2021 RUNNING BACKS - Rookies and Redshirts

 Fantasy4um is back! Get ready for this year's draft with 2021’s fantasy football rookie and second year running backs.  Value picks, keepers, and sleepers to be had!


Round 1, Pick 24, 24th overall (Pittsburgh Steelers): Najee Harris, RB, University of Alabama
51 games played
RUSHING: 638 attempts, 3843 yards, 6.0 yards per carry (ypc), 46TD
RECEIVING: 80 receptions, 781 yards, 9.8 yards per reception, 11TD

Najee Harris joins a long line of Alabama running backs that includes the likes of Mark Ingram, Derrick Henry, and Josh Jacobs.  At first glance, one might think Harris is a smaller back because he moves so well for a guy his size.  However, the fact that he’s 6’2”, 230lbs makes it even more impressive.  His punishing stiff-arm and hurdling ability are what stand out on tape, but his combination of size and his power, mobility, loose hips, and great footwork are what make him truly special.  Guys this big just aren’t supposed to move like this.  Harris really cranked it up during his junior and senior years, compiling 2690 of his 3843 yards and 39 of his 46 touchdowns during that time.  He also averaged 6 yards a carry during his career at Alabama.  He brought in 70 of his 80 career catches for 729 yards and all 11 of his receiving TD’s during his junior and senior year so he can catch it too. Harris is arguably the best running back in this year’s draft.  He immediately brings a physical presence to Pittsburgh’s backfield and he can be a difference maker in an offense that struggled last year.  Look for him to use his receiving chops on shallow routes and as a check down for Big Ben.  He should be the immediate starter and can be drafted as high as the second round in most leagues and formats.

Round 1, Pick 25, 25th overall (Jacksonville Jaguars): Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson University
55 games played
RUSHING: 686 attempts, 4952 yards, 7.2 yards per carry (ypc), 70TD
RECEIVING: 102 receptions, 1155 yards, 11.3 yards per reception, 8TD

At 5’10”, 215lbs, Travis Etienne ran a 4.4 40 at his pro day.  There are very few players out there that can match his size-speed combo.  Although his weight might make him slightly undersized on paper, he runs like a much bigger, faster back.  He ran behind one of the better offensive lines in college football, but he runs like he just got shot out of a cannon when he exploits even the smallest gaps.  He only needs a couple of steps to get up to his top speed and house it.  He easily runs through tackles and he’s tough to bring down, but he can also use his excellent footwork to stop on a dime, make cuts, and turn good tackling angles into bad ones.  He’s compiled over 6,100 offensive yards and nearly 80 offensive touchdowns, so his stats speak for themselves.  The Jaguars decided to bring him in to support their new franchise quarterback.  Etienne and Trevor Lawrence are both former Clemson Tigers and won a national championship together in 2018.  Etienne will undoubtedly be a focal point and safety blanket for Trevor Lawrence at the pro level.  While Etienne is clearly the better back, potential fantasy owners should monitor how the touches are split. This draft pick affects the fantasy values of both Travis Etienne and James Robinson so neither should be taken before the third round except in the deepest leagues. However, Etienne has been Trevor’s go to receiver during camp and Etienne is listed ahead of Robinson on the depth chart.  These 2 factors might boost Etienne’s fantasy draft stock.  

UPDATE: Etienne is out for the season with a possible Lisfranc injury.  

Round 2, Pick 3, 35th overall (Denver Broncos): Javonte Williams, RB, University of North Carolina
34 games played
RUSHING: 366 attempts, 2297 yards, 6.3 yards per carry (ypc), 29TD
RECEIVING: 50 receptions, 539 yards, 10.8 yards per reception, 4TD

A play by play for Williams would go something like this: “Handoff goes to Williams, cuts it back, gets the edge, uses his speed, hurdles a man, trucks another defender, spin move, breaks a tackle, and he’s finally taken down after another 50 yard chunk play!”  Williams is first and foremost a power back, through and through.  At 5’10”, 220lbs, he has good size, runs with good contact balance and he prefers to lower his shoulder and initiate contact rather than avoiding it or making defenders miss.  He has zero issues trucking a guy.  While he does have a bit of  shimmy, he easily runs through arm tackles and anyone who fails to wrap him up.  Even when defenders do wrap him up, it takes multiple defenders to bring him down.  While he’s not quite as big or powerful as Derrick Henry, he makes up for it with his burst, footwork and agility.  Even though he shared the backfield with Michael Carter, Williams still managed a healthy 6.3 yards per carry and 29 career touchdowns at North Carolina.  The Broncos are bringing in Williams as the engine and bell cow for the ground game.  Their backfield has been a muddled rotation of Willis McGahee, Ronnie Hillman, Devontae Booker, Phillip Lindsay, CJ Anderson, Royce Freeman and most recently Melvin Gordon.  Melvin Gordon is currently dealing with a minor groin injury which means Williams could get his carries sooner rather than later.  He’s worth taking as early as the middle rounds, although it remains to be determined how the backfield touches will be split.

