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Brown: 2021 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings & Tiers

Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (30) runs the ball against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy football championships are won and lost at the running back position. No other position can separate a fantasy team from the rest of the league like consistent, high-end running back production. 

Christian McCaffrey’s 2019 season was the widest gap between top-end and starter-level fantasy scoring at the position. We saw some correction in 2020, but the mean differential between running back 1 and 24 is 12.6 fantasy points.  

Research on how best to target running backs in fantasy has recently dominated discussion. There are obviously things like game and league specific aspects, structure, game theory, etc.,  that will impact how successful certain strategies are over others. For the tried and true 12-team home fantasy league, stockpiling as many running backs with top-end potential as possible is the easiest path to the fantasy playoffs.  

Editor's Note: PFF's 2021 Fantasy Football Draft Guide and 2021 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheets are LIVE!

The following are the top 60 running backs by current ADP broken down into tiers. Stepping through each tier, I'll provide more detail on my favorite guys along with fades I won’t have exposure to. 


Rank Player ADP 2020 Top 12 Weeks 2020 Top 3 Weeks
1 Christian McCaffrey 1 3 3
2 Dalvin Cook 2.1 14 6


Why not both?


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