Fanelli’s Way Too Early Redraft Rankings: Running Backs 13-24by Mike Fanelli January 25, 2021 0 comments
The 2020 fantasy football season is in the rearview mirror, but some are already preparing for the 2021 fantasy season. To help those get ready for the upcoming season, I have put together a six-part series breaking down my early rankings for the 2021 season. Next up in the series will be my 13-24 running backs. So without further ado, here is the third part of my way too early 2021 redraft rankings.
All stats and the rankings are base on four-point per passing touchdown and PPR scoring.
Be sure to check out all six parts of this series, as well as all my fantasy rankings here.
13) Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers
2020 Finish: RB5 | 18.5 Fantasy Points Per Game
For the second straight season, Jones rushed for over 1,000 yards with 11 or more total touchdowns. Furthermore, he finished as the RB5 on the season despite missing two games because of injury. If Jones is back in Green Bay next season, he belongs in the mid RB1 conversation. However, the Packers selected AJ Dillon in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft and haven’t come to a long term deal with Jones. More than likely, Jones will be elsewhere next season. Depending on where he lands, Jones’ fantasy could dramatically change one way or the other.
14) J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens
2020 Finish: RB24 | 11.2 Fantasy Points Per Game
Much like Cam Akers in Los Angeles, Dobbins didn’t get a chance to be the featured running back till later in the season. From Week 8 on, Dobbins had 11 or more rushing attempts in eight of nine games. Furthermore, he rushed for 70 or more yards in over half of those games, including a career-high 160 yards in Week 17. Dobbins’ development made the veteran Mark Ingram expendable. He was a healthy scratch in both of the Ravens’ playoff games and then released. While Gus Edwards will likely be back, Dobbins is the lead guy in the backfield. Thanks to the Ravens’ run-first offense, Dobbins has the upside to finish in the top five next season.
15) Antonio Gibson, Washington Football Team
2020 Finish: RB13 | 14.4 Fantasy Points Per Game
When Washington released Adrian Peterson in August, it put Gibson in position for a lead role. While he averaged only 10.7 rushing attempts per game over the first six games of the season, he still averaged 12.3 fantasy points per game. Then things changed in Week 7 when Gibson had a career-high 20 rushing attempts for 128 rushing yards. Over the next five games, Gibson averaged 15 rushing attempts and 21.6 fantasy points per game. Unfortunately, Gibson suffered a toe injury early in Week 13 that caused him to miss two weeks and play at less than 100 percent the rest of the season. Washington lacks playmakers on offense and though they will add some this offseason, expect Gibson to have a featured role in 2021.
16) David Montgomery, Chicago Bears
2020 Finish: RB4 | 17.7 Fantasy Points Per Game
Montgomery had a disappointing rookie season, averaging only 10.6 fantasy points per game but broke out in 2020 to average 17.7 fantasy points per game. Furthermore, Montgomery’s 1,070 rushing yards finished fifth in the league while his 10 total touchdowns finished 10th. More importantly, Montgomery finished the season on fire, scoring 20 or more fantasy points in each of the final six games. He scored 10.5 or more fantasy points in all but two games in 2020. Tarik Cohen will be back next season but has four career games with double-digit rushing attempts. All four of those games came before Montgomery got drafted. Montgomery’s catches will regress next season, but his role on the ground will make him a weekly safe floor RB2.
17) D’Andre Swift, Detroit Lions
2020 Finish: RB18 | 14.6 Fantasy Points Per Game
After his release from Washington, Peterson signed with the Lions, putting a damper on Swift’s fantasy value. Not only did he have to share snaps with Peterson, but also Kerryon Johnson. However, despite missing three games because of injury, Swift still scored 10 total touchdowns. More importantly, as the season went on, he took over as the lead back. After only one game with over 10 rushing attempts over his first seven games, Swift had 10 or more rushing attempts in five of his final six games. Despite averaging only 12.3 touches per game as a rookie, Swift scored 14.5 or more fantasy points in over half of his games. Peterson won’t be back next season while Johnson will be the backup, giving Swift a featured role.
18) James Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
2020 Finish: RB7 | 17.9 Fantasy Points Per Game
The undrafted rookie turned into the waiver wire add of the year and maybe the decade. After Leonard Fournette was released, Robinson took control of the featured role and never gave it up. In 14 games, Robinson had over 1,400 scrimmage yards and 10 total touchdowns, both of which finished top 10 among running backs. More impressive, Robinson was consistent every week. He scored 10 or more fantasy points in all 14 games, scoring 22 or more four times. While the Jaguars have plenty of draft capital and cap space this offseason, they aren’t likely to invest much of it on a running back. Without a serious challenger to his touches, Robinson is a safe floor RB2 with upside next season.
19) Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles
2020 Finish: RB23 | 14.2 Fantasy Points Per Game
Sanders finished his rookie season on a high note, making him a late first-round pick in 2020. However, Sanders battled injuries this season, missing four games. Furthermore, he never got a featured role as his touches per game only increased by 1.7 from his rookie season to this season. More concerning is Sanders decreased role in the passing game as he averaged 19.5 fewer receiving yards per game this season. With Doug Pederson fired, hopefully, Nick Sirianni will use Sanders in a featured role. In the four best games Sanders had this season, he averaged 18.3 touches and 23 fantasy points per game. Hopefully, with Sirianni running the show, Sanders could turn into an RB1 in 2021.
20) Kareem Hunt, Cleveland Browns
2020 Finish: RB10 | 13.7 Fantasy Points Per Game
In his first full season in Cleveland, Hunt had 841 rushing yards, his best performance since his rookie season. However, Hunt’s fantasy points per game were similar to his number in 2019. The good news is, it wasn’t inflated because of Nick Chubb‘s injury. In the 4.5 games Chubb missed with the knee injury, Hunt averaged 14.5 fantasy points per game. By comparison, Hunt averaged 13.2 fantasy points per game with Chubb active. More importantly, Hunt had double-digit touches in all but one game this season. The Browns are one of the most run dominant teams in the league, providing plenty of rushing attempts for both Chubb and Hunt next season.
21) Ronald Jones, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2020 Finish: RB20 | 13.3 Fantasy Points Per Game
After a quiet rookie year, Jones finished the 2019 season with 724 rushing yards and averaged 10.4 fantasy points per game. In the offseason, the Buccaneers added Fournette, LeSean McCoy, and drafted Ke’Shawn Vaughn. However, McCoy and Vaughn barely saw the field while Jones took the lead role from Fournette. After averaging 10.1 fantasy points per game over the first three weeks of the season, Jones averaged 14.2 fantasy points per game the rest of the year. The Buccaneers will have limited cap space this offseason and their priority will be re-signing Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski, and Antonio Brown. Unless he takes a very team-friendly deal, Fournette won’t be back next season. With Fournette out of the picture, Jones should have his first 1,000 rushing yard season of his career.
22) Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City Chiefs
2020 Finish: RB22 | 13.5 Fantasy Points Per Game
When Damien Williams opted out of the 2020 season, CEH jumped up everyone’s draft boards. He was the first rookie drafted and viewed as a weekly must-start RB1. However, CEH was very inconsistent week to week. He scored under 14 fantasy in 62 percent of his games as a rookie. Furthermore, he scored single-digits in about a quarter of his games. The problem was the limited number of touches, as CEH had under 15 rushing attempts in more than half of his games this season. To make matters worse, he had more than three catches in only four games. Historically running backs coached by Andy Reid are fantasy stars. However, with all the weapons the Chiefs have, CEH won’t receive 17 or more touches every week again next year.
23) Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks
2020 Finish: RB19 | 15.7 Fantasy Points Per Game
After recording over 240 rushing attempts and over 1,150 rushing yards in each of the last two seasons, Carson had only 141 rushing attempts and 681 rushing yards in 2020 despite missing only four games. He failed to rush for more than 80 yards in any game and had more than 100 scrimmage yards in only a quarter of his games this season. Because of the Seahawks’ pass-first mindset this season and splitting time with other running backs, Carson scored 14 or more fantasy points in only half of his games. Carson is a free agent in March and might not be back. However, if he is, the Seahawks are expected to return to a run-first offense next season, which would put him into the mid RB2 range.
24) David Johnson, Houston Texans
2020 Finish: RB21 | 15 Fantasy Points Per Game
Johnson had the second-best fantasy season of his career since his historical year in 2016. While he missed four games because of injuries, Johnson was consistent week to week. Johnson scored double-digit fantasy points in 10 of 12 games. When Will Fuller got suspended for the final five games of the season, Johnson picked up his play. In the four games he was active, Johnson 21.1 fantasy points per game. Furthermore, during that span, Johnson had his three best fantasy games of the season, scoring 21 or more in every game. The Texans can save almost $7 million by releasing Johnson this offseason and might opt for a cheaper and younger replacement. However, if they don’t, Johnson is a safe floor RB2 you can count on every week.