Fantasy News & Analysis

Fantasy Football Mailbag: What to do with Alvin Kamara, Derrick Henry vs. Miles Sanders and Leonard Fournette in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' backfield

PFF's Andrew Erickson is here to answer any and all fantasy football questions weekly throughout the NFL preseason. The mailbag will appear periodically throughout the regular season.

Submit questions for Andrew either via email ([email protected]) or Twitter @AndrewErickson_ or @PFF_Fantasy.

Without further ado: Let's talk about Alvin Kamara, Derrick HenryMiles Sanders and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ backfield.

This week’s questions come courtesy of @profootballfocus on Instagram and @PFF_Fantasy on Twitter.

Is it safe to draft Alvin Kamara? — @nicky_stetson

All indications are that the shot he received in his back was just for SI joint inflammation, which is not considered a big deal at this time. “At this time” is important to call out, though, because according to PFF’s injury analyst Mario Pilato, epidurals just mask the problem — they don't necessarily fix it. 

Pilato doesn't expect this to limit Kamara’s playing ability. With that in mind, I'm still fine selecting Kamara fourth overall across all draft formats. If anything, I'd try to target backup New Orleans Saints running backs Latavius Murray and/or Ty Montgomery earlier than ADP, as there is always the chance that one hit causes a flare-up for Kamara.

Kamara is apparently already back at practice, and the team says it has engaged in contract negotiations

Derrick Henry or Miles Sanders with the ninth pick? — @ayoo_adrian

I have Derrick Henry on my #fade list, but I still like him more than Miles Sanders at the No. 9 spot. My most up to date fantasy football rankings have Henry three spots ahead of Sanders. 

Henry has some issues that could come to fruition in 2020, but I'm at least confident that he is going to see a heavy workload. Sanders shouldn't suffer from a lack of volume, either, but I'm less confident he's going to be able to handle it through a full season. He dealt with injuries last season and is already at least a little banged up heading into 2020. 

The Eagles are at least trying to get better production from their wide receiver group. With rookie Jalen Reagor and veteran Alshon Jeffery out, that's not exactly working out in the near-term. But given the team's investment in the passing game, I'm not sure we see Sanders take another step forward in the receiving department. So for him to truly ascend to RB1 status, he'll need to improve as a rusher. Last year, Sanders earned PFF's second-worst rushing grade (58.5) among running backs with at least 150 carries in 2019.

To make matters worse, the Eagles have already taken hits across the offensive line, losing All-Pro guard Brandon Brooks and second-year tackle Andre Dillard

You're much better off going with Henry at No. 9 overall and taking a late-round flier on Boston Scott. Even with Sanders healthy, Scott might be able to provide some standalone value in the passing game. He compiled 23 receptions over the last four games of 2019, and his yards per route run (2.27) was second only to Austin Ekeler among running backs with at least 25 targets in 2019.

Leonard Fournette or Ronald Jones? — @Michael_Field12

I'm still siding with Ronald Jones — he has already been named the starter, has been with the team all summer and is coming off an underrated sophomore campaign. He was also featured as one of my favorite fantasy picks for the 2020 season.

I will say, though, that Jones probably won’t have a long leash on the starting gig. Despite the overwhelming hate, Leonard Fournette’s rushing numbers were pretty on par with Jones in 2019, if not better in some areas. 

Both players ranked inside the top eight in breakaway percentage and top 11 in elusive rating, with Fournette finishing ahead of Jones in both. He was second overall (37.4%) in breakaway percentage and seventh in elusive rating (64.7). 

Whoever prevails as the goal-line back will be the better fantasy asset, and my money is on Jones. Last season, RoJo was the seventh-highest-graded (71.1) running back inside the 10-yard line, ranking third in the percentage of runs converted into first downs or touchdowns (60%) and finishing first in missed tackles forced per attempt (0.5). 

Meanwhile, Fournette ranked 35th in PFF grade (46.3) inside the 10-yard line and 36th in the percentage of runs converted into first downs or touchdowns (13%). The former Jaguar ranked 10th in missed tackles forced per attempt (0.17). 

I'd be hoping to see Jones' ADP drop into the seventh round, and I'd consider Fournette a round or two later.

Is Kenyan Drake a reliable fantasy player in 2020? — @nfl_polls_world

Kenyan Drake was public enemy No. 1 on my #fade list this summer — I don't think he can be a reliable option in fantasy football for 2020. Drake has always been a super-streaky player, and I think we're overlooking his history in favor of the insane production during his second-half surge with the Arizona Cardinals

He scored eight TDs in as many weeks, which vaulted him to RB4 with an average of 19.55 fantasy points per game from Weeks 9-17. Those eight TDs were the most any Cardinals player scored the entire season. 

There should be major touchdown regression from Drake, considering the team’s addition of wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. The average rushing TD total scored by the lead running back in an offense that featured Hopkins is just under six touchdowns — the high was only eight (in a full season).

Quarterback Kyler Murray is also a threat to eat into Drake’s touchdowns — the dynamic young QB had 19 rushing attempts inside the 20 but came away with just three rushing scores. Over the past two seasons, any quarterback who has had at least 19 red-zone rushing attempts has averaged six touchdowns.

Then there's this: Since 2010, 45 teams have had a quarterback with at least 65 rushing attempts. None of those teams supported both a top 10 fantasy WR and RB. Murray had 93 rushing attempts in 2019 and will likely reach at least 65 rushing attempts in 2020.

Considering both Hopkins and Drake are currently being drafted in the top-10 range, I am out on both of them for 2020. 

Quick Hitters

Can Amari Cooper still be a top WR with CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup sharing targets? — @brentvlncrt

I touched on this in my latest piece on team misconceptions to know before your draft, but, yes, Amari Cooper can finish as a top wideout. This Dallas offense actually still has room to grow. 

The team ranked 21st in pass-play percentage (60%) in 2019. The last time we saw new head coach Mike McCarthy (2018 Green Bay Packers), his team led the league in pass-play percentage (71.4%). 

With over 180 vacated targets, all the Dallas pass-catchers will be fed, including Cooper, who is the best of the bunch. 

Where should we draft D’Andre Swift and Kerryon Johnson? — @charliewi

I have Kerryon Johnson ranked ahead of D’Andre Swift but would feel comfortable taking either Detroit Lions running back from Rounds 8-10. 

You've got the first pick with your finances. Western Southern Financial Group.

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