Running backs ranked 40 thru 80 is money time for the fantasy managers looking to employ the RB Zero, RB Hero, or Wide Net approach to the position. If you can hit on a player or two from this group, they can improve your fantasy fortunes. Knowledge is the key. Not all third-string running backs are created equal. Good fantasy managers will know which backups are high-upside youngsters and which backups are aging veterans in the din of their NFL career. I recommend readers pay less attention to the rank of the players in this group, and more to their story, as the rankings from this group can be capricious. Pick out a dozen or so that you like, and make a point to get some of them.

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We’ve told you this before, and we’ll tell it to you again here: the best projection systems are accurate on the best players about 35-45% of the time, depending on various factors like slate size, injuries, weather, and proximity to unsanitary gas station food sources. When people say that “fantasy football is just luck,” well, they’re wrong. Fantasy football is about educated guesses, really. Just like there was no real reason that GameStop and Doge Coin should have been making people millionaires earlier this year, they nonetheless did make people rich. People are able to make educated guesses about the trends of chaos and say, “The risk of this commodity meets my expectation for value, so I’ll take the risk.” That’s basically what fantasy sports are all about: what player will you draft at what position, and how much value will they bring your team? And as much as we analysts like to say that we are certain about stuff, the truth is that the more uncertain and skeptical the analyst is, the more likely they are to be reliable over the long term. Analysts tell themselves all sorts of narratives in all sorts of ways to prepare for each week of fantasy sports: Rudy Gamble uses snap count data, I tend to consider how likely a player is to end up in a favorable game script, and Donkey Teeth considers how a player looks without their shirt on. And in a week like this — Week 15 of 2021 fantasy football for the SEO record — we find ourselves in a world of massive underdog narratives that make no analytical sense to predict at the beginning of the season. Craig Reynolds — a guy who went undrafted and for three years was unable to crack even the practice squad of teams that didn’t have running backs — put up 112 yards rushing as the Lions triumphed over the Cardinals and gained their second win of the year (not season…year). Aight, this paragraph is getting long. You get the point: the impossible was possible tonight. Tonight. (Now you’re singing it in your head, I bet) Let’s check out the rest of the players that you probably didn’t start unless you were in a 50,000 person DFS contest. 

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After Jonathan Taylor made me do the TD stutter last week, I get to do another 4 T-Banger for Leonard Fournette. Let’s do a montage! [cue wavy lines and St. Elmo’s Fire starts playing] Last year, Leonard Fournette was going to be the RB1 on the Jacksonville Jaguars, and right before the regular season, the Jags dumped him for…nothing. The guy who had been the face of the team in 2019…and being the face of the Jags isn’t saying much…but the guy who was the offense for the lackluster 2019 Jags was without a job in 2020. He got picked up by the Tampa Bay Buccanneers, a team that was lush with running backs. Like, you couldn’t wave a covid stick in that training room without hitting Ronald Jones, LeSean McCoy, or Dare Ogunbowale. Lenny jumped in with the team, took some time to buy into the system, and by the 2020 Super Bowl run, he had found his footing. Fast forward to 2021 [record scratch] — Lenny’s stepping in when The Goat doesn’t have his A-Game. Tom Brady was merely mortal this week with 226 yards in the air, while Lenny went for 100 on the ground and 3 TDs and another 7 catches for 31 yards and a TD. Not bad for a guy that was taken as your RB2 or FLEX in draft season this year, right? 

Let’s see who else made the news for Week 12 Fantasy Football: 

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Is it just me, or do these Thursday Night Football games get worse and worse every week? We didn’t expect there to be fireworks in this one, especially since Miami came into the game 2-7 and starting a backup quarterback against the 6-2 AFC North leading Ravens. This game was a defensive battle for three quarters with the most exciting play of the game being an offensive lineman touchdown that didn’t count. At the end of the night, the Dolphins surprised everybody by holding the Ravens in check and pulling out a 22-10 upset win.

