Scott Engel returns to Seahawks.com for his eighth season of Fantasy Football coverage. An inaugural member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association’s Hall of Fame, he is in his 23rd year as a Fantasy analyst and professional. You can now find more of his work and rankings on RotoBaller.com and hear him every Saturday night and Sunday morning on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio.
There is a sense of urgency around the running back position in Fantasy Football like no other. It draws a unique sense of need and anxiety. That’s because the superstars seem to vanish off the draft board so quickly, and as you progressively move down your cheat sheet, the questions surrounding players seem to grow rather quickly.
If you are in position to grab one of the Top 3 RBs this season, it is an enviable position, as there is a trio of backs that are in a tier by themselves. But there are a few other RBs who can inspire a lot of confidence and promise if you take them in the first round or early in the second. After that, it becomes a search for workload, upside and potential.
The Seahawks have a long and storied Fantasy Football history at RB. Shaun Alexander is the most prolific Fantasy player to ever play for the team, and Marshawn Lynch was a key force on many Fantasy championship squads during the first half of this decade. In the earliest days of the Fantasy Football era on the internet, Chris Warren was a standout, and Ricky Watters was a solid and versatile performer. In the years when Fantasy Football was an offline game with a cult following, Curt Warner was a very desirable starting option.
Here are some key Fantasy RB scouting reports for the 2019 season, followed by rankings
Who is No. 1?: Saquon Barkley is the first player off the board in NFL.com drafts, followed by Ezekiel Elliott, Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey. I would give McCaffery the nod as the No. 1 overall choice in PPR formats, as there are no real doubts surrounding his workload and a healthy Cam Newton can ensure that the offense either stays stable or improves. He and Barkley figure to earn the most total yards from scrimmage, so I would take them first and second, respectively. Barkley’s offense faces an adjustment period with the passing game being revamped. Elliott belongs in this range if he is ready for the regular season. For now, he is truly outside the top tier until he returns.
Prime Picks: If you can get David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell or James Conner as your RB1, your draft is still off to a very good start. Johnson and Conner both have NFL.com ADPs in the second round, which is value positioning. Johnson could return to elite status in a reworked Cardinals offense, and Bell will surely be highly motivated to regain his better form after a year off. Conner is a focal point of the Pittsburgh offense and has already shined as the successor to Bell. You cannot pass on these RB1 types if you are in position to draft them. Wait until Round Two to consider WRs.
Notable RBs with Prime Concerns: Todd Gurley has an ADP of 10.95, but that may be a bit too early. He should play at a high level frequently when available, but he is more of a Fantasy RB2 now. Nick Chubb (23.24 overall) should produce RB1 numbers during the first half of the season, but could see his reps reduced down the stretch as the Browns may look to ease his workload while getting Kareem Hunt back. Leonard Fournette (29.79) and Devonta Freeman (36.16) are hoping to put injury issues behind them.
Ready to Surge?: There are some RBs who may be ready to deliver their best, or one of their most impressive seasons yet. Damien Williams (34.56) gets his first crack at a lead RB role in the league’s most potent offense. Aaron Jones (43.51) will get his chance to become a steady starter for the Packers. Kerryon Johnson (45.36) is ready for a featured role after some very impressive flashes of promise during his rookie year. Mark Ingram (53.05) finally gets a chance to be a true No. 1 RB and may be underrated.
Run with the Rookies: Josh Jacobs (48.51) could be the most versatile and productive of the incoming class. David Montgomery (74.10) and Miles Sanders (96.58) are having impressive preseasons that will continue to boost their ADPs. Both are looking like flex plays who can make the most of their touches in committee situations. Devin Singletary is a PPR flex candidate with a later pick in PPR formats.
Seahawks RB Focus: Chris Carson’s NFL.com ADP is 69.10, but has risen higher on other Fantasy platforms. Fantasy players like the fact that Seattle had the No. 1 ranked rush offense last season and Carson is coming off a true breakthrough campaign. He is expected to become even more productive as an all-around performer this year and is starting to be picked in the third or fourth round in many drafts. Rashaad Penny (107.95) has some flex potential and could really make the most of more opportunities in 2019.
Value Targets and Sleepers: James White is not being drafted as a Top 20 PPR RB, yet played at a Top 10 level for a good portion of the 2018 season and may do so again. Ronald Jones (132.22) gets a fresh start under a new coaching regime. Ito Smith (114.02) could perform well as a RB2 type if he is pushed into an expanded role at any time. Kalen Ballage (149.28) may be a very productive part of a time share in Miami and could be the preferred goal line runner. Justin Jackson (150.44) could possibly see a healthy amount of playing time at least early in the season with the Chargers.
Here are my Top 25 PPR RBs, with my full rankings available at Rotoballer.com
- Christian McCaffrey
- Saquon Barkley
- Alvin Kamara
- James Conner
- Le’Veon Bell
- David Johnson
- Joe Mixon
- Ezekiel Elliott
- Damien Williams
- Nick Chubb
- Dalvin Cook
- Kerry Johnson
- Melvin Gordon
- Todd Gurley
- Josh Jacobs
- Aaron Jones
- Leonard Fournette
- Mark Ingram
- Sony Michel
- Derrick Henry
- James White
- Chris Carson
- Marlon Mack
- Devonta Freeman
- Phillip Lindsay
Seahawks Fantasy Mailbag
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James Yi in West Seattle Asks: Seeing how much success Tyler Lockett had working with Doug Baldwin last year, can we assume whoever takes over the No. 2 WR job will get a lot of points, if the top corners will be on Lockett now?
Engel: Lockett had 10 TD receptions last season but could be even more consistent this year as he racks up more receptions and yardage than ever before. Yes, that should help free up some of the other top WRs for the Seahawks to make Fantasy contributions. Do note that not every defense will play man coverage, though, and sometimes the Seattle WRs other than Lockett will still face some formidable secondary opponents. Still, there is sleeper potential for Jaron Brown and David Moore. Brown should be targeted more often this year, as we saw in Seattle’s second preseason game. Moore showed us glimpses of his big play potential last season. Both should be on your Watch List. Of course, DK Metcalf will make some exciting plays as well, and he could be good as an eventual WR4 Fantasy type as a rookie.
For more from Scott Engel, get the RotoBaller.com 2019 Fantasy Football Draft Kit, which includes his rankings and regular weekly columns. Enter code “Seahawks” at checkout for a discount.