Today I bring you my way to early 2021 running back rankings. Note again for my early rankings it is more important to me to view the tiers then the rankings. My early 2021 running back rankings will consistently be changed during the offseason. With free agency and the draft looming things are going to be constantly changing. For my early 2021 running back rankings be sure to check out my video as well as I break it down a bit further. Over the course of the next few weeks I will be doing some individual videos for these players. Let me know what you think about my early 2021 running back rankings! (Note these are PPR Rankings)
Tier 1: Elite Upside, Generally Safe
1. Christian McCaffrey
McCaffrey is going to be the top running back again this year. The gap is definitely a bit closer this year compared to last year. Yet every time McCaffrey touches the field he gets you 25 to 30 plus fantasy points. The offense will have a new quarterback next year yet that should not matter. The main concern for McCaffery is can he stay healthy. Last year was the first year he has had some health concerns. The drop off may be coming but it is not next year. He will bounce back.
2. Alvin Kamara
80 plus catches in 4 years. He has an elite playmaking ability and can explode anytime he touches the ball. No we have never seen Kamara with any other quarterback for a full season then Brees. Yet we have seen him completely dominate with Bridgewater at quarterback. In 2019 he had a 37 point performance at Seattle. For now I am not concerned with the qb situation. As we get more clarity maybe that will change.
3. Dalvin Cook
I think we can finally put those injury concerns to rest. There is always a chance for injury and you must handcuff him. Yet I am not going to pass him up due to injury concerns anymore. He was 2nd in evaded tackles with 106 and 2nd in yards created with 660. He receiver 20 goal line carries and finished 9 games as an RB 1. Cook is a safe high RB 1 going into 2021 again.
Tier 2: High Upside, Lower Security
4. Jonathan Taylor
Taylor will be my most owned player for 2021 redraft formats. I will take him as high as pick 5 or 6 if he is available but hope to get him in the late first. I understand he struggled at times in 2020. Remember though he was a rookie with no offseason! They were going to struggle. Some things I love to see is his 8.3 yards per reception, 5.5 yard per touch and 4.6 yards per carry. No they are not elite yet but there’s high reason for optimism. He finished with 8 touchdowns in the last 5 games and that is momentum going into next year.
5. Nick Chubb
Can Nick Chubb stay healthy? That is the only concern with his style of running. Other than that you get what you want in a running back with him. He creates yards for himself. First in yards created per touch with 3.15 and 4th in yards per touch with 5.9. Just like with Henry he is less reliable on the receiving game as you’re banking on high rushing numbers. Hunt also impacts him a little but it is not a major concern. Both running backs can thrive. Draft him with confidence.
6. Derrick Henry
There is reason to believe Henry will regress next year. No running back has gone for 2,000 yards and repeated a similar feat the following year. In fact no running back got back to 1500 yards. This is not a knock on Henry at 6. He still an overall RB 1 to me. He just is a bit more volatile because the lack of a receiving upside. He was 61st in receiving yards so you are entirely depending on his rushing ability. Even with a 2000 yard season he finished as the RB 3 in ppr leagues so I cannot justify putting him at 3 for 2021.
7. Ezekiel Elliott
So many people are down on Zeke and it is insane. I see people saying they won’t draft him even in round 2. Do people not realize the impact losing multiple QBs to injuries has on a running back? Dak got hurt and Dalton missed time. The offense was a mess for most of the season! Now maybe he dropped off a tiny bit but remember he was elite when Dak was on the field. 5 games of 18 plus ppr points and 3 top 7 finishes. Take him at a value in 2021 knowing the risk is banked in to a later 1st round pick.
8. Saquon Barkley
This is not me being anti-Barkley. If you are not factoring in his recovery from an ACL tear then let me tell you the risk of him in 2021. In fact I made a whole video on it. Dalvin Cook, Rashad Mendenhall and Derrius Guice most recently struggled. YES THERE HAS BEEN RECENT SUCCESS WITH SEVERAL PLAYERS! I understand that. I just think we need to see how Barkley’s recovery is going before saying he is a top 3 running back again. If his recovery is going well I will move him up as he is elite when healthy.
Tier 3: RB 1 Upside, Lower Floor
9. Miles Sanders
Oh my how I love Sanders if Jalen Hurts is the quarterback. With all the Carson Wentz rumors I predict he will be. That is really what these rankings are, predictions. I fully believe we can see a 2019 Baltimore type offense for the Eagles next year. They will utilize a ton of RPOs and Jalen Hurts will make defense think twice about Sanders. His efficiency should go up from an impressive 5.6 yards per touch. Get ready a big year is coming.
10. J.K. Dobbins
My love for Dobbins is high. 1st in yards per carry at 5.4. 3rd in Yards per touch with 6.1. 3rd in yards created per touch at 2.18. He had 7 touchdowns in his last 6 games when given double digit carries. Mark Ingram is gone and Gus Edwards is a restricted free agent. More opportunity is coming in the most run happy offense. I love this guy in the late third, early fourth round as an RB 2 with RB 1 potential.
11. Cam Akers
Akers is another player from the 2020 class who came on strong at the end of the year. His game against the Patriots had people raving. His 194 total yards was super impressive. While it is hard to gauge how the Rams will utilize their running backs in 2021, I believe Akers will be the lead back. The big concern for me is his receiving usage. If both Akers and Henderson are healthy the question is who will be the receiving back? This could impact Akers upside if Henderson eats into his receiving work. Yet he should be safe enough to be a low RB 1 or early RB 2.
12. D’Andre Swift
As you can tell this 2020 rookie class is an elite one. Swift to me has one of the bigger upsides out of this tier. His ability as an elite receiving back gives him that Alvin Kamara type feel to his game. He had 46 receptions last year and had a 7.8 yards per route. The big question mark for Swift is his usage with new quarterback Jared Goff. The team has come out and said he will be used more as a slot receiver. This is really good news for Swift. We have to be able to trust Goff as a quarterback to take some of the pressure off Swift. If Goff can play at a higher level and Swift can ger more volume he can be a low end RB 1 to high end RB 2.
Rest of Tier 3
13. Aaron Jones – need to see landing spot
14. Austin Ekeler – Will he stay healthy?
15. Antonio Gibson – love the talent, QB concerns will impact him
16. Joe Mixon – health and o-line concerns, even though I love him at value
17. James Robinson – can he repeat? Ton of risk
18. Myles Gaskin – efficient player, what does offseason bring him?
19. Josh Jacobs – concerns with efficiency and volume
20. Clyde Edwards-Heliare – Volume concern, tremendous upside though
21. David Montgomery – Cohen will be back, can he be as efficient
22. Kareem Hunt – slowed down last season but has potential