Even though it feels like the football season just ended, the NFL Draft is next month, and if you're like me you're looking for a chance at redemption in your fantasy football league in 2021.
The trend in the NFL for more teams to lean on a pass heavy offensive attack has allowed for many fantasy managers to view top tier receivers as equally valuable assets as the top running backs available. This is good for opening up options in the first few rounds of drafts; but it places an increased importance on either hitting on your first RB taken, or finding some value later in drafts if you decide to go against the traditional strategy of coming out of the first four rounds with two starting running backs.
If you're someone looking to have a bounce back year in your fantasy league or just feel like being a maverick and switching up strategies, it's never too early to start your fantasy football league research. Let's take a look at a few backs that are trending up for 2021.
J.K. Dobbins Baltimore Ravens
This shouldn't be a surprise, and I must admit this is an obvious one. But it would be remiss of me to not lead off with Dobbins on this list. Unless the Ravens bring in competition either through the draft or free agency, Dobbins looks to have a clear path to being the lead back for the team in 2021.
Mark Ingram was released by Baltimore in January following a disappointing 2020 campaign which really served as a roadblock for Dobbins for the first half of his rookie season. Still with the team is Gus Edwards, who has been a solid backup in his three years with the team, and it's been rumored that he may be a target for an extension at some point before his contract expires at the end of the 2021 season.
We shouldn't expect to see the Ravens add any significant talent at that position, as we saw Dobbins excel down the stretch once given the opportunity to start. The biggest obstacle for Dobbins from a fantasy perspective moving forward will be consistency. In an offense that has Lamar Jackson at the helm, you never know when Lamar will take control of the rushing attack himself leaving scraps for his running backs.
As of right now JK Dobbins is the RB19 off the board in early redraft data He was an RB2 this year with just over… https://t.co/IKytZtOLLP— Justin Wright (@Justin Wright) 1614831736.0
Either way, you shouldn't be letting Dobbins slip past the second round in drafts this year. Baltimore should be adding some help at wide receiver this year in an effort to try to keep him in the pocket more. This should also translate to a more traditional rushing attack which will help the bottom line for J.K. Dobbins.
Ezekiel Elliott Dallas Cowboys
Doesn't it seem like Zeke has been around for a decade and it's right about that time for a bell cow running back's body to be breaking down? That must explain his down 2020 season, right?
Elliott did post a career-low 979 rushing yards last year, but the injury to Dak Prescott effectively disabled the entire Dallas offense. Also Zeke is only 25 years old; that's right: 25. Obviously running backs, especially ones that take on a workload like Elliott, have a shorter shelf life than most other position players based on the hits they're taking. But if other managers in your league want to let Zeke slip into the second, or even THIRD, round of drafts this summer please be the one to take advantage of that.
Believe me, it will happen.
It is important that either Dak Prescott returns next season or the team is able to bring in a viable replacement at QB. But Zeke just needs a little bit better play than what he got from Andy Dalton and Ben DiNucci last season to be better. Sure, we have seen guys take big dips in the prime of their careers in the past, but Elliott doesn't seem like a candidate to be one of those guys.
He comes with pedigree, a track record, and the Cowboys' offense is very good with Dak Prescott at QB. I would feel pretty comfortable with Elliott at the back end of the first round, but don't be surprised if you can target him into the early third round of drafts for 2021.
Chase Edmonds Arizona Cardinals
Remember all the hype surrounding Kenyan Drake before fantasy drafts last year? A do-it-all back in Kliff Kingsbury's high flying system with Kyler Murray under center to draw defenses attention to defending the pass. It worked out pretty well. Drake finished the 2020 season with 1,092 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns. But Drake is a free agent, and up to this point hasn't worked out a new deal to return to the desert in 2021.
That would leave Chase Edmonds as the next man up for the Cards. In 2019 he broke out for a huge game against the Giants, rushing for 126 yards and three touchdowns. Last year Edmonds continued to serve as a solid backup and five double digit fantasy point games in a reserve role.
Chase Edmonds bell cow? 🤔 https://t.co/UPn8dFV1TR— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF Fantasy Football) 1614985322.0
The prophecy of Arizona being a fantasy promised land for running backs appears to be true, and if that continues to be the case into 2021, then Edmonds could be THE steal of fantasy drafts this summer. This is also a contract year for Edmonds, so if he's given the opportunity to perform in a starting role this year, you're going to get the most out of him if he's on your squad.
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