A critical strategy in building successful fantasy football rosters is identifying running backs who are currently backups, or the RB2, on their team. RB2s who are an injury to the starter away from a leading job offer clear starting opportunities in your lineup if their RB1 is injured.
The key RB2s to identify are those with a clear hold on the backup position on their team. Some running back situations are less clear. The depth chart statuses of rookies Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Jonathan Taylor, D'Andre Swift, J.K. Dobbins, Cam Akers, and Ke'Shawn Vaughn are unknown at this time. Some might represent top RB2 targets if they start the season as backups, while their primary competition, Damien Williams, Marlon Mack, Kerryon Johnson, Mark Ingram II, Darrell Henderson/Malcolm Brown, and Ronald Jones II, respectively, might be top RB2 targets if the rookie wins out.
Given the uncertainty, those situations are excluded from the below list, focusing on veteran situations for RB2 target players.
A critical place to look for one injury away running backs are those selected on day two, rounds two and three, of the NFL Draft. Running backs selected on Day 2 are a clear tier break above day three running backs in odds of a top 24 season and individual starter games.
Alexander Mattison is one of the clearest RB2 targets in the league. Mattison is a Round 3 NFL Draft pick, and the backup to Dalvin Cook, who has yet to play a full 16 games in this three-year career. Mattison is prototypically sized at 221 pounds, caught over two catches per game in his final two seasons in college while rushing for over 2800 yards in three seasons. Add in the fact he was a 21-year-old rookie, he presented a strong profile entering the NFL.
In 2019, Minnesota ran on 49.1% of its offensive plays which was only behind Baltimore (56%) and San Francisco (49.2%). Their 476 rushing attempts in 2019 ranked behind only Baltimore (596), San Franciso (498), and Seattle (481). While offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski is now the head coach in Cleveland, he was replaced by Gary Kubiak who has produced a long history of fantasy production for running backs. Add in the trade of Stefon Diggs to the Buffalo Bills, and the Minnesota offense should revolve around the running game.
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