Fantasy Football Overrated – RB – 2020
Saquon Barkley – New York Giants
Barkley is a physical freak at 6’0” 233 pounds but plays faster and quicker than running backs 30 pounds lighter. His ability to shift on a dime that turns into breakaway speed makes would be tacklers look silly. At first glance you’d think the regression from year one to year two was rookie quarterback related but I’d argue Jones was an instant upgrade over Manning’s declining performances.
The offensive line gets absolutely no push and Barkley is spinning and weaving in the backfield trying to salvage the play instead of getting five yards down the field where he thrives. In just about every category, rushing, receiving and TD’s, Barkley tallied far less than his rookie year with better quarterback play.
The Giants do play from behind, usually after the opponents first drive, so you have to ask if this offense is turning into a pass first team. They ran the ball 37% of the time last season so the numbers really speak for themselves. Barkley had 217 carries over 13 games last season which calculates to an average per game less than the other top running backs.
The overrated evaluation is based on whether Barkley is a top five fantasy pick. Your first pick is critical and if you whiff, you’ll be scraping to make up for it all season. Barkley is not a first round fantasy pick. If he falls to you in the second then yes, pick him and celebrate but don’t be the manager who selects Barkley 3rd overall with the hopes of 1,500 yards and double-digit TD’s. There are better and safer options early in the first round.
Don’t forget to check out our other Fantasy Football Overrated Players!
David Johnson – Houston Texans
There hasn’t been a one hit wonder the likes of David Johnson since Buckner & Garcia’s Pac-Man Fever and Sir Mix-A-Lot’s Baby Got Back. It’s quite the conundrum as Johnson is surprisingly agile for a big back but a series of injuries have slowed him. He doesn’t have the same speed and elusiveness as he did in the single quality fantasy season he produced in 2016. Johnson rushed for an outstanding 1,239 rushing yards, another 879 receiving yards and 20 total TD’s. That’s as good a fantasy season as one can hope for but that’s it. In five years, one quality fantasy season. And the Texans traded a top five wide receiver for him.
If a change of scenery is the only reason to give Johnson hope for 2020 then get your head out of the clouds. The Cardinals offense is on the rise with Kyler Murray, now Hopkins and a rejuvenated Kenyan Drake. Whereas the Texans offensive personnel is getting worse. What’s Carlos Hyde have to do to get some respect? Hyde rushed for a career high 1,070 and 6 TD’s and yet the Texans opted for a back whose yards per carry are dropping. Johnson is a risk / reward fantasy play; however, the risk is high, and reward is low. It’s time to stop clinging to the 2016 season and look for better situations.
Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints
If I told you Alvin Kamara had only 797 rushing yards last season, you’d have thought he had a down year rushing the ball. In his first three years, Kamara has averaged about 800 yards running the ball. Certainly, he’s a dual threat averaging almost 700 yards receiving during the same span.
Kamara has fantastic speed in open space and must have studied Le’Veon Bell film in his time in Pittsburgh. He has mastered the hide and seek game. He allows blocking to develop on those patented screen plays, breaks tackles regularly and takes hits, bounces off and just keeps on going. There is no doubt he is a gifted runner.
The hesitation comes only with the draft position. If Kamara falls into your lap at the end of the first round or early second, then you make the pick and don’t look back. The concern comes with scoring TD’s. In this first two seasons, Kamara scored 13 and 18 times respectively but last year only had half a dozen. There are so many weapons on this team and Brees spreads the ball around. So much so that TD’s for Kamara may become more of a fluke than the norm. Four different players scored rushing TD’s and eight different guys scored reception TD’s last season.
If I’m picking a guy top five in the fantasy draft, I want first and second chance goal line scores going through him as well as the occasional 50-yard rush and screen play score. Kamara battled a leg injury much of the season and toughed it out by playing 14 games. The Saints will continue to balance his carries with a solid backup in Latavius Murray. Receptions and targets have been consistent with 81 catches each of his first three years, but it won’t be enough to make him worthy of a top five fantasy pick.
Nick Chubb – Cleveland Browns
How can a guy who ran for almost 1,500 yards last season be considered overrated? Remember the article categories are in fantasy terms, not football player terms. I’m a huge Nick Chubb fan and he is prototypical NFL workhorse. Almost 300 carries at 5.0 yards per rush and 8 TD’s is impressive. Chubb isn’t forgotten in the passing scheme either with several 3 or 4 reception games. Chubb is very shifty with breakout speed if given any room to run. There weren’t many big holes with last year’s average offensive line ranking, but the addition of Conklin should help.
So why the overrated status? Answer: Kareem Hunt. Hunt was suspended for the first eight games of last season and Chubb was the primary back. In the first 5 games back, Hunt average almost 7 carries and a little over 4 receptions per game. Hunt is 24 years old and just 2 years removed from his rookie season where he totaled 1,327 rushing yards. Hunt is a top-ten NFL running back let alone fantasy back with the right team. Signing with Cleveland allowed him to make changes in his personal life and get his football career back on track. Hunt will be much move involved this year and the biggest two-headed monster in fantasy football will emerge.
Tarik Cohen – Chicago Bears
The Tarik Cohen novelty is over. He has little value in running game and is noticeably covered on passing downs. The defenses know what’s coming when Cohen is on the field. Cohen averaged 4 carries a game last season and 3.3 yards per attempt. The run play was an obvious setup to a screen pass next time, but neither was the least bit effective. Cohen was targeted 104 times in the passing game, converted 79 for an impressive 76% conversion rate.
Unfortunately, 5.8 yards per catch is not worth the fantasy investment week to week. He averaged 5.1 fantasy points per week and if you take out the single double-digit fantasy week, he averaged less than 5. David Montgomery will be more involved in the passing game this season and eat into the only real fantasy value Cohen might have had. The fantasy value for Cohen is minimal coming into this season.