2021 Fantasy Running Back Depth Charts: AFC East
For the first installment of Fantrax’s fantasy running back depth charts series, we’re going to delve into the AFC East. I’ve already ranked the top 100 fantasy running backs in the NFL, but why not break this down by division (we’re in the clicks business, baby. Don’t ask questions!)? Between the Bills, Dolphins, Patriots, and Jets, let’s just say, you won’t have to draft any of these guys with your first-rounder…
A quality running back is a scarce fantasy asset. It’s for this reason that my favorite strategy is to draft a running back with my first 4 picks…regardless of league style (redraft, dynasty, etc.). I aim to find value at other positions like WR and QB, because if I miss on a bet at those positions, I can always trade one of my RBs for a roster weakness during the season. When those RB injuries hit during the season (they always do), league-mates will be knocking down your door to get what you already have!!!
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AFC East RB Depth Chart
RB40: Devin Singletary
RB41: Zack Moss
Let’s be honest. For fantasy purposes, the Bills backfield is a scary sight. I wanted to start this paragraph off by making a joke that Josh Allen was practically the RB1 last year. Turns out, I wasn’t that far off. Josh Allen ran for 421 yards last year, while Devin Singletary and Zack Moss ran for 687 and 481 yards, respectively. I’m being a bit disingenuous, though. Singletary and Moss also had receiving totals of 269 and 95 yards, respectively.
Devin Singletary finished the year at RB37 last year, while Zack Moss was RB43. Why the decline for Singletary and the increase for Zack Moss? Well, I’m anticipating more of an equal timeshare this season for the duo. Moss’s fantasy points tend to come from touchdowns, while Singletary’s points tend to come from touches. Moss had injuries and was used primarily as a short-yardage and goal-line back, while Devin Singletary was more of a 1st and 2nd down back. They also would alternate drives as the primary ball carrier to keep them fresh. I’m forecasting a similar output as last year, as this offense is built to run through Josh Allen and Stephon Diggs.
RB22: Myles Gaskin
RB43: Salvon Ahmed
Myles Gaskin finished last year as RB27, while Salvon Ahmed finished the year as RB64. I have both of them making a big jump. First and foremost, the Miami defense is incredible. Always factor the team into running back rankings. The reason being is that when your defense is incredible, it leads to more stops and leads, which means controlling the clock, and a positive game script for the running game.
Further, both running backs were excellent last year, in spite of defenses loading the box on them because Tua wasn’t good. He’s already said that he didn’t know the playbook last year and has a better handle now. While these two backs will be in a timeshare, Gaskin is the clear lead back, almost doubling Ahmed’s carries last season. Gaskin is a solid RB2 for your fantasy team if he falls to you.
RB29: Damien Harris
RB54: James White
RB55: Sony Michel
There’s nothing worse than a three-headed backfield. Wait…there’s nothing worse than a Bill Belichek three-headed backfield. Who will be the lead back in a given week? Your guess is as good as mine. Bill is smarter than us all, and won’t ever give his explanations, so it’s impossible to forecast. I used to think Sony was the lead back of this offense. Nope. Burkhead had a run, but he’s gone now. Harris and White have been the constants, and White has always been used as a 3rd down/receiving back.
By process of elimination, Damien Harris became the lead back that I forecasted, and if there is a lead back, they will likely have a huge role in this offense that is likely to include two TE sets with a heavy running attack. Harris ran for 691 yards last year on 137 carries. That’s 5YPC! That’s a lead back if I’ve ever heard of one. The biggest impediment to Damien Harris living up to my ranking would be Cam Newton. For as much hate as he garnered last year, he ran for 592 yards and 12TDs. If I joked about Josh Allen being RB1, I have to have that same mindset about Cam.
RB24: Michael Carter Jr.
RB51: Tevin Coleman
I’m making a bet with this ranking. Putting the rookie, Carter Jr., as high as RB24 is putting him in the range of Gurley, Hines, and Connor, who were last year’s RB23, RB24, and RB25. I really don’t think that’s crazy. While the Jets didn’t make a huge investment in Carter, every report I’m reading is saying he’s getting starter’s reps. So he’s obviously impressing coaches. Watching him at North Carolina was a sight to behold. A 5’8” bowling ball who would break tackles and get TDs, seemingly at will. With a rookie at QB, I anticipate the Jets will want to lean heavily on the running game to take pressure off of Wilson.
I liken this situation to Myles Gaskin’s last year. Gaskin finished at RB27, and I think Carter Jr. has the potential to be a better player. He is someone you’re not going to have to reach to draft, but could absolutely end up being the RB2 on your roster by the middle of the fantasy season. Don’t be scared to follow me on this bet!
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