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Fantasy Football Dynasty Running Back Rankings

Fantasy Football Dynasty Running Back Rankings: Where do the NFL running backs stand entering the 2021 NFL offseason?
Dynasty Running Back Rankings

The 2020 fantasy football season is over, which means it’s time to update the dynasty running back rankings. Winning your title is a year-long effort, and keeping a constant eye on your roster is the best way to ensure a successful season. While these rankings will change as the offseason progresses, this is where all of the most important fantasy running backs stand at the start of the NFL playoffs.

Note that these rankings are based on PPR scoring formats, and scoring finishes are given on a per-game basis.

Fantasy Football Dynasty Running Back Rankings (2021 NFL Offseason)

Tier 1: Hold on and Never Let Go

1. Christian McCaffrey
2. Dalvin Cook
3. Jonathan Taylor
4. Saquon Barkley

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey struggled through injuries in 2020, but he’s still the best fantasy football running back in dynasty rankings. Despite only appearing in three games, McCaffrey averaged a staggering 30.1 fantasy points per game, easily the best mark in the league. No matter who the quarterback is next year, this offense will run through McCaffrey and he will see the endzone early and often.

Dalvin Cook has always looked good when healthy, and he finally stayed healthy in 2020. Appearing in 14 games, Cook finished the season as the RB3 with 24.1 fantasy points per game. Head coach Mike Zimmer loves to run the ball, and Cook is only entering his age-25 season. Barring injury, he should be staring down at least two or three more years of great production.

Remember when Jonathan Taylor couldn’t play football? Good times. After a slow start, the rookie finished his season with the third-most rushing yards in the league and the RB9 on a per-game basis. He should earn a larger role in Year 2 and has league-winning potential. Wayne Gallman was the RB13 from Weeks 8-13, and Saquon Barkley is a lot better than Wayne Gallman. If he can stay on his feet, he should return to his dominant rookie form.

Tier 2: Very, Very Good

5. Alvin Kamara
6. Austin Ekeler
7. Derrick Henry
8. Nick Chubb
9. D’Andre Swift
10. Clyde Edwards-Helaire
11. J.K. Dobbins
12. Aaron Jones

Alvin Kamara could very well be the most talented running back in the league, but his questionable quarterback situation makes him a little too risky for the elite tier. Taysom Hill didn’t pepper him with targets, and that is a red flag moving forward.

Austin Ekeler at RB6 is probably the hottest take you’ll find in this article. However, a deeper dive shows that this take is justified. From Weeks 12-16, Ekeler was the RB10 while receiving 12 carries and 8.2 targets per game. Justin Herbert loves having Ekeler on the field, and Herbert should be even better during his second season in the league. With both players under contract for the long haul, Ekeler should have plenty of great seasons in his future.

Derrick Henry is a fantastic player and probably the best pure runner in football. However, he’s had two consecutive 400-touch seasons, doesn’t make plays in the passing game, and is entering his age-27 season. The wheels are going to fall off sooner rather than later. Nick Chubb is still young and absurdly talented, but Kareem Hunt’s presence puts a cap on his ceiling.

D’Andre Swift showed plenty of promise in 2020 and is poised to take a major leap in 2021. If anyone is getting Kerryon Johnson flashbacks: don’t. Swift is the superior player and should be in a good offense, as long as Matthew Stafford stays in town. A lot of fantasy football owners are disappointed with Clyde Edwards-Helaire for no good reason. The rookie averaged almost 17 touches per game in the NFL’s best offense, and his role should only expand in 2021.

J.K. Dobbins finally earned the top spot in Baltimore’s backfield, and he should be a fantastic dynasty asset. However, head coach John Harbaugh typically likes to use a committee approach, so the Ravens will probably add somebody to lower Dobbins’ workload.

