Fantasy Football 2020 NFL Draft Profiles: Sleeper running backs outside the top options

Over the past couple months, the CBS Fantasy team has been churning out prospect profiles for the 2020 NFL Draft with a specific focus on Fantasy. All of these include a statistical breakdown, strengths and weaknesses, a Fantasy-focused player comp and our favorite landing spot, and I can’t recommend them enough as snapshots of who these prospects are and what to expect from them. 

Here are the running backs we’ve covered so far, with links to each piece:

Of course, these seven backs won’t be the only ones drafted, so here are some brief thoughts on more mid- and later-round names to keep an eye on this week, sorted in order of their CBS Sports prospect rankings. 

Anthony McFarland

Height: 5 feet 8 inches
Weight: 208 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.44 seconds

McFarland was much better as a redshirt freshman in 2018 than a redshirt sophomore last year, but he’s a young, athletic back with room to grow. He averaged just over 10 rush attempts both seasons, and caught just 24 balls total, so he hasn’t shown an ability to handle a big workload. Given that and his 208-pound frame, he likely profiles as a home run hitting change of pace option at the next level, but the speed could make him a contributor in the right offense. 

Eno Benjamin

Height: 5 feet 9 inches
Weight: 207 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.57 seconds

Benjamin is one of the best pass-catching backs in the class, with at least 35 grabs in each of his final two seasons at Arizona State. He tested better in the jumps and agility drills than the 40, and has the quickness and explosiveness to be an effective third-down back. That said, he wasn’t a particularly efficient rusher despite handling over 250 carries in each of his final two seasons. While Benjamin profiles as a potentially useful PPR back as early as 2020, questions remain about his ability to play on early downs. 

Darrynton Evans

Height: 5 feet 10 inches
Weight: 203 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.41 seconds

Evans is yet another sub-210 pound back who might not play on three downs at the next level. He backed up his 4.41 speed with explosive jump numbers, and the small school star out of Appalachian State hit several big runs during his three-year college career. Evans wasn’t asked to do a ton in the passing game, catching 39 balls over three seasons, but a lot of that can be dependent on the offense at the college level. If that part of his game develops, he could be an explosive change of pace and passing downs weapon. 

Joshua Kelley

Height: 5 feet 11 inches
Weight: 212 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.49 seconds

Unfortunately, Kelley looks like any number of replacement-level backs that the NFL churns through. He ran a solid 40 but didn’t have great jump numbers. His pass protection is cited as a liability, and he wasn’t particularly effective in the receiving game. Draft capital and fit are always key for players of Kelley’s ilk, and it’s certainly not out of the question that he could be a useful pro. But if there are differentiating skills in his profile or on his tape, they are hard to find. 

Ke’Shawn Vaughn

Height: 5 feet 10 inches
Weight: 214 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.51 seconds

After two years at Illinois, Vaughn sat out the 2017 season while transferring to Vanderbilt where he finished up his college career with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in the SEC. Vaughn has good size, is a decisive runner and was productive behind a subpar offensive line, though he took a step back statistically in 2019 from his first year with the Commodores. His 66 career receptions across both schools speak to the potential to play on passing downs, and he hauled in 28 balls in his final season.

Lamical Perine

Height: 5 feet 11 inches
Weight: 216 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.62 seconds

A four-year contributor at Florida, Perine finished with at least 500 yards from scrimmage in each college season but never cracked 1,000. He didn’t test particularly well athletically, though not poorly either, and never handled much more than about 10 carries per game at the college level. One big note in his favor — after 32 catches across his first three seasons, Perine caught 40 balls this past year and gets positive reviews in pass protection.

Antonio Gibson

Height: 6 feet
Weight: 228 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.39 seconds

Gibson’s 4.39 40 at 228 pounds gave him an otherworldly speed score, and the versatile athlete looks like he could be an absolute steal if his running back skills develop. The reason they may need time to develop is Gibson didn’t see a lot of playing time while mostly being considered a wide receiver at Memphis — he finished his two seasons there with just 44 catches and 33 rush attempts. There are good and bad comps among athletes like this trying to transition to the running back position — it didn’t work out well for C.J. Prosise while Ty Montgomery was more productive — but if Gibson can figure out the nuances of the position, his receiving ability should give him legitimate three-down upside and a Fantasy-friendly touch mix. 

Which players are poised for breakouts, which sleepers do you need to jump on, and which busts should you avoid at all costs in your Fantasy football league? Visit SportsLine now to get early rankings, plus see which WR is going to come out of nowhere to crack the top 10, all from the model that out-performed experts big time last season.

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