2021 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: The case for why every one of the top-12 running backs could bust

Saquon Barkley New York Giants
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It is fairly simple to speak your self into the highest working backs in your Fantasy Soccer draft. Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Derrick Henry, and the remainder of them are going on the high of drafts for a motive, in any case. As a result of most of them have already demonstrated that elite upside, you do not actually even want to speak your self into them. The explanations to love them are self-evident.

Oh positive, you may like one man greater than the opposite, otherwise you may suppose one man is extra like a second-round decide than a first-rounder. However typically talking, you will see much more causes to love the highest working backs than the other.

Which is sensible! There’s loads to love about them. Nonetheless, on two episodes of Fantasy Football Today earlier this week, we talked about what may go incorrect for the highest 16 picks in ADP in our Everybody’s A Bust collection, and I needed to proceed that dialogue immediately by looking at what may go incorrect for every of the highest 12 working backs:

It is a helpful train, I feel, as a result of we’re so educated to consider all the things that may go proper for, say, McCaffrey. He is been a traditionally productive working again for Fantasy, and even in 2020, when he missed 13 video games, he nonetheless led the league in per-game scoring in PPR leagues. He is a dominant power, and goes to be the highest decide in your league.However there are nonetheless methods his season may go south, identical to there are for each participant.

Here is the FFT group’s top-12 working backs by consensus rankings and the case for a way their seasons may go sideways.

