Three RBs to Remember in 2021 (Fantasy Football)
Continuing the Players to Remember series, let’s jump right into the running back position. These players aren’t necessarily guys you should absolutely target, but this article will serve as a reminder that they may have a better opportunity due to changing circumstances during the offseason.
It seems like Kenyan Drake has had a rough go of it since 2016. He is perpetually an RB2 with poor head coaching and is on his third team since entering the league. I am not sure how much Drake is complaining after his most recent move to Las Vegas with $11 million over two years and all of that $11 million is guaranteed.
All of it.
For fantasy purposes, this speaks volumes about how they want to utilize Drake in their offense. For Josh Jacobs truthers, it’s doesn’t bode very well. You’re not going to spend all of that money on a player to have him just sit on the bench for half of the offensive snaps.
On paper, Drake and Jacobs look alarmingly similar when it came to their 2020 finishes although Jacobs finished as the RB8 while Drake landed at that RB14 spot. Jacobs had 34 more rush attempts, 109 more yards, and two more touchdowns than Drake. Even their Red Zone Report from the 2021 Ultimate Draft Kit looks eerily similar to each other.
Luckily, Drake and Jacobs have just enough of an individual identity that should allow them to occupy a different kind of space on the field if the Raiders can draw it up correctly. Drake saw 31 targets for 25 receptions and 137 yards last season with mobile QB Kyler Murray on a team loaded with WR talent like D’Andre Hopkins. Las Vegas, on the other hand, doesn’t have that kind of elite talent aside from TE Darren Waller. If the Raiders can incorporate Drake into the passing game, there is a world where Drake and Jacobs can be fantasy superstars as the 1A and 1B running backs.
Fantasy managers aren’t blind to this reality either and Jacobs ADP has been waffling right around the 4th and 5th Round of drafts. That is still pretty good value for Jacobs, but I would rather snag Drake in the 10th Round as my RB2 or Flex option.
I won’t mince words here. Aaron Jones is the lead back in Green Bay and I am not trying to make the case for A.J. Dillon usurping Jones’ role in 2021. Instead, I want to make sure that fantasy managers are aware that just because Jamaal Williams is gone, does not mean that there is no competition at the position.
What made Williams so annoying in terms of fantasy was that he and Jones have a similar profile and skill set. There wasn’t all that much that separated the two backs outside of snap counts. When Williams was on the field at least 46% of the time, he usually finished as an RB2 or better. It certainly helps Jones that Williams is now in Detroit, but that doesn’t mean this backfield is his and his alone.
Sophomore back, A.J. Dillon, showed us what he was capable of in Week 16 against the Titans when he finished as the RB6 in half-PPR scoring with 21 attempts for 124 yards and two touchdowns. He saw the lion’s share of the snaps with 58% compared to Jones’ 38%.
It’s pretty clear that Dillon is not just a heavily muscled insurance policy for the Packers but he is a talented and bruising running back in the NFL that reminds me a lot of Derrick Henry.
Again, Jones is clearly the RB1 on this team but there is a future for Dillon if he can carve out a role for himself now that he has had a year to grow with the team and Williams is no longer in the way. Worst case scenario, you can stash Dillon in case of injury to Jones. He is currently being drafted in the middle of the 11th Round which is an excellent draft spot for him either as a golden insurance snag or as a Flex option who could see stand-alone points in 2021.
Since we’re on this train, let’s stick to the course and head to Detroit. I often joke that players go to Detroit and are forgotten until they leave, but I am very intrigued with Williams and his new team. Actually, everything about the Lions intrigues me this year, let’s just hope (for the fans’ sake) that will equal winning.
Nevertheless, Williams is now a Lion and broke the collective hearts of D’Andre Swift managers all across the country. Sure, this isn’t great news for Swift who was making waves in fantasy last season, but it also isn’t necessarily a death knell, either.
Aside from adding Williams, the Lions made some monumental moves in the offseason including adding a new and rather boisterous head coach in Dan Campbell, trading QB Matthew Stafford for Jared Goff, and offloading players like WRs Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones, Jr. While things are moving and shaking in Michigan, the team has found itself in a bit of pickle in terms of pass catchers. The notable wide receivers on the depth chart consist of Breshad Perriman, Tyrell Williams, Quintez Cephus, and rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown.
Aside from Swift and TE T.J. Hockenson, they need some veteran help and they need it fast. Williams can step into the RB2 position and work as an additional pass catcher for Goff whose average depth of target hovers around eight yards. There is a very real fantasy future for Williams in Detroit regardless of Swift’s health in 2021. His ADP is toward the end of the 13th Round, which I think is a steal for your fantasy team.
Remember to check out the 2021 Ultimate Draft Kit for further research tools, insight, and much more for your 2021 draft season.