Best Ball Running Back Dart Throws (2021 Fantasy Football)
I used selection 168 as the cut line for featuring a wide receiver in that dart throw piece. I’m once again using that as the cut line. However, there’s no one near that pick who captures my interest in best balls. It’s a collection of backs I’ll fade in favor of other positions. Instead, I’ll wait longer for the following trio of backs, each of whom has an average draft position (ADP) north of 230 in 12-team BestBall10 drafts from May 1 through June 29.
Jerick McKinnon missed the entire 2018 and 2019 seasons recovering from a torn ACL and complications recovering from surgery to repair it. Last year, he was healthy for all 16 games. That’s no small feat, considering he missed two full seasons.
He wasn’t a workhorse last year. I wouldn’t harbor delusions of a path to a workhorse role with the Chiefs even if incumbent starter Clyde Edwards-Helaire were to miss games in 2021. McKinnon’s path to fantasy value is as a receiver.
He averaged 2.1 receptions and 15.8 receiving yards per game last year. Those are hardly jaw-dropping numbers. Although, his receiving work graded out well by Pro Football Focus, ranking 11th out of 50 backs targeted a minimum of 20 times in 2020 in their receiving grade.
I believe in CEH. I’m expecting a sophomore surge. Injuries are a part of the game, though, and backups with a path to a valuable role are worth drafting. When that back is attached to a Patrick Mahomes-led offense, they’re all the more enticing. If CEH misses time, I expect the most likely outcome to be a committee headlined by Darrel Williams on early downs and McKinnon complementing him in a pass-catching role, which is fantasy-friendly in the point-per-reception (PPR) scoring utilized in best-ball formats.
I don’t advise going overboard rostering McKinnon. Still, he’s worth some last-round dart throws for gamers looking to add another back to their roster.
Chris Evans (RB – CIN): 240.61 ADP
The Bengals selected Chris Evans in the sixth round of this year’s NFL draft. He’ll have to compete with Semaje Perine for backup running back duties. For Perine’s part, he was sharp last year. He won’t be a pushover to pass on the depth chart. Still, Evans has a three-down back profile, and his pass-catching skills are what’s most appealing in best-ball leagues.
Chris Rolling aggregated scouting reports for Bengals Wire at USA Today, providing multiple takes on how he’ll fare at the NFL level. Not included among those reports was Mike Renner’s for Pro Football Focus. He ranked Evans as the seventh-best back in this year’s draft class, specifically noting his “three-down ability.” Additionally, the Pro Football Focus scouting report included his “exceptional hands” among his pros. Finally, for those of you who enjoy visuals, Matt Minich broke down numerous plays from Evans’s college career for SB Nation.
As is the case with McKinnon, I don’t believe it’s wise for gamers to go crazy drafting Evans. The incoming rookie isn’t in the same caliber of offense as Jet, and he could open the year behind both Joe Mixon and Perine. Still, his potential every-down upside in the event of an injury to Mixon and pass-catching prowess that could result in change-of-pace duties even if Cinci’s top back stays healthy are reasons enough to fire some last-round darts Evans’s direction.
Matt Breida (RB – BUF): 240.77 ADP
Matt Breida’s easily my favorite back in this space. I will be overweight on him in best-ball leagues, as he’s someone I intend on drafting with regularity — more so than McKinnon and Evans. In fact, I analyzed him as a must-have running back earlier this month.
For a full understanding of why I’m enamored with Breida, check out the linked piece. However, I’ll sum things up with a cliff notes version here.
First, Breida’s cheap exposure to the high-octane offense of the Bills. Second, the Bills want to upgrade their running game, yet they didn’t draft anyone to compete with incumbent backs Zack Moss and Devin Singletary — neither of whom has elite traits or done anything to suggest they should be viewed as mainstays atop the depth chart.
Breida’s elite speed adds a new element to the backfield. In his last season with the 49ers in 2019, Breida produced the fastest sprint speed at 22.3 miles per hour, per NFL Next Gen Stats.
The speedster’s wheels could be the dream fit for Buffalo’s pass-happy, receiver-heavy offense. The Bills regularly used three-receiver and four-receivers sets last year, and Breida could thrive against the light boxes and defensive personnel the opposition will need to counter the Bills with. Breida’s PlayerProfiler data against light fronts and running from shotgun in 2019 and 2020 hint at the type of success he could enjoy with the Bills this year.
Breida’s not built in the workhorse mold. He doesn’t need to receive bell-cow usage to hit as a late dart throw, though, thanks to his game-changing speed. As a result, Breida’s my favorite last-round target regardless of position. Having said that, to avoid missing him, I’m willing to pull the trigger closer to his min selection of 214.
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