Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey runs onto the field for the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)

Fantasy Football RB Preview

With football season right around the corner and draft season in full swing, it is officially the best time of the year. No fantasy sport can quite match the intensity and competitiveness of fantasy football. At times, this simple yet addicting game can bring both the best and worst out of a person. That is what makes it so much fun.

Over the next few weeks, I will do my best to prepare you to draft the best team possible. Today, we will preview the running backs, aka, the meat and potatoes of any fantasy team. Rather than giving you a list of my rankings (there’s already a million of those all over the internet), I will go through the top 25 running backs according to average draft position and rate each player on a scale of one to five of how comfortable I would be drafting them at that spot. Five is most comfortable. One is the least

Two things before we start: The ADP averages come from fantasypros.com. Also, this article assumes a PPR league.


  1. Christian McCaffrey | ADP 1.0 | How comfortable I would be drafting him at his ADP on a scale of 1-5: 5
  2. Dalvin Cook | ADP: 2.0 | 5
  3. Alvin Kamara | ADP: 3.2 | 5
  4. Derrick Henry | ADP: 3.8 | 2
  5. Ezekiel Elliott | ADP: 5.8 | 4
  6. Saquon Barkley | ADP: 7.0 | 3
  7. Nick Chubb | ADP: 7.5 | 4
  8. Aaron Jones | ADP: 8.0 | 4
  9. Jonathon Taylor | ADP: 8.2 | 5
  10. Austin Ekeler | ADP: 8.7 | 2
  11. Najee Harris | ADP: 11.0 | 4
  12. Antonio Gibson | ADP: 11.8 | 3
  13. Joe Mixon | ADP: 13.2 | 1
  14. Clyde Edwards-Helaire | ADP: 13.8 | 5
  15. David Montgomery | ADP: 16.0 | 4
  16. J.K. Dobbins | ADP: 16.3 | 5
  17. D’Andre Swift | ADP: 16.7 | 1
  18. Chris Carson | ADP: 18.2 | 2
  19. Josh Jacobs | ADP: 19.0 | 2
  20. Miles Sanders | ADP: 19.2 | 1
  21. Mike Davis | ADP: 23.2 | 5
  22. Myles Gaskin | ADP: 23.5 | 3
  23. Kareem Hunt | ADP: 23.8 | 5
  24. James Robinson | ADP: 24.0 | 5
  25. Darrell Henderson | ADP: 24.5 | 1

Going through this list, I would be comfortable drafting most of these running backs at their ADP, especially at the top. There are some exceptions though. First is Derrick Henry. I get it. Over the past two seasons, he has been the best pure runner in football, compiling over 3,500 rushing yards. That said, he has also racked up a ton of carries. With Julio Jones added to the Tennessee offense and AJ Brown progressing into his third season, I feel that Henry will get slightly fewer opportunities than he’s gotten in the past. Keep in mind too that if he isn’t rushing for a ton of yards, he won’t be a top running back. In the passing game, he is a zero. In his career, he’s never racked up more than 20 catches. Of the top six players on these rankings, Henry is the one I’d stay away from the most.

Of the players ranked from 7-15, I like Jonathon Taylor the most and Joe Mixon the least. Last season as a rookie, Taylor was the sixth-highest scoring running back in PPR leagues. Although his backup Marlon Mack is back this season, Taylor will still see a huge majority of carries. If Carson Wentz can stay healthy, this will help Taylor too as he is an upgrade over Phillip Rivers. The better the quarterback, the better the situation for the running back.

In Joe Mixon’s case, it will be nice that Joe Burrow is returning to help take the focus off of him. That said, the Bengals’ offensive line is terrible. They will be playing from behind most of the time. Mixon has also had trouble staying on the field due to injuries. With a pick early in the second round, Mixon is someone to stay away from.

In the final tier of running backs (15-25), there is not a lot to like. Guys like D’Andre Swift and Miles Sanders play for terrible teams that will be playing from behind. Josh Jacobs will be splitting carries with Kenyan Drake.

The players I do like in this group of players are J.K. Dobbins, Kareem Hunt, and James Robinson. In Dobbins’ case, he is now the main guy in Baltimore and will get plenty of volume. When it comes to Hunt, people forget that he scored more points than Chubb did last season. With Travis Etienne out for the season for the Jaguars, Robinson will surely jump way higher on this list. I would guess now that he is a top 10 guy or at least close.

New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) hands off the ball to running back Michael Carter (32) in the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the New York Giants, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Corey Sipkin)

Sleepers:

Michael Carter | ADP: 32.7 | The main reason Carter is a solid sleeper option is that his teammates at running back are Tevin Coleman, Ty Johnson, and La’Mical Perine. Those players simply are not good. Carter could very well win the job and quickly. If so, he will get the volume to become a solid fantasy option.

Trey Sermon | ADP: 33.3 | The only thing stopping Sermon from being the every-down back in San Francisco is Raheem Mostert. Although Mostert is great, he is also an injury waiting to happen. If sidelined, Sermon will be the main guy. At some point this season, I expect that to happen.

Rhamondre Stevenson | ADP: 64.4 | Although New England has a crowded backfield, there is a chance that Stevenson could emerge. At 6’3 and 231 pounds, this 2021 fourth-round pick has been a monster in the preseason. Even if he doesn’t start right away, the Patriots will run the ball enough that Stevenson will get opportunities.

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