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Steven Cheah's Top 25 Fantasy Football RBs in 2021

Fantasy Football Factory debuted for the 2021 season today and we talked Runningbacks. I've gotten a ton of asks for cheat sheets, so here are my Top 25 RBs heading into this upcoming fantasy football season:

Sleeper: Wayne Gallman - This is kind of a deep sleeper. Rookie RB Trey Sermon from Ohio State is getting the buzz as the 49ers RB to Draft late as lead back Raheem Mostert has never had any real sustained fantasy success. But Gallman was a sneaky, under the radar signing by John Lynch & Kyle Shanahan coming off a nice season with the Giants where he averaged 4.6 YPC and scored 6 TDs.

25) Myles Gaskin - Despite reports saying the Dolphins will employ a Runningback-by-committee approach, Gaskin has a track record with this staff of success. He averaged 97 total yards and handled double-digit touches in each game he played (only played 10 last season). You may boost him a spot or two in PPR as he's a threat as a pass catcher with seven of his 10 games last year ending with four or more catches.

24) J.K. Dobbins - I was big on Dobbins last year and he rewarded down the stretch with some solid games and scored nine times as a rookie. I'm selling some of my Dobbins stock just due to the timeshare. Gus Edwards is a better goalline back and was just re-upped on a two-year pact. Lamar Jackson will also take a few rushing scores away and the team seems to also be moving to more pass catchers with the drafting of Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace to go along with the signing of Sammy Watkins. Will there be enough to go around? Don't count on Dobbins catching balls to boost his value, in his last five regular season games he saw TWO total targets that were good for one catch.

23) Michael Carter - The first rookie on the list, Carter was a standout at UNC alongside Javonte "Pookie" Williams. He's a compact runner that is also is an elite pass catching back. With the Jets expected to trail in games fairly frequently, look for Carter to not only emerge from a crowded backfield as the most talented RB, but to catch a bunch of balls this year too.

22) Travis Etienne - A 1st round pick out of Clemson in April, Etienne has game-breaking speed. He's a terrific pass catcher and has a chance to be the lead dog in Urban Meyer/Darrell Bevell's offense. He figures to see a lot of time given his draft status, talent, and rapport with Trevor Lawrence. 

21) Mike Davis - I LOVE Mike Davis' fantasy situation in Atlanta. He's a great value at RB2. He's got Arthur Smith as a HC who just oversaw a major comeback story from Derrick Henry (people forget he was almost labeled as a bust until Smith got him going in the right direction). Davis has Cordarrelle Patterson working as RB and I'm not scared of kick returners as backup RBs. Atlanta's Offense should be at least competent and Davis could flirt with 1k rushing yards and offers plus value as a receiver.

The Barstool Sportsbook has him at O/U 800.5 yards right now and this is an OVER I'd smash.

20) D'Andre Swift - He averaged a tidy 4.6 YPC as a rookie with not much help on the team. Now that he'll be 'the guy' for Dan Campbell's new look Lions, can he emerge as a reliable fantasy commodity? He's got a decent situation as the standalone starter and a ton of ability, it's more of a question if it will actually happen for the former Georgia Bulldog up in the Motor City.

19) Chris Carson - Carson isn't a sexy name, but he's a rock solid RB2. He was banged up a bit last year and missed four games, but if he plays a full season chalk him up for 1,200 rushing yards and 9 TDs. He just won't offer a ton of value as a receiver and youll have to live with his fumbles.

18) Josh Jacobs - We've got a former 1st round pick who is coming off back-to-back 1,000+ yard rushing years and had a career-high 12 touchdowns last season. He's a top 10 fantasy RB right? Wrong. Jacobs has a ton of ability, but the addition of Kenyan Drake has spooked a lot of fantasy owners. If you can get over that, it's a good value, but a potential job share will be looming for awhile.

17) Javonte Williams - This is a guy I'm WAY higher on than the rest of the fantasy community. He's currently being drafted as RB30 in 1/2 point PPR formats. He's not currently the starter, but he's been running with the 1s with Melvin Gordon dealing with a groin issue. The Broncos took him 35th overall in April's draft and I can't see them sitting him for too long. In a division with Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, and Derek Carr, the Broncos are going to have to take the air out of the football to win, and Pookie Williams is just the guy to do it in the Mile High city.

I LOVE his O/U rushing yards for this year in the Barstool Sportsbook. I'm hammering the OVER for 800.5 yards.

16) Darrell Henderson - A lot of fantasy football is just opportunity and Henderson has a big one after Cam Akers was ruled out for the season. The Rams offense should be explosive with Matthew Stafford at the helm and he's got a chance to break out. Yes, he's unproven, but his opportunity is top tier.

15) David Montgomery - Monty isn't exactly a sexy name in the fantasy community, but maybe he should be! He finished the 2020 season as RB4 in 1/2 point PPR format. But there is a lot of mystery around the Bears offense with Justin Fields emerging. Also Tarik Cohen is expected to be back and Monty didn't really take off until Cohen got hurt and he got to be a three down back.

14) Najee Harris - Now my podcasting partner, Ben Mintz is much much higher on Najee Harris than me, and I think I'm pretty high on him. But at RB14 for a rookie, there are just too many moving pieces. Most of his Offensive Line is new, he's got an aging QB, a new Offensive Coordinator, they are either the 3rd or 4th best team in their division, and oh yeah, he's never played an NFL snap. I simply cannot take him over Jonathan Taylor, Austin Ekeler, Joe Mixon, Antonio Gibson or others like that.

13) Clyde Edwards-Helaire -  If you drafted CEH last year there is no way you're likely going to take him as RB13 last year, but it's all about expectations. We saw him go as high as 1st overall (shoutout Louis Riddick) last year, but he finished as RB22 in 1/2 point PPR in 2020. But I have good news, in that he is a tremendous buy low prospect. He averaged 4.4 YPC and there is no more Le'Veon Bell. The arrow is pointing up on Edwards-Helaire.

