We are officially one month away from preseason football. Not only is the 2021 regular season inching closer, fantasy football season is as well! In redraft leagues, you should be anticipating a fantasy draft in the next couple of months. Before we get into the top-20 RBs to draft in PPR leagues, make sure to check out the top-5 RBs to avoid drafting from last week. And as always, for any fantasy content, click the fantasy tab here on our website. Let’s get started!
Notable Mentions: Kareem Hunt (Browns), Miles Sanders (Eagles), Ronald Jones Jr. (Buccaneers), J.K. Dobbins (Ravens), Raheem Mostert (49ers)
20) Mike Davis – Atlanta Falcons
Davis’ Rushing Stats
Davis’ Receiving Stats
Davis surprised fantasy owners last season when Christian McCaffrey missed 13 regular season games. In PPR leagues, he finished the season as the RB12, but he wasn’t consistent throughout. For example, through Weeks 3-11, he served as the RB5, but through Weeks 12-17, he served as the RB32. Now he will join an Atlanta team that let their top-3 RBs go from last season (Todd Gurley, Brian Hill, Ito Smith). The RBs behind Davis on this season’s depth chart are pretty shaky. As of today, Cordarrelle Patterson is slated as the team’s RB2 (more of a WR). Expect Davis to exceed 250 touches, but don’t rely on great efficiency from him. He should still finish as a low-end RB2 in PPR leagues.
Davis’ 2021 Prediction
Rushing: 221 carries, 862 yards, 4 touchdowns, 4 fumbles
Receiving: 42 receptions, 310 yards, 1 touchdown
Fantasy Points: 185.2 PPR Points
19) Cam Akers – Los Angeles Rams
Akers’ Rushing Stats
Akers’ Receiving Stats
Nearly every fantasy analyst out there is projecting Akers to finish a low-end RB1. Everyone is acting like the second-year pro finished last season as a fantasy star, but he DIDN’T. Sean McVay and the Rams decided to give Akers the bulk of the team’s carries once Week 11 came around. Between Weeks 11-17, Akers served as just the RB18. During that span, he rushed for 424 yards on 95 carries (4.4 YPC) and caught eight passes for 96 yards and two total touchdowns. Those aren’t bad numbers, but they’re certainly not RB1 numbers. McVay will utilize Darrell Henderson a lot this season, and you should expect this team to pass the ball a ton with Matthew Stafford now in town. Akers will put together a good season, but don’t expect astronomical production from the second-year pro.
Akers’ 2021 Prediction
Rushing: 233 carries, 1,025 yards, 6 touchdowns, 3 fumbles
Receiving: 25 receptions, 195 yards, 1 touchdown
Fantasy Points: 186 PPR Points
18) Josh Jacobs – Las Vegas Raiders
Jacobs’ Rushing Stats
Jacobs’ Receiving Stats
Through his first two seasons in the league, Jacobs has finished as the RB21 and the RB8 respectively. Although he has produced very efficiently throughout his young career, the Raiders decided to sign Kenyan Drake to a multi-year deal to add more firepower to their RB room. For the team, this may benefit, but this certainly diminishes Jacobs’ fantasy value. HC Jon Gruden has made it clear that Jacobs will serve as the team’s bell cow RB, but he also says that he wants to use Drake as the team’s gadget back. Drake is an excellent receiving back out the backfield, which will certainly negatively affect Jacobs’ receiving numbers. Don’t expect the third-year pro to finish as an RB1 this season, but he should put together a productive season.
Jacobs’ 2021 Prediction
Rushing: 246 carries, 1,082 yards, 7 touchdowns, 2 fumbles
Receiving: 28 receptions, 218 yards, 1 touchdown
Fantasy Points: 204 PPR Points
17) D’Andre Swift – Detroit Lions
Swift’s Rushing Stats
Swift’s Receiving Stats
Swift finished his rookie season as one of the biggest bright spots for the Lions in 2020. Although the team disappointed last season, and ultimately made a ton of changes this offseason, Swift will be one of the main weapons for their offense in 2021. He missed three games last year, but his 16-game pace was incredible. Hypothetically, he would have finished with 140 carries for about 645 rushing yards, 57 receptions, 442 receiving yards, and 12 total touchdowns. Expect his carries to skyrocket this season, but don’t expect his receiving numbers to duplicate. The team brought in Jamaal Williams, a great pass-catcher, who will become a detriment towards Swift’s receiving production. His 2021 season has a lot of upside, and he has all the opportunities to finish towards the top of the pack.
