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2021 Fantasy Football: Backfields to avoid

What backfields are potential landmines you should avoid in fantasy football for the 2021 NFL season?

Buffalo Bills v New England Patriots Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images

It’s that time of year when cookouts and going to the local pool are popular ways to spend time in the summer. That also means fantasy football drafts are aplenty, as the upcoming season is right around the corner. With free agency and the draft already behind us—for the most part—we now have a better grasp of who most teams are going to be deploying at the running back position. While guys like Todd Gurley and Le’Veon Bell could create chaos for certain backfields as remaining free agents, there are a few backfields that I currently want little to no part of in fantasy football entering the 2021 campaign.

Buffalo Bills: Devin Singletary and Zack Moss

The Buffalo Bills began the 2020 season with a backfield duo of Devin Singletary and rookie Zack Moss. Fast forward to this offseason and both Singletary and Moss are expected to share the workload once again. Even though Buffalo features one of the best aerial attacks in the NFL, it didn’t result in much success on the ground last season. While the Bills were tied for the 14th fewest rushing attempts in the league in 2020, Singletary and Moss finished as the RB34 and RB45 in half-PPR formats respectively. It doesn’t help that Josh Allen tends to get most of the goal-line work in the running game, with him leading the team with seven rushing touchdowns within the five-yard line a season ago. On top of that, all of the running backs on Buffalo’s roster saw only 75 total targets in the passing game in 2020. You tack on the fact that Moss is returning from ankle surgery that he underwent in January from an injury he suffered in the Wild Card Round and you get a backfield that doesn’t look poised for much fantasy football success, even if Singletary and Moss can be had for cheap right now. Matt Breida was also signed by the Bills this offseason, but there’s a legitimate chance that he doesn’t make the roster. Just do yourself a favor and stay away from Buffalo’s running back room.

New York Jets: Michael Carter, Tevin Coleman, etc.

It was a foregone conclusion that the New York Jets were going to address the running back position this offseason. The Jets took an RBBC approach throughout last season, with 50-year-old Frank Gore leading the way for them in fantasy football as the RB46. Gore leading the team in scoring for fantasy football goes to show just how much of a mess New York was under Adam Gase. Following the replacement of Gase with Robert Saleh, the Jets have added Tevin Coleman and rookie Michael Carter to a backfield that has still has Ty Johnson and La’Mical Perine in the mix. Seeing that Saleh brought Coleman from his previous team in the San Francisco 49ers, I expect him to have some sort of role on a young roster. Carter could easily win the starting job, but the other running backs could also be worked into the offense, especially with a rookie quarterback in Zach Wilson at the helm. While Carter showed he’s a capable dual-threat back at North Carolina (back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons and 82 receptions in his collegiate career), it’s hard to envision him commanding a cumbersome workload right off the bat. My guess is that Carter ends up earning the majority of the touches by the season’s end. But with Coleman, Perine, and Johnson lurking behind him — plus the fact of a rookie signal-caller being under center — I’ll be steering clear of the running backs on the Jets.

Houston Texans: David Johnson, Phillip Lindsay, etc.

All the Houston Texans need to do this offseason to get themselves the best fantasy football backfield from the 2017 season is sign Todd Gurley and Le’Veon Bell. Besides David Johnson returning for another season with the Texans, the organization signed Mark Ingram, Phillip Lindsay, and Rex Burkhead this offseason. That being said, reports out of Houston suggest that Ingram and Burkhead could be vying for a roster spot during training camp. In all likelihood, Johnson and Lindsay will garner the majority of the workload for the Texans. Despite Johnson no longer being the electric running back he once was with the Arizona Cardinals, he showed flashes of his former self, concluding the 2020 season as the RB19 in fantasy football. The veteran rusher also produced six weeks (of his 12 games) of being an RB13 or better. Amid the uncertainty of where the touches will go in Houston’s backfield, the cloudy situation involving Deshaun Watson doesn’t help the matter. You could make the argument that the Texans could utilize their running backs more in the passing game due to their predicament at quarterback and their lackadaisical wide receiving corps outside of Brandin Cooks. On the other hand, I choose to be cautious of using much draft capital on any of the ball carriers in Houston.

Which backfields or running backs are you avoiding this season?