2020 College Market Share Report: Running Backs

Bruce Matson

2020 was a weird season where everything was outside the norm from players opting out to conferences creating makeshift schedules to get through the season. This skewed our sample sizes, preventing us from analyzing these players on a similar plane, making ownership rates even more important when evaluating a player’s production.

This year’s market share report consists of all running backs who produced at least a 20 percent share of their team’s offensive production. The list is separated by class to provide a portrait of when players are breaking out during their careers. This information is very important for both rookie drafts and devy leagues.

Below are the previous market share reports from the last five seasons:

Market share should be used as a gauge for player evaluations and not as an absolute tool. It is used best with other metrics and film. I find the market share report most useful to find diamonds in the rough for deep devy leagues and to find those players who are breaking out early in their careers.

*All stats are courtesy of ncaa.com

SENIORS

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Najee Harris, Alabama

Harris is one of the top running backs in this year’s draft class. He has managed two straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons. His ownership rate of Alabama’s offensive production is elevated by his 425 receiving yards which allowed him to accumulate a 32.42 percent dominator rating.

The senior running back has an impressive highlight reel. He’s a big physical back who has cat-like agility. Harris moves laterally very well for his size. Not to mention that he is a tremendous receiver out of the backfield.

In the right situation, Harris could immediately be a top ten back in dynasty. He has all the tools and is more than capable of handling a three-down workload.

Larry Rountree, Missouri

Rountree has been very productive during his four-year stint at Missouri. He surpassed the 1,000-yard mark during his sophomore year in 2018. In a short season, he was able to hit 972 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns. He is projected to be a late-round option in rookie drafts.

According to DLF’s rookie rankings, he’s the RB17. With him proving he could be a three-down back if given the opportunity, there’s a chance he could unpredictably produce and become a valuable fantasy asset. It’s something I wouldn’t count on, but it’s not outside the realm of possibilities.

Travis Etienne, Clemson

Etienne would have been one of the top running back prospects in last year’s draft but instead, he decided to stay for his senior season. It was an anticlimactic year for him due to the lofty expectations set by the prior success from his previous three seasons. He still managed to own a 24.96 percent dominator rating. The most impressive part about his senior season was his usage in the passing game, catching 48 passes for 588 yards and two touchdowns.

The first thing you will notice from watching Etienne on film is his long speed and burst. We can consider him gone once he gets the ball in the open field because it’s tough for imposing defenses to keep up with him. His explosiveness makes him dangerous when catching passes in the flat because the added space allows him to get to full speed easily.

He will be one of the first running backs selected in rookie drafts this year. Dynasty managers will need to pay a premium if they want to add him to their team. Etienne has the potential to develop into a top ten player in dynasty in the near future.

Michael Carter, North Carolina

Carter finished his career with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. Even with him sharing the backfield with Javonte Williams, he still owned a 21.11 percent dominator rating. He’s a 5-foot-8 bowling ball who is very assertive and likes to get downhill when running the football. Per PFF, he averaged 4.47 yards after contact per attempt. His landing spot will be indicative of his overall player value in fantasy football. If he can latch on to a team with an open depth chart, then there’s a chance he could carve out a role early in his career.

Trey Sermon, Ohio State

We saw Sermon turn it on at the end of the season, rushing for 636 yards and four touchdowns in the final three games leading up to the College Football Championship game against Alabama. He produced early in his career at Oklahoma. During his sophomore season, he rushed for 947 yards and 13 touchdowns. At one point he was valued as one of the top valued running backs in devy leagues.

Sermon moves really well for a bigger running back. He runs with a blend of power and finesse. The DLF staff has him ranked as the RB5 in their 2021 rookie running back rankings. He has shown off and on throughout his career that he can be a dynamic player. Injuries have prevented him from hitting his potential. However, does possess the capabilities of becoming an all-purpose back for an NFL team if given the opportunity.

JUNIORS

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Mohamed Ibrahim, Minnesota

The 5-foot-10 and 210-pound back will be returning for his senior season. Ibrahim has been a key staple of Minnesota’s offense throughout his career. We saw him surpass 100 yards rushing in all seven of his games this season which allowed him to own a 49.53% dominator rating. He will compete to be one of the best running backs in the Big Ten next season.

