Fantasy Football Preview: 10 Running Backs Who Could Be PPR Gems

These players can be drafted anywhere from the second to final round


August 20, 2021

There’s no more important position in fantasy football than the running back, and an owner who can find value in the mid-to-late rounds is set up for success.

We’ve included 10 players who have the potential to be a gem for any owner taking part in a point-per-reception (PPR) league. You’re not going to find the likes of Derrick Henry, Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Saquon Barkley, Nick Chubb, Alvin Kamara, Ezekiel Elliot or even Aaron Jones on this list. We all know they are the elite of the elite RB1s.

Instead, here’s a look at a handful of others who could be drafted anywhere from the second to the final round. Each running back list offers both potential and value based on where they’re drafted.

Check it out:

Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts
Taylor enters his second year in the league and despite the Colts having a deeper-than-most backfield (Marlon Mack, Nyheim Hines, etc.), should still be viewed as an RB1. Taylor plays behind one of the best offensive lines in football and is coming off a season where he went for 1,500 yards in 15 games. Chances are he’s around in the second round.

Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers
Ekeler was set to take over the lion’s share of snaps last season (competed with Melvin Gordon prior) but injuries hindered his production. Still, Ekeler is a proven dual-threat back who recorded 1,500-plus yards despite just eight starts in 2019. Look for Ekeler to come off the board by the second round.

Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks
Carson is looking to rebound after coming up short of a 1,000-yard season in regards to all-purpose yards for the first time in three years. He compiled almost 1,500 yards of offense in 2019 and could get back to that if he stays healthy. Expect Carson to be drafted in the third or fourth rounds.

JK Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens
The second-year running back is atop the Ravens’ depth chart and, despite Baltimore possessing both a solid complement in Gus Edwards and arguably the most mobile QB in the league, Dobbins is a backfield option worthy of consideration. Dobbins averaged six yards per carry last season and would provide plenty of value if he slips to the fifth round.

Darrell Henderson, Los Angeles Rams
Henderson’s stock immediately shot up the charts with the season-ending injury of Cam Akers. Henderson, while splitting carries with Akers during the 2020 campaign, finished with 624 rushing yards and five touchdowns in 15 games (11 starts). He could prove to be a steal if you can land him in the fifth round or later, especially for a potentially explosive offense.

Damien Harris, New England Patriots
Targeting a Patriots running back despite their long-standing mindset on a balanced rushing attack? Yes. Bill Belichick noted how Harris could work his way into the lead back role, and we think there’s a good chance that happens. Other factors — good offensive line, taking the pressure off either Cam Newton or rookie Mac Jones — make Harris a breakout candidate. Don’t let him get past you in the sixth round.

James Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
Robinson burst onto the scene during his rookie year, rushing for 1,070 yards and hauling in 49 catches. His stock took a bit of a dive, though, with the Jaguars drafting first-rounder Travis Etienne. Still, Robinson’s prior production makes him well worth a pick in the eighth or ninth rounds.

J.D. McKissic, Washington Football Team
McKissic is second on the depth chart behind Antonio Gibson for the WFT. He approached 1,000 yards of offense during 16 games last season (seven starts) and could provide some value as a draftee in the 11th or 12th rounds.

Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys
Pollard is featured behind bell cow running back Ezekiel Elliot on the Cowboys depth chart but has showcased the ability to put together a breakout performance. The number of weapons for Dallas could limit Pollard’s workload, but he’s certainly worthy of a flier if you get to the 13th round and need depth.

Giovani Bernard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady loves pass-catching running backs and Bernard could take over that role despite Tampa’s depth chart features Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones. Perhaps a new set of surroundings helps the eight-year veteran excel? He’s worthy of one of your final roster spots.

Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images

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