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2021 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs for Week 1

Alvin Kamara is a strong option for New Orleans to use out of the gate.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Alas, we find ourselves on the cusp of the start of the season. There is a good chill to the air—a feeling of excitement—and inevitably we will all put too much weight on the results of Week 1. The good news is this is about as healthy as the core of running backs will be all season!

Yesterday was a special day in history, back in 1813 when Samuel Wilson, a meatpacker, would stamp barrels of beef with “U.S” for United States but soldiers referred to the barrels as “Uncle Sams.” Well, I’m stamping these picks as US for “Untimely Successes”.

A few notes for Week 1:

  • As much as I can, I’m trying to avoid Indianapolis vs. Seattle, that’s an offensive & defensive line nightmare for both squads.
  • Injuries to Saquon Barkley, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and Darrell Henderson don’t have me completely scared off, but I’m monitoring them.
  • A gut feeling tells me Tennessee, Miami, New Orleans, and Pittsburgh all go run-heavy in Week 1.
  • We should see some tandem work with Raheem Mostert/Trey Sermon and Ronald Jones II and Leonard Fournette.
  • Who Baltimore uses at running back at this point seems very much up in the air.

Running Back Rankings Week 1 (2021)

Rank Name (PPR .5pt) Team Opponent Notes
Rank Name (PPR .5pt) Team Opponent Notes
1 Dalvin Cook Min Cin Cincinnati was one of the worst rush defense last year
2 Alvin Kamara NO GB New Orleans might relay on their main weapon out of the gate
3 Christian McCaffrey Car NYJ Healthy McCaffrey will a good option for the Panthers to use early on
4 Derrick Henry Ten Ari About as safe a player as you have
5 Nick Chubb Cle KC This game means a lot to Cleveland for redemption from the playoffs
6 Aaron Jones GB NO Rushing will be tough but he should catch a few balls
7 Austin Ekeler LAC Was Herbert will utilize Ekeler in passing game
8 Ezekiel Elliott Dal TB Tough draw for week 1, otherwise I'd be higher
9 Jonathan Taylor Ind Sea The Colts line should hold well for Taylor against a tough Seattle rush defense
10 Najee Harris Pit Buf Healthy line and a rookie looking to start strong
11 Saquon Barkley NYG Den I'm cautious for a few weeks to see how he's running
12 Joe Mixon Cin Min Healthy Burrow and string of WR gives him some breathing room on defensive blitzes
13 Clyde Edwards-Helaire KC Cle Very optimistic about Clyde, just not this week
14 Antonio Gibson Was LAC Watching closely in week 1-2 to see if he picks up where he left off
15 Chris Carson Sea Ind Tough matchup for Carson
16 James Robinson Jax Hou Real favorable week 1 schedule for Robinson
17 Chase Edmonds Ari Ten Great skill, not used enough in Redzone
18 Miles Sanders Phi Atl Tough matchup for Miles; but he makes a lot of his opportunities
19 Kareem Hunt Cle KC Kareem and Chubb look to be a big part of week 1
20 David Montgomery Chi LAR One of many tough rush defenses that Chicago faces
21 Myles Gaskin Mia NE Coach Brian Flores states he trusts Gaskin more
22 Mike Davis Atl Phi Mike Davis has TD upside but won't be used every down
23 Darrell Henderson Jr. LAR Chi A lot of eyes on the potential upside play here
24 Raheem Mostert SF Det Favorable matchup for Raheem
25 Gus Edwards Bal LV Not sure who Baltimore trusts at RB right now
26 Leonard Fournette TB Dal Fournette draws a weak rush defense from last year
27 Ronald Jones II TB Dal Same as Fournette just don't know which back gets the heavier workload
28 Trey Sermon SF Det Trey will be sitting right behind Mostert waiting for his opportunity
29 D'Andre Swift Det SF I'll admit I'm not as bullish as most on Swift this season
30 James Conner Ari Ten Will Conner get enough reps with a lot of talented players on Arizona
31 Devin Singletary Buf Pit Devin saw a good amount of targets last season - he will need them
32 Josh Jacobs LV Bal Baltimore is stingy on allowing rushing TDs
33 Damien Harris NE Mia Damien could be heading up the charts with Mac at the helm; upside potential here
34 Jamaal Williams Det SF Jamaal caught 31 of 35 targets last season
35 J.D. McKissic Was LAC J.D. is one of the higher 'backup' reception plays
36 Phillip Lindsay Hou Jax Lindsay has a chance to prove himself and step into a bigger role
37 Giovani Bernard TB Dal Gio has a chance to vault up the rankings over the course of this season
38 Nyheim Hines Ind Sea The line vs. line matchup that is Colts vs. Seahawks
39 Melvin Gordon III Den NYG After week 1, I think Melvin has a chance to shine
40 Ty'Son Williams Bal LV Backup waiting
41 Javonte Williams Den NYG Potential long term solution but likely eases his way into use
42 Zack Moss Buf Pit Backup waiting
43 Boston Scott Phi Atl Backup waiting
44 David Johnson Hou Jax Houston won't be high on many things this year
45 James White NE Mia Backup waiting
45 Carlos Hyde Jax Hou Backup waiting
46 Darrel Williams KC Cle Backup waiting
47 Mark Ingram II Hou Jax Backup waiting
48 Kenyan Drake LV Bal Backup waiting
48 Malcolm Brown Mia NE Had real strong moments last season
49 Michael Carter NYJ Car NFL Debut alert
50 AJ Dillon GB NO Backup waiting