Round 3, Pick 25, 88th overall (San Francisco 49ers): 
Trey Sermon, RB, Ohio State University
45 games played
RUSHING: 455 attempts, 2946 yards, 6.5 yards per carry (ypc), 26TD
RECEIVING: 48 receptions, 486 yards, 10.1 yards per reception, 3TD

Sermon might be the second coming of Le’veon Bell. At 6’0”, 215lbs, Sermon is a pretty big back with good size, decent speed and decent burst/acceleration.  He’s a patient runner with good lateral movement for a guy his size.  He waits for his blocks to develop & then makes lateral cuts and uses quick bursts to exploit small openings.  He’s more of a big scat back than he is a downhill freight train power back.  He amassed 486 yards and 3 touchdowns on 48 receptions so he can catch it out of the backfield too.  Unfortunately it’s his questionable lack of vision that makes him such a patient runner.  He doesn’t always spot openings and he doesn’t always run with conviction into those openings which means he could get bottled up since he doesn’t typically push piles.  Nevertheless, Sermon has enough power to easily slip arm tackles and he’s athletic enough to hurdle defenders.  Kyle Shanahan’s zone scheme has designated gaps which means Sermon just needs to pick one and run. He’s listed as the backup to starter Raheem Mostert on the depth chart so he’s a good value even as high as the middle rounds.  The 49ers offense has been known to turn no-names into household names and has supported multiple fantasy-relevant running backs before.  

Round 4, Pick 2, 102nd overall (New York Jets): Michael Carter, RB, University of North Carolina
44 games played
RUSHING: 514 attempts, 3404 yards, 6.6 yards per carry (ypc), 22TD
RECEIVING: 82 receptions, 656 yards, 8.0 yards per reception, 6TD

Carter is a great running back in his own right, but he was the lightning to Javonte Williams’ thunder.  There’s something Darren Sproles-esque about Carter’s running style.  He’s agility, burst, and vision make up for the fact that he might be considered a little undersized at 5’8”, 200lbs.  He can plant his foot and turn it upfield in a hurry.  His vision also helps him weave in and out of traffic and he works best when he can make moves in the open field.  He might have a little trouble running between the tackles at the next level because of his size, but his power and burst are enough to give defenders trouble.  Carter’s plays resulting in a foot race to the endzone. He averaged 8 yards per carry during his final season at UNC and he has a healthy 22 career touchdowns despite the timeshare in the backfield.  He also pulled in 82 of his career targets for 656 yards and 8 touchdowns.  He was also involved with return duties during his junior and senior years.  Carter is a complimentary change of pace back at the very least, but he can certainly excel as a 3-down back in the right system.  For Carter, that system happens to be Kyle Shanahan’s system which Mike LaFleur is bringing to New York. Shanahan’s happened to be the OC in Atlanta when Devonta Freeman had his breakout year.  Although the Jets have Tevin Coleman and Ty Johnson on the depth chart, Carter is already listed as the starter so Carter can go as high as round 4 in deeper leagues.  There’s been plenty of training camp buzz surrounding Carter so he could succeed early.  He can go in the middle to late rounds of most fantasy drafts.

Round 4, Pick 14, 119th overall (Minnesota Vikings): 
Kene Nwangwu, RB, Iowa State University
48 games played
RUSHING: 143 attempts, 744 yards, 5.2 yards per carry (ypc), 4TD
RECEIVING: 7 receptions, 57 yards, 8.1 yards per reception, 0TD

Nwangwu posted a 4.29 40 yard dash and a 37” vertical so he can move for someone who’s 6’1”, 215lbs.  He has good open field speed and he has enough power to generate some push in the pile.  However, that’s about where the advantages end.  His vision and lateral quickness are below average.  His stats are way below average for someone who’s played in as many games as he has.  He’ll need to produce on a more consistent basis before he’s able to get on the field and be fantasy relevant.  The Vikings already have a deep backfield with one of the best in Dalvin Cook and Alex Mattison is a more than capable backup.  They do need some help at kick returner and change of pace back though.  Even so, Nwangwu won’t have much fantasy impact in any league or format, so he can be left on the wire.  

