2021 Fantasy Running Back Depth Charts: NFC North
For the newest installment of Fantrax’s fantasy running back depth charts series, we’re going to delve into the AFC North. I’ve already ranked the top 100 fantasy running backs in the NFL, but why not break this down by division? Between the Bears, Lions, Packers, and the Vikings, the NFC North has some breakout candidates and some backfields to avoid.
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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NFC North RB Depth Chart
RB6: David Montgomery
RB37: Tarik Cohen
David Montgomery had a rough start last year, but while the Bears were being the Bears, he still managed to finish the season as RB6. I have him at RB6 again this year. Consensus has him around the RB20 area. Tarik Cohen will be back, which is likely to take away some of his receiving targets, but the Bears will be better offensively with Justin Fields at the helm. Fields’ ability to run will help the Bears in both controlling the clock and having a less predictable offense. More consistency, red-zone work, and positive game scripts will lead to another breakout season from Montgomery.
At the end of the day, when you take an RB at the level that I’ll take David Montgomery, you have to be mindful of that player’s floor. I think the Bears will lean heavily on their running game, while also using Montgomery in the slot and out of the backfield. Regardless of who’s playing QB. Montgomery will be able to build on a season that saw him rush for over 1000 yards and catch over 400 yards. Book it!
RB21: De’Andre Swift
This won’t be my most popular take. By the looks of it, plenty of people have Mr. Swift in their top ten this year. Let’s take a look at his past year. We’re talking about 500 yards rushing and just under 400 yards receiving. Nothing to call home about. This means people are making the bet that Swift will be the workhorse back this year. Well, one threat to Swift’s production is Jamaal Williams, who had his fair share of big games alongside Aaron Jones in Green Bay. Also, why were the Lions holding meetings with Todd Gurley? When you look at Adrian Peterson and Johnson’s use last year, it’s clear to me that the Lions favor a RB by committee. I don’t think that will change this year. I wouldn’t reach for Swift.
RB8: Aaron Jones
RB45: AJ Dillon
Nothing is terrifying me more in this year’s fantasy football preseason than Aaron Rodgers. I don’t really have much to say about this ranking because it’s completely contingent on whether Rodgers plays. And it looks like he won’t. I’m giving Jones an RB8 ranking out of respect. I think regardless of the starting QB, he’s going to get redzone touches, break a few big runs, and catch out of the backfield. However, if I’m looking at running backs RB10 and higher, I care more about their floor than anything. If Jordan Love is the starter, Jones’ floor plummets. The game script will no longer favor a running attack. Jones will be high priced asset that will only play three quarters per game. I wouldn’t touch Jones in this draft. Not until we get a definitive answer on Rodgers.
RB3: Dalvin Cook
Dalvin Cook is a monster. Over 1500 yards rushing and just under 400 yards receiving. Expect more of the same this year. There’s really no foreseeable downside with Cook. He’s a stud and that’s that. The only reason I don’t have him higher is because he won’t get the reliance of his offense that McCaffrey or Henry get. And that’s fine. Draft Cook with confidence.
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