The 2021-22 NFL season is about to begin which means that fantasy football is back! Usually in the first week of the season fantasy football players tend to play the players they originally drafted to be their starters. However, since every week is important it would be irresponsible to start a player with a rough matchup over a player with a more favorable one because he was drafted to be a starter. Here are the fantasy football week 1 running back rankings.
*Ratings are subject to change due to injury reports or possible move to reserve/COVID-19 list*
(Check out the section below for details on players already rumored to possibly miss this week and how their replacement options rank for the week)
Must Start- a player who is in your lineup regardless of the matchup or most circumstances. They Will likely finish near the top of the league in points that week and in most weeks.
Starting RB1- a player who makes fantasy owners comfortable starting week after week. Regardless of the matchup, this player has a high floor.
High-End RB2- a player who may isn’t likely to carry a lineup that week, but has the ability to have a breakout game and is teetering between RB1 and RB2 category.
Starting RB2- a player who should be started in most lineups and should reach their point projection. This player is started is because of their consistency and moderately high floor
Low RB2- a player who may not be a lock to start for a team every week, but will start more times than not. Their production may not be pretty or win a person their lineup but the production is consistent enough to make a fantasy owner comfortable starting them.
Flex- a player who could float around the territory of being benched, but is started due to the potential to play better than their point projection. However, this player has the potential to flop and causes a fantasy team to lose if he has a bad game.
Deep League Flex- a player who is more of a Hail Mary throw at the position. There are enough reasons to leave this player on the bench, but their upside makes them an attractive option. Desperate times may call for a player like this to be inserted into starting lineups.
Leave on the Bench- a player who should be avoided in all lineups that week. Many times this player could even be left on waivers.
|Must Start||Christian McCaffrey||vs New York Jets||RB1|
|Must Start||Dalvin Cook||vs Cincinnati Bengals||RB2|
|Must Start||Derrick Henry||vs Arizona Cardinals||RB3|
|Must Start||Alvin Kamara||vs Green Bay Packers||RB4|
|Starting RB1||Jonathan Taylor*||vs Seattle Seahawks||RB5|
|Starting RB1||James Robinson||vs Houston Texans||RB6|
|Starting RB1||Nick Chubb||vs Kansas City Chiefs||RB7|
|Starting RB1||Aaron Jones||vs New Orleans Saints||RB8|
|Starting RB1||Austin Ekeler*||vs Washington Football Team||RB9|
|High-End RB2||Najee Harris||vs Buffalo Bills||RB10|
|High-End RB2||Saquon Barkley*||vs Denver Broncos||RB11|
|High-End RB2||Ezekiel Elliott||vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers||RB12|
|Starting RB2||Antonio Gibson||vs Los Angeles Chargers||RB13|
|INACTIVE||Gus Edwards||vs Las Vegas Raiders||OUT|
|Starting RB2||Raheem Mostert||vs Detriot Lions||RB14|
|Starting RB2||Chris Carson||vs Indianapolis Colts||RB15|
|Low RB2||Myles Gaskin||vs New England Patriots||RB16|
|Low RB2||Clyde Edwards-Helaire*||vs Cleveland Browns||RB17|
|Low RB2||Miles Sanders||vs Atlanta Falcons||RB18|
|Low RB2||D’Andre Swift*||vs San Francisco 49ers||RB19|
|Low RB2||Joe Mixon||vs Minnesota Vikings||RB20|
|Flex||Mike Davis||vs Philadelphia Eagles||RB21|
|Flex||David Montgomery||vs Los Angeles Rams||RB22|
|Flex||Kareem Hunt||vs Kansas City Chiefs||RB23|
|Flex||Chase Edmonds||vs Tennesee Titans||RB24|
|Flex||Darrell Henderson||vs Chicago Bears||RB25|
|Flex||Ronald Jones||vs Dallas Cowboys||RB26|
|Flex||Damien Harris||vs Miami Dolphins||RB27|
|Deep League Flex||Leonard Fournette||vs Dallas Cowboys||RB28|
|Deep League Flex||Melvin Gordon||vs New York Giants||RB29|
|Deep League Flex||David Johnson||vs Jacksonville Jaguars||RB31|
