The 2021 NFL Draft is over, giving us a clearer picture of rosters for the 2021 season. With that fantasy football rankings can be released. Here are the 2021 fantasy football standard scoring running back rankings. (Note: These are best used for standard-scoring leagues and will be updated until the season starts)
1. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers
He may have only played in a few games last season before getting injured, but McCaffrey was effective when he was on the field. McCaffrey led all running backs at 24.4 points per game and should be expected to put up similar numbers in 2021.
2. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
Henry is hitting milestones every year it seems and specializes in late-season production. He led all fantasy scorers with 314.7 points in 2020. For the 2021 season, Henry should be back atop running back leaders.
3. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings
Fantasy managers know Cook is an explosive player, but he will likely miss a few games every season. He had the highest scoring average at 21 points per game in 14 games played. Managers who draft Cook, should be happy with his production, but should prepare for him to miss time.
4. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants
Barkley is coming back from an injury that only allowed him to play in two games last season. His talent is undeniable after he logged two 1,000 yard rushing seasons to start his career. With more offensive weapons, the box won’t be as stacked against him this year.
5. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
The Saints will have a new signal-caller under center, but at least they’ll still have Kamara out of the backfield. He finished second in both in total scoring and points per game in 2020. Teams will stack the box against him, which could hurt his production a little, but Kamara will be a nice, easy target for the new quarterback to utilize in the passing game.
6. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns
Chubb averaged 16 points per game in 2020, but only played in 12 games. He ranked ninth last season, but he should move up this list this year with a full season.
7. Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers
While Jamaal Williams will be out of the picture, A.J. Dillon will likely have a bigger role in the offense this year. The Packers would still be smart to utilize Jones heavily, as he ranked fifth for fantasy running backs in 2020.
8. Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts
Taylor made a late surge to finish as the fourth-best running back in 2020. Marlon Mack was re-signed, but Taylor is the more talented back and should be used more in short-yardage situations.
9. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
In 2020, Elliot did not look like himself and finished 11th for fantasy running backs. Having Dak Prescott back under center will help keep the offense more open. Elliot has likely started to decline, but the question of how fast he will decline is up in the air.
10. Antonio Gibson, Washington Football Team
He played in 14 games and ranked as the 14th-ranked running back in 2020 thanks to a late-season surge. Gibson is a threat as a runner and a receiver, making him a valuable fantasy asset. With an improved offense, Gibson should shine in 2021.
11. Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers
During an injury-plagued 2020, Ekeler neared 1,000 total yards in just 10 games. The Chargers seem to have faith in him, as they didn’t further address the running back position in the 2021 NFL Draft.
12. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati coaches have stated they don’t want Mixon to come off the field almost at all this season. He only played in six games last season, so he’ll need to stay on the field, but Mixon will get a lot of work.
13. Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams
Akers got off to a slow start in 2020 and finished with an average of 7.6 points per game in 12 appearances. Now that Malcolm Brown is gon though, Akers should get most of the carries out of the backfield.
14. Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers had other needs, but drafted Harris in the first round, which seems to have sent a message that the team is going back to their old-school ways of running the football. The Steelers mainly use one running back every year if they can stay healthy and Harris will benefit.
15. J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens
Mark Ingram is no longer with the Ravens and was scratched from a few games down the stretch. Dobbins should be the lead back this year after producing near the end of 2020. With the way the Ravens like to run the ball, Dobbins just has to make sure other backs don’t take his work.
16. Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks
In 12 games, Carson rushed for 681 yards. If he can play a full season and the Seahawks focus on running the ball, Carson could recapture his value from a few years ago.
17. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City Chiefs
Edwards-Helaire didn’t have the best rookie season, but finished as the 22nd-best running back in 12 games. His ability to be a good receiver and a year under his belt should help him move slightly up the top running backs this year.
18. Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders signed Kenyan Drake, which will limit Jacobs a bit. He should still get most of the work out of the backfield after finishing eighth for running backs in 2020.
19. Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles
Sanders ranked 21st last season in just 12 games played. The Eagles have added a lot to their running back room this offseason though, as they now have Kerryon Johnson and Kenneth Gainwell too.
20. D’Andre Swift, Detroit Lions
With Adrian Peterson and Kerryon Johnson gone, Swift is the leader in the backfield. He will be one of the few true offensive weapons the Lions have. After ranking 20th last season, finishing at that rate again is manageable.
21. David Montgomery, Chicago Bears
Montgomery was the sixth-best fantasy back last year. Tarik Cohen is coming back from injury, which will cut into the amount of touches he gets. Usually a sixth-ranked running back would rank much higher, but most of his production came via a late season push that saw him score seven of his eight touchdowns in the final five weeks of the season.
22. Myles Gaskin, Miami Dolphins
Surprisingly, the Dolphins didn’t address the running back position in the 2021 NFL Draft. Because of that, Gaskin will likely get the majority of the work out of the backfield. He ranked 27th in just 10 games played in 2020 and should improve on those numbers.
23. Kareem Hunt, Cleveland Browns
Hunt was the 10th-ranked running back last season, but it is hard to see him replicating that success if Nick Chubb can stay healthy for the full season. He is a boom or bust player, as even when Chubb is in the lineup, he can score over 20 points, but there are plenty of other games where he scores in the single digits.