UPDATE: Nwangwu sustained a hyper-extended knee against the Broncos during a preseason game.

Round 4, Pick 15, 120th overall (New England Patriots): 
Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, University of Oklahoma
19 games played
RUSHING: 165 attempts, 1180 yards, 7.2 yards per carry (ypc), 13TD
RECEIVING: 28 receptions, 298 yards, 10.6 yards per reception, 0TD

Rhamondre Stevenson only played 19 games because he only played his junior and senior years at Oklahoma. His senior year was cut short thanks to Covid and he started his collegiate career at Cerritos College in California.  At 6’0”, 246lbs, Stevenson is a man among boys when he takes the field.  He’s a freight train that’s impossible to stop when he gets going.  He runs with great contact balance, easily shrugs off tackles and he uses a punishing stiff arm to help him keep defenders at a distance and pick up extra yards.  He’s athletic and has the ability to hurdle and cut back, but he’s a power runner first.  He’ll lower his pads and push through with power, and he’ll carry defenders into the endzone if he needs to.  He’s  brought in 28 of his targets for 298 yards so he can catch it.  He’s also willing to help pick up blitzes and stay in to protect his quarterback.  However, as physically talented as Stevenson is, he’ll be buried on the depth chart behind Harris, Michel, White and who knows who else they’ll hand the ball off to.  New England’s backfield situation has historically been as clear as mud so it’s best to leave Stevenson on the wire until the middle to late round drafts in dynasty formats only.  

Round 4, Pick 21, 126th overall (Carolina Panthers): Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State University
26 games played
RUSHING: 452 attempts, 2834 yards, 6.3 yards per carry (ypc), 28TD
RECEIVING: 45 receptions, 427 yards, 9.5 yards per reception, 2TD

It took some time to convince the Canadian track star to transition into American football, but he eventually did and really got the attention of scouts even in high school.  Hubbard is a phenomenal short-area burst guy who combines that with breakaway speed to house it.  He‘s patient, allows his blocks to develop, knows how to follow his blocks, runs with incredible vision, and turns small creases and openings into big gains.  Granted his offensive line did a phenomenal job blocking for him, but that shouldn’t take away from his body of work.  He’s also a tough runner in addition to being a speed demon.  He breaks tackles, runs through them easily, and can’t be taken down with single-arm tackles.  These skills combined to help him rack up nearly 2300 scrimmage yards and 21 touchdowns during his 2019 campaign.  He eclipsed 150 scrimmage yards in 8 of those games.  He also posted these numbers against quality opponents like Oklahoma, Texas, and Baylor.  Alright, so he does have downsides.  He lacks experience or conviction as a blocker which could lower his opportunities at the pro level.  He also logged just five games with 3 catches or more so he could show more as a receiver.  He also struggled with injuries during a 2020 campaign that was shortened by leg injuries, which could also affect his burst and speed.  He’ll be a decent backup to Christian McCaffrey in Carolina, but he’ll only be a handcuff and should be drafted as such.  

Round 5, Pick 6, 150th overall (Philadelphia Eagles): 
Kenneth Gainwell, RB, University of Memphis
18 games played
RUSHING: 235 attempts, 1550 yards, 6.6 yards per carry (ypc), 14TD
RECEIVING: 57 receptions, 662 yards, 11.6 yards per reception, 3TD

Kenny Gainwell is a 5’11”, 190lb weapon who runs a 4.47 40.  He can run it, catch it and throw it.  He’s lined up in the backfield as a RB and QB in wildcat formations and in the slot as a WR.  He’s a versatile playmaker like another former teammate and Memphis Tiger Antonio Gibson.  Gibson was a wide receiver who is now playing running back for the Washington Football Team.  Although Gainwell was technically a running back, he showed off his receiving chops when he pulled in 9 of his targets for 203 yards, 2 touchdowns, and an average of 22.6 yards per catch.  In high school, he threw it for 3.682 yards and 32 touchdowns, and he added over 4700 yards and 75 touchdowns on the ground.  He’s not the biggest running back, but he has plenty of size and power to push.  He also has great footwork, good burst, good vision, and he knows when to cut it back.  He’d rather make defenders miss but he’s also not afraid of contact.  As a receiver, he tracks the ball well and makes great adjustments to the catch.  He doesn’t high point the ball or climb the ladder much, but a decent catch radius and good hands help him make his quarterback look good.  He’s a good route runner who can catch it in traffic and make moves in the open field.  Hopefully the Eagles will find some way to work him into the offense, but it’ll be tough for him to get on the field since he’s behind Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, and Kerryon Johnson.  