Swift’s 2021 Prediction
Rushing: 192 carries, 864 yards, 7 touchdowns, 2 fumbles
Receiving: 42 receptions, 311 yards, 2 touchdowns
Fantasy Points: 211.5 PPR Points
16) Myles Gaskin – Miami Dolphins
Gaskin’s Rushing Stats
Gaskin’s Receiving Stats
Going into this offseason, it was unsure if the Dolphins were going to add any RB depth behind Gaskin. They decided to bring Malcolm Brown into town, but he won’t likely affect Gaskin’s fantasy value for this season. Although the third-year pro missed six games last season, he still found a way to finish as the RB28. Before he missed six out of the last nine games to end the season, he was producing as the RB20 through Weeks 1-7. He came back after a four-game absence to play in Week 13 as he served as the RB16. Then he played in the last two regular season games and served as the RB3 during those two weeks. If he plays a full season this year, he should have no issues producing as an RB2 throughout the season. He’s a good rusher who excels as a great pass-catcher out of the backfield.
Gaskin’s 2021 Prediction
Rushing: 217 carries, 933 yards, 5 touchdowns, 2 fumbles
Receiving: 52 receptions, 501 yards, 2 touchdowns
Fantasy Points: 235.4 PPR Points
15) Najee Harris (*) – Pittsburgh Steelers
Harris’ Rushing Collegiate Stats
Harris’ Receiving Collegiate Stats
The first-round rookie RB is looking to revamp Pittsburgh’s running game in a big way. The Steelers are fresh off a season where they finished last in total rushing yards. Bringing in a player like Harris should get them over the bottom-half hump, but it’s going to be tough to be elite with an offensive line that’s returning just one 2020 starter. Harris has the capability of becoming this team’s every down back, and he possesses great hands out of the backfield. Look at his stats above; he will receive plenty of opportunities to succeed at the pro level. No matter how he does it, the former Alabama star will put up great numbers in fantasy football this season, barring injuries.
Harris’ 2021 Prediction
Rushing: 255 carries, 1,122 yards, 8 touchdowns, 3 fumbles
Receiving: 34 receptions, 272 yards, 2 touchdowns
Fantasy Points: 236.4 PPR Points
14) Antonio Gibson – Washington Football Team
Gibson’s Rushing Stats
Gibson’s Receiving Stats
Gibson came into his rookie season fresh off playing the WR position for Memphis University for two seasons. He hauled in 38 receptions for 735 yards and eight touchdowns during his 2019 season alone. Out of nowhere, he was granted the opportunity to play the RB position for Washington last season, and he surely didn’t disappoint. He finished the season as the RB13, and he missed two games throughout the year. He showed flashes of his former WR days by catching 36 passes for 247 yards, but expect more receiving production this season. Ron Rivera and his staff have already spoken to the media about getting Gibson more involved in the passing game. With more anticipated targets, and less pass-catching opportunities for J.D. McKissic, he should finish somewhere close to an RB1 spot in 2021.
Gibson’s 2021 Prediction
Rushing: 198 carries, 910 yards, 8 touchdowns, 2 fumbles
Receiving: 48 receptions, 360 yards, 3 touchdowns
Fantasy Points: 239 PPR Points
13) Clyde Edwards-Helaire – Kansas City Chiefs
Edwards-Helaire’s Rushing Stats
Edwards-Helaire’s Receiving Stats
Going into his rookie season last year, Edwards-Helaire had a ton of hype surrounding his fantasy stock. He was going into the season as one of the best pass-catchers to enter the draft, and he was joining arguably the best offense in football. He disappointed those who drafted him too high, but overall, he put together a fine debut season. This is the season we should all get excited about. Obviously Kansas City is going to throw the ball a ton, but we should expect more pass-catching opportunities for Edwrads-Helaire now that Le’Veon Bell and Sammy Watkins are out of town. You also have to keep in mind that there wasn’t a true offseason last year because of COVID-19. With a normal offseason, a revamped offensive line, and one of the best offensive minds as a head coach in the game, Edwards-Helaire should produce better numbers this season. Expect him to finish as an RB1 or somewhere just outside that top-12 range.