Speaking of which, he's got an over/under I really like in the Barstool Sportsbook with 850.5 rushing yards for the season. 

I'm hammering the OVER because in 2019 the Chiefs backfield consisted of (Playoff) Damien Williams and the corpse of Shady McCoy and they squeezed out 963 rushing yards. I don't see why a healthy CEH can't top 1k yards with ease.

12) Jonathan Taylor - My thoughts on Taylor last year actually came true and he ended up being a league winner with a monster final six weeks. He is a better receiver than advertised, but don't draft him to catch balls. The only reason I have him this low is it's uncertain how the carries will be divided with Marlon Mack returning. I'm sure Taylor will get the bulk, but Mack and Nyheim Hines will likely take away his three down capabilities.

14) Jonathan Taylor – The Colts have one of the top Offensive Lines in the league. A line that made Marlon Mack look like a superhero on a couple Sundays last year. Now they have a legit guy that can tote the rock. Taylor averaged over 300 carries/year at Wisconsin and isn’t a big receiving threat, but he can sure run the ball. He’s a darkhorse for Rookie of the Year and I’m expecting something along the lines of 1,300 yards and 7 TDs.

11) Austin Ekeler - If you're playing PPR, bump Ekeler up. New Chargers OC Joe Lombardi came over from the Saints and watch for Ekeler to be deployed in an Alvin Kamara role. He had 92 catches in 2019, I wouldn't be surprised to see him get into the triple digits this year in an explosive offense. He does need to improve in the red zone, but had 11 total TDs (8 receiving!!) his last full year. Great buy low candidate.

10) Joe Mixon - Mixon makes the cut due to his three down ability and work as a goalline back. He was leading the NFL in touches before he got hurt last year and with an improved Offensive Line and better weapons, I expect Cincy to take a step forward. My guy Giovani Bernard is in Tampa, so that clears the way for a big workload for Mixon.

9) Antonio Gibson - I'm am buying so much Antonio Gibson stock. I'd be ok getting him at the 12/13 turn in a 12 team league. He played Receiver for a few years in college and is a shifty runner that scores tuddies (11 last year). With Fitzmagic at QB, I think Washington will be in some catchup situations and Gibson will be a breakout star.

8) Saquon Barkley - Barkley hasn't really been a good fantasy player since 2018. That's the cold truth of it, but if healthy, he could challenge Christian McCaffrey as RB1. First round picks should be pretty safe, but with Barkley, you have an interesting opportunity to buy low if you're feeling lucky.

7) Ezekiel Elliott - Speaking of buying low, Zeke Elliott. He's coming off his first sub-1,000 yard rushing season and averaged a career-low 4.0 YPC last year despite playing 15 games. Yes, the Offensive Line was rag-tag, yes, Dak was hurt, but can he bounce back along with the whole team? He's a risky pick, but until last season, Zeke was the safest 1st round pick around. You could set your watch to him going for 1,300+ rushing yards, double digit TDs, and 50+ catches. Can he get back to those levels after enduring 1,650+ carries over his career? 

6) Alvin Kamara - Kamara at #6?! He led the league in Touchdowns last year with 21! I hear the outrage, but it's merely situational uncertainty here. With Taysom Hill at QB, his targets dropped significantly. Even if Jameis Winston is the starter, he's likely to see fewer targets. I do predict Kamara will top 1,000 yards rushing for the first time in his career, but don't be surprised if receptions and touchdowns fall as the Saints offense isn't expected to be nearly as explosive as years past.

5) Aaron Jones - Coming off a league leading 19 spikes in 2019, Jones fell to 12 total tuddies in 2020. He's been over 1,000 yards in back-to-back years with 47+ catches on top of that. But why I put him over Kamara is he is tied to an explosive offense and we know more what to expect. His ceiling may be lower, but I think his floor is higher than A.K.

4) Nick Chubb - Chubb just got paid and he's earned it. He's averaged 5.0 YPC or higher in each of his first three seasons. He has ability to lead the league in rushing and with that Browns offensive scheme combined with the best Offensive Line in football, I would honestly be surprised if Chubb didn't lead the NFL in rushing in 2021. Kareem Hunt is a little worrisome as he's an incredibly talented backfield mate, but he previously only did damage when Chubb missed time. 

3) Dalvin Cook - Dalvin Cook is absolute dynamite on the football field. He's got the unique ability to make cuts at almost full speed. Last year he had over 1,900 total yards with 17 Miller Times, but the reason for not having him #2 is his injury history. While not devastating, he's missed two, two, and five games in the last three seasons. If he can stay on the field for 17 games he has a shot at RB1, but I'd prefer the next guy just because you know he'll be able to hold up.

2) Derrick Henry - Coming off an insane 2,027 rushing yards to go with 17 spikes, Derrick Henry is without question a workhorse back. How will Offensive Coordinator, Arthur Smith's departure hinder his game? I'm not sure much as they are keeping the same system in place. Henry is a TD machine and just gets better as the game goes on. In the 4th Quarter and Overtime he averaged an insane 6.6 YPC. The only downside is the lack of receptions, but with the seemingly locked in mid-high teens in TDs, I can live with that. 

1) Christian McCaffrey – He's one season removed from a 2,392 total yard season with 116 catches and 19 total TDs. He only played in three games last year but still finished as RB51 in 1/2 point PPR. He's a monster, lock him up. If you're starting a dynasty draft, take him #1 overall and be thrilled.

And be sure to tune in to the season premiere episode of Fantasy Football Factory with myself & Ben Mintz. Available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Youtube: