Do NOT Draft These 5 Running Backs in 2021 Fantasy Football

Do NOT Draft These 5 Running Backs in 2021 Fantasy Football

D'Andre Swift - Detroit Lions

RB16 || 2.11

This one hurts.

But I'm feeling more and more like drafting him this high will hurt more.

There's a lot more risk involved with Swift than the market is accounting for.

I own a lot of Swift in dynasty, and I'm happy about it, but as it stands right now, his situation is not enticing for fantasy. I feel like they were pretty loud last year, without actually saying anything about not using Swift as a 3-down back.

Swift played on 38% of snaps last year. And I know, Patricia is gone. But Anthony Lynn coming over as the OC, and Dan Campbell doesn't give me much hope. Campbell is coming over from the Saints, and -->

Basically the way I'm looking at Swift is that he can be Alvin Kamara - similar guys, similar skill-set and Swift should be used tremendously in the passing game, because Detroit is going to stink. Vegas has their win total at 5, only HOU (4.5 has a lower win total) -- the under actually has the juice.. on 5 in a 17 game season!!!

Meaning, they're going to trail a lot, and have to throw a lot.

So can Swift see 70, 80, 90 targets this year? Yes he can. And that would be Alvin Kamara type stuff, (Kamara routinely at or above 100 targets tho), but what makes Kamara so valuable is the touchdowns. The saints always have a fluid offense, so like volume is nice for Swift, but Kamara's been elite because he's scored 13, 18, 21 touchdowns. In 2019, his bad year, he scored just 6 touchdowns and wasn't good for fantasy. The other thing is, Kamara's targets a lot of the time are manufactured, screens, open field, in the RZ. It's nice to be like yeah he's gonna catch a million balls cause his team stinks, but those are typically like breakdown plays in a Lions offense. 

The obvious elephant is that while they got rid of AP and Kerryon, they signed Jamaal Williams who will have a role immediately

Anthony Lynn is the Lions OC now, Williams is going to get a lot of empty carries, but he might get some cream-filled carries too, the ones by the GL.

Swift is going to get probably 220-250 touches but if he doesn't score a lot of touchdowns, which isn't easy to project in this offense, he's got a pretty shitty ceiling with Williams in town.


Travis Etienne - Jacksonville Jaguars

RB22 || 4.10

As much as we love Etienne the player, we have to be realistic about the situation he's going into.

The offense already has James Robinson as the early-down back. They have D.J. Chark, Laviska Shenault, Marvin Jones.

How is Etienne going to see any GL carries when Tim Tebow is now an elite endzone threat at tight end?

Going byke to draft night. They take Etienne 25th overall - and Urban Meyer:

The reality of the situation is that Etienne, at least a rookie is going to be used as a weapon and not a workhorse fantasy running back. We do this every year. We draft the enticing but far from opportunistic running backs. Swift, Akers and Dobbins in rounds 5-8. Miles Sanders the year before that. All guys that are super athletic, that MIGHT have big roles in their offense, but almost always wind up taking like half the season if not more to become fantasy relevant.

Urban Meyer compared him to Percy Harvin. He said he wished Kadarius Toney fell to them at 25, another weapon. Meyer loves weapons. Weapons are not good for fantasy football. Workhorse running backs are.

Quick recap from Jared Smola:

Y'all already know how good James Robinson is. And I get it, different coaching staff, they have no allegiance to James Robinson. Doesn't matter. The best players are going to play. Not saying Robinson is better than Etienne, but this will be a time share for sure. You want to draft a rookie running back in a committee with an unsure role in the 4th round? I'm good.

Etienne will probably get like 8-10 carries/game, 3-5 targets a game. It's not terrible, but there's not any real upside with him this year. He might get like 15% of the GL carries with Robinson and Hyde there, not to mention Lawrence being really good with his legs: scoring 8 and 9 rushing TDs over the L2 years - this could very well be a Josh Allen-ish situation.

If his ADP corrects itself to like the 6th/7th round, I'd THINK about pulling the trigger a bit, but up to this point I have 0 shares of Etienne in bestball post-NFL Draft.



Chase Edmonds - Arizona Cardinals

RB27 || 6.03

I have 0 confidence that Kliff will give Chase real work in 2021. Listen to this -- Chase literally got 97 carries last year. He had 25 carries in a single game. It can't be more obvious that Kliff doesn't want to use Chase on the ground. Kenyan Drake was literally the only player he was competing against for carries and couldn't earn any. Kenyan Drake suffered a high-ankle sprain. And Chase couldn't earn any. Chase had a SINGLE CARRY inside the 5-yard line last year. One single GL carry. Kenyan Drake had 21 of them.

Kenyan Drake is gone, but James Conner is here. And if you think Kliff won't use Conner exactly like he used Drake, they're basically the same player... you're crazy. Conner is going off the board as RB38 (9.07) 3 and a half rounds later, honestly give me Conner all day. Conner is getting those GL carries. Not to mention Kyler Murray stealing GL carries. He had 7. So 7 times more than Chase had.

Will Chase have value in full PPR leagues, of course. He had the 6th most targets among NFL RBs last year, but if you're buying Chase at 5th/6th round price in standard or half ppr leagues, you're going to be sorely disappointed.


Going to get to honorable mentions, going to take two guys from the deadzone in drafts right now for RBS



Middle Rounds = Possibly no worse investment in fantasy football then these middle-round RBs. They have so many red flags when the WRs start to get juicy.

Last year's Round 4-RBs

  • Leonard Fournette
  • Melvin Gordon
  • Mark Ingram
  • Le'Veon Bell
  • Raheem Mostert
  • Devin Singletary
  • Cam Akers
  • David Montgomery
  • Kareem Hunt
  • D'Andre Swift
  • Ronald Jones
  • JK Dobbins
  • Jordan Howard



Honorable Mentions:

Going back on that rookie point, same exact thing with Javonte Williams in seasonal drafts. Melvin Gordon is still very much going to have a role. To be investing 5th round draft capital into Williams is crazy to me.


Myles Gaskin - RB24 || 49.6

Listen I know the system is ripe for someone to produce. 

But Gaskin just seems like the most obvious guy that we look back on next year and say why the fuck did I draft him in the 4th/5th round. Easy dead-zone RB to spot. I drafted a ton of Gaskin pre-NFL draft in the 8th/9th round of bestball drafts, I won't be getting almost any of him this year.

I jut can't sit here and say, yeah at the end of 2021 I'm going to look back and Gaskin was the workhorse in Miami for the whole year.

    I know a lot of people are going to like Gaskin, but it's too early for someone I feel like the Dolphins have no allegiance to really. I wouldn't be surprised if they bring in a FA vet tomorrow, or the year starts right off as a committee between him and Ahmed, etc. 

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