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ADP Showdown: Austin Ekeler vs. Miles Sanders


With drafts right around the corner, it's time to dig in and start the final preparations. One way to do so is by having a good understanding of current ADP data to give you an idea of where players will be coming off the board. This is vital knowledge as you queue players up or having certain individuals in mind as drafts move along because it's always better to get your guy earlier than ADP indicates as opposed to waiting and being sniped at the last second. This strategy will be more important than ever in 2020 as it relates to the running back position. With more teams employing the shared workload backfields, finding the right RB with high upside to fill your roster is a must. While other skill positions seem to be getting deeper, bell-cow running backs continue to be fewer and far between.

Two backs that we are talking about here both have an extreme upside for the 2020 season, Austin Ekeler and Miles Sanders. We have seen Ekeler become a viable fantasy commodity over the last two seasons with what he brings to the table in PPR formats. With Melvin Gordon III now gone to Denver, the talk amongst the community is that he will be able to make that next step to an elite level at the position. Meanwhile, Sanders' rookie season started with inconsistent usage as he played snaps behind Jordan Howard. But as he took hold of the job, Sanders was one of the top backs in all of fantasy during the playoff stretch. That momentum at the end of the season has drawn the praise of many owners as the hype for his potential has reached an all-time high.

Austin Ekeler and Miles Sanders both bring separate skillsets to the table from a fantasy perspective. We are currently seeing both considered at the end of the first round in fantasy drafts and some instances slipping into the second. But the question is in this showdown, who should you prefer when the time comes to make a pick? Let's dive into the numbers to give you a better perspective on who should be the player that joins your roster for 2020.

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Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers

ADP: RB13 (Overall 18) *FFPC ADP

We have seen Ekeler become a name to be reckoned with in fantasy as he has steadily improved his numbers throughout his career, even while splitting time with Melvin Gordon. But with Melvin Gordon off the field to begin the 2019 season, we saw him produce as an RB1 in five of the team's first seven games. His production allowed owners that drafted him, later on, to dominate the standings early on in the season with his flexibility between starting running back or the flex position. What helped his cause was what he was able to get done on the ground while the Chargers relied on him as the lead back. With Ekeler, the reception totals are going to be there (92 in 2019), but his rushing abilities vaulted him of the running back board a year ago.

That is the crossroads we find ourselves at with Ekeler in 2020. Yes, Melvin Gordon is now a Bronco. But the team believes that they have some value in backup Justin Jackson and invested a fourth-round pick in Joshua Kelley. The Chargers have said publicly that they view this backfield as a committee approach with Kelley assuming the departed Gordon role as the rusher. That would indeed put a damper on the expected jump in production for Ekeler in 2020. With a new quarterback starting for the Chargers (either Tyrod Taylor of rookie Justin Herbert), the 92 receptions from 2019 could be hard to match again. If that is the case, Ekeler must offset that dip in production with a rise in value as a runner. But if he does not exceed 200 touches (224 in 2019), Ekeler may find himself mired as an RB2 in 2020 from a fantasy perspective.

 

Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles

ADP: RB8 (Overall 10)

As previously mentioned, Sanders' rookie campaign got off to a very murky start as he struggled to take advantage of the touches he got while splitting with Jordan Howard. He had two RB1 weekly finishes (weeks 6 and 8) over the team's first 11 games and in the other weeks he struggled to be worthy of a starting spot in fantasy lineups. But after the team's Week 10 bye, Howard was gone for the season and Sanders would then blossom. From week 13 through the end of the season, Sanders was the RB6 in fantasy and one of the more consistent players at the position (three games over 20 FP). With the Eagles issues at the receiver position due to injuries, the offense went through Sanders and they flourished, coming from behind to earn a playoff berth in the NFC.

As we head into the 2020 season, Sanders continues to see a climb in draft position as the hype swells based on his strong finish last year. The detractors like to point out HC Doug Pederson's propensity to utilize an RBBC approach to his offense. But Pederson has yet to have a back as talented as Sanders and to his credit, the team opted not to bring in a veteran during the offseason. With only Boston Scott to compete with for touches, it's obvious that Sanders will be the main option in this backfield and should be looked at as a potential bell-cow. If he plays the full-time role, his receptions (50) and yardage (509) should see a big spike in 2020 and locking him in as a bonafide RB1 for the season.

 

The Verdict

Earlier in the offseason, these two were much closer in ADP, making the choice a little tougher. But with more information coming out with practices underway and more fantasy draft information being released, we are seeing a separation in ADP between them. In my opinion, rightfully so as I have Sanders (RB10) higher than Ekeler (RB14) in my rankings. I have Sanders as an obvious first-round selection in fantasy drafts, while Ekeler finds himself in the first half of the second round for me. When it comes to this showdown, pull the trigger on Sanders and don't look back!



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Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They dig into trends, some interesting risers/fallers, and much more. They also go over some listener questions at the end to keep the Fantasy Baseball information coming even in the offseason. Be sure to subscribe... Read More