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Dan Harris’s Early Top-20 Running Back Rankings (2021 Fantasy Football)

Jun 22, 2021
Jonathan Taylor

Dan Harris is here with his early top-20 running back rankings.

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Christian McCaffrey (CAR)
McCaffrey was limited to just three games last season but was, unsurprisingly, the best running back in fantasy when he played. He averaged 27.3 half-PPR fantasy points per game, and was on pace for 315 carries which would have been a career-high. There’s little point in analyzing the impact of Sam Darnold versus Teddy Bridgewater vs. Cam Newton being under center. McCaffrey is the most complete back in the league and at just 25 years old, should be locked in as the first overall pick in half-PPR formats.

Jonathan Taylor (IND)
When Marlon Mack went down with a season-ending injury in Week 1, everyone expected Taylor’s breakout to come immediately. But it didn’t. Instead, it was a frustratingly slow build, during which it felt like Taylor left rushing yards and fantasy points on the table every game. But if you held out long enough, you were rewarded with a dominant stretch, during which Taylor feasted on a six-game stretch of soft run defenses, enough to propel him to a finish as the RB6 on the season. With an upgrade in quarterback and running behind a strong offensive line once again, a healthy Taylor should amass fantasy points aplenty this year.

D’Andre Swift (DET)
It wasn’t a bad rookie season by any means for Swift, as he finished as the 18th-ranked running back in half-PPR formats and did strong work as a receiver, totaling an impressive 1.58 yards per route run. New offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn made some waves with his comments about Jamaal Williams essentially playing as the primary back, but, even if true, we’ve seen backs in Lynn’s system succeed as complementary pass-catching options. There are also plenty of vacated targets in Detroit and Jared Goff is sure to look for Swift as his safety net. Add it all up and Swift is a decent RB2 in half-PPR formats, but one with a fairly hard cap on his upside.

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