Fantasy Football Running Backs Preview: Sleeper, Breakout, Bust, Projection, Zero RB Goals and More

This year, I don’t remember, how you think about the running back position is related to how you think about the rise, the floor, and injury risk. This discussion begins with option 1.01.

Jonathan Taylor leads all running backs in the fantasy points standings in 2021 and is still only 23 years old. So it makes perfect sense why he’s the accepted No. 1 overall pick. Just don’t think consensus means indisputable. Because at least two backs claim more upside.

On the one hand, Derrick Henry passed Taylor last year with 1.6 FPPG. From 2019 to 2020, Christian McCaffrey’s fantasy points per game are six more points than Henry’s in 2021. Henry will turn 29 before Taylor turns 24, and McCaffrey has played just 10 games in total over the past two seasons. It is not difficult to make an opposing argument. But you need to be clear that when you do this, you are making a basic argument, not an upward argument. Benefits are what win fantasy football leagues.

The truth is, we’re just not very good at assessing the likelihood of an injury happening. Some would say that people who had a lot of exposure in the last year were more likely, others would say that people who were injured in previous years were the backs of shunning. I’d say at best it should be used as a tiebreaker, and in most cases you’d be better off ignoring it.

So I had Henry and McCaffrey before Taylor, right? not quite. McCaffrey did earn more PPR Fantasy points in the predictions below, and Taylor still holds the No. 1 spot on our rankings page. The key to my decision between the two is the type of league I’m in. In big tournaments or high stakes leagues, I prefer McCaffrey. He’s on my Scott Fish Bowl list, and if you have a big swing, he’s the right pick. I would use the same strategy in the home league, assuming you know more and work harder than most teams in the league. But in a standard 12-team league with six teams making the playoffs and most being competitive, I do take Taylor’s sense of security very seriously enough to rank him first.

running back draft strategy

Once you get past 1.01, the discussion is still the same, just with a different player. How scared are you of Darwin Cook’s injury history or Alvin Kamara’s suspension odds? Are you recovering from serious injuries with young potential stars JK Dobbins, Travis Etienne and Cam Akers? Will Kyle Shanahan end up sticking with a running back? Will Josh McDaniels let his featured guard catch the ball?

My overall targeting strategy is very agnostic. I had 7 guards in the first round and 15 in the first two rounds. I felt safer when I drafted a running back in the first two rounds, but I wouldn’t shy away from starting with a combination like Justin Jefferson and Mark Andrews. If I didn’t back down in the first two rounds, that might have changed in the third because David Montgomery was almost always there. If he’s not, we might go with zero RB.

There are a lot of centre-backs that are attractive this year and it’s really a test of the dead zone. If you end up drafting guards in the 4th to 6th rounds and make them young guards, it’s better to catch the pass and triple down.

Miles Sanders and Clyde Edwards-Helaire are potential starters who fell below the 6th round in some drafts; if they do Once done, scoop them up. After that, you should almost fully consider the potential upside. You need an elevator pitch on how to turn guards into top-12 options, or you need to strongly consider removing them from the draft board. As for the bench, keep in mind that a mediocre starter is more likely to make a profit than a first-round pick, even if it sounds counterintuitive.

Now let’s get into the sleeper, breakout and bust for that position:

projected by

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numbers to know

4.5 — Since the start of the 2020 season, Ezekiel Elliott has averaged 4.5 yards per touch. Tony Pollard averaged 5.7 points per game during the same period.
67 — James Cook caught 67 passes in his four years at Georgia. If he gets a role, he’ll limit Devin Singletary’s upside.
134 — Rashad Penney is averaging 134 yards rushing in the final five games of 2021. If he can stay healthy, he has the advantage of winning the league.
0 — Despite the Hawks leading the NFL with 25 rushing touchdowns, Miles Sanders didn’t have a rushing touchdown last year.
26 – Aaron Jones saw 26 goals in four games without Davante Adams in 2019. He’s the dark horse who leads running backs in catches this year.
27 — The current Giants running back (unnamed Saquon Barkley) totaled 27 possessions in the NFL last year.
18.3 — The Cardinals’ running back averaged 18.3 touchdowns per year over the past three seasons.
309 — The Texans have had 309 backup attempts at running back since last year, second in the league.
146 – The Falcons running back led the NFL last year with 146 goals.

Zero RB target

I’ll update this list as the ADP solidifies, but for now, there’s no shortage of running backs available if you want to focus on quarterbacks and pass the ball over the first five rounds. I’m trying to get the floor and the top guys together nicely because I want to have some catch-and-back guards to start while waiting for the bench to get work. For this build, I’m using Fantasy Pros PPR ADP. In most cases, the suggested round is earlier than the round in which the player is actually selected. It wouldn’t be too cute to have your players run back if you played in the first few rounds.

sixth round – Miles Sanders, Kareem Hunt, Tony Pollard
Round 7 – Chase Edmonds, Kenneth Walker
Round 8 —Michael Carter, Ramon Stevenson
Round 9 —James Cook, Niheim Hines
Round 10 – Dameon Pierce, Tyler Allgeier, Alexander Mattison
Round 11 —Mark Ingram, Isaiah Spiller
Round 12 or later – Khalil Herbert, Rachaad White, Kenneth Gainwell, D’Onta Foreman, Marlon Mack

handcuffs ranking

Here are the top 10 PPR handcuffs drafted on draft day. Obviously Kareem Hunter isn’t just a handcuff, but the reason he’s on this list, and not someone like Giovanni Bernard, is because if Nick Chubb gets hurt, Hunter might be Become a league champion. Bernard’s role is unlikely to change. So while Hunter can be flexible in the PPR league even if he’s not injured, he’s also the first handcuff. I don’t traditionally put handcuffs on my starting handcuffs, but I don’t mind wearing someone else’s handcuffs. Also, if you’re in a non-PPR league, guys like Trey Sermon, AJ Dillon, and Gus Edwards deserve a boost.

1. Kareem Hunt
2. AJ Dillon
3. Tony Pollard
4. Kenneth Walker
5. Ramon Stevenson
6. Melvin Gordon
7. Michael Carter
8. Mark Ingram
9. Alexander Mattison
10. Khalil Herbert



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