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RB3s with RB1 Potential (2021 Fantasy Football)

Aug 23, 2021

Alvin Kamara (RB – NO), James Robinson (RB – JAC), Phillip Lindsay (RB – HOU), Kareem Hunt (RB – CLE), Devonta Freeman (RB – NO) — These are all guys who were once fantasy afterthoughts. They were random names buried on a depth chart … until they weren’t.

In this piece, I’ll focus on running backs ranked outside of the top-24 (via FantasyPros ECR) who could drive your fantasy team to a championship if all the dice roll in their favor.  

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Raheem Mostert (RB – SF) ECR: RB30
Mostert is the furthest thing from a “sexy” pick this year. You’re not going to turn any heads drafting him, nobody will say he was a steal and he might even slip below his rookie teammate Trey Sermon (RB – SF). The bottom line, Raheem Mostert has a clear path to finishing as a top-12 RB. First things first, he’s still San Francisco’s RB1. Sure, Shanahan will rotate a bit, but if Raheem The Dream’s toughest competition for carries is a player drafted at the end of the NFL Draft’s third round, who’s never taken a regular-season snap (cough, Sermon) I like the chances Mostert remains the most-utilized RB in The Bay. Another thing working in Mostert’s favor is his supporting cast. The 49ers have an elite offensive line by almost any measure. Couple that with their starting QB either being a rookie or Jimmy Garoppolo (QB – SF) and it’s pretty safe to assume this team is going to run the football. Sure, he’s 29, but he only has 318 career touches. Mostert has an incredibly high floor, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he finishes as a top-12 RB. After all, if you were to double the fantasy points he scored in his eight games played last season he’d have ended up as … the RB12. 

Tony Pollard (RB – DAL) ECR: RB45
I am genuinely befuddled when I see guys like AJ Dillon (RB – GB), Jamaal Williams (RB – DET), and Latavius Murray (RB – NO) going before Pollard. He’s shown flashes of incredible talent whenever he’s had the chance. Sure, he’s a handcuff, meaning he’ll likely only be started if Zeke goes down, but the Cowboys are the perfect situation for a running back. They’re a high-powered offense with a good offensive line. We’re never hoping for an injury, but if Zeke does miss a game, Pollard becomes an immediate weekly top-12 RB. 

Ronald Jones (RB – TB) ECR: RB33
This is a pure bet on talent. This backfield is a mess, I’ll admit it. So many RBs, so many receiving options, it’s tough to project anyone to succeed because of the sheer volume of star power. However, if Jones proves to be the best running back in Tampa Bay, which I believe he is, he’s in the right situation to dominate. The Bucs are a high-scoring offense, meaning there will be plenty of red zone and goal-line touches to go around. Additionally, they have an elite offensive line. Notice a theme so far? All three backs I’ve named so far run behind great lines. If Jones can break away from the competition and earn a healthy workload, you’re in for quite the reward drafting him as your RB3. 

Rashaad Penny (RB – SEA) ECR: RB52
It’s hard to believe just three years ago Penny was taken with the 27th overall pick in the 2018 Draft. In three seasons, he’s played an underwhelming 27 games, never eclipsing 500 yards from scrimmage in a season. However, 2021 is a contract year for Penny. The Seahawks declined his team option, making him a free agent after this season. That could prove to be the motivation Penny needs to finally unleash the beast we saw when he was at San Diego State University, where during his senior season, he totaled 2,383 yards from scrimmage and 25 touchdowns. All in all, his NFL production hasn’t been terrible. He’s actually averaging an impressive 5.1 yards per carry so far in his career. If you boil that number down to the five games in his career he’s played more than 40% of his team’s offensive snaps, Penny’s yards per attempt goes up to 6.1. He’s a 220-pound bruiser with endless goalline potential. Last season, supposed workhorse Chris Carson (RB – SEA) played more than 65% of offensive snaps in a game just once. I think this RB room in Seattle is way more open than you’d expect. If Penny can use the talent he’s shown thus far to earn early-down carries, plus his gigantic frame to get into the endzone 8-10 times, he’ll significantly outperform his ADP possible en route to a top-12 position.

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TJ Horgan is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from TJ, check out his archive and follow him @tjhorgantv.

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