In light of LeSean McCoy’s recent release, our writers had a spirited discussion that nobody thought was likely to ever occur four months ago. So in the spirit of “8 Mile”, @DFF_Mike2 and @DFF_Biscuits have decided to have a rap battle about two rookie RBs. Is Miles Sanders or Devin Singletary the better asset in dynasty leagues for year one, for 2020 and beyond, or both?
|Miles Sanders||Devin Singletary|
|Height: 5’11”||Height: 5’7”|
|Weight: 211 lbs.||Weight: 203 lbs.|
|40-yard dash: 4.49 seconds||40-yard dash: 4.66 seconds|
|Draft Capital: Round 2, Pick 53 overall||Draft Capital: Round 3, Pick 74 overall|
The above projections look like a time-share with Howard and others with Sanders as the lead. I think that it might look like that in certain games, but there will be an upward trajectory in Sanders’ workload from next to nothing to primary back. It’s going to look similar to the way Cleveland’s backfield looked last year. The parallels are very similar. First, there’s the established, but uninspiring, veteran in Hyde/Howard, and there’s the talented young running back with good draft capital (both second-rounders) who gradually makes the veteran obsolete.
From reports out of camp, it looks like Sanders is becoming “increasingly hard to project Sanders as anything less than this team’s No. 1 running back.” It also looks as if Jordan Howard is ahead of Sanders in pass blocking situations, as well as short-yardage.
Mike Groh said Jordan Howard has done a “really good job” in pass catching, but especially highlighted his abilities in pass protection.
(IMO, one of the top reasons he’ll still be a big part of the RB rotation, even as Miles Sanders ascends the depth chart.) #Eagles
— Zack Rosenblatt (@ZackBlatt) August 5, 2019
This is a very common differentiator between rookie RBs and veterans. Pass protection is a key part of NFL offenses and for many RBs it takes time to pick it up. Both of these aspects are a little threatening to Sanders’ 2019 production. If you own Sanders, this is the thing to watch out for in his progression.
If Howard is there for short yardage, Sanders owners will have to count on him being dynamic enough on carries at or inside the 10-yard line to punch those in for scores. If you watched Bears games last year, you saw a team that telegraphed to their opponent what type of play they would run by which RB was on the field. Howard implies a run between the tackles. Miles Sanders is going to be able to give the Eagles more pre-snap deception than any other RB on their roster, and that will be the key to him commanding opportunity.
Overall, I see Sanders currently as a desperation flex play to open the season who could work his way to sure-fire RB1 territory by mid-season.
Bills GM Brandon Beane did not hesitate in naming Devin Singletary as a primary reason why the team decided to part with veteran LeSean McCoy. Per Beane, “We just felt right now that Devin would be able to help us along with the other guys we’re keeping. That all went into the decision.” It’s fairly clear given the GM’s statements and the Bills’ depth chart that the team is dedicated to getting Singletary the football on a regular basis. That’s a great sign for the rookie who is now a vital part of an offense that ranked sixth in total rushing attempts in 2018.
Though the Bills brought in additional receivers to assist in Josh Allen’s development, there is no indication that they intend to shy away from the run while under former Alabama coordinator Brian Daboll’s offensive scheme. Only adding to Singletary’s opportunity is the fact that the Buffalo backfield vacated about 325 touches when McCoy and Chris Ivory were released earlier this offseason. Obviously, Singletary will not be receiving all 325 of these touches.
The Bills signed ageless wonder Frank Gore to a one year deal to help carry the load in this backfield. In the 2018 season, Gore managed to put up 102.6 Full PPR points while part of a RBBC with Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage. Buffalo also signed veteran receiving back TJ Yeldon to a two-year deal worth $3.2m. Overall between the three-headed monster of Singletary, Gore, and Yeldon, the Bills have the most stock invested in the third round rookie running back.
Though the above projections have Gore leading the backfield, I’m not buying it. If I had to guess, which is strictly what I am doing here, I’d say a 50/35/15 split will be in the works with Singletary getting work on all three downs, Gore being used mainly in the red zone, and Yeldon coming in on third down a lot of the time. This scenario has RBBC written all over it, but I truly assume that Singletary will be the main piece of that committee.
For 2019, I’d say Singletary sits comfortably in the RB2 range, with an RB3 floor. As a third-round pick in a run-first offense, he has plenty of opportunity to produce early and often and I believe he will make the most of it.
2020 and beyond
I have one question for you readers.
How many RBs currently on the Eagles roster are under contract for 2020?
One. His name is Miles Sanders.
Could they conceivably re-sign any of the other pieces on the roster or add from elsewhere? Sure. I would be really surprised if they invested enough in another RB to warrant not believing Sanders will be the guy in 2020. I could see them adding a late-round RB or UDFA to the fold next year to back up Sanders. So much can change in the course of one NFL season, so it’s hard to project much more than what I have already. What’s encouraging is that with all we know at this current time, it is pointing to Sanders being the guy to own.
