If you have been paying any attention to my content this season you would be aware of the fact that I am in love with Miles Sanders Fantasy Football potential. 2019 was a tale of two halves for Sanders. He was playing a complementary role to Eagles RB Jordan Howard up until the bye week, where Howard got hurt. Once given the keys to the backfield Sanders exploded and exhibited why the Eagles spent a second round pick on him. Despite only being the starter in 7 games in 2019, he still finished as the RB15 in PPR formats. Now, with Jordan Howard out of the picture, Sanders is primed for a breakout season in 2020.
When looking at Sanders profile it is very clear that he is an elite athlete. He ranks in the 74th percentile or better in all 4 major metric categories.
One metric that I love to use to evaluate a RB's talent is evaded tackles. This is a tally of how many times a RB was able to evade a tackle throughout the season. Miles Sanders ranked 13th among RB's in this category with 75 evaded tackles. However this does not tell the entire story. When comparing his numbers to the "workhorses" of the NFL Miles Sanders was evading tackles at a much higher rate than these "elite" guys.
Combine this talent with the number 1 run blocking offensive line in the NFL and you have something special. So you must be asking yourself, what are the concerns?
Doug Pederson & the RBBC
For those of you who don't know "RBBC" stands for running back by committee and Doug Pederson has notoriously used an RBBC throughout his Eagles career. Why is this a concern for Sanders? Well, in my opinion it's not but anyone making an argument against him will bring this up. So, obviously I have to debunk this lazy take.
During Doug Pederson's tenure with the Eagles (2016-2019) he has used a RBBC in every season. There is no denying that. However, everybody seems to overlook why he has done this. Here is a list of all the RB's that Pederson has used prior to Sanders being drafted. (RB's touches listed in parenthesis)
Notice the trend? None of them are any good. Maybe there is a reason Miles Sanders 229 touches were by far the most any Doug Pederson RB has ever received. And maybe there's a reason that the Eagles have yet to bring in another running back this offseason. Because Miles Sanders is good at football!
Draft Capital seems to be another area that people are overlooking when evaluating Sanders. From 2010-2019 the highest draft capital that Eagles management has spent on a running back is a 4th round pick. Sanders is the first Eagles running back to be selected in the 2nd round since 2009. Who was the 2nd rounder in 2009? LeSean McCoy. Every action that the Eagles have taken this offseason has shown that they believe in Sanders. You should too!
Like I said before, it was a tale of two seasons for Sanders in 2019. Prior to Jordan Howard's injury in week 9 Miles Sanders was the RB26 (Weeks 1-9). Following the injury in weeks 11-16 Sanders was the RB3 only trailing Christian McCaffrey and Ezekiel Elliot. (Excluded week 17 since he left the game in the first quarter due to injury). Here are his splits with/without Howard.
What he was able to do when he was given the keys to the backfield is pretty impressive. One thing that should be noted is that he had a very easy schedule during this span where he played teams like Miami, Washington, and the Giants. Regardless of his opponent it is still very impressive and I expect him to keep it up in 2020.
Last year Howard and Sanders combined for 14 carries inside the 5 yard line. This would have ranked 4th among RBs. Assuming Sanders takes the majority of those carries in 2020 it's easy to predict that he will see some positive regression in the TD department. Last year he only scored 2 TD inside the 5 on those 6 carries. give him 6-10 more and we could see around 5-8 goal line TD in 2020.
In 2019 Sanders saw a total of 25 carries (1.6 per game) inside the red zone (20 yard line). However, in the games that he was the starter (weeks 11-16) he averaged 2.5 per game. This gives him a 16 game pace of 40 red zone carries, which would have ranked top 10 in 2019.
Why is all of this so important? If you are carrying the ball at a higher rate in the red zone you are more likely to score! Scoring touchdowns is the easiest way to rack up fantasy points. If Miles Sanders can see an increased amount of touches in the red zone, it's likely he will increase his TD numbers as well.
When looking at what Sanders did in the short amount of time that he was a starter it's extremely impressive. When you pace those numbers out to 16 games, it gets even better.
Insane right? I know pacing guys out never ends up being accurate, but it gives us an idea of what he is able to do if given the same/increased workload. In conclusion, Sanders is a MUST draft in 2020 as his current ADP sits anywhere between the 1.10 and 2.04. I currently have him ranked higher than most people as my RB6 and I would feel comfortable drafting him as early as the 1.07 in full PPR formats. Don't be the guy who misses out on the Miles Sanders breakout in 2020!
1125 rush yards
575 receiving yards