Edwards-Helaire’s 2021 Prediction
Rushing: 202 carries, 929 yards, 6 touchdowns, 2 fumbles
Receiving: 48 receptions, 412 yards, 4 touchdowns
Fantasy Points: 240.1 PPR Points
12) Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals
Mixon’s Rushing Stats
Mixon’s Receiving Stats
There is a ton of negative energy surrounding Mixon going into his fifth year in the league. Sure, he was unhealthy last season, but he stayed relatively healthy through his first three seasons. He’s going to demand a ton of touches in 2021, especially with Giovani Bernard now in Tampa Bay and a lack of depth behind him at his position. Currently, the Bengals have Semaje Perine, Trayveon Williams, and Chris Evans filling out the rest of the RB room. He’s one of those talented backs who can dominate both in the rushing and receiving game. Just two seasons ago, he finished as the RB13 in PPR leagues. During the season prior, he served as the RB10. With a fully healthy season, expect Mixon to finish around that same range of a low-end RB1/high-end RB2.
Mixon’s 2021 Prediction
Rushing: 270 carries, 1,196 yards, 7 touchdowns, 2 fumbles
Receiving: 38 receptions, 312 yards, 2 touchdowns
Fantasy Points: 240.8 PPR Points
11) Nick Chubb – Cleveland Browns
Chubb’s Rushing Stats
Chubb’s Receiving Stats
This simply hurts to put Chubb this low on this list. Aside from Derrick Henry, he could be the most dominant rusher in the league. The key word in that last sentence was “rusher.” He may finish first, second, or third in rushing, but he simply lacks the production on the receiving end because of Kareem Hunt. In 2019, he did haul in 36 receptions, but we witnessed last season that Hunt will more than likely serve as the third-and-long RB most of the time. It’s not a shot at Chubb whatsoever, he just doesn’t provide enough production as a receiver to fit him into this year’s top-10. On a side note, through Weeks 1-4 before suffering an injury, he served as the RB15. Once he came back, playing Weeks 9-17, he served as the RB6. This proves that he has the capability of finishing inside the top-10, but with more elite pass-catchers now at his position, it’s going to be tough for Chubb to slip in. Either way, he’s an RB1 in fantasy; he just may be one you’re scared of drafting in the first round.
Chubb’s 2021 Prediction
Rushing: 265 carries, 1,378 yards, 11 touchdowns, 2 fumbles
Receiving: 24 receptions, 194 yards
Fantasy Points: 245.2 PPR Points
10) Jonathan Taylor – Indianapolis Colts
Taylor’s Rushing Stats
Taylor’s Receiving Stats
There are mixed emotions surrounding the one-year pro entering the 2021 season so far. We witnessed the talented back out of Wisconsin perform adequately through Week 11. But he really flipped the switch after that. For instance, before Week 12, he served as the RB16. From then on, he served as the RB3. During that span at the end of the year, he put together 651 rushing yards on 97 carries (6.7 YPC), 10 receptions, 72 receiving yards, and eight total touchdowns. Not only did he produce terrific numbers, he dominated opposing defenses. His signature performance came during the last week of the regular season against Jacksonville. He carried the ball 30 times for 253 yards and two touchdowns. The only thing hurting his stock going into this season is the reemergence of Marlon Mack. Mack entered last season as the team’s starter, and he previously came off a 2019 season where he finished as the RB22 in fantasy. Expect Indianapolis to incorporate him back in their offense somehow, but Taylor should easily receive the bulk of the team’s carries going forward.
Taylor’s 2021 Prediction
Rushing: 249 carries, 1,165 yards, 9 touchdowns, 2 fumbles
Receiving: 34 receptions, 309 yards, 2 touchdowns
Fantasy Points: 245.4 PPR Points
9) David Montgomery – Chicago Bears
Montgomery’s Rushing Stats
Montgomery’s Receiving Stats
As you read above, Taylor served as one of the hottest RBs towards the end of last season in fantasy football. But no one compared to David Montgomery during the last six weeks of last season. The two-year pro served as the RB1 in all of fantasy from Weeks 12-17. During those six weeks, he never finished below 20 PPR points, and he never finished outside the top-8. He respectively finished as the RB6 in Week 12, the RB1 in Week 13, the RB6 in Week 14, the RB2 in Week 15, the RB8 in Week 16, and the RB5 in Week 17. His receiving numbers skyrocketed once Tarik Cohen went down in Week 4 with a torn ACL. Now that Cohen is back, don’t expect as many pass-catching opportunities for Montgomery, but he should still put together great fantasy numbers. There’s no denying that he is primed to finish top-10 once again this season.