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Finally, we’ve made it a metric week in your fantasy football season! Who has 1 kilowins so far? Or I suppose a deciwin? A microwin is all I can hope for…maybe read that sentence back again. Regardless of your system of measurement, we’re stuck in the trenches of fantasy football: the teams that can’t get out to see daylight, the teams that are awaiting reinforcements, the teams that decided to dig a new path forward to see if they can gain any ground on the opposition. And you wondered if sports had any relationship to the armed forces, didn’t ya? Let’s jump into the fray and see if we can’t get a megawin for your team this week. 

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B_Don is back from Vegas and he brought in JB Barry to fill in while DT is stuck out there paying debts off to the Vegas cashiers. I wonder what is harder, the recovery after 4 days in Vegas or surviving Bye-mageddon? 

We run through positions starting with the signal callers. We talk about where we are on Tua for the rest of the season. Then, we talk about who currently falls into our QB5 spot in dynasty. On a much shorter timeline, we talk about what we’re doing with Aaron Rodgers this week sans Davante Adams and Allen Lazard. 

We move on to RBs with some of the more intriguing time split situations Elijah Mitchell, Damien Harris,  Kenneth Gainwell, and Myles Gaskin. We wrap up the show with some TE talk where we discuss the former Eagles duo of Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz. Finally, we wrap up with a discussion about Mike Gesicki and what his value looks like over the ROS.

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I watched my first boxing match on Saturday night since Conor McGregor “fought” Floyd Mayweather four years ago. I must say, the big dudes this weekend were quite entertaining. I especially enjoyed the theatrical entrances to the ring from Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury—it was like the movie 300 meets the Dave Chappelle’s Prince skit. Game. Blouses. But my goodness, Wilder was pummeled by the Gypsy King in that heavyweight bout. The only ones beat up worse than the Bronze Bomber this weekend were the New York Giants who lost Saquon Barkley to a nasty-looking sprained ankle, Daniel Jones to a concussion and Kenny Golladay to a hyperextended knee. But as the old saying goes: when one ankle swells to the size of a doggy door, another buy-window opens. Devontae Booker may only have a week or two in the limelight, but if Sunday was any indication (16 carries for 42 yards, 3 receptions for 16 yards and 2 touchdowns), Booker should see a heavy workload until Barkley is back and should be added everywhere. That’s not the only Giant buy this week, though. First-round rookie Kadarius Toney erupted for 189 receiving yards on 10 receptions. Captain Obvious here again to tell you Toney is worth a roster spot in your league. Yes, your league too. The kid might have catapulted himself into the alpha role for the Giants, which is a very fantasy-friendly role as they’ll be playing from behind often this year. Toney and Booker with be two of the top adds for week 6 with Toney possibly holding substantial value for the remainder of the year. Anyway, here’s some more players to buy or sell this week in fantasy football:

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Up until this write-up, I have been exploring the Mariana Trench of fantasy football players for the deepest of sleepers. The pressure is building and I need to surface for some fresh air. Time has come to assess what I’ve seen from the known commodities of the Fantasy Football world – the land-walkers. I have more players listed this week and I think they will be more relevant to the leagues in which you play. As usual, I have a little bit of everything – Quarterbacks, Runningbacks, Wide Receivers, and a Tight End (I’ve been working out). I hope you enjoy it.

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I promise I am not going to lead every waiver wire article in with a Jurassic Park reference, although there is enough material to do so. We had a lot of John Hammond’s in the fantasy football universe last week “sparing no expense” when it came to San Francisco running back Elijah Mitchell. Bids of a full 100% of FAAB (free agent acquisition budget) were not just uncommon, they were the standard. Not since Woody Harrelson took one million dollars from Robert Redford in Indecent Proposal has a monetary for goods exchange left someone feeling so cheated. Well, it wasn’t so terrible, 7.3 PPR fantasy points isn’t atrocious. Mitchell seems to have held onto the job with the entire backfield in San Francisco, and possibly the training staff too, getting injured on Sunday. Let’s hope it works out for those who did end up spending a lot. Just remember, this isn’t Brewster’s Millions. You don’t need to spend every penny of your FAAB right away to risk losing it all. Spend up when you need a player and make competitive bids when you want a player. There is nothing worse than needing to put IOUs in a Samsonite briefcase to salvage your season, possibly leaving you feeling a bit Dumb and Dumber.