|Deep League Flex||Nyheim Hines||vs Seattle Seahawks||RB32|
|Deep League Flex||Javonte Williams||vs New York Giants||RB33|
|Deep League Flex||Josh Jacobs*||vs Baltimore Ravens||RB34|
|Deep League Flex||J.D. McKissic||vs Los Angeles Chargers||RB35|
|Leave on the Bench||James Conner||vs Tennesee Titans||RB36|
|Leave on the Bench||Phillip Lindsay||vs Jacksonville Jaguars||RB37|
|Leave on the Bench||Zack Moss||vs Pittsburgh Steelers||RB38|
|Leave on the Bench||Trey Sermon||vs Detriot Lions||RB39|
|Leave on the Bench||Ty’Son Williams||vs Las Vegas Raiders||RB30|
|Leave on the Bench||Sony Michel||vs Chicago Bears||RB40|
|Leave on the Bench||A.J. Dillon||vs New Orleans Saints||RB41|
|Leave on the Bench||Tevin Coleman||vs Carolina Panthers||RB42|
|Leave on the Bench||Kenyan Drake||vs Baltimore Ravens||RB43|
|Leave on the Bench||James White||vs Miami Dolphins||RB44|
|Leave on the Bench||Darrel Williams*||vs Cleveland Browns||RB45|
|Leave on the Bench||Jamaal Williams||vs San Francisco 49ers||RB46|
|Leave on the Bench||Devontae Booker||vs Denver Broncos||RB47|
|Leave on the Bench||Giovanni Bernard*||vs Dallas Cowboys||RB48|
|Leave on the Bench||Devin Singletary||vs Pittsburgh Steelers||RB49|
|Leave on the Bench||Ty Johnson||vs Carolina Panthers||RB50|
|Leave on the Bench||Boston Scott||vs Atlanta Falcons||RB51|
|Leave on the Bench||Marlon Mack||vs Seattle Seahawks||RB52|
|Leave on the Bench||Tony Jones Jr.||vs Green Bay Packers||RB53|
|Leave on the Bench||Kyle Juszczyk||vs Detriot Lions||RB54|
|Leave on the Bench||Jerick McKinnon||vs Cleveland Browns||RB55|
|Leave on the Bench||Tony Pollard||vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers||RB56|
|Leave on the Bench||Damien Williams||vs Los Angeles Rams||RB57|
|Leave on the Bench||Carlos Hyde||vs Houston Texans||RB58|
|Leave on the Bench||Kenneth Gainwell||vs Atlanta Falcons||RB59|
|Leave on the Bench||Malcolm Brown||vs New England Patriots||RB60|
|Leave on the Bench||Justin Jackson||vs Washington Football Team||RB61|
|Leave on the Bench||Cordarrelle Patterson||vs Philadelphia Eagles||RB62|
|Leave on the Bench||Rhamondre Stevenson||vs Miami Dolphins||RB63|
|Leave on the Bench||Alexander Mattison||vs Cincinnati Bengals||RB64|
|Leave on the Bench||Wayne Gallman||vs Philadelphia Eagles||RB65|
|Leave on the Bench||Salvon Ahmed||vs New England Patriots||RB66|
|Leave on the Bench||Samaje Perine||vs Minnesota Vikings||RB67|
|Leave on the Bench||Michael Carter||vs Carolina Panthers||RB68|
|Leave on the Bench||Benny Snell Jr.||vs Buffalo Bills||RB69|
|Leave on the Bench||Rashaad Penny||Indianapolis Colts||RB70|
|Leave on the Bench||Joshua Kelley||vs Washington Football Team||RB71|
|Leave on the Bench||Xavier Jones||vs Chicago Bears||RB72|
|Leave on the Bench||Chuba Hubbard||vs New York Jets||RB73|
|Leave on the Bench||Elijah Mitchell||vs Detriot Lions||RB74|
|Leave on the Bench||Mark Ingram||vs Jacksonville Jaguars||RB75|
|Leave on the Bench||Chris Evans||vs Minnesota Vikings||RB76|
|Leave on the Bench||Matt Breida||vs Pittsburgh Steelers||RB77|
Changes that already happened
INACTIVE Gus Edwards & RB30 Ty’Son Williams, Baltimore Ravens
The injury bug struck the Baltimore Ravens Thursday when both Gus Edwards and Marcus Peters tore their ACL’s on back to back plays in practice. This leaves Baltimore without their first, second, and third string running backs from the beginning of training camp. Shortly after this news came out Baltimore signed veteran Devonta Freeman. The other running backs on roster are former UDFA Ty’Son Williams and Trenton Cannon. Former All-Pro Le’Veon Bell was signed to the practice squad earlier in the week. Williams would be expected to the lead back and likely the only one of the four to have fantasy value this week. Freeman could become the lead back of committee at some point this season, but it most likely won’t this weekend. Cannon is expected to play special teams and Bell’s primary purpose was to replace Justice Hill. Williams jumped from RB40 to RB30 after this news broke. Both Freeman and Bell are speculative adds in deeper leagues.