Round 6, Pick 10, 194th overall (San Francisco 49ers): 
Elijah Mitchell, RB, University of Louisiana
18 games played
RUSHING: 235 attempts, 1550 yards, 6.6 yards per carry (ypc), 14TD
RECEIVING: 57 receptions, 662 yards, 11.6 yards per reception, 3TD

Elijah Mitchell is a tank.  He’s listed at 5’11”, 201lbs, but he typically plays around 220lbs.  He’s a downhill runner who excels in zone schemes.  He uses his vision to identify gaps and uses his burst to exploit them.  He runs with good contact balance, plays bigger than his size and it’s tough for a single defender to bring him down.  However, he can’t fully exploit his vision.  He’s definitely more of a north south runner with below average lateral movement.  His tight hips mean jump cuts are a problem and he lacks breakaway speed to really stretch the field and outrun defenders.  He is a willing blocker though and he’s led his quarterback on RPO’s if his signal caller decides to keep it.  He’s also willing to stay in and help pick up blitzers and buy extra time for his quarterback to read the field and make plays.  He also has great hands and he can catch it out of the backfield.  All in all, he’s not the shiftiest or fastest back, but he’ll certainly succeed in the correct system.  It’s a good thing Shanahan’s system is exactly what Mitchell needs to thrive in San Francisco.  The zone scheme is a perfect fit for Mitchell which makes him a sneaky late round flier and certainly worth drafting in dynasty leagues.  Mitchell will almost certainly get his shot given the injury history of San Francisco’s offensive backfield.  With Mostert listed as lead back and fellow rookie Trey Sermon listed as backup, it’s only a matter of time before Mitchell gets fantasy-relevant volume.

UPDATE: Mitchell sustained an abductor strain in early August that could cause him to miss a couple of weeks.

Round 6, Pick 12, 196th overall (New York Giants): 
Gary Brightwell, RB, University of Arizona
27 games played
RUSHING: 245 attempts, 1305 yards, 5.3 yards per carry (ypc), 9TD
RECEIVING: 19 receptions, 121 yards, 6.4 yards per reception, 1TD

Brightwell can be a tank that’s tough to bring down.  He’s the typical size for an NFL back at 5’11”, 218lbs he’s runs with good contact balance and play strength.  He’s a straight line, downhill runner who uses his size and footwork to get through gaps.  However, there’s a lot that he needs to work on.  He’s not a scat back by any means, and he’ll need to work on his pass blocking and receiving.  He ran a 4.62 40 so he’ll need to work on his speed and explosiveness as well.  He lacks the top end speed to run away from defenders and house it.  ESPN currently lists Saquon, Devontae Booker, Corey Clement, and Alfred Morris on the Giants’ depth chart so Brightwell might not even make the cut.  He can remain undrafted in all leagues and formats.

Round 6, Pick 14, 198th overall (Los Angeles Chargers): 
Larry Roundtree III, RB, University of Missouri
48 games played
RUSHING: 746 attempts, 3720 yards, 5.0 yards per carry (ypc), 40TD
RECEIVING: 47 receptions, 289 yards, 6.1 yards per reception, 0TD

At 5’11”, 211lbs, Larry Roundtree is a bit of a hybrid back.  He has some wiggle, some power, and some decent feet.  He’s an athletic open field runner who can side step or hurdle defenders or stay on his feet and run through contact on the first tackling attempt.  He has quick feet, decent burst and he runs with good contact balance.  His hips are a bit tight though so he doesn’t attack openings as quickly as he should.  He also ran a 4.6 40 and posted a vertical of just 30” so he’s not that explosive either.  He also wants to push the pile forward instead of waiting for an opening to develop so he could be more patient.  He’s not exactly a battering ram at 5’11”, 211lbs though he could pack on more muscle and build strength at the next level.  He’ll be a decent backup, but he’ll need an outside zone scheme to maximize his ability.  He’s buried on the Chargers depth chart behind Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson and Josh Kelley so he might only get garbage time touches unless Ekeler, Jackson, and Kelley all get hurt.  The other 3 backs do have injury histories so Roundtree could be a sneaky late round flier in deeper leagues, and he could go in the middle rounds of dynasty leagues. 

