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Fantasy football: McCaffrey, Cook top Week 1 running back rankings

Sept. 9 (UPI) — Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Josh Jacobs, Ezekiel Elliott and Derrick Henry top my Week 1 fantasy football running back rankings for 2020.

Saquon Barkley, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Austin Ekeler, Joe Mixon and Alvin Kamara round out my top 10 options for Week 1.

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Plenty of other running backs with great matchups this week are available outside of the elite names. Try to find a player who will get a lot of carriers, targets in the passing game or goal line work and has a good Week 1 matchup.

Jacobs, Edwards-Helaire, David Johnson, Marlon Mack, James White and Tarik Cohen are among my favorite starts this week.

TOP SHELF

Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs is the focal point of his team’s offense. The second-year workhorse had 1,316 yards from scrimmage and seven scores during his rookie campaign and I expect him to improve on those numbers in 2020.

He should be in all lineups in Week 1 as the Raiders face a Carolina Panthers defense that allowed more fantasy points to running backs than any other NFL team last season. Jacobs is an elite RB1 and my No. 3 player at the position this week.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire should be one of the most-exciting rookies to watch this season as his skillset appears to be a perfect fit for the Kansas City Chiefs offense.

He is my No. 7 running back in Week 1 as the Chiefs host the Houston Texans, a unit that tied for allowing the most receiving scores and allowed the third-most receiving yards to running backs in 2019.

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The Texans also allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to the position last season. Edwards-Helaire should showcase his versatility right out of the gate.

SNEAKY PLAYS

David Johnson was an overlooked part of the trade that sent former Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals, but he could have a huge impact on his new Texas team.

I have Johnson at No. 14 in my Week 1 running back rankings as a fringe RB1 in deeper leagues and a great RB2 or flex play in other formats. I expect the Texans to spread the ball around a bit more this season and maximize Johnson’s talent as a pass catcher.

The Texans’ Week 1 game against the Chiefs should also be a shootout and the Chiefs allowed the most receiving yards and sixth-most fantasy points to running backs in 2019. Start Johnson with confidence .

Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack still has the No. 1 spot on his team’s depth chart, but was underdrafted in many leagues due to the presence of rookie Jonathan Taylor.

I have Mack as my No. 19 running back in Week 1 because I expect him to still see a healthy amount of work when the Colts battle the Jacksonville Jaguars, a unit that allowed the second-most fantasy points to running backs in 2019.

Mack is a solid RB2 play in Week 1, but is a better option in standard scoring leagues.

LONGSHOTS

The New England Patriots backfield appeared crowded at times this off-season, but has now thinned after the team released Lamar Miller and placed Damien Harris on injured reserve.

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Sony Michel and James White are listed as co-starters on the Patriots depth chart, but I like White as a season-long option. I also have White as my No. 22 running back in Week 1, when the Patriots face a Miami Dolphins team that allowed the third-most rushing yards and fifth-most fantasy points to running backs last season.

I expect White to post RB2/flex slot numbers and surpass 100 yards from scrimmage in Week 1.

Chicago Bears starting running back David Montgomery’s status for Week 1 is still in doubt after he went down to an injury during training camp. Tarik Cohen has worked as the Bears passing-downs back and should see a larger workload until Montgomery returns to full health.

I have Cohen as my No. 27 option in Week 1. The Bears face a Detroit Lions unit that tied for allowing the most touchdowns and allowed the second-most receiving yards to running backs last season. This game script is written for Cohen, who also should surpass 100 yards from scrimmage in Week 1.

Week 1 fantasy football running back rankings

1. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers vs. LV

2. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings vs. GB

3. Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders at CAR

4. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys at LAR

5. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans at DEN

6. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants vs. PIT

7. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City Chiefs vs. HOU

8. Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers at CIN

9. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals vs. LAC

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10. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints vs. TB

11. James Conner, Pittsburgh Steelers at NYG

12. Mark Ingram, Baltimore Ravens vs. CLE

13. Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks at ATL

14. David Johnson, Houston Texans at KC

15. Raheem Mostert, San Francisco 49ers vs. ARI

16. Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles at WAS

17. Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers at MIN

18. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns at BAL

19. Marlon Mack, Indianapolis Colts at JAX

20. Kenyan Drake, Arizona Cardinals at SF

21. Todd Gurley, Atlanta Falcons vs. SEA

22. James White, New England Patriots vs. MIA

23. Melvin Gordon, Denver Broncos vs. TEN

24. Le’Veon Bell, New York Jets at BUF

25. Devin Singletary, Buffalo Bills vs. NYJ

26. Kareem Hunt, Cleveland Browns at BAL

27. Tarik Cohen, Chicago Bears at DET

28. Ronald Jones, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at NO

29. Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions vs. CHI

30. Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts at JAX

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