Jermar Jefferson, Oregon State

Jefferson broke out as a freshman in 2018 with 1,380 yards and 12 touchdowns. An ankle injury slowed him down in 2019. He finished his career by hitting the 100-yard mark in five out of his six games. He is currently listed as the RB8 in DLF’s rookie running back rankings.

At 5-foot-10 and 217 pounds, Jefferson has the size-adjusted speed to become a force. He’s dangerous in the open field and he can chain together moves to make defenders miss. His athleticism will give him chance to become the feature back for his NFL team.

Jaret Patterson, Buffalo

Patterson dismantled the MAC by rushing for over 1,000 yards in just six games. His best game of the season came against Kent State when he rushed for 409 yards and eight touchdowns. Per PFF, he averaged 110.66 yards after contact per game. He’s currently ranked at the RB12 in DLF’s rookie running back rankings.

Javonte Williams, North Carolina

Many people have Williams as a top-three back in this year’s draft class. His 1,140 yards and 19 touchdowns fueled him to own a 26.82 percent dominator. According to PFF, he accumulated 720 yards after contact while forcing 75 missed tackles.

Williams is a bruising three-down back who can run between the tackles and catch the ball out of the backfield. He executes good footwork and can make defenders miss in the open field. He’s a very talented back who has the potential to be the most valuable player from this year’s draft class.

SOPHOMORES

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Breece Hall, Iowa State

Hall is easily one of the top running backs in the nation. He immediately took over as the team’s lead back during his freshman season in 2019. He was the hard and soul of Iowa State’s offense, leading the country with 1,572 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns. Per PFF he averaged 3.34 yards after contact per attempt while avoiding 63 tackles on the season.

Even though he is just now entering his junior season, many believe Hall is pro-ready. He is a stout size-adjusted athlete who has great vision and excellent lateral movement skills. If anything, he’s a reason why dynasty managers should keep a tight grasp on their 2022 first-round rookie picks.

Isaiah Spiller, Texas A&M

Spiller demonstrated his potential during his freshman but turned things on in 2020 when exceeded the 100-yard mark six times. He was one of 14 running backs to rush for more than 1,000 yards. Per PPF, 39.7 percent of his production came from runs resulting in 15 yards or more.

He is another running back dynasty managers will be eager to draft in the 2022 draft class. Spiller has superb contact balance. He’s very powerful at the point of contact and has enough speed and agility to eat chunks of yards in the open field.

Kyren Williams, Notre Dame

Williams came out of nowhere to rush for 1,125 yards and 13 touchdowns as the lead back for the Fighting Irish. He produced a 27.94 percent dominator rating while owning a 29.17 percent share of Notre Dame’s offensive touchdowns. Another season with high-end production and Williams will be in the driver’s seat to being one of the top running backs selected in rookie drafts in 2022.

FRESHMAN

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Deuce Vaughn, Kansas State

Vaughn’s receiving production allowed him to own 31.89 percent market share of the team’s offensive production. He led the team in both rushing and receiving. His receiving numbers accounted for 23.37 percent of Kansas State’s passing output. Vaughn is a smaller back who is very shifty. He will remind you of Darren Sproles who also carried the rock for Kansas State.

Tank Bigsby, Auburn

The diaper dandy from the 2020 freshman class is Tank Bigsby. He played like a grown man, running through the opposition with a blend of power and speed. If you watched his high school tape, you knew the five-star recruit was going to transition into something special.

Bigsby is a powerful runner who likes to run through defenders to pass the time. He also executes very smooth footwork and has enough burst to wreak havoc in the open field. Everyone will be monitoring him next season to see if he will grow into one of the top running backs in the country.

Frank Gore Jr, Southern Miss.

Gore is the son of the immortal Frank Gore. He rushed 708 yards and two touchdowns this season. Per PFF he managed to avoid 43 tackles and averaged 3.65 yards after contact per attempt. He’s not considered a mega-talent, but he’s a player to watch since he does have the NFL bloodlines.

Bijan Robinson, Texas

Robinson broke out at the end of the 2020 season which is the reason why he only recorded an 18.91 percent market share of the Longhorn’s offensive production. He might already be the best running back in college football. We are talking about a Saquon Barkley-esque talent.

We have two more years to watch Robinson light up the scoreboard in Texas. He has the burst, power, and speed to be a difference-maker at the next level. On top of that, he’s very dangerous catching the ball out of the backfield. I’m excited to watch his development during the next couple of years.

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2020 College Market Share Report: Running Backs