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Season Review: RBs

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MVP: Austin Ekeler

It is hard to argue with Austin Ekeler in this pick. Josh Jacobs put up a fantastic season but Ekeler was just unstoppable. He was the RB2 in standard, RB1 in PPR, and RB1 in half PPR. Ekeler ran for 881 yards on only 193 carries, while leading RBs in receptions, pulling in 103 for 686 yards. Ekeler also led the league in rushing + receiving touchdowns, scoring 18 times throughout the year. Ekeler was ranked as a top 3 back coming into the year, and he lived up to it. Ekeler might have been a pro bowl snub, but he has more than earned his fantasy football MVP.

HM: Josh Jacobs

Comeback POY: Cristian McCaffery

A lot of people doubted CMC's ability to stay healthy going into this year. McCaffery's stellar 2019 year has kept his ADP high, but two consecutive years playing less than 8 games have shattered the trust of owners everywhere. CMC shattered that narrative by landing as a top 3 RB in all scoring settings this year. McCaffery rushed for 1,094 yards and 8 touchdowns, and tacked on 82 receptions for 707 yards and 4 touchdowns. The biggest factor for this bounce back was the midseason trade to San Francisco. Since his arrival at San Fran in Week 7, CMC averaged 17.3 fantasy points per game, which is ranked 3rd out of all RBs. CMC had a stellar campaign, and next year he will be on top of everyone's draft boards.

HM: Saquan Barkley

Best Sleeper: Josh Jacobs

Josh Jacobs came into the year ranked as the 22nd best RB. Everyone had doubts on his ability to perform in a contract year. He exploded past that expectation by landing as the RB1 in standard scoring. Jacobs ran for a career high 1,608 with 12 touchdowns. Even though he was dominant on the ground, Jacobs was also able to add on a respectable 51 receptions for 395 yards. Jacobs was the clearcut lead back for the Raiders, and will likely earn himself another contract with his stellar performance. His career year set him atop the leaderboard in fantasy rankings for next year.

HM: Tony Pollard

Biggest Bust: Jonathon Taylor

Theres no other way to put it. JT was the consensus number 1 overall pick. He ended as the 33rd RB in scoring overall. He was the 16th RB in points per game. There was a lot of factors into the decline of Taylor including bad coaching decisions, poor offensive line play, and poor QB play. That being said, JT was disappointing after a stellar season. JT is a talented enough back who should be able to turn it around, but there is going to need to be some more production before he can return to favor with fantasy managers.

HM: Najee Harris

Playoff MVP: Jerrick McKinnon

Nobody would have been able to predict this with CEH and Pacheco ranking ahead of him at various points in the year, but McKinnon made a splash when it mattered. In the playoff weeks (15-17), McKinnon ranked 1st in PPR and Half PPR (second in Standard). During that time, McKinnon only rushed for 85 yards and 1 touchdown, but he made a huge impact in the passing game. McKinnon caught the most receptions over that period (23) had the most receiving yards (265) and the most receiving touchdowns (6). To compare, the next closest receiving yards was 172 yards and no other back had more than 2 receiving touchdowns. In Weeks 14 and 15 McKinnon was ranked RB3 and RB1, respectively, and the championship game (Week 17) he landed as the 7th highest scoring back. McKinnon was only rostered in 86% of leagues, which made him a valuable asset for anyone who payed enough attention to pick him up.

HM: Christian McCaffery

Waiver Wire Hero: Jamaal Williams

Who will lead the league in rushing touchdowns? Most people would probably have guessed Derrick Henry, Jonathon Taylor, or Nick Chubb to start the year. If anyone would have bet Jamaal Williams they would have brought in a lot of cash. Williams ended the year as the RB9 despite having less than 1,100 total yards. To put that into perspective the only other back to not have more than 1,100 total yards in the top 15 is Zeke Elliott (RB15). Williams managed to do that by scoring 15 times. Williams landed as a top 5 RB finisher in 4 different weeks throughout the year, all of those games having multiple touchdown runs. Williams had the most attempts in the red zone out of any back, getting 7 more carries than the next closest back (Williams 53 - Ekeler 46). Williams was originally ranked as the 52nd RB in fantasy, the 145th overall player. He blew past that and was a big factor in what made the Lions a top 5 offense in the NFL.

HM: Ken Walker III

What Could Have Been: Breece Hall

I had to include Breece Hall because he could have had an insane rookie year. The rookie back that led this year was Ken Walker, who was fantastic, but Breece Hall was bound to have a breakout. Breece Hall had his season end in Week 7 (torn ACL), but before that he was putting up insane numbers for a rookie. He had rushed for 463 yards, 4 touchdowns, and also added 218 yards and a touchdown in the air. In Weeks 5 and 6, Hall was on pace to be the sleeper back of the year, landing as the RB3 for 2 consecutive weeks. Week 5 was particularly special, as he rushed for 97 yards, but also had 100 yards receiving. On top of 197 yards off scrimmage, he also scored in that game as well. Hall was the RB8 in fantasy points per game in standard and Half PPR, and RB7 in PPR. It will be fun to see him come back healthy for the 2023 season.

HM: Khalil Herbert

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