  1. Christian McCaffrey — If we’re not together with accidents, this turns into an almost unattainable process for McCaffrey. Even considerations about Sam Darnold should not actually scare you away, as a result of McCaffrey had his finest season — and top-of-the-line all time for a working again — with Kyle Allen beginning 12 video games and Will Frier beginning two others. If there’s a technique McCaffrey’s season may go incorrect, possibly his function within the passing recreation will not be fairly as strong as what it has been prior to now — he was on tempo for 101 targets in his three video games in 2020, however 10 of them got here in a single recreation, and he and Mike Davis mixed for simply 89 in 15 video games. McCaffrey had 124 and 143 in 2018 and 2019, so possibly he isn’t fairly as a lot of a cinch for the highest spot if he would not have that passing recreation function? It is not the strongest argument, however when McCaffrey is considered because the consensus No. 1 decide, ending sixth or eighth at RB may put you in a little bit of a gap. 
  2. Dalvin Cook dinner — Once more, if we’re ignoring harm danger, it is exhausting to make too robust a case towards Cook dinner. Nonetheless, it is probably not proper to simply solely ignore harm danger right here, as a result of Cook dinner most likely carries greater than anybody in his tier. He is missed two video games in every of the final two seasons, and clearly, we bear in mind him lacking 17 of his first 32 video games with a torn ACL after which hamstring accidents. For a man who will get as a lot work as Cook dinner does — 25.4 touches per recreation in 2020! — and who has had hassle with accidents prior to now, there’s all the time a heightened danger of harm. You are drafting Cook dinner coming off a 356-touch season in simply 14 video games, throughout which he additionally had career-best speeding effectivity and landing charges. Entrance a manufacturing standpoint, the ground could be very excessive, however you are drafting a man who’s more likely to see at the very least some regression from his profession season and who additionally carries extra danger than a lot of the elite backs of breaking down. 
  3. Alvin Kamara — We all know Kamara is an elite again when he will get to play with Drew Brees. It is at the very least a considerably open query as as to if he might be with out him. Kamara has performed eight video games with out Brees beginning in his profession and has averaged 17.98 Fantasy factors per recreation. That is nonetheless actually, actually good, in fact, however it could have been good for tenth in factors per recreation in 2020. And he was at simply 14.2 factors per recreation within the 4 video games Taysom Hill began final season. The issue there was that Kamara averaged simply 4 targets per recreation in Hill’s begins. I count on we’ll see a rise in speeding work for Kamara irrespective of if Hill or Jameis Winston begins at QB, but when it is Hill in there, now we have motive to consider Kamara’s days of being a No. 1 Fantasy RB are numbered. 
  4. Derrick Henry — As a result of he’s seemingly assured to be one of many leaders in carries each season, Henry most likely carries one of many larger flooring for Fantasy. If he will get to 300 carries, he is most likely going to be a must-start Fantasy RB it doesn’t matter what. The query is whether or not he can proceed to maintain his otherworldly effectivity whereas holding as much as the workload. As a result of he would not have a receiving function to buoy his numbers, Henry needs to be some of the productive rushers within the league to be a must-start Fantasy RB. What if he will get his 300 carries however averaged 4.5 Y/A and solely scores 10 touchdowns? Add on his receiving manufacturing from the final two seasons, and also you get to 236 PPR factors — a stable season that will make him an RB2 on a per-game foundation, however not well worth the top-six decide you will have to take a position. 
  5. Aaron Jones — What if A.J. Dillon is only a actually particular participant? Jones has by no means had big workloads whereas splitting with Jamaal Williams, however he is been an elite Fantasy again then to unimaginable effectivity. However what if Dillon is simply so good that he forces one thing nearer to a 50-50 break up? What if he is so dominant close to the purpose line that he will get greater than a 50-50 break up of these worthwhile touches? It appears unlikely after Jones signed the sixth-largest contract amongst working backs, nevertheless it would not appear out of the query. 
  6. Ezekiel Elliott — The Cowboys are principally tied to Elliott for the following two years earlier than his useless cap hit drops to $6.7 million in 2023, in order that they nonetheless have an incentive to maintain him because the lead again. Nonetheless, Tony Pollard positive seemed like he had extra burst than Elliott final season, and along with his personal cap hit sitting at simply $1.13 million for 2022, it is not unreasonable to suppose the Cowboys may flip to him because the lead again if he as soon as once more exhibits greater than Elliott this season. The Cowboys are at a degree the place they appear fairly determined to show this group right into a winner, and it is potential they will not have as a lot endurance for Elliott if he is not getting the job completed.
  7. Jonathan Taylor — Effectively, we may be seeing what the worst-case state of affairs for Taylor is with the Colts beginning QB, proper guard, and middle coping with accidents in camp. It is a group with out a lot playmaking, so Taylor figures to get fed, but when the offense round him is not any good, there’s solely a lot upside he can have. We additionally noticed final season that Frank Reich is not afraid to tug Taylor off the sphere if he is not getting the job completed, and whereas it appears unlikely that will occur once more given how good he was on the finish of the season, you may’t completely low cost the chance. Hey, the purpose of the train is to attempt to make the case, in any case.
  8. Austin Ekeler — Ekeler is such an excellent receiver that we’re simply type of assuming that the change in teaching employees will not affect his utilization a lot. And, given the truth that Joe Lombardi is putting in a really comparable offense to the one the Saints have run in latest seasons, that looks as if a protected assumption. However it’s not a assure. If Ekeler falls from the 100-target vary to, say, 80 or so, that would show very pricey since he would not have an enormous function within the working recreation to fall again on. 
  9. Nick Chubb — Chubb is loads like Derrick Henry, besides he is about 90% pretty much as good and will get about 80% as many carries. We have seen how issues can go incorrect for Chubb earlier than, like when he averaged simply 12.9 PPR factors per recreation in eight video games after Kareem Hunt was activated in 2019. And that occurred whereas he was on a near-1,400-yard tempo. Nonetheless, his mixture of quantity and big-play capability give Chubb a excessive ground, so the case towards drafting him is much less about how issues can go incorrect and extra about the truth that he has a a lot narrower path to a 20-plus PPG season than a lot of the different backs on this record. 
  10. Saquon Barkley — It is most likely simpler to make the case towards Barkley proper now than anybody else right here. It is nonetheless not 100% clear he will be prepared for Week 1 since we’re nonetheless ready for him to get cleared to take part in coaching camp, and clearly we do not understand how he will look coming off that torn ACL. Typically talking, most gamers bounce again from the harm, nevertheless it’s not a 100% success price, and it’s stunning that his progress appears to be comparatively sluggish. Oh, and the offense round him simply is probably not any good — Daniel Jones and Jason Garrett do not precisely encourage a lot confidence, I am sorry to say. So, you have acquired well being danger, efficiency danger, and group danger. Yeah, there’s lots of methods this one may go incorrect. You are paying for the potential RB1 upside right here. 
  11. Joe Mixon — You simply must level to the previous to see how Mixon may disappoint you. He is been extra like a poor man’s Chubb than anything in his profession, a high-volume rusher who depends on discovering the top zone to place collectively an enormous recreation as a result of he would not catch many passes. We’re hoping that adjustments with Giovani Bernard out of the image, and we noticed Mixon on tempo for a career-high 69 targets when wholesome final season. However rookie Chris Evans is drawing constructive reviews in camp as a pass-catcher, and it is potential that function by no means absolutely materializes for Mixon. Wherein case, he’d as soon as once more be counting on discovering the top zone loads on an offense that may not live up to expectations
  12. Najee Harris — There are loads of assumptions being baked into Harris’ top-12 rating proper now. There’s the belief that he’ll be a distinction maker within the NFL to start out with; not a given, even for highly drafted running backs out of Alabama. Then, there’s the belief that he’ll have a extremely worthwhile function in Pittsburgh’s offense, particularly as a receiver. That is primarily based at the very least partly on the efficiency of Le’Veon Bell and James Conner prior to now, however it is a new offense the Steelers are working, so we might not see that very same utilization. Oh, after which there’s the belief that the Steelers’ offense might be a worthwhile one to be part of. That has traditionally been the case, in fact, however they’re putting in a brand new offense, they have a 39-year-old QB who seemed each bit his age in 2020, and a totally rebuilt-on-the-fly offensive line. Yeah, this might get ugly. | 2021 Fantasy Soccer Draft Prep: The case for why each one of many top-12 working backs may bust


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