Montgomery’s 2021 Prediction
Rushing: 272 carries, 1,169 yards, 10 touchdowns, 2 fumbles
Receiving: 42 receptions, 327 receiving yards, 1 touchdown
Fantasy Points: 255.6 PPR Points
8) Austin Ekeler – Los Angeles Chargers
Ekeler’s Rushing Stats
Ekeler’s Receiving Stats
Ekeler is a unique fantasy RB when it comes to PPR leagues. He doesn’t receive as many carries as others on this list. In fact, during his last fully healthy season in 2019, he finished 36th in the league in total carries. But he serves as one of the best pass-catching RBs in the entire league. During that 2019 season, he finished 10th in the league in total receptions and second amongst all RBs (Christian McCaffrey finished second in the league). Ekeler impressively served as the RB4 that season in PPR leagues, and he was on track to finish towards the top last season if he avoided all injuries. He went on IR after suffering an injury during a Week 4 matchup against Tampa Bay. Between Weeks 1-3, he was on pace to finish as the RB6. He later came back in Week 11, and he immediately produced at a high level once again. Between Weeks 11-17, he served as the RB8. With a lack of talent behind him on the Chargers’ depth chart, expect more carries this season and less receptions from his 2019 season. His expected volume should still place him towards the top amongst all fantasy RBs if he stays healthy.
Ekeler’s 2021 Prediction
Rushing: 144 carries, 679 yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 fumbles
Receiving: 85 receptions, 748 yards, 5 touchdowns
Fantasy Points: 273.7 PPR Points
7) Aaron Jones – Green Bay Packers
Jones’ Rushing Stats
Jones’ Receiving Stats
We still don’t know if Aaron Rodgers will line up under center for Green Bay this season. With Rodgers or Jordan Love as Jones’ QB, you should still expect him to replicate what he did last season as far as total fantasy points. Jamaal Williams left for Detroit this offseason, but A.J. Dillion will demand more volume behind Jones in this offense. Even if Dillon cuts away from Jones’ total carries, the fifth-year pro should make up for the lost production with more pass-catching opportunities. That’s the worst case scenario. Green Bay just gave Jones a four-year contract extension, so those of you who think that Dillion is the future may be blind at the fact that Green Bay looks to think otherwise. Although Jones missed two regular season games last year, he still managed to finish as the RB5. Just imagine what he could do this season if he plays all 17 games.
Jones’ 2021 Prediction
Rushing: 223 carries, 1,160 yards, 10 touchdowns, 2 fumbles
Receiving: 51 receptions, 413 yards, 2 touchdowns
Fantasy Points: 278.3 PPR Points
6) Ezekiel Elliott – Dallas Cowboys
Elliott’s Rushing Stats
Elliott’s Receiving Stats
A ton of people think Elliott is past his prime and done being relevant in fantasy football. One of those may be true (past his prime part), but he’s surely going to be given every opportunity to prove himself this season. Dak Prescott returning from injury will certainly serve Elliott well this season. He’s also getting a much healthier offensive line, and he’s receiving less pressure to be the main focus of Dallas’ offense. Although he played in 15 regular season games last year, he only managed to finish as the RB9. Oh wait? That’s actually not that bad at all? If you would have talked to fantasy owners of Elliott last season, they would have more than likely told you that Elliott was a giant bust. Sure, his stats didn’t compare to his previous seasons, and he may have had some weeks where he really underperformed, but he still played well overall. Expect more of a bounce-back season this year, and expect Elliott to prove that he has a lot left in his tank.
Elliott’s 2021 Prediction
Rushing: 292 carries, 1,285 yards, 8 touchdowns, 3 fumbles
Receiving: 54 receptions, 437 yards, 2 touchdowns
Fantasy Points: 283.2 PPR Points
5) Saquon Barkley – New York Giants
Barkley’s Rushing Stats
Barkley’s Receiving Stats
Speaking of bounce-back seasons, Barkley should come into this 2021 season with a chip on his shoulder. He’s coming off a torn ACL and back-to-back seasons of disappointment after dominating during his rookie season. The Giants now have a plethora of pass-catchers surrounding Daniel Jones in their offense. This is more of a “make it or break it” season for Jones rather than it is for Barkley. This should take some of the burden off of the three-year pro. He is officially “injury prone” at this point of his career, but if he can manage to stay healthy, there is no reason why he won’t succeed in 2021. He’s one of the more gifted players in this league, and he’s a top-5 pass-catcher at his position. Don’t rely on him to mold back into his rookie season form, but he should finish as an RB1 this season.
