2021 Fantasy Football Committee Backfields

by Michael Tomlin
2021 Committee Backfields

As much as it seems like the three-down, workhorse running back is making a comeback, the 2021 Fantasy Football Committee Backfields show otherwise.

I will admit that the number of backfields with just a single Fantasy Football-worthy player has increased. By my judgment, I count ten running backs that are even close to dominating their backfield: Panthers, Bengals, Cowboys, Packers, Chargers, Vikings, Giants, Steelers, Seahawks, and Titans.

You might throw the Saints in there, but it is tough when Alvin Kamara has never had 195 carries or 933 yards rushing in a season. Even if you count him, that’s still two-thirds of the league in some form of a shared backfield.

So, figuring out the 2021 committee backfields is crucial to your Fantasy Football success. In almost every league you are starting multiple running backs. Therefore, you will have to start at least one guy who is in one of the 2021 committee backfields.

I am also leaving out the Falcons, Raiders, and Dolphins, as I do think Mike Davis, Josh Jacobs, and Myles Gaskin have those roles are cruise control even though they will not produce like typical three-down backs.

All of the information for the 2021 committee backfields is up to date as of July 7th. The Expert Consensus Rankings are per Fantasy Pros’ half-Points Per Reception rankings.

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2021 Fantasy Football Committee Backfields

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The King Platoon

Cleveland Browns: Nick Chubb (ECR: RB8) and Kareem Hunt (ECR: RB24)

I used to champion the running back platoons or backfields where you can start both guys every single week. The Browns duo is truly the only one that fits that category.

They also are arguably one of the best Fantasy Football running back platoons ever. In half-PPR scoring, they finished as RB9 and RB10 last season. It is tough to call them one of the 2021 committee backfields since both guys are standalone great.

Possible Second-Year Workhorses

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Baltimore Ravens: J.K. Dobbins (RB16) and Gus Edwards (RB40)

Detroit Lions: D’Andre Swift (RB17), Jamaal Williams (RB43), Adrian Peterson (RB97)

Indianapolis Colts: Jonathan Taylor (RB7), Nyheim Hines (RB45), and Marlon Mack (RB58)

Los Angeles Rams: Cam Akers (RB11) and Darrell Henderson (RB47)

With the intent to not bore you too much with the length of one article, you can see my feelings regarding these backfields between my running back busts as well as my running back sleepers.

The “too long, did not read” version of my prognosis: these four backfields are closer to 2021 committee backfields than the three-down workhorses that the starters are being drafted as.

I firmly believe that Edwards, Williams, Mack, and Henderson will have weekly upside as Flex options. I also believe that all three of the second-year starters are being drafted closer to their ceilings of production which is a risky and faulty way to build a Fantasy Football team.

Salary-Cap wise, would you rather draft Taylor at his current average $200 budget price of $42 or all four of the guys just mentioned for less than $20? Doing the latter will let you load up elsewhere or even on one of the true three-down backs.

Kansas City Chiefs: Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB15), Darrel Williams (RB60), Jerick McKinnon (RB72), and LeVeon Bell (RB86)

As anyone who has read my stuff before knows I was the lowest of anyone on CEH last year. I would not call his price point this year totally far off. He is still the lead back in one of the most prolific offenses in NFL history.

I am worried about how they use the running backs in this offense. There were only 316 rush attempts by running backs last season in Kansas City. In comparison, the Browns gave the ball to backs 432 times. Derrick Henry had 378 attempts himself.

Even receiving-wise, Patrick Mahomes tends to spread the ball out to his secondary options. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce will get around 50% of the targets, then the stable of backs and secondary receivers split the rest.

This is all a long way to say that I think this is one of the lesser 2021 committee backfields. Only CEH will have value, and I am still not sure it is up to where he is being drafted.

Philadelphia Eagles: Miles Sanders (RB20), Kenneth Gainwell (RB55), Kerryon Johnson (RB74), and Boston Scott (RB73)

This is kind of cheating since Sanders is a third-year guy, but it fits the group. Most Top-20 running backs should be three-down candidates at least.

