2021 Fantasy Running Back Depth Charts: NFC South
For the newest installment of Fantrax’s fantasy running back depth charts series, we’re going to delve into the NFC South. I’ve already ranked the top 100 fantasy running backs in the NFL, but why not break this down by division? Between the Panthers, Falcons, Saints, and the Bucs, the NFC South has a plethora (SAT word for y’all) of backfield candidates to use in your lineups.
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 South RB Depth Chart
RB1: Christian McCaffrey
This man is the alpha and the omega of fantasy running backs. I don’t care what the scoring of your league entails. In my view, CMC should always be the first running back off the board. He was hurt visually all of last year, and while I’m obviously not projecting that this year, his handcuff would be Chubba Hubbard should that happen again.
Let’s take a look at CMC’s stats for his last healthy season: ~1400 yards rushing, 15TDs, 1000+ yards receiving 4TDs. RB1. Outside of the QB position (specifically Lamar Jackson), there’s not a player in the league that will command a larger percentage of their team’s offense than CMC. He also provides an excellent floor because even if the game script isn’t favoring the run game, CMC will get plenty of targets through the air. Whether in the backfield or lining up in the slot. Set it, and forget it. CMC is absolutely this year’s RB1.
RB34: Mike Davis
RB67: Javian Hawkins
I’ll be honest. I don’t entirely know what to make of Mike Davis. He’s 28 years old, and getting his first real shot at being a starting running back for the entire season. This isn’t old by any stretch, but it’s old enough to make me think that if you were truly a starting running back, you’d have got your chance to start before this point. Further, the Falcons are going to be bad this year. I’m anticipating a negative game script with the running game, considering they’ll be down in plenty of 4th quarters. Also, I watched a good amount of Hawkins at Louisville and I think he’s a very capable back that could eat into Davis’ carries.
Mike Davis was RB18 last year splitting carries with Todd Gurley. He had just under 700 yards rushing and just under 400 yards receiving. He also has quads you should google right at this moment. Perhaps I’m being too bearish on Davis’ outlook, but RB34 for his situation this year doesn’t seem out of the question. If he falls to you, feel free to take him. But I’m thinking 4th or 5th round at best.
RB5: Alvin Kamara
Earlier in this article, I mentioned that there’s not another player that will command the percentage of his offense that CMC does. I stand by that, but after the CMC gap, Alvin Kamara is in the next tier. The reason I don’t have him higher is that I had to discount the fact that we don’t know who the starting QB will be. Kamara had his stats hindered when Taysom Hill was QB, as he would vulture TDs and take carries away from Alvin. Jameis at the helm would provide significant upside in both categories.
Last year, Kamara rushed for under 1000 yards with under 800 yards receiving. He still finished RB2 for the year because he had 21 total TDs. That’s an absurd number. I’ve projected a little regression in that stat, but I’m expecting more all-purpose yards for Kamara this year. He’s absolutely a first-round draft pick and provided you’re not picking one overall, I think you can take him at any pick and nobody will shame you for it.
RB26: Leonard Fournette
RB28: Ronald Jones
This backfield is chaos and I hate it. Two running backs who would be starters on their own in at least 20 other backfields. On this roster, they’re together, and neither has a defined role. It’s usually the hot hand that will get a majority of the carries in a specific game, so it’s hard to project their totals. Further, Mike Evans, Antonio Brown, and Chris Godwin deserve their fair share of targets too. It’s an embarrassment of riches, and that’s not ideal for fantasy. I tend to avoid taking either of them, but you can’t deny there will be weeks that one of them will win you matchups. They finished RB39 and RB15, respectively, last year. I expect RB26 and RB28 this year with a full year together.
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