Listen, I’ll be upfront about it. I concede that, as it stands, I would draft Sanders over Singeltary for long term value. However, I strongly disagree with the assessment that Singletary will not be a great contributor to a fantasy team moving forward.
It’s interesting that one of the main arguments I hear against Devin Singeltary is his draft capital. Singeltary was selected with the 74th pick in the third round of the 2019 draft, just four picks after Darrell Henderson and ONE pick later than dynasty darling, David Montgomery.
Given this company, I would say the Bills certainly have high hopes for what Singletary can do overall in 2020 and beyond, and for good reason! Singletary was an absolute beast in college. In 2017, Singletary put up a whopping 32 rushing touchdowns, the third-most rushing touchdowns ever produced in a single season.
In that season, he averaged 6.4 yards per carry, and also caught 19 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown, demonstrating his versatility. His 2018 season was a slight downturn but was still impressive as he averaged 5.2 yards per carry while showcasing his elusiveness by forcing a ridiculous 96 missed tackles.
— PFF (@PFF) April 27, 2019
Add in the fact that TJ Yeldon is likely headed towards a third-down role and Frank Gore’s one-year contract and there is every reason to expect Singletary to be the guy in 2020 and beyond if he is able to produce on his opportunities in 2019.
Freestyle Rap Battle
Many of Sanders’ detractors will probably bring up his lack of college production. It’s true, he didn’t earn the starting job until last year.
How many running backs on our planet have the capability to earn meaningful playing time when they share a backfield with Saquon Barkley? A handful maybe? Even a handful seems generous to be honest. In his last season at Penn State, he put up bell-cow type numbers. He proved he could carry the load and handle significant volume in both passing and the running game, putting up 244 total touches including 24 catches.
I’ll leave you all with this comparison of simple facts.
Sanders is taller, heavier, and faster than Singletary.
Sanders is a part of a much better offense with admittedly comparable competition for touches. The Eagles offensive line is more talented than Buffalo’s.
Sanders was taken a round earlier in the NFL draft than Singletary, and by a franchise who many consider being the most analytically inclined team in the league. The draft capital the Eagles invested in Sanders is hugely telling. It means a whole lot more that a team who understands the replaceability of RBs took one in the second round than if another team takes them there.
When you draft Miles Sanders, you’re not drafting for immediate opportunity. You’re drafting for talent and trusting that he will carve out his own opportunity. It’s entirely possible that Sanders on less opportunity than Singletary will be more efficient on those touches because of the overall strength of the Eagles offense, and the fact that running backs are more a product of an offense as a whole than individual talent. Sanders has the edge on Singletary on both counts.
This wasn’t a question four months ago after the NFL draft, and I’m not quite sure how Buffalo cutting ties with Lesean McCoy for cap savings (which I projected they would do all offseason) would make this a question now.
Value Miles Sanders over Devin Singletary. Don’t overthink it.
I know what the knocks are against Singletary. Some dismiss his college production because it came against lesser competition. Others dismiss him entirely because of his size and poor NFL Combine performance. I’m here to tell you that neither of those two things should scare you off.
Yes, Singletary faced some less than impressive competition while playing at FAU. However, he did exactly what you’re supposed to do when facing inferior competition. Dominate them. He nearly broke the NCAA single-season rushing TD record and averaged over six yards per carry in his first two seasons. Easy competition or not, you cannot deny his success.
Also, concerns about his size are overblown. At 5’7”, 203 pounds, it’s not like we’re talking Marquise Brown small. Singletary is a thick, compact running back with excellent elusiveness. Let’s take a look at some comparisons, shall we? Some size comparisons include Barry Sanders (5’8”, 200 lbs.), Maurice Jones-Drew (5’7”, 207 lbs.), and Devonta Freeman (5’9”, 209 lbs.). Certainly some excellent company. His preseason results should have all but erased an admittedly disappointing combine showing. I also seem to recall a very recent story about a player bombing his combine but playing lights out on the field.
My sparring partner claims that he projected McCoy to get cut and that the fact that it happened does not impact Singletary’s value or ADP. I think this notion is preposterous. McCoy’s release solidifies Singletary as the Bill’s top running back and guarantees that he will receive additional opportunities. Regardless of whether or not you expected McCoy to be cut, to claim that the guaranteed extra touches does nothing is a wild claim.
It’s true that Sanders over Singletary is the easy choice. However, I believe that Singletary has the by far better opportunity to accumulate stats and fantasy points in 2019, and has a clear path to success moving forward.
Don’t be fooled by misleading arguments about his size or draft capital. Draft based on the perfect combination of talent and opportunity and reap the rewards.
Make sure to get involved in the conversation by engaging with them on Twitter.
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