Barkley’s 2021 Prediction
Rushing: 254 carries, 1,143 yards, 7 touchdowns, 2 fumbles
Receiving: 62 receptions, 533 yards, 3 touchdowns
Fantasy Points: 287.6 PPR Points
4) Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans
Henry’s Rushing Stats
Henry’s Receiving Stats
At some point, Henry will eventually regress, but for now, he’s EASILY the most dominant rusher in the entire NFL. He managed to become just the eighth RB to ever top 2,000 rushing yards in one season last year. He also received the most carries out of any RB in the last 15 years in one season (Larry Johnson received 416 in 2006). Henry won’t be able to sustain that much volume each and every season. The addition of Julio Jones to the Titans might help Henry in a way, and as a Henry fantasy owner, don’t expect nearly as many carries this season. As mentioned above, he is the most dominant rusher in the game, but he doesn’t do enough on the receiving end to beat out the three RBs listed ahead of him on this list. The stats prove the point. He has never totaled 20 receptions in one season, and in PPR leagues, his best finish was third, which was last season. Even in a 2,000-yard rushing season, Henry served as the RB3.
Henry’s 2021 Prediction
Rushing: 334 carries, 1,603 yards, 14 touchdowns. 3 fumbles
Receiving: 22 receptions, 194 yards, 1 touchdown
Fantasy Points: 288.7 PPR Points
3) Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints
Kamara’s Rushing Stats
Kamara’s Receiving Stats
How in the world has Alvin Kamara never topped 1,000 rushing yards in one season!?! He was on his way of doing so last year before COVID-19 prevented him from playing in Week 17. Nonetheless, he is simply one of the most dominant fantasy RBs throughout his four-year career. He’s respectively finished (in order) third, fourth, ninth, and first amongst all RBs in PPR leagues. He’s produced four consecutive 80-plus reception seasons, and he’s fresh off a season where he found the endzone 21 times (six in one game). Now that Drew Brees has retired, expect more production on the ground from Kamara and a little less opportunities as a pass-catcher. This should be the season he surpasses 1,000 yards rushing as he should be the focal point of New Orleans’ offense in 2021.
Kamara’s 2021 Prediction
Rushing: 212 carries, 1,102 yards, 10 touchdowns, 2 fumbles
Receiving: 78 receptions, 741 yards, 3 touchdowns
Fantasy Points: 338.3 PPR Points
2) Dalvin Cook – Minnesota Vikings
Cook’s Rushing Stats
Cook’s Receiving Stats
Cook joins Kamara and the next guy on this list amongst tier 1 RBs in fantasy. Outside of these three, there is a big gap in PPR leagues. Just like the other two, Cook is an excellent receiver out of the backfield. He’s also coming off of back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons, and finished second behind Henry in total rushing yards in 2020. Minnesota’s offense revolves around Cook, and that’s why he has respectively finished as the RB6 and the RB2 during the last two seasons. Expect more of the same this season as Minnesota looks to rely on the run more than the pass. That formula created more success last season as they finished their last 10 games with a 6-4 record. During those 10 games, Cook played in nine of them and rushed for 1,068 of his 1,557 total yards.
Cook’s 2021 Prediction
Rushing: 322 carries, 1,481 yards, 11 touchdowns, 3 fumbles
Receiving: 55 receptions, 529 yards,4 touchdowns
Fantasy Points: 343 PPR Points
1) Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers
McCaffrey’s Rushing Stats
McCaffrey’s Receiving Stats
HE’S BACK! As East West Football Network’s Clayton Hoffard would say, “There are three certainties in life. Death, taxes, and Christian McCaffrey scoring over 20 PPR fantasy points a game.” That saying is nearly perfect anytime McCaffrey plays a full game. He only played in three regular season games last season, and his lowest point total was 24.8 PPR points in Week 2. He’s so dominant that when he played all 16 games in 2019, he served as the RB1 in PPR leagues, and the player who finished second (Aaron Jones) scored 156.4 points less than him. If you don’t think that’s a lot, ask Latavius Murray, who finished with 157.2 as the RB28 of that same season. Don’t expect outlandish numbers like that again from McCaffrey, but you can expect him to finish as this year’s RB1 if he stays healthy, and you can expect him to do so easily.
McCaffrey’s 2021 Prediction
Rushing: 295 carries, 1,357 yards, 9 touchdowns, 4 fumbles
Receiving: 96 receptions, 812 yards, 3 touchdowns
Fantasy Points: 380.9 PPR Points
Did you enjoy this article and want more fantasy content? Make sure to check out my recent posts, and stay tuned for other positional rankings in the future. You can also follow me on Twitter @dirrim23, where I love talking about all things fantasy football!