2021 Fantasy Football Running Back Offseason Moves

by Davis Peng
2021 Fantasy Football Running Back Offseason Moves

Welcome, everybody to my 2021 Fantasy Football Running Back Offseason Moves article. As the off-season is currently ongoing and we are beginning the month of July, we at Fantasy Six Pack believe this would be an excellent time to catch up on critical changes to NFL teams to get you ready for your draft season. 

This is the second article of a three-part series. The next article will cover the tight end and wide receiver.

I want to remind Fantasy managers that NFL teams run off more than four positions, feel free to dig deep into the nitty-gritty. Many other changes do matter, such as o-linemen, teams fire selling for rebuild, and drafted rookies that could impact franchises. If you need the quarterback offseason moves, you can find the article here.

Let's get this going with the 2021 Fantasy Football Running Back Offseason Moves.

2021 Fantasy Football Running Back Offseason Moves

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Running backs

Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers

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The Pittsburgh Steelers have let James Conner go to free agency where he now has signed with the Arizona Cardinals. Conner's replacement is first-round pick Alabama running back Najee Harris. Harris is considered the best if not one of the best running backs in the 2021 draft class. He is currently expected to be the bell-cow back with Benny Snell and Anthony Mcfarland Jr as backups.

Harris is a big back that is a pro-ready talent in rushing, pass-catching, and pass blocking. Harris is currently going as borderline RB1/2 range and is playing behind an offensive line that is considered to be one of the worst in the league.

I'm not worried about the offensive line because of Head Coach Mike Tomlin. Under Tomlin, the Steelers have had a good history when it comes to running back utilization. We have seen success from James Conner, Le'Veon Bell, DeAngelo Williams, and Rashard Mendenhall.

Travis Etienne, Jacksonville Jaguars

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The Jacksonville Jaguars made some significant offseason changes by drafting two Clemson players in quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne in the first round. Thus possibly killing the value of 2020 sensation James Robinson.

With new Head Coach Urban Meyer taking over the Jaguars team, we do not know what the plans are for Etienne and Robinson's running backs. Ongoing camp reports have Etienne working out with the wide receivers and running backs.

I recommend following the news regarding the Jaguars' backfield but have Etienne being the lead person you want. Etienne is currently being drafted as an RB2/flex-play.

As a draft prospect, Etienne is considered by some to be the best running back in this draft class. He is a multi-faceted player that has the capacity to be a three-down back. Etienne could be a value pick-up in redraft if Robinson is tossed to the wayside or misses time. In dynasty leagues, Etienne is a must-grab in the first round.

Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos

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The Denver Broncos in the 2020 NFL draft made it clear that they are moving on from veteran running back Melvin Gordon by trading up and drafting Javonte Williams. As of right now, Williams is projected to be the clear-cut starter for 2022 but for the 2021 season, that may not be the case. Gordon is currently being paid 8 million dollars this year, and cutting him won't change much to the cap as the dead cap is substantial.

The Broncos have shown that they want to use a committee at the running back situation. Due to both Gordon and Williams both costing a good amount of capital to the team, I expect them to limit each other's upside. Fantasy Manager also believes this will be the case as both running backs are being drafted later.

Williams is currently being drafted as an RB3 and Gordon as an RB4. If either player misses time, this will rocket the other one's value. Williams is a must draft in the dynasty/keeper leagues, and a depth adds for redraft.

Mike Davis, Atlanta Falcons

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The Atlanta Falcons gave a one-year contract to Todd Gurley in 2020 and decided that was enough. No longer enlisting Gurley's services, they have now signed journeyman running back Mike Davis after his successful stint on the Carolina Panthers, where he finally breached 1,000 yards from scrimmage.

Davis is now entering his fifth NFL team since being in the league. I can't help but find the addition of Davis to the Falcons a bit underwhelming. Gurley finished his 2020 season with 842 yards from scrimmage and nine rushing touchdowns. The expectation for Davis this season is to do what Gurley did when he was Falcon but at the same time receive a ton of targets.

Davis found a good portion of his success in his receiving game, where he was targeted seventy times in thirteen games. The majority of his targets were short-yardage dump-offs over the center or in the flats where he was uncovered for a majority of.