24. Mike Davis, Atlanta Falcons
Last year, Davis did a great job filling in for Christian McCaffrey. He showed the ability to not only run between the tackles, but he also showed off some pass-catching ability. The Falcons signed him and no longer have Todd Gurley on the roster. After finishing as RB18 last season, Davis should have another good fantasy season.
25. Damien Harris, New England Patriots
While Harris did play well last year, Sony Michel will be back healthy and the team drafted Rhamond Stevenson in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Harris will be an early-down back capable of producing, but the Patriots always use multiple running backs.
26. Raheem Mostert, San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers will likely use multiple running backs again in 2021. Jeffrey Wilson is out for the beginning of the season, but Trey Sermon and Elijah Mitchell both present some promise as rookies. Wayne Gallman is also on the roster. Mostert is the most experienced for the team and has produced for the 49ers, but he’ll have to fight for touches.
27. Ronald Jones, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jones was the 15th-ranked running back last year in just 14 games. He will likely drop this year for a few reasons. Leonard Fournette started to come along in the playoffs and could get more work earlier in the season after a season with the team. The Bucs also acquired Giovani Bernard to be a third down back.
28. Melvin Gordon, Denver Broncos
After the Broncos chose to not bring back Phillip Lindsay, Melvin Gordon figured to be the lead back by a wide margin for the team. Then the team drafted Javonte Williams in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Now, RB13 from last year may have to share the backfield again.
29. Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals
Edmonds has produced as a back up and change of pace back behind Kenyan Drake, but now he may get a lot more work. The Cardinals signed James Conner, but Edmonds is a more versatile weapon with the ability to catch the ball along with his rushing abilities.
30. Travis Etienne, Jacksonville Jaguars
It was a surprise to many when the Jaguars drafted a running back in the first round. Etienne has great acceleration and can generate big plays, but he’ll be in a backfield with James Robinson, who had a fantastic rookie season, and Carlos Hyde, who may steal goal line opportunities.
31. David Johnson, Houston Texans
Johnson had a great 2020 season that saw him be the 19th-ranked running back in just 12 games played. The Texans have really invested in the running back position this offseason with the acquisitions of Mark Ingram and Phillip Lindsay.
32. Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Fournette did really well down the stretch and even earned the nickname “Playoff Lenny”. He was the 39th-ranked player during the regular season and has to split time in the backfield, so Fournette won’t rise too much despite his late-season production.
33. Zack Moss, Buffalo Bills
The problem for both Moss and Devin Singletary is that Josh Allen takes up some their opportunities as a runner. Then on top of that, they have to split carries with each other. If the Bills decide to try and limit the wear and tear on Allen in short yardage situations, Moss is the back who could get that work.
34. Kenyan Drake, Las Vegas Raiders
It seems the Raiders want to use Drake at running back and wide receiver in 2021. He may have a tough time fighting for carries with Josh Jacobs, but his receiving ability could really help his value in fantasy.
35. James Conner, Arizona Cardinals
Conner didn’t have a good offensive line with the Steelers last year and he has struggled with injuries. If he is healthy, he should be able to produce, especially as a power back for the Cardinals.
36. Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens
37. Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos
Teams don’t usually use early-round running backs on players and then sit them on the bench. Williams will be involved in the offense, but how many carries will he take away from Melvin Gordon?
38. A.J. Dillon, Green Bay Packers
Late in the season, Dillon was able to show why the Packers drafted him with a 24.9 point performance in week 16. Now that Jamaal Williams is in Detroit, Dillon will be able to spell Aaron Jones and get starts if he can’t go.
39. Michael Carter, New York Jets
The Jets don’t have a frontrunner in the backfield to take most of the carries. They also drafted Carter in the 2021 NFL Draft. Carter is a solid receiver and can generate big plays with his elusiveness.
40. Devin Singletary, Buffalo Bills
As mentioned, Singletary will fight for carries with both Zack Moss and Josh Allen. This will limit his value, but he does have the ability to catch the ball, which could help him stay on the field more than Moss.
41. Darrell Henderson, Los Angeles Rams
42. Jamaal Williams, Detroit Lions
43. James Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
44. Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys
45. Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts
46. Latavius Murray, New Orleans Saints
47. Tarik Cohen, Chicago Bears
48. J.D. McKissic, Washington Football Team
49. Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings
50. Trey Sermon, San Francisco 49ers
51. Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks
52. Phillip Lindsay, Houston Texans
53. Tevin Coleman, New York Jets
54. Giovani Bernard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
55. Marlon Mack, Indianapolis Colts
56. James White, New England Patriots
57. Benny Snell, Pittsburgh Steelers
58. Javian Hawkins, Atlanta Falcons
59. Kerryon Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles
60. Salvon Ahmed, Miami Dolphins
61. Jeff Wilson Jr., San Francisco 49ers
62. La’Mical Perine, New York Jets
63. Justin Jackson, Los Angeles Chargers
64. Joshua Kelley, Los Angeles Chargers
65. Darrynton Evans, Tennessee Titans
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