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2021 Fantasy Football: 5 Bold Running Back Predictions

I’m buying a lot of Clyde Edwards-Helaire shares this year.

NFL: Super Bowl LV-Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a week full of running backs here at Fake Teams. But if you missed the bold QB predictions last week, you can find those here!

1. Clyde Edwards-Helaire scores twice as many combined rushing and receiving TDs as he had last year.

Justification: The Chiefs have a very favorable schedule for running backs, especially for rushing TDs. I also think the Chiefs use him more (especially around the red zone) this year as he becomes a larger piece of the playbook.

2. J.D. McKissic sees his receptions drop by half this year.

Justification: Washington had the most running back targets in the league among their three quarterbacks last year. In steps Ryan Fitzpatrick who, along with Tua, was 20th last year. Conversely, this could be good for some wide receivers in Washington, as Miami targeted their WRs more than Washington Football Team last year.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports
NFL: Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

3. After ranking 25th in rushing last year, Ezekiel Elliot is second in 2021.

Justification: La’el Collins’ return is HUGE for Ezekiel Elliot. At right tackle he opens up a lot of pockets for Zeke. I think Dak Prescott in a full season with a deep group of targets spreads out the field and allows less competition for Elliott as he runs. Finally, all of the paydays across the team have some expected return and there will be a lot asked of them to achieve this year after a disappointing 2020 season.

4. Derrick Henry drops from 2,000 yards rushing last season to 1,200 this season.

Justification: Adrian Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards in 2012 and then turned around to put up 1,266 the next season (playing 14 of 16 games). Chris Johnson rushed for 2,006 yards in 2009 and turned around to put up 1,364 (playing 16/16 games). Jamal Lewis rushed for 2,066 yards in 2003 and turned around for 1,006 in 2004 (played 12/16 games). Terrell Davis rushed for 2,008 yards in 1998 and then had 211 in 1999 (played 4/16 games). Barry Sanders rushed for 2,053 yards in 1997 and then had 1,491 in 1998 (played 16/16 games). This isn’t a knock on Derrick Henry, it’s just reality where that kind of grind brings you down a bit the next year. He’s still likely going to pile up TDs though.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

5. Leonard Fournette rushes for a career high in yards this season (at least 1,200).

Justification: His first season in Tampa Bay didn’t turn out at all like he intended, but it certainly ended that way. He played second fiddle on the depth chart to Ronald Jones most of the time and he was a healthy scratch late in the season—but it all culminated in a brilliant postseason run where he increased his yards per carry by almost an entire yard, scored 3 TDs in 4 games, and rushed for an average of 75 yards. He has plenty of obstacles in 2021: the GOAT at QB, a deep running back room with Ronald Jones and Gio Bernard, and his own injury history. He comes into 2021 with a chance to take the reins and rush behind an excellent offensive line which includes two great tackles: Tristan Wirf at right and Donovan Smith at left, and two above average guards in Ali Marpet (left) and Alex Cappa (right). I’m not sold on Ryan Jensen yet, but the guards and tackles should present a favorable RB situation.

What are your bold predictions for 2021?