Possible Changes that can occur before Sunday
RB5 Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts
The potential change to Jonathan Taylor’s ranking has nothing to do with him. It has to do with one of his blockers All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson. Not only has Nelson been dealing with the same foot injury as quarterback Carson Wentz, but he missed Wednesday’s practice with a back injury. The offensive line blocking for Taylor would look significantly different without Nelson. They could already be without left tackle Eric Fisher in this game. If Nelson misses this game Taylor drops to RB13 between Antonio Gibson and Gus Edwards.
RB9 Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers
Chargers running back Austin Ekeler missed practice Wednesday because of a hamstring injury. This is a big deal for a few reasons. First, soft tissues injuries like hamstring issues tend to linger. So this is not the type of injury that is ideal to get before the season starts. Secondly, Ekeler missed six games last season because of a hamstring injury. Now that Ekeler’s Week 1 status is in question Justin Jackson and Joshua Kelley will enter the fantasy radar. If Ekeler misses this week Jackson bumps up to RB39 between Trey Sermon and Sony Michel. While Kelley becomes RB53 between Boston Scott and Tony Jones Jr. In deeper leagues, sixth-round rookie Larry Rountree III becomes an interesting add.
RB11 Saquon Barkley, New York Giants
Saquon Barkley’s recovery from his torn ACL last season is a major headline coming into this season. Many fantasy players have dropped Barkley on their draft boards due to the uncertainty on how he will play early and throughout the season. Multiple reports have come out that Barkley could see a light workload in Week 1 and may not be at full strength until Week 3. He is supposed to play in Week 1 but his role on the offense is unclear making him a risk for the first few weeks. If Barkley were to sit out Week 1 against the Broncos for any reason Devontae Booker become RB36 between James Conner and Phillip Lindsay.
RB17 Clyde Edwards-Helaire & RB45 Darrel Williams, Kansas City Chiefs
An under-discussed headline out of Chiefs camp has been the ankle sprain Clyde Edwards-Helaire suffered in the second preseason game. For a bit of time, it was uncertain whether Edwards-Helaire would suit up for Week 1 or not. He was a full participant in practice Wednesday, which means he may revert to his normal role in the offense for their game against the Browns. However, if Edwards-Helaire were to be limited or miss this game Darrel Williams and Jerick McKinnon could see larger roles. Williams has also been sidelined with a concussion he suffered that game as well. If Williams were to miss Week 1 McKinnon jumps to RB41 between Sony Michel and A.J. Dillon.
RB19 D’Andre Swift, Detriot Lions
The Detriot Lions have a tough matchup against the San Fransico 49ers in Week 1. It doesn’t make it any easier with running back D’Andre Swift on the injury report. Swift missed the entire preseason with a groin injury. Lions head coach Dan Campbell said that Swift should be ready to play Week 1. It would be smart for Swift owners to also own Jamaal Williams who the Lions gave a 2 year $6 million deal to this offseason. Williams would take over as the team’s lead back if Swift was to miss time and will likely already have a role for their offense. If Swift were to miss this week Williams would bump up to RB29 between Leonard Fournette and Melvin Gordon.
RB33 Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders
The Las Vegas Raiders’ recent activity with their running backs have been extremely suspicious and could cause some concern for Josh Jacobs. He missed practice earlier this week for an undisclosed reason since they do not have to release an injury report till Thursday. On top of that within the past week, they have signed veteran running back Peyton Barber and worked out former third-round pick running back D’Onta Foreman. Both Barber and Foreman are north and south runners who would take snaps away or fill a void left by Jacobs in the Raiders offense. Throughout his career, Jacobs has been no stranger to playing through injury. He may be resting for the week ahead, but it is hard to trust him right now for Week 1 especially in a tough matchup against the Ravens. If Jacobs were to miss Week 1, Kenyan Drake would jump to RB27 between Ronald Jones and Damien Harris.
RB48 Giovanni Bernard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Outside of the NFL Draft, the largest addition the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made to their roster was adding pass-catching running back Giovanni Bernard to their running back room. Bernard could have a vital role in this offense because quarterback Tom Brady has been infatuated with passing to running backs behind or at the line of scrimmage throughout his carer. Last season Leonard Fournette was the team’s pass-catching back, but Bernard is a pure receiving back that could fit a James White-esc role. But Bernard’s impact on this offense may be delayed since he has been dealing with a foot issue. If he misses Week 1 it doesn’t change Ronald Jones’ or Leonard Fournette’s rankings. Instead, it confirms their status for the week.
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