Some see Sanders as this type of player. I still think he is closer to a poor man's Alvin Kamara. He is never going to get more than 13-14 carries a game. However, he will be heavily used in the receiving game.

The factor with this backfield is who will get those carries. I have long been a believer in Kerryon Johnson but he cannot stay on the field and the Eagles drafted Kenneth Gainwell. This backfield is going to be a “stay-away” for me this season.

Washington Football Team: Antonio Gibson (RB13) and J.D. McKissic (RB50)

Personally, I think Gibson is the odds-on favorite to become a three-down guy next season. Gibson was a receiver in college yet had three games with at least 19 carries in his rookie season.

The Football Team showed a lot of faith in him last year and I am only guessing that grows with a full off-season under his belt.

I also think he will be utilized in the passing game more not just out of the backfield but split out wide. Ryan Fitzpatrick will lift the overall offense, which will be good for Gibson who already knows how to find the end zone (11 touchdowns in 2020). I will happily take Gibson over any other second-year back in both redraft and dynasty.

2021 Fantasy Football Committee Backfields With Two Viable Options

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Buffalo Bills: Zack Moss (RB36) and Devin Singletary (RB42)

If you clicked my sleepers link earlier then you know how much I like Singletary at his price point. At the same time, the Bills have shown that both of these guys are going to get work.

In 2020, only 24 touches went to running backs not named Moss or Singletary. That was with Moss missing three games in his rookie season.

I also am a believer that Josh Allen’s rushing decreases this season as the Bills have higher aspirations going into the year.  Should Allen lose 30-40 carries and 4-5 touchdowns rushing, these two backs could both challenge for RB2 production.

Chicago Bears: David Montgomery (RB19) and Tarik Cohen (RB48)

This is another duo that I am higher on than the consensus. I think they are the top candidate to draft and start both guys. (Obviously, I would rather start both Browns, but their cost is so much higher.)

People have seemed to just forget that Cohen had 150 receptions over 2018-2019. Now with either Andy Dalton or Justin Fields starting, I think the ADoT will be even lower in Chicago than when Mitch Trubisky was behind center.

Last year, Dalton’s intended air yards per attempt was only 6.8 yards, and that was with the best trio of receivers in the league. If Fields gets the early starting nod, we have years of evidence that rookie quarterbacks will go for the safer options early on.

Montgomery showed what he could do last season finishing as the RB4. I know, people point out the “weak schedule” down the stretch. Those same people all forget about who Jonathan Taylor got the majority of his production against.

Of all the 2021 committee backfields, this will be the one I have the most shares of on my teams.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Travis Etienne (RB25) and James Robinson (RB30)

On NFL Draft night, this was seen more like the Steelers with Najee Harris. Everyone assumed Etienne would join his college quarterback and take over the backfield.

Everything coming from Urban Meyer and Jacksonville since though is that both players will be heavily used. Etienne will be a Swiss Army Knife, lining up all over the field. James Robinson should still get the early-down carries and possibly goal-line work.

It is definitely a situation to keep your eye on though, as Urban Meyer is not exactly known for his integrity with telling the truth.

New England Patriots: Damien Harris (RB31) and James White (RB52)

The Patriots’ backfield could end up being league winners this year. If Mac Jones ends up playing sooner rather than later then these two guys will end up bringing massive value on their draft positioning.

If Cam Newton plays, then you might have somewhat wasted late-round picks. You know where I am going with that, give me that upside with the late picks.

Should Jones start, you then give 137 carries, 592 yards, and 12 touchdowns rushing back to the running backs. You also have another rookie quarterback that would look to check down to James White more.

The fact of the matter is that there are not many running backs you will draft in the eighth and thirteenth rounds that will give you this much upside.

Possible Two-Headed Monsters… or Non-Viable Options

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Arizona Cardinals: Chase Edmonds (RB26) and James Conner (RB35)

This is a tough one to figure out. Edmonds has proved in limited starting duty that he can be a solid Fantasy Football contributor. Conner showed that with volume and health he can be a viable starter as well. But what can they do in this offense?

