5 Fantasy Football Running Backs Who Will Lose The Most Touches In 2021
Running backs are a dime a dozen in the NFL, but the better ones are tougher to come across. With the kind of workload this positional group undergoes each and every game, it makes longevity hard for the vast majority of players that fill this group.
When considering the impact RB turnover can have on your roster, the idea that drafting backs with declining value certainly can be a tough pill to swallow, especially with how the draft board potentially could fall. However, the following five running backs can still hold value, even if their touches and/or carries are going to decline this year due to added competition.
Los Angeles Rams
Reason – Sony Michel
Before the unfortunate season-ending injury to sophomore running back Cam Akers this off-season, Darrell Henderson had a firm grasp on the RB2 role in Sean McVay’s offense, which still would have provided some fantasy relevancy. But with Henderson now forced into being the lead back, it catapulted him up draft boards.
But, with the recent trade with the New England Patriots that sent over RB Sony Michel, Henderson’s value does take a hit, continuing the ebbs and flows that his ADP has recently undergone. With no starter named yet, reports are circling about both Henderson and Michel having the inside track to securing RB1 duties.
The only reason Henderson is on this list is due to how sturdy his role seemingly was this off-season and how quickly perceptions changed for him. While he will not fall into the category of being the running back losing the most carries, his loss of touches can be a huge fantasy hindrance.
Reason – Marlon Mack
For Jonathan Taylor, his roots breakout was aided in large part due to a season-ending injury suffered by Marlon Mack, helping get Taylor nearly all the important backfield rushing touches. But as Mack returns to the field, what can rosters expect for a decline for Taylor?
Load management is the term that should be used for what the workload should like for Taylor, not a usage decline. Running backs burn out quickly in the league and with the kind of talent that Taylor is, utilizing others on the roster to keep him fresher longer is the way to go heading into his sophomore season.
Thinking that Taylor will lose around 20 total touches this year is a fair assessment, which doesn’t seem like a ton on the surface. But that means 20 fewer opportunities for chunk plays and potential scoring chances, depending on where on the field these take place.
The chance that Taylor had of finishing this year as the overall RB1 is a healthy one, even with both Mack and Nyheim Hines taking away some work. Knocking Taylor down a rack or two certainly should be in your pre- draft plans, but don’t think he will lose any sort of top-dog relevancy.
San Francisco 49ers
Reason – Trey Sermon
Injuries and free-agency departures to their running back room forced the hand of the San Francisco 49ers’ front office this draft, hurting the stock of Raheem Mostert in the process. As Trey Sermon enters the fray in the bay, it should give you pause when looking into drafting the expected starter to begin the season.
Teams do their best to not draft offensive playmakers early and not use them in their role seasons, and Sermon looks to follow suit for that trend for Kyle Shanahan, likely earning around 10-15 touches on a weekly basis. If that double-digit touch total holds true, that forces Mostert into needing to be efficient on the same amount of touches, a tough ask for the oft-injured back.
The driving factor for questioning the work for Mostert is if his durability will last or improve, or if his injuries will pop up again, letting Sermon get a heavy dosage of work early on. Even as much as the Niners run the ball, beware of reaching for Mostert with Sermon waiting in the wings.
Reason – James Conner
As the Arizona Cardinals are gearing up to try to win the NFC West division behind Kyler Murray, their rushing attack became quite convoluted this off-season with the signing of James Conner.
After letting Kenyan Drake walk, the Cardinals seemed set on rolling with just Chase Edmonds as their lead guy. But by bringing in Conner, it muddies up a rushing attack that also involves heavy utilization of Murray on the ground too.
Edmonds never commanded a goal-line presence when Drake was in town, and with Conner being the bigger option between the two, its possible that Edmonds will continue to remain allergic to finding pay dirt.
While also throwing in rookie WR Rondale Moore on potential action handoffs, Edmonds will need to fall a few more rounds to be able to reap his non-bonafide starter role he will have.
Las Vegas Raiders
Reason – Kenyan Drake
The top option for earning the role as being the 2021 running back losing the most carries, Josh Jacobs is in even worse of a situation than the one Drake was in when he left the desert. With Jacobs having already faced some gamescript concerns dating back to last season, Drake hurts his role even more this season.
Jacobs is built like and certainly should be the lead guy for the Las Vegas Raiders, even though Jon Gruden seems to have an issue gamescript over the offense to him. Camp reports cited both players being on the field at the same time, with Drake earning reps as a wideout, but Jacobs still has to be looking over his shoulder knowing full well what may happen.
Lowering your expectations on both Drake and Jacobs is the only realistic way to talk yourself into drafting one of these players, but for Jacobs, he will need to do more with less this season if he wants to beat his RB2 status in drafts.