Why Sanders is a top pick for fantasy football running back


Thinking about drafting Miles Sanders in fantasy football this year? Let's explore what you should do.

2020 Stats: 164 rushes, 867 yards, 6 TD / 28 catches, 197 yards

Last August, Miles Sanders was a hot commodity among fantasy football fanatics. He was a guy many believed, heading into his second year in the league after a great rookie campaign, could turn into one of the Top 10 running backs in the league from a fantasy standpoint. He could catch the ball out of the backfield, he was prone to explosive plays, and was the second-best rookie RB in 2019 behind Josh Jacobs. He was an easy pick to make, and many probably thought they wound up with a steal if Sanders was their RB1 after draft night.

And then the 2020 Eagles season happened, and the offense was a hot mess.

Sanders wasn’t actually as disappointing as the rest of the team’s skill players. He still wound up as one of the biggest home run hitters in the league in terms of X-plays on the ground, rattling off game-breaking touchdown rushes, but his success in the passing game fell off a cliff and he ended up 21st among all RBs in standard leagues and 23rd in half- or full-PPR leagues.


The question isn’t whether Sanders is a good running back, but rather whether he can bounce back and get on track in Year 3 to become a starter-level fantasy option again.

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I think what we saw from Sanders in his rookie year might’ve been a bit of an outlier, receiving-wise, but so was 2020. The Eagles’ entire offense was awful, and Carson Wentz couldn’t even hit his receivers in the hands, so I don’t think Sanders will be dropping nearly half of his targets like he did last season. Jalen Hurts likes throwing deep balls but he’s also great at improvising and finding guys when plays break down, and Sanders is a guy who can shake off defenders after his route is over and get open underneath as an outlet for Hurts. 

Plus, with a second-year QB who wasn’t supposed to be in this position, Nick Sirianni isn’t going to lean insanely hard on Hurts throwing the ball 40 times per game. With the Eagles’ defense a threat to be a Top 10 unit this year, expect Sanders to get his fair share of carries - and with a healthy offensive line, those carries will help him pile up yards considering Sanders averaged 5.3 yards per attempt last year.

If you draft Sanders as one of the last RB1s or one or the first RB2s in your league, you should be happy with the production you’ll get. He’s not a Top 8 RB, but he could wind up Top 12 if things break right for the Eagles this year.

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