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Fantasy Football: 10 breakout RBs entering 2021

Indianapolis Colts Training Camp
Indianapolis Colts Training Camp
ANALYST

The RB draft room for fantasy football is very exciting for the 2021 season. From incoming rookies, players coming back from injuries and ones taking the next step in their young careers, it's a deep group to choose from.

Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, Derrick Henry, JK Dobbins, Najee Harris, and D'Andre Swift are just a handful of players who could have a great impact on your fantasy football teams. Every year, there are players who find their sweet spot and become breakout fantasy football stars.

On that note, here are ten RBs who could have breakout 2021 seasons for your fantasy football teams.


#1 Jonathan Taylor - Indianapolis Colts

Jonathan Taylor ended 2020 with great momentum and will look to keep the ball rolling. In his final six games of the season, he had over 800 total yards and eight TDs. He has the upside to end as a top-five fantasy football RB.

The OL is good, and QB Carson Wentz could miss the season with a foot injury, meaning the offense will be run-heavy. Taylor is the #6 RB in fantasy football, and his ADP (average draft position) is sixth overall. Jonathan Taylor scored 234.8 fantasy football points in 2020, and is projected to score 298.17 (as per Yahoo! Sports) in 2021.


#2 Najee Harris - Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a poor OL, but Najee Harris could still be a productive three-down workhorse. The Steelers need a featured back to run and catch. The offense will lean on the run game and short, quick passes.

Harris should have plenty of opportunities at the goal-line as well. Pittsburgh aren't projected to repeat an 11-0 start, but could have a top-5 fantasy football RB by midseason. Harris is the #11 RB in fantasy football with an ADP of 16th overall. He's projected to score 245.91 fantasy football points.


#3 Michael Carter - New York Jets

New York Jets Training Camp
New York Jets Training Camp

Michael Carter has an easy path to lead the Jets' backfield since Tevin Coleman isn't a legitimate starter at this point. Carter is the full package of a workhorse in the NFL, with speed, power, receiving ability, agility and vision.

He will still have to play within a committee in 2021, but could end up as a top-15 fantasy football RB by the end of the season. Carter is the #32 RB in fantasy football, with an ADP of 84th overall, making him a possible steal.


#4 Travis Etienne - Jacksonville Jaguars

Travis Etienne will be deployed all over the field as an RB and WR, which increases his fantasy football value. He possesses home-run speed and great hands. He could beat out Najee Harris as the best rookie RB in fantasy football, too.

Teams with rookie QBs tend to use their RBs more often, which also helps Etienne's case in terms of having a great year. James Robinson could end up stealing crucial carries from him, though.

Etienne is the #24 RB in fantasy football, with an ADP of 57th overall. He's projected to score 149.07 points as a rookie, which seems low till you remember Robinson is also in the backfield.


#5 Clyde Edwards-Helaire - Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City Chiefs Training Camp
Kansas City Chiefs Training Camp

Like I'm sure many others did last year, I drafted Clyde Edwards-Helaire early hoping that he would be a rookie star. He had competition for touches last year and KC, but focused more on the pass game.

If he's healthy for the full season, CEH could be a sophomore star and a steal in fantasy football. Edwards-Helaire is the #16 RB in fantasy football, with an ADP of 27th overall. He had 158 points last year, with 803 rushing yards and four TDs, and is projected to garner 262.81 points in 2021.


#6 JK Dobbins - Baltimore Ravens

JK Dobbins is a versatile player who led all RBs with six yards per carry as a rookie last season. With the release of Mark Ingram, Dobbins is open to becoming the leading RB in a heavy run-first offense.

Gus Edwards could cut into his carries, but the Ravens run the ball enough that Dobbins could still find success. Dobbins is the #14 RB in fantasy football, with an ADP of 26th overall. He is projected to score 281.5 points.


#7 Javonte Williams - Denver Broncos

North Carolina vs Georgia Tech
North Carolina vs Georgia Tech

The Broncos are in quite a predicament at RB. They drafted Javonte Williams in the second round, but the 28-year-old Melvin Gordon rushed for over 1,100 yards with ten TDs in 2020. Gordon will open the year as the starter, but they can't let talent like Williams sit on the bench.

Denver could give him enough carries, and Gordon could fall into a slump for Williams to capitalize. It's only a matter of time before Williams leaps Gordon as the starter. Williams is the #25 RB in fantasy football, with an ADP of 64th overall.


#8 Damien Harris - New England Patriots

Damien Harris should win the battle to land as the main runner in the backfield for New England. He had 691 yards and two TDs through ten games last season. Sony Michel could be cut, and James White is more of a pass-catcher.

With a full season without competition for touches, he could end up as a top-15 fantasy football RB. Cam Newton also won't be on the field as much and taking away chances to run the ball from the RBs.

Harris is the #33 RB in fantasy football,l with an ADP of 83rd overall. He's projected to be a steal who could eclipse his projected tally of 126.67 points (he scored 88 on 2020).


#9 Darrell Henderson - Los Angeles Rams

With Cam Akers out for the year, Darrell Henderson could become an unexpected top-15 fantasy football RB. He won't get many looks for passes, but will be leaned on as the main rusher for the Rams.

It could take a few games for him to get in a groove, but he should have success in 2021. The coaches have questioned his durability more than his talent, and won't take any preseason snaps to rest for Week 1.

Henderson is the #36 RB in fantasy football, with an ADP of 101st overall. He scored 122.3 points last year, with 624 yards and five TDs, and is projected at 227.14 as the starter.


#10 AJ Dillon - Green Bay Packers

Minnesota Vikings vs Green Bay Packers
Minnesota Vikings vs Green Bay Packers

Aaron Jones is the undisputed starter when healthy, but Jamal Williams is gone as the situational backup. AJ Dillon will see a much larger load, and Jones will take most of the passes again, giving him more opportunities as a runner.

There is a major upside for AJ Dillon at the goal-line, which could boost his fantasy football tally. Dillon is the #40 RB in fantasy football, with an ADP of 99th overall, and is projected to score 120.72 points after tallying less than 40 last year.


Edited by Bhargav
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