Kyler Murray will challenge for the league lead in quarterback rushing statistics. It will always be tough in the Air Raid offense to combine a running quarterback with heavy running back usage as well.

Nevertheless, Kenyan Drake’s 239 rush attempts, 10 touchdowns, and 31 targets are all up for grabs. But who will get the majority of those touches? Will this be a hot-hand approach?

This is another backfield I want nothing to do with at their current price points. It is insane to me that BOTH Bills’ running backs are going after BOTH of these guys.

Denver Broncos: Melvin Gordon III (RB29) and Javonte Williams (RB27)

A story broke this morning that Javonte Williams looks to be the lead back in the Broncos’ backfield. While it is still early to make that call, I do believe both guys will be featured heavily with the current roster construction.

This is the mandatory Aaron Rodgers caveat that if he were to land in Denver then the outlook would completely change. (I would honestly want nothing to do with either guy since Rodgers would throw for around 5,500 yards with those receivers.)

The real question is how much of this offense do you want to have on your team? This was the fifth lowest-scoring team in the league last season. Even if Teddy Bridgewater takes over for Drew Lock, he only led his team to the 24th best scoring offense last season.

Could both or one of these guys be productive this season? Maybe. But their price tags are just too high, especially with Ja’Marr Chase, Odell Beckham Jr., Russell Wilson, and James Robinson going just after them.

Who Could Ever Know?

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Houston Texans: David Johnson (RB33), Phillip Lindsay (RB49), Mark Ingram II (RB66), and Rex Burkhead (RB83)

Once again, it is impossible to project the Texans’ offense until there is some sort of clarity on the Deshaun Watson situation. Even if Watson plays though, this is the least talented backfield in the league. By far.

Every one of these guys is past his best days of production. David Johnson at least pulled RB19 numbers last year and was RB13 by Fantasy Points per game for anyone that played half the season. But what does it say about their faith in him that they brought in Lindsay, Ingram, and Burkhead?

I doubt all four of these guys are on the roster by draft weekend. Johnson could be worth his price point, but I am not gung-ho about going after him.

New York Jets: Michael Carter (RB38), Tevin Coleman (RB54), La’Mical Perine (RB71), and Ty Johnson (RB81)

This is another of the 2021 Fantasy Football Committee Backfields that I have already made my thoughts known. My initial read is that Tevin Coleman will be the lead back as long as he is healthy.

Michael Carter will spell him and get some passing game work. But this is another offense in which I do not think multiple backs can provide Fantasy Football value. The Jets scored just 15.2 points per game last season and will be starting a rookie quarterback this year.

That rookie quarterback’s hardest defense to face last year was Coastal Carolina. It is going to be an ugly go of it in New York.

However, I would still take Coleman with one of my last picks in the draft. Should he stay healthy and put it all together, he has shown that he gives you phenomenal consistency. He also has been at the top of the running back platoons charts multiple times before and works well in committees.

San Francisco 49ers: Raheem Mostert (RB28), Trey Sermon (RB39), Jeff Wilson Jr. (RB70), Wayne Gallman (RB76), Elijah Mitchell (RB103), and Kyle Jusczczyk (RB119)

This is the best ball group of all 2021 Fantasy Football Committee Backfields. I will not be drafting a single one of these guys in regular redraft formats. How will you ever know who to start week to week?

Last season no player led the 49ers in rushing for more than two games in a row. Five different running backs led the team in rushing for at least one game. Not one of those guys was Kyle Juszczky who was second on the team in receiving touchdowns.

San Francisco also used third- and sixth-round picks drafting Sermon and Mitchell. They brought in Wayne Gallman from New York. This is the epitome of an RBBC and hot hand approach, something Kyle Shanahan is known for employing. Anyone who tells you they know which guy will bring the most return on his draft capital is lying. Stay away.

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1 comment

2021 Fantasy Football Post-Hype Sleepers - Fantasy Six Pack July 13, 2021 - 6:31 am

[…] I guess Singletary is kind of becoming “my guy” this year at running back. He is one of my running back sleepers and I highlighted him in my running back committees. […]


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