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Fantasy football 2021: Second-year running backs with breakout potential

Running back is the most critical position in fantasy football and these guys could be huge for your team

NFL: Super Bowl LV-Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The running back position is widely considered the most important in the world of fantasy football. Last year, there were a bunch of solid rookie runners who took the NFL by storm. But will they have what it takes to improve upon impressive rookie campaigns and have breakout years during their second go around in the pros.

Here, we’ll list a couple of guys we think have the best shot to improve on their 2020 seasons in 2021.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City Chiefs

CEH played an important role in his first season in the NFL. He helped lead one of the best offenses in modern NFL history to the Super Bowl, before falling short of the ultimate prize. He only hit paydirt four times on the ground but earned nearly five yards each time he toted the rock. He can be a threat through the air as well, adding another score and close to 300 yards receiving for a total of 1,100 all-purpose yards last year.

It’s also important to note that he’s the unquestioned RB1 on his roster and if he stays healthy he could get an absurd amount of touches. That’s not the case for other running backs who split carries with equally talented runners in crowded backfields like in Indy and Jacksonville.

JK Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens

Dobbins was impressive in his first season, even though he wasn’t the featured back. That changes this season, with Mark Ingram gone to the Houston Texans, Dobbins becomes the unquestioned RB1 on the roster in a potent backfield that includes QB Lamar Jackson. Even as somebody splitting reps last season, he still ran for over 800 yards and nine scores with an impressive 6+ yards each time he carried the ball. He doesn’t add much in the passing game, though the addition of some new wideouts might give him some mismatches with more potent pass-catchers around him taking more defensive resources.

His numbers from last year are the bare minimum of what to expect this season, barring injury. With Ingram moving aside, it could be a true breakout candidate here.

Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts

Taylor got off to a slow start during his rookie year, but finished strong, totaling nearly 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns on a playoff team. Still, some things are going against him this season. While he has all the talent in the world to have a true breakout year, it won’t be as easy. Head coach Frank Reich has a new quarterback in Carson Wentz, who he won a Super Bowl with as an OC and they work effectively together. His touches will almost assuredly go down too, with the return of Marlon Mack to the backfield, who got injured just a few snaps into 2020. But as they say, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, so Taylor could be the featured back again, it’s just not as likely as it was last year.