Scott Engel returns for his ninth season of Fantasy Football coverage on Seahawks.com. Scott is a 20-plus year veteran of the Fantasy industry and an inaugural member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association's Hall of Fame. You can find more of his Fantasy analysis at RotoBaller.com and SportsLine.com. You can listen to Scott on weekend mornings and on demand on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio. Scott has also won his highly competitive Fantasy Football league with other experts and top players in each of the past three years.
Seahawks history is well-stocked with legendary and memorable running backs who have also been superstar and top performers in Fantasy Football. Curt Warner was the first Seahawks RB to provide Fantasy players with stellar numbers, with two 1,400-yard, 13 TD seasons in the "pen and pad" era of the game. In the earliest days of Fantasy Football on the internet, Chris Warren totaled over 1,860 yards from scrimmage and 11 TDs in 1994, and he rushed for 1,345 yards and stacked up 16 TDs in 1995. Ricky Watters rushed for 1,200 yards in three consecutive seasons from 1998 to 2000, with 50 receptions in two of those campaigns and nine total TDs in '98 and 2000.
Marshawn Lynch and Shaun Alexander are two of the greatest Fantasy RBs of all time, and are the most productive Fantasy performers to ever play for the Seahawks. Lynch was a consistent first round pick from 2012 to 2015. He finished Top Two in Fantasy Points on NFL.com from 2011 to 2014. Lynch scored at least 11 times and ran for 1,200-plus yards in each season during that span. Alexander was a No. 1 to No. 3 overall pick during his prime. His 1,880, 27 rushing TD season in his 2005 NFL MVP campaign ranks as one of the greatest campaigns in the history of Fantasy Football. He never scored less than 16 total TDs from 2001 to 2005.
Now Chris Carson has joined the illustrious list of outstanding Fantasy running backs in Seahawk annals, and we profile him here for the 2020 season along with scouting the field at the most important position in Fantasy Football. RB is the position of highest demand in the game. Running backs will fly off the board in the early rounds. The ideal approach is to get two RBs in your first three picks, and you should ultimately wait no longer than the fourth round to take your second starting running back. The Average Draft Position reports on NFL.com highlight RBs as 11 of the first 19 selections. Every draft is different, though, and you will see RB selections dominate the first two rounds more than the ADPs would indicate in many leagues.
Chris Carson: Entrenched as a Strong Fantasy Starter
Chris Carson has finished as a Top 13 Fantasy RB in each of the past two seasons. He has totaled over 2,380 rushing yards and 18 TDs from scrimmage in those campaigns. He has averaged 4.5 yards per carry in his three pro seasons so far. In 2019 Carson finished second in the NFC and fifth in the NFL with 1,230 rushing yards. Last season he scored at least 13 Fantasy Points on NFL.com eight times in the 13 games when he carried the ball 15 or more times.
According to Football Outsiders, Carson ranked third in the league in RB Success Rate (57 percent), which is defined as a measure of consistency centrally based on the percentage of carries when the runner gains 40 percent of needed yards on first down, 60 percent of needed yards on second down, or 100 percent of needed yards on third or fourth down. Pro Football Focus noted that his 107 broken tackles over the past two seasons are second-best in the NFL and tops in the NFC. They also pointed out that his 3.5 yards after contact per carry average is Top 5 overall.
The numbers clearly indicate that Carson is a lock to perform as a prime No. 2 Fantasy RB, and he does have the upside to perform at a RB1 level over a full season. He is ultra-reliable for the Seahawks in key situations and his intense, determined running style leads to frequent extra yardage gained. Those traits translate into a strong statistical floor for Fantasy purposes on a regular basis with consistent promise for outstanding performances. From Weeks 4 through 15 last year, Carson registered double figure Fantasy points in all but one game.
Carson's current NFL.com ADP is 34.47, which is 15th at RB. That makes him a value play and a solid choice to pair with any first round selection you may opt for at the position. He can certainly perform at a Top 10 level for much of the season.
An essential Fantasy rule in many cases is to draft for RB depth, often from the same team. If Carlos Hyde is pressed into more service at any time, he can be a quality Fantasy starter. He rushed for a career-high 1,070 yards last season. In Dynasty leagues, Seahawks rookie DeeJay Dallas could be a very viable future contributor because of his potential versatility.
Scouting The RB Position for Fantasy Football in 2020
If you are in the Top 4 slots in the first round in any draft, you are in advantageous draft territory. You get to pick one of the three superstar RBs who dominate the workloads on their respective teams (Christian McCaffery, Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott) or Alvin Kamara, who has the most upside of any other RB outside the Top 3. A healthy Kamara could total 15 or more TDs from scrimmage this season. Barkley had three long runs of 59 or more yards in games last year and two long receptions of 50-plus yards. He can challenge McCaffrey for top scoring honors over a full season. He may have the highest statistical ceiling of any RB in Fantasy Football.
Derrick Henry (NFL.com ADP of 7.9 overall) led the NFL in rushing yards and TDs last season and his incredible postseason outings confirm he is worth a mid to late first round pick. Dalvin Cook (10.1) averaged the second most Fantasy Points Per Game at RB last year in PPR leagues and can challenge for a Top 3 finish at the position if he can avoid significant injuries. Nick Chubb (16.0) and Aaron Jones (16.4) do have concerns about shared workloads, but can still produce well enough to be worthy of second round selections, especially in Chubb's case.
Chiefs rookie Clyde-Edwards Helaire has shot into the first round of many recent drafts. He is an exciting all-around threat who plays in the league's most dynamic offense. He should certainly be targeted towards the back half of the first round. Kenyan Drake rushed for 643 yards and eight TDs in the second half of the 2019 season and can play at a Top 10 level over a full season with Arizona this year.
Austin Ekeler (17.9) may be hard-pressed to catch 90 balls again. He is a quality mid to late second rounder, though. Joe Mixon (also 17.9) is going late om the first round in many drafts as the Bengals offense should be improved this year and he can benefit. Josh Jacobs (19.2) has back-end RB1 potential and is a viable early second rounder. Miles Sanders is a late first rounder in many leagues. His path is clear to be a featured back this season and he is versatile with some upside. Leonard Fournette (26.0) should score more often than he did last season even if his reception totals drop. Melvin Gordon (32.7) projects to be the lead RB for Denver if he stays healthy.
James Conner (41.7) can be a decent value play in a rebound year. Jonathan Taylor may emerge as a strong starter for the Colts as a rookie. Raheem Mostert can explode in any given week. Cam Akers should quickly become the No. 1 RB for the Rams in his first pro season. He is a prime target if you miss out a second starter at RB in the first four rounds. Damien Harris and Bryce Love are excellent later-round targets with sleeper potential. Both young RBs could eventually become starters for New England and Washington, respectively. Duke Johnson could also see more extensive playing time at some point this season.
Scott Engel's Top 25 Fantasy Running Backs
- Christian McCaffrey
- Saquon Barkley
- Ezekiel Elliott
- Alvin Kamara
- Derrick Henry
- Joe Mixon
- Dalvin Cook
- Miles Sanders
- Kenyan Drake
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire
- Josh Jacobs
- Nick Chubb
- Chris Carson
- Austin Ekeler
- Aaron Jones
- Melvin Gordon
- Leonard Fournette
- Cam Akers
- James Conner
- Le'Veon Bell
- Jonathan Taylor
- De'Andre Swift
- David Johnson
- Todd Gurley
- Mark Ingram
For the complete list of RBs and updated player rankings from Scott Engel, plus comprehensive Fantasy Football coverage and tools, get the RotoBaller Season Pass. Enter promo code "Seahawks" at checkout for an additional discount.