Round 6, Pick 18, 202nd, overall (Cincinnati Bengals): 
Chris Evans, RB, University of Michigan
39 games played
RUSHING: 320 attempts, 1795 yards, 5.6 yards per carry (ypc), 15TD
RECEIVING: 49 receptions, 479 yards, 9.8 yards per reception, 2TD

At 5’11”, 211lbs, Chris Evans is a decent running back who’s used to running in the north.  The Michigan product has decent burst and enough speed and lateral movement to get to the edge, but he’s typically a one-cut downhill runner.  He lined up in power formations in coach Harbaugh’s offense and ran through some pretty nice holes.  He occasionally drags defenders with him or he twists or turns to fight for a couple of extra yards.  He has 4.44 40 speed and some decent power, but he’s definitely more of an open field runner than a pile pusher.  Unfortunately he lacks the creativity, agility or burst to really be a scatback.  There are also some character concerns because he was suspended for a season for academic reasons.  He’s also put the ball on the ground a decent bit.  He’ll probably work as a backup change of pace back for the Bengals so it’s tough to trust him in any format including dynasty leagues.

Round 6, Pick 33, 217th overall (Chicago Bears): 
Khalil Herbert, RB, University of Kansas, Virginia Tech
46 games played
RUSHING: 475 attempts, 2918 yards, 6.1 yards per carry (ypc), 22TD
RECEIVING: 34 receptions, 297 yards, 8.7 yards per reception, 1TD

Safe to say that some of Herbert’s success was the result of great offensive line play.  Other times, Herbert used his instinct to bounce it outside and turn nothing into something.  Herbert is a one-cut downhill runner with patience and great burst.  Once he makes a decision and plants his foot, he’s gone.  He excelled in Va Tech’s zone scheme and used his burst to turn small openings into big gains.  He has open field speed and he’s tough to bring down once he gets going.  He’s a bit undersized at 5’9”, 205lbs, but he has plenty of power to push the pile and shrug off defenders.  He’s not the shiftiest back, but his ability to use his speed and vision to pick his way through traffic and weave through a field of defenders makes up for it.  His role as a returner should also help get him on the field.  “Juice” led the ACC in all purpose yards.  

Round 7, Pick 29, 256th overall (Green Bay Packers): 
Kylin Hill, RB, Mississippi State University
40 games played
RUSHING: 452 attempts, 2535 yards, 5.6 yards per carry (ypc), 16TD
RECEIVING: 67 receptions, 631 yards, 9.4 yards per reception, 6TD

Kylin Hill is a scat back with plenty of extra size and power.  At 5’11” and 210lbs he’s not the biggest or most powerful back in this year’s draft, but he has enough size to run through tackles and shrug off contact if he can’t make a defender miss.  He has great burst, lots of speed and he can get to the edge quickly.  He can also run it between the tackles and use his footwork and jump cuts to make guys miss once he gets to the second level.  He’s patient enough to wait for a hole to open up and he can get skinny and exploit small gaps.  He shortened his 2020 campaign to just 3 games so he could prepare for the 2021 NFL draft. His stats leave something to be desired, but the building blocks of an NFL back are there.  His shot could come sooner rather than later with Aaron Jones sidelined early in training camp thanks to a hamstring injury.  

REDSHIRTS

CLYDE EDWARDS-HELAIRE, Kansas City Chiefs
CEH was drafted by the Chiefs with high expectations.  They haven’t really had a consistent running back since Jamaal Charles.  That’s why his 1100 yards from scrimmage and 5 total touchdowns were a bit disappointing even though that was just through 13 games.  He didn’t have much help up front either with 4 of the 5 regular offensive line starters out for the Super Bowl.  The 5’9”, 212lb back runs behind a completely revamped offensive that looks great on paper line this year.  In addition, Mahomes is one of the most prolific passers to attack downfield and keep boxes light for Chiefs running backs.  More importantly, backup Darrel Williams was recently hurt in training camp which could also lead to more touches for CEH.  Clyde Edwards-Helaire should be taken no later than the third round in most leagues and formats. 

UPDATE: CEH suffered a minor ankle sprain during the Chiefs’ second preseason game. He’ll remain out for the rest of the preseason in preparation for week 1 of the season.

