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Running back rankings for 2021 fantasy football before March free agency

We have a good group of top fantasy running backs this season. We break down the best of the best.

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (22) scores a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers during the first half at Arrowhead Stadium.  Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Last season was a tough one for fantasy drafters with the No. 1 and 2 picks missing much of the season. Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley both were problematic draft choices. In their place, Dalvin Cook and Alvin Kamara took over as the go-to top plays in PPR leagues, while Derrick Henry moved into their group in non-PPR leagues.

Here are my pre-draft and -free agency running back half-ppr rankings:

Tier 1

Will McCaffrey return to his No. 1 status this season? Yes, but we will likely see more arguments for Cook, Henry, Barkley and Kamara. With Drew Brees likely gone, Kamara becomes a little iffier, but he should still be a huge part of the Saints offense. McCaffrey still put up huge numbers in his almost three games played and should be champing at the bit to get back to the field. Barkley has the ability to be a high-usage back and put up big PPR numbers, but his injury history and sketchy offense is a little worrisome. But, I still like him as a Tier 1 player.

Tier 2

After those five, things get a little tougher, but we have a good group with Nick Chubb, Jonathan Taylor and Austin Ekeler. I’m also high on D’Andre Swift and J.K. Dobbins, while Ezekiel Elliott should return to a touchdown maker with Dak Prescott back. These probably can be split into two tiers, but they are close.

Running back rankings for half-PPR 2021 fantasy football

Rk Name Team
Rk Name Team
1 Christian McCaffrey CAR
2 Dalvin Cook MIN
3 Alvin Kamara NO
4 Saquon Barkley NYG
5 Derrick Henry TEN
6 Nick Chubb CLE
7 Jonathan Taylor IND
8 Austin Ekeler LAC
9 D'Andre Swift DET
10 Ezekiel Elliott DAL
11 J.K. Dobbins BAL
12 Aaron Jones GB
13 Cam Akers LAR
14 Josh Jacobs LV
15 Miles Sanders PHI
16 Joe Mixon CIN
17 Clyde Edwards-Helaire KC
18 Antonio Gibson WAS
19 David Montgomery CHI
20 James Robinson JAC
21 Chris Carson SEA
22 Kenyan Drake ARI
23 Kareem Hunt CLE
24 Melvin Gordon III DEN
25 Ronald Jones II TB
26 Raheem Mostert SF
27 Zack Moss BUF
28 Najee Harris FA
29 Travis Etienne FA
30 Myles Gaskin MIA
31 David Johnson HOU
32 Leonard Fournette TB
33 Tony Pollard DAL
34 James Conner PIT
35 Chase Edmonds ARI
36 AJ Dillon GB
37 Devin Singletary BUF
38 Damien Harris NE
39 Tarik Cohen CHI
40 Nyheim Hines IND
41 Latavius Murray NO
42 Le'Veon Bell KC
43 Darrell Henderson LAR
44 Phillip Lindsay DEN
45 Todd Gurley II ATL
46 Jamaal Williams GB
47 Marlon Mack IND
48 J.D. McKissic WAS
49 James White NE
50 Sony Michel NE
51 Benny Snell Jr. PIT
52 Jeff Wilson Jr. SF
53 Kerryon Johnson DET
54 Ke'Shawn Vaughn TB
55 Duke Johnson Jr. HOU
56 Rashaad Penny SEA
57 Alexander Mattison MIN
58 Gus Edwards BAL
59 Boston Scott PHI
60 Matt Breida MIA
61 Joshua Kelley LAC
62 Carlos Hyde SEA
63 Tevin Coleman SF
64 Giovani Bernard CIN
65 Salvon Ahmed MIA
66 La'Mical Perine NYJ
67 Justin Jackson LAC
68 Ito Smith ATL
69 Darrynton Evans TEN
70 Mark Ingram II FA
71 Malcolm Brown LAR
72 Jerick McKinnon SF
73 Rex Burkhead NE
74 Damien Williams KC
75 Anthony McFarland Jr. PIT
76 Mike Davis CAR
77 Wayne Gallman NYG
78 Bryce Love WAS
79 Jordan Howard PHI
80 Jalen Richard LV
81 Kenny Gainwell FA
82 Darrel Williams KC
83 Adrian Peterson DET
84 DeeJay Dallas SEA
85 Lynn Bowden Jr. MIA
86 Chris Thompson JAC
87 Brian Hill ATL
88 Ryquell Armstead JAC
89 Dare Ogunbowale JAC
90 Devine Ozigbo JAC
91 Royce Freeman DEN
92 Ty Johnson NYJ
93 Jordan Wilkins IND
94 Kalen Ballage LAC
95 Justice Hill BAL
96 Peyton Barber WAS
97 Eno Benjamin ARI
98 Frank Gore NYJ
99 LeSean McCoy TB