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Before you go any further if you haven’t read the previous articles from this series, we recommend you do so. You can find those articles here:

Points Per Rush Attempt Analysis for 2021 Fantasy Football

Point Per Rush Attempt Analysis – Regression Candidates

Fantasy Points Per Reception – Running Back Edition Part 1

 In this article we breakdown Fantasy Points Per Reception or FPPR regression candidates from 2020 at the running back position to help you identify players to potentially fade in 2021.

As a reminder the league average for FPPR over the past 10 seasons is 1.49. For a running back to see a half point less per game they need to catch 40 passes and see a drop in FPPR of .2.


2021 FPPR Negative Regression Candidates

Player: Chris Carson

2020 FPPR: 1.92

Career avg. FPPR: 1.75

FPPR Variance: 10%


2020 PPG
2021 Projected PPG
14.1 13.6


Chris Carson has been as consistent as they come over the past three seasons seeing his PPG range from 14-14.8. However, somewhat of a red flag heading into 2021 was Carson’s big drop in touches. From 2019 to 2020 Carson saw his touches decrease from 21.5 to 14.8. Carson was able to keep up his PPG by seeing a 16% increase in his PPRA and 10% increase FPPR vs. his career norms. Based on what we learned over these past few articles one if not both will drop in 2021.

The next question we need to answer is “what does the floor for Carson look like if he were to return to his career norms without an uptick in touches”. The short answer is 12.4 PPG. That would put him outside the top 25 running backs in PPG last season. Currently Carson’s ADP is RB18 which isn’t a terrible price to pay based on his PPG over the past three seasons. Currently backup RB Rashaad Penny is out again so Carson could be leaned on early. This makes it likely for him to see a bump in touches in 2021.   

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A late Target is a term describing a retail store open after 10 PM. A deep sleeper is a term you and your cousin Melinda use to describe your fat old uncle Bart. Neither are relevant in the realm of fantasy football, unless you and Melina decide to invite uncle Bart to the home decor section one night but end up staying past close because Bart got lost walking from the bedposts to the nightstands. That’s why any term can have an alternate meaning, such as a player to go after late in a fantasy football draft, or a player literally no one is in on except for a select few enlightened souls. For the most part, we all have preconceived notions regarding the players at the top of fantasy football drafts. Donkey Teeth will continue to target sexy upside with reckless abandon. I’ll continue to have nothing to do with Joe Mixon and receive thundering boos from the Reddit militia. And you, dear readers, will be no different. It’s when we get late into drafts that we start to lose our way and look for high-upside fliers, and far too often I see my peers wasting draft capital as the rounds creep deeper into the double digits. This week, I’ll break down one late target and deep sleeper at running back, wide receiver and tight end — and leave it up to you who to go after and include in your 2021 late-round draft strategy.

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The day you’ve been waiting your entire life for has finally arrived. No, not nudie magazine day. Better. It’s RazzBowl Day!!! That’s right, by the time you’re reading this RazzBowl drafts will have likely kicked off as 63 lucky fans face off against 189 of the world’s top fantasy football analysts in the most exclusive pros vs. joes fantasy competition in the universe. If you missed out on this year’s RazzBowl, don’t fret, all is not lost. Our RazzBowl Qualifier leagues are now filling over at the NFFC. Join a FREE RazzBowl Qualifier League now and win your way into next year’s RazzBowl—be sure to review all RazzBowl Qualifier Rules and Settings. Anyway, here’s my top 20 running backs for 2021 fantasy football:

Click here to see all 2021 Fantasy Football Rankings.

*Note: These rankings are geared toward half PPR leagues. Projections provided in this season’s rankings are NOT my own, they come from Rudy Gamble’s World Renowned 2021 Fantasy Football Projections. These preseason projections are available free of charge, while Rudy’s in season weekly projection subscription is currently available until July 31st at an early bird discounted price of only $17.99 for the entire season! These are the same weekly projections which have won Rudy Gamble the FantasyPros designation of “Best Bold Ranker” for the years 2017-2019 (and likely 2020!). 

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