JONATHAN TAYLOR, Indianapolis Colts
Taylor is a punishing back who runs behind a top 5 offensive line.  The 5’10” 226lb sledgehammer ran for over 1100 yards and 11 touchdowns despite averaging just 14.5 carries per game and sharing situational work with Nyheim Hines.  He’s clearly the top back in Indianapolis and one of the few workhorse backs in the NFL.  Yes, there’s still a risk of this backfield becoming a timeshare with Marlon Mack in the backfield.  However, Taylor has proven he can be productive with limited touches.  He also brought in 36 of his targets for nearly 300 yards and a touchdown so he does occasionally get involved in the passing game.  He’ll probably go in the top 2 rounds of any draft in any format even though the Colts offensive line has some question marks and Marlon Mack could steal some touches. 

JK DOBBINS, Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens backfield belongs to Dobbins with Mark Ingram now in Houston.  The 5’10”, 212lb sophomore averaged a massive 6 yards per carry and rumbled his way to 805 yards and 9 touchdowns.  He’ll be the featured back in a run-heavy offense that starts one of the best offensive lines in football.  Mark Ingram moved to Houston making Dobbins the feature back in Baltimore. He could easily be a top 15 back in the league this year and could go as early as round 2, but he’ll be a steal in round 3.  

ANTONIO GIBSON, Washington Football Team
Gibson actually played wide receiver in college, but Washington decided to use him as a running back even though they didn’t throw him the ball much.  According to Ron Rivera, the 6’2”, 220lb playmaker is dynamic enough to be the next Christian McCaffrey.  He ran the ball just 170 times, but he racked up 795 yards, 11 touchdowns, and a monstrous 4.7 yards per carry during his rookie year.  He added another 247 yards on 36 catches.  He should continue to receive the bulk of Washington’s carries with JD McKissic serving as the receiving and change of pace back.  Gibson is worth taking as high as the second round in most leagues, though he might fall to round 3 in non-PPR formats.  

JAMES ROBINSON, Jacksonville Jaguars
The role of lead back fell to James Robinson as a slew of health and conduct issues led to most of the backs in Jacksonville either being cut or deactivated.  The undrafted rookie out of FCS school Illinois State then proceeded to be one of the best, most reliable backs in fantasy football last season.  In just 14 games last season, he amassed over 1400 yards from scrimmage and 10 total touchdowns and did it behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league.  An argument could’ve been made for the 5’9” 212lb back to be drafted in the first and second rounds in all leagues and formats.  However, the Jaguars drafted Travis Etienne with with their other first round pick as a safety blanket for fellow rookie Trevor Lawrence.  Trevor has continued to check it down to Etienne so the number of touches Robinson could get is TBD.  This could be a full on timeshare so Robinson should go earlier than round 4 in most leagues and formats.  SEE BELOW for update.

UPDATE: Robinson becomes the lead back in the Jaguars backfield with Etienne sidelined for the season. Robinson could go as high as the 3rd round in deep leagues. 

CAM AKERS, Los Angeles Rams
Cam Akers really came on strong when Coach McVay decided to give him a real shot. He averaged over 4 yards a carry in games when he had 9 or more carries and he had 21 or more carries in 3 of his last 4 games of the season.  The starting job was his after a bizarre 3-back rotation with Brown, Henderson, and Akers.  The talented 5’10”, 217lb back hopes to carry that momentum into 2021 behind one of the better offensive lines in football.  An upgrade with Matthew Stafford at signal caller could also open things up underneath.  The Rams also have a decent schedule and some soft defenses in the NFC North, AFC South, and a couple of good matchups against the Seahawks and Cardinals within their division.  Akers would’ve been worth taking as high as the 2nd round, but a ruptured Achilles will probably sideline him for the entire season.  He’s a middle to late round pick only in keeper or dynasty formats.

UPDATE: Akers will miss all of the 2021 season due to an achilles injury.

D’ANDRE SWIFT, Detroit Lions
The Lions’ backfield was a full on timeshare split between Swift, Adrian Peterson, and Kerryon Johnson.  That limited Swift to just 114 carries for 521 yards, 8 touchdowns, and a very disappointing rookie season.  He caught 46 passes for 357 yards and 2 touchdowns too.  However, Swift is listed as starter on the Lions depth chart with only Jamaal Williams to back him up.  Offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn also brings an offensive system that maximizes Swift’s skill set, and hopefully helps out the Lions’ offensive line as well. Swift should be a decent flex in most leagues and shouldn’t go higher than round 3.  

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