5 Undervalued Fantasy Football Running Backs Based On 2021 ADP
With the yearly scarcity of reliable running backs and abundance of injuries they seem to sustain, finding gems hidden in the rough is often what separates teams from playoff bound to fantasy champions. Finding these values at running back is easier said than done, but doing so is vital to winning your league.
Here are five backs primed to explode with value past their ESPN ADP (as of August 25th) in 2021:
5. Gus Edwards – Baltimore Ravens (ADP 164, RB46)
Edwards is by far the least sexy player on this list, but for his ADP to be below guys like J.D. Mckissic and Devin Singletary is a little outrageous. Despite playing with J.K. Dobbins and Lamar Jackson, Edwards received 144 carries last year to lead all Baltimore backs in carries.
Of course, we can’t expect that same volume from Edwards in 2021 as long as Dobbins is healthy, but Edwards offers value that many don’t seem to realize. In matchups where the Ravens are playing poor run defenses, they could feasibly run the ball 50 times in a game, and even if Edwards only gets 40% of the team’s RB carries, he could still easily see 15 touches and offer flex value.
Of course, he would be a top-10 handcuff as well, and any injury to Dobbins would vault Edwards easily into RB2 territory. He’s worth a bench spot on your roster.
4. Michael Carter – New York Jets (ADP 123, RB37)
Though the Jets have been a bit of a fantasy wasteland the past couple years, Michael Carter has the talent and potential to become a fantasy football breakout with the potential volume he’ll have. Only Tevin Coleman’s in his way on the depth chart, and Carter is essentially a supercharged version of Coleman’s skillset at this point in Coleman’s career.
The argument against taking Jets running backs is that negative game scripts and poor offensive line play render any ground game useless, as we saw with Le’veon Bell and Frank Gore over the last couple seasons. Michael Carter brings a completely different game to the table, however.
Carter has true three-down ability, as his route running and hands are reminiscent of Alvin Kamara. At North Carolina, Carter thrived on mismatches with linebackers over the middle, as well as longer developing wheel routes down the sideline. These kinds of safety valve passes are important for a rookie quarterback like Zach Wilson, and Carter should be the beneficiary of them all throughout the year.
3. Raheem Mostert – San Francisco 49ers (ADP 85, RB29)
Talent and production have never been the concern for Raheem Mostert. Even though he’s had limited touches throughout his entire career and has only ever started 8 games, Mostert has eclipsed 20 points 5 times. He’s explosive, has crazy speed, and don’t forget his performance against the Green Bay Packers in the 2020 NFC Championship Game – 29 carries for 220 yards and 4 TDs.
Mostert is almost a surefire bet to miss time with injury, but his time on the field should at least offer RB2 value, with the weekly possibility of an explosion game. Drafting Mostert with the expectation that he will eventually miss time gives owners the flexibility to either trade him early on for great value, stash Trey Sermon as an insurance policy, or hold on to a more reliable player to back him up. Whatever the case, grabbing him at ADP is a great value.
2. Myles Gaskin – Miami Dolphins (ADP 74, RB27)
Myles Gaskin broke out onto the scene as a very solid PPR back in 2020, but he’s still victim of an ADP below Chase Edmonds, Kareem Hunt and several backs without the combination of dual-threat talent, opportunity, and pedigree that Gaskin has showcased.
He is essentially a hybrid receiver/running back, and can feasibly provide production that splits the middle between Edmonds’ and Austin Ekeler’s production. With receivers like Will Fuller and Devante Parker in the fold who pull defenses with great graviy, Tua Tagovailoa will be looking underneath a lot to find support in Gaskin, especially in the early going of the season when he hasn’t built the confidence to take those shots down the field in tight windows.
In the games that Gaskin played last year, he averaged 16.4 fantasy points per game in PPR. Only eight running backs averaged more points per game, and all of them are going well ahead of Gaskin. Malcolm Brown and Salvon Ahmed aren’t any more competition for touches than was present last year, so Gaskin seems like a no-brainer at his ADP.
1. Trey Sermon – San Francisco 49ers (ADP 129, RB39)
Another 49ers running back? Yes, odd. But it seems Sermon and Moster’s coexistence has driven their ADPs down to the point that fantasy owners don’t want to deal with having either player. At an ADP of 129, though, Sermon is dirt cheap and most likely has more upside as the season goes on than anyone else on your bench.
He seriously has the potential for a huge 2021 and to be the best of these fantasy football breakouts/handcuffs. Not only does he back up Mostert, one of the most oft-injured players in the league, but he possesses the talent to charge RB1 value into fantasy lineups if given a feature role as well.
As a big back at 215 pounds, paired with graceful agility and balance to evade and break tackles, Sermon is a perfect fit for the 49ers zone run scheme. He also has great hands, giving him a true three-down skillset, and, though Kyle Shanahan often applies somewhat of a committee approach to his backfields, we have seen the hot hand dominate at times as well. Any injury to Mostert or breakout from Sermon should vault him into RB2 territory, at minimum.
At his ceiling, Sermon is talented enough to vault into the conversation as a RB1 in a run-heavy offense. Give me Sermon over A.J. Dillon (RB35 ADP) and James Conner (RB36) any day of the week.