCaffrey is once again expected to earn the bulk of the carries, which could lead to a third consecutive 200-carry, 1,000-yard season.

The Panthers did not draft running back depth in the final rounds of the 2020 NFL draft and have unproven backups in Reggie Bonnafon and Mike Davis, who combined for 118 yards in a Panthers uniform in 2019.

If you have the No. 1 overall pick, McCaffrey is a no-brainer, and if you land at No. 2 or No. 3 you have to hope someone is foolish enough not to pick the Carolina star. 


Ezekiel Elliott

Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

Elliott sits in a good position to record the fourth 1,000-yard rushing season of his career. 

After the addition of first-round pick CeeDee Lamb, the Cowboys offense is expected to get down the field at a fast pace. 

Even if the defenses within the NFC East improve, the Cowboys can still exploit weaknesses with their speed at wide receiver and the strength of Elliott. 

Philadelphia added Darius Slay, but it lacks a solid complement for him in the secondary and it does not have a ton of experience at linebacker. 

The New York Giants and Washington made improvements, but there is no guarantee they will make massive leaps on that side of the ball.

Washington conceded the second-most rushing yards in 2019, while New York allowed the fifth-most rushing scores. 

Dallas' 2020 schedule includes the three franchises that gave up the most rushing yards and five sides that ranked in the top 10 of most rushing scores allowed. 

Elliott has a bit more depth behind than McCaffrey with Tony Pollard in place, but he only earned 19 percent of Dallas' carries in 2019.

Once McCaffrey is selected, Elliott is the front-runner for the next running back chosen because of his easier schedule and high workload.


Saquon Barkley

Mark Tenally/Associated Press

Barkley resides in a similar position as Elliott, as he is expected to receive a high volume of carries against a weaker schedule. 

The third-year back, who has two straight 1,000-yard seasons, also gets to play against the AFC North and NFC West.

Cincinnati and Cleveland both ranked in the Top 10 in yards and touchdowns conceded, while Seattle allowed the third-most rushing touchdowns.

Barkley should also get a boost from first-round pick Andrew Thomas providing more protection to himself and quarterback Daniel Jones.

New York's offensive line was one of the worst in the NFL in 2019, as it allowed 38 sacks and forced a drop of 0.4 in Barkley's yards per attempt.

While there is more protection in place, Jones does not have an abundance of weapons in the passing game, like Dak Prescott does in Dallas. 

Barkley ranked second in receptions behind Sterling Shepard in 2019, and his 71.2 catch percentage was better than any wide receiver.

Since he could carry a larger role than Elliott in the passing game, Barkley could be the second running back chosen in some leagues, but Dallas' offense could be more reliable than what the Giants produce in 2020.


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90

Statistics obtained from Pro Football Reference