Nine of the NFL’s top 10 fantasy performers in standard leagues last season were quarterbacks, but getting quality running backs is more important. We didn’t see any superstar backs move teams this offseason, but there are some that are RB1 material and worth drafting in season-long leagues. Let’s take a look at some of the players who could be fantasy football impact players on new teams this year.
Todd Gurley, Atlanta Falcons (from Los Angeles Rams)
The Rams moved on from Gurley this offseason. The running back tallied a career-low 857 rushing yards and added 207 receiving yards in 2019 but still managed to score 14 total touchdowns in his fifth pro season. He played his college football at Georgia and will return home to join the Falcons in 2020. The Falcons elected to not try and re-sign Devonta Freeman, so Gurley will sit atop the depth chart. Gurley has been a top 15 fantasy running back since he entered the league in 2015 and has the versatility to crack the top five. Freeman was the RB1 in 2015 in standard and PPR leagues. Gurley is more skilled, but chronic knee trouble and playing alongside Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley will make it difficult for him to claim that kind of production.
Melvin Gordon, Denver Broncos (from Los Angeles Chargers)
Gordon’s three-year streak of top 10 fantasy seasons was ended in 2019 after a contract holdout led to him missing the first four games of the 2020 season. His rushing totals were depleted, but he still managed to score nine touchdowns while splitting touches with Austin Ekeler. The Chargers didn’t offer him a new deal, so now he’s favored to win the starting job from Phillip Lindsay as a Bronco. It’s hard to see Lindsay being completely phased out, so both should see work making it hard for either back to crack the top 15. Denver has made major investments at wide receiver, and that could also affect Gordon’s role in the offense as well.
David Johnson, Houston Texans (from Arizona Cardinals)
Johnson was once one of the most desirable fantasy running backs on the market, but he only totaled 345 rushing yards last year. A mid-season trade allowed Kenyan Drake to take the top spot on the Cardinals’ depth chart. Duke Johnson will get plenty of work, but David Johnson should be the Texans Week 1 starter in 2020. After all, he was sent off as part of a deal involving star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. A new environment could be good for David’s production, but he did lose his job to Drake last season. He’s been a top 10 running back in each of the two seasons he’s tallied at least 200 rushing attempts and is one of the better pass catching backs around as well.
Jordan Howard, Miami Dolphins (from Philadelphia Eagles)
Howard is the least enticing fantasy option in this group. He’ll join one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL after losing his job to Miles Sanders during his time with the Eagles. He isn’t the only running back Miami signed in free agency, as Matt Breida was traded by the San Francisco 49ers this offseason. Howard was last a top 10 fantasy running back in 2016 and 2017 but hasn’t cracked 1,000 rushing yards since them. The Dolphins ranked last in team rushing yards (1,156), so it’s unlikely that Howard’s ceiling will be very high.
Carlos Hyde, Seattle Seahawks (from Houston Texans)
The Seahawks had the third most rushing attempts (481) in the NFL last year and finished fourth overall in rushing yards. That is a boon for any running back, but the key is getting starting reps. Hyde back, as he notched his first 1,000 yard season in 2019, but joins a deep Seahawks backfield. Chris Carson was a top 10 back in standard leagues last year, and Rashaad Penny impressed as well. For the time-being, Hyde is a limited option until we figure out how the Seahawks will use their various backs.
Dion Lewis, New York Giants (from Tennessee Titans)
Lewis fell off a cliff last season playing behind Derrick Henry with the Titans, but could climb back up the ranks to some degree with the Giants. While Saquon Barkley is also one of the best running backs in the NFL, New York is a little more creative and could get Lewis more involved. Lewis could see a tremendous boost in value if Barkley gets hurt, as his versatility once made him a top 15 back in standard and PPR leagues.
Frank Gore, New York Jets (from Buffalo Bills)
I’m convinced that Gore will play until his son reaches the NFL. The 15-year veteran is a Jet now and is set to back up Le’Veon Bell. It’s hard to see him making much of an impact behind a Swiss army knife like Bell, and he could even drop back to RB3 on the depth chart.
Peyton Barber, Washington (from Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Barber might be starting off as Washington’s backup running back, but he’s in an ideal situation given Derrius Guice’s injury history. Adrian Peterson will still be a factor as well though. It’s hard to see Barber having much upside on a team that recorded the second fewest rushing attempts (356) in the NFL last year.