Tier 3: RB1 Potential

13. Miles Sanders
14. Antonio Gibson
15. Ezekiel Elliott
16. Cam Akers
17. Josh Jacobs
18. David Montgomery
19. James Robinson
20. Joe Mixon
21. Kareem Hunt

In the right situation, Miles Sanders would be moved up a tier. However, it’s hard to see that situation coming to fruition in Philadelphia’s nightmare situation. Antonio Gibson got by on touchdowns in 2020, but the former collegiate wide receiver should earn more targets during his second year. Ezekiel Elliott will bounce back with a healthy Dak Prescott and offensive line, but he’s not the player he once was and is now only as good as his situation.

Cam Akers has a chance to make me look foolish in these rankings, as he’d be a top-five dynasty running back if I could trust him to take the lead role. However, Sean McVay’s unpredictable running back usage makes him too risky. Josh Jacobs has the skills to be a great receiving back, but the Las Vegas Raiders have no intention of using him in that role. Until further notice, he’s just an early-down thumper in a good-but-not-great offense.

David Montgomery went supernova in the back half of 2020 and should be in position to do it again next year. The return of Tarik Cohen will eat into some of his targets, but that should be easily offset by an improvement at quarterback. It doesn’t matter who the Bears get, they’re going to be better than Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles. James Robinson received a historic workload as a rookie, but that might not happen with a new coaching staff in 2021.

Joe Mixon is a good running back, but he doesn’t catch that many passes and his offensive line is one of the worst in the league. With Joe Burrow coming back from a serious injury, there are just too many red flags to place much trust in Mixon. Kareem Hunt is one of the best receiving backs in the league, but he overperformed based on expected usage and still has to split snaps with Nick Chubb.

Tier 4: Solid Player to Have

22. Chris Carson
23. Ronald Jones
24. Melvin Gordon
25. Kenyan Drake
26. Jeff Wilson
27. Devin Singletary

Chris Carson is staring down free agency, but will probably re-sign with the Seattle Seahawks. If he does, he should be his usual low-end RB1/high-end RB2. Ronald Jones might be the worst receiving back in the NFL, but he’s a good runner that should have complete control of the early-down work for at least one more season. With Phillip Lindsay presumably leaving in free agency, Melvin Gordon will have an easier time taking command of this backfield.

Kenyan Drake will earn a role somewhere, but he probably won’t be back for another run in Arizona. Trying to predict San Francisco’s lead running back is a fools errand, but Jeff Wilson is the youngest of the bunch and looked like the best player. Devin Singletary can only be so good with Zack Moss getting most of the passing work and Josh Allen stealing all of the goal line carries.

Tier 5: Glorified Dart Throws

28. Damien Harris
29. Zack Moss
30. Darrell Henderson
31. Raheem Mostert
32. David Johnson
33. Ke’Shawn Vaughn
34. Sony Michel
35. James Conner
36. Chase Edmonds

Damien Harris is a great early-down runner, but he doesn’t make plays in the passing game and is in a terrible New England offense. Additionally, Sony Michel played well down the stretch and could be a part of a committee approach in 2021. Zack Moss isn’t going to have any value unless Devin Singletary goes down with an injury. Ditto for Darrell Henderson, as he clearly fell behind a healthy Cam Akers on the depth chart.

Raheem Mostert is not getting any younger, and the running back has struggled to stay on the field in recent years. Even when he is healthy, Kyle Shanahan’s running back rotation means that you can never truly trust him, causing him to plummet in dynasty rankings. David Johnson still has a lot of guaranteed money, so he’ll probably stick around Houston for at least one more year. That said, he looks completely cooked and the Texans will probably add a better running back in the offseason.

Ke’Shawn Vaughn was a massive disappointment as a rookie but has the chance to earn a bigger role next year. Only time will tell if he’s up for the challenge. As previously mentioned, Sony Michel played well down the stretch and should earn a role in New England’s 2021 backfield. However, being part of a committee approach in a bad offense isn’t a good thing. James Conner probably won’t have a starting job at this time next year, and the same goes for Chase Edmonds.

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