The great members of the PFN Dynasty staff were posed the following question: “What is your bold prediction for the upcoming season?” Five brave souls stepped up, and I will analyze these five 2020 fantasy football bold predictions individually in a series — each successive article will escalate in boldness. I kicked off the series by analyzing the bold prediction that Dak Prescott will finish 2020 as fantasy football’s QB1. In the second installment of the bold prediction series, I tackle Miles Sanders could be a top 3 running back in fantasy.
Miles Sanders could be a top 3 RB in fantasy
Prediction made by Andrew Hall (@AndrewHallFF)
Why it’s a bold prediction
Doug Pederson never uses a bell-cow back.
Why it will happen
As a rookie, Miles Sanders played in all 16 games and started 11 of them. He ran 179 times for 818 yards with only three rushing touchdowns. He also caught 50 passes for 509 yards and three more receiving touchdowns. All of these stats are set to rise this year with the departure of Jordan Howard and with the Philadelphia Eagles not adding anyone to compete with Sanders for touches.
The narrative going around is that head coach Doug Pederson doesn’t use a single RB in his scheme, but I think it’s more likely that he just hasn’t had a back like Sanders to lean on yet. In Pederson’s last year in Kansas City, he had Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West to work with, neither of which are as good as Sanders.
After becoming the head coach in Philadelphia, he’s had guys like Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles, LeGarrette Blount, Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood, Josh Adams, and Jay Ajayi. Not exactly a who’s who of RB1s.
All of this points to a meteoric rise for Sanders if he’s given the majority of the workload. As of today, the Eagles haven’t brought in anyone to compete as a lead back, aside from their incumbent change of pace guy, Boston Scott. Behind him, the talent falls off drastically, leaving Sanders as the sole beneficiary of a large amount of volume on a high-powered offense behind Carson Wentz.
Sanders, who was the Eagles second-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, is entering his second season after finishing as fantasy football’s RB15 last season. He is an athletically gifted running back who should have more room to display his elusiveness in the open field after the Eagles added speedy wide receivers to their offense. Philadelphia’s 2020 first-round pick Jalen Reagor will team up with former San Francisco 49ers’ WR Marquise Goodwin, and DeSean Jackson, who returns from core muscle surgery that cost him most of the 2019 regular season.
Sanders, who was Saquon Barkley’s former teammate at Penn State, took over the featured role in Week 11 after Jordan Howard was sidelined with a shoulder injury for the remainder of the regular season. He averaged 18 touches per game from Weeks 11-16, on his way to finishing with 818 rushing yards and 1,641 all-purpose yards, which are both franchise records.
He is a multidimensional player and a superior athlete. He ranked seventh in the league in yards per touch (5.8) and is geared to smash his current RB11 ADP with the increase in touches as the featured running back in the Eagles offense.
His 2020 season outlook seems very promising for fantasy football managers. The Eagles are considering signing free agent running back Devonta Freeman, but they still have not made any significant additions to their backfield this offseason. A top-five offensive line will still be strong with Andre Dillard taking over at left tackle for Jason Peters, who is moving to right guard, replacing All-Pro Brandon Brooks. The addition of more offensive weapons in the Eagles passing game, including the return of veteran wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, will open up the field for Sanders to showcase his top-five juke rate.
Sanders is primed to have a breakout 2020 season for a Philadelphia team looking to advance to the playoffs for a fourth straight season. The ascension of Sanders to the fantasy football elite among running backs may not be so bold of a prediction in hindsight.