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Kyle Yates’s Early Top-20 Running Back Rankings (2021 Fantasy Football)

Jun 8, 2021

It’s June, and fantasy football drafts are right around the corner. As you prepare for your fantasy season, Kyle Yates is here to provide his top-20 running back rankings for 2021 redraft leagues.

These rankings are for half-PPR leagues. You can find our full fantasy football expert consensus rankings here.

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Saquon Barkley (NYG)
From a talent perspective, Saquon Barkley is the best RB in the NFL when he's on the field. Unfortunately, the issue has been staying on the field the past two seasons. Barkley has played 15 out of a possible 32 games, which makes him a very risky investment at the top of your draft. For fantasy managers to have a shot of competing deep into their playoffs, they need their top draft pick to pull their weight all season long. As the RB3 in ECR right now, that's too high of a cost for Barkley that doesn't take into account his injury history whatsoever. As a late first-round draft pick, the risk is worth the reward. A top-3 pick in your fantasy football draft might be a little bit too rich.

Aaron Jones (GB)
There was some optimism for Aaron Jones as he was heading into free agency that he could land in a situation that would make him a fantasy football superstar. However, he decided to re-sign with the Green Bay Packers, which certainly makes our job for projecting him a bit easier. AJ Dillon should see some more involvement this year, but without Jamaal Williams in town to take away some of the receiving work out of the backfield, Jones could see even more work than he has before. With Dillon's size, he's certainly a threat to take away some carries at the goal line, but Jones' efficiency metrics in the Red Zone should keep him at bay. All that to say, Jones certainly isn't going to push for a top-5 ranking like he could have if he had landed somewhere else this off-season, but he's still one of the most reliable fantasy running backs out there. Draft him with confidence in 2021. My Very Early Projection: 221-1149-10 rushing & 46-376-2 receiving

Clyde Edwards-Helaire (KC)
I'm going to be honest, one of the most difficult players for me to project this season is Clyde Edwards-Helaire. His talent, his receiving ability out of the backfield, and the offense he's in all indicate that he should be a top-tier fantasy contributor. Unfortunately, the usage is too unpredictable to feel confident ranking him anywhere higher than a mid-range RB2. If Andy Reid commits to the run game behind this new offensive line, CEH could be a top-5 fantasy option in 2021. On the other hand, we could see more of the same from this offense this season where CEH gets a handful of carries each game, but it's not nearly enough to push him into weekly top-12 consideration. We'll need to monitor training camp reports to see if Reid is looking to change the offense a bit to lean on CEH. If he does, Edwards-Helaire could be the steal of fantasy football drafts this year. My Very Early Projection: 204-918-6 rushing & 54-424-2 receiving.

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