Davis will more than likely provide some fantasy value as the Falcons are Total targets to the running back in 2020 season was eighty-one; this is with Matt Ryan throwing the ball 134 more times than Teddy Bridgewater in the 2020 season. As a rusher, Davis has averaged under four yards per carry over his career. I don't expect that to change this season either.

I do not recommend drafting Davis at his current ADP. If he does slip and you have secure running backs, he could be useful as a depth play. Avoid Davis in any long-term format, such as keeper leagues or dynasty leagues.

Kenyan Drake, Las Vegas Raiders

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The Las Vegas Raiders have signed Kenyan Drake to a two-year contract during free agency while letting Devontae Booker go. Drake didn't have the most consistent stint while playing for the Arizona Cardinals, but he was still successful. Finishing his 2020 season with 1,092 yards from scrimmage and ten touchdowns.

Drake is a solid chance of pace back that is efficient in both goal-line and receiving work. He is expected to eat into Josh Jacob's total touches.

Drake is currently being drafted in the RB4 range. I consider this fair value as he most likely won't be the lead back. I expect Drake to take over the vacated/receiving touches of Bookers and Jalen Richard's. Expect between eight and twelve touches per week, with the majority being receiving work.

Drake is worth rostering in all formats as he doesn't require high draft capital and is expected to receive a steady amount of touches for his current ADP. He will limit the upside of Jacobs by how much remains to be seen.

Michael Carter/Tevin Coleman, New York Jets

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The New York Jets have overhauled their backfield this off-season by adding rookie Michael Carter and 49er Tevin Coleman. As reported from mini-camp, it is a three-headed committee with Carter, Coleman, and Ty Johnson all practicing with the ones. Beat writers are reporting that Carter is expected to land the lead job as he currently looks the best.

As of right now, Carter is going as an RB3 while Coleman and Johnson are going undrafted. If you want to take a shot at any of these players, it's fine as the payoff could be worth it but only consider taking them as depth additions in all formats. I do not high expectations for any of the running backs besides flex/streamer plays as they have rookie quarterback Zach Wilson under center along with a bottom four offensive line.

Jamaal Williams, Detroit Lions

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Former Green Bay Packer running back Jamaal Williams has signed with rival Detroit Lions. With Offensive Coordinator Anthony Lynn overseeing the offense, people are expecting a running back tandem. An example of Lynn's past work is Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler's time in Los Angeles Chargers. The Chargers tandem was split approximately 60/40, with the 1A back getting a slight amount of carries more than the 1B.

I am only bringing up Williams as he is a threat to D'Andre Swift's upside this season. As of right now, the usage for Williams is unknown, but Williams is known for being a versatile player who can run, pass-catching, and excellent in pass protection. Swift is currently going as a borderline RB1/RB2, and Williams is RB4/RB5. As of right now, the situation is unknown, but one of these two players is going to be a value pick-up. Williams is worth a dart throw in all formats with handcuff upside.

Giovani Bernard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Giovani Bernard has left the Cincinnati Bengals to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This is a two-fold situation that is freeing up Mixon to be a bell-cow three-down back. While at the same time limiting the upside for Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette.

Mixon has now gone into the conversation of top twelve running back this season, and Jones/Fournette is now being taken as RB33/34. Bernard is not a player I'd recommend drafting in any format outside of a dart throw or deep PPR leagues.

Trey Sermon/Wayne Gallman, San Francisco 49ers

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The San Francisco 49ers have now added rookie Trey Sermon and former Giants running back Wayne Gallman. Sermon was drafted in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft, and is expected to take the lead role. Although Tevin Coleman and Jerrick Mckinnon have left the team, it is still a crowded backfield. The projected depth chart as of right now is Raheem Mostert, Sermon, Gallman, and Jeffery Wilson Jr when he recovers from his injury.

Sermon is currently being taken as an RB2/Flex-play while Gallman is going undrafted or as a dart throw pick. I wouldn't consider drafting Sermon at his current ADP due to the running back history of the 49ers, but in any dynasty/keeper format, he could be worth rostering. If things change and Sermon ends up holding a lead role. He will easily be worth the draft capital.

Thanks for checking out my 2021 Fantasy Football Running Back Offseason Moves article and be sure to stay tuned for the Wide Receiver and Tight End positions!

Check out the rest of our 2021 Fantasy Football content from our great team of writers!

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