2021 dynasty Fantasy football running back tiers, rankings: Christian McCaffrey still in a class of his own


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Despite the fact that he only played three games in 2020, Christian McCaffrey still stands alone in the top tier of my updated Dynasty tiers. A big part of that is definitely the 469 Fantasy points he scored in 2019. There are only three other running back seasons in the past five to come within 90 points of McCaffrey’s 2019. One of those was McCaffrey’s 2018. It’s also worth noting that McCaffrey averaged more Fantasy points per game last year (30.13) than he did in his record-breaking season (29.45). Oh yeah, and he’ll still be just 25 years old at the start of the 2021 season.

There is simply no one on McCaffrey’s level, but that could change by the end of this year.

The two most likely backs to encroach on McCaffrey’s territory? Jonathan Taylor and D’Andre Swift. They’ll both be 22 years old at the start of the upcoming season and they’ve both shown us flashes of No. 1 overall potential. 

In Taylor’s final seven games of 2021 (including the playoffs) he ran for 829 yards and eight touchdowns. He didn’t have one game below 74 yards and flashed his immense upside in his 253-yard performance against Jacksonville. Taylor was someone many viewed as a generational back coming into the NFL and he showed it in the second half. The only thing that keeps him from a top-five ranking in redraft heading into 2021 is his mediocre reception totals and the presence of Nyheim Hines

Swift didn’t ever get the workload in the running game that Taylor did, because Matt Patricia refused to give up on the idea of Adrian Peterson. But he did have at least five targets in eight of his 13 outings. That’s a big number for a rookie, and it’s a number we should expect to grow with Anthony Lynn coming in as offensive coordinator. And while Swift didn’t get big carry numbers, he did produce when he touched the ball, averaging 4.6 yards per carry and scoring once every 14 carries. Maintaining anything close to that over a 280-carry season would put him in the neighborhood of No. 1 if the passing role grows.

The truth of the matter is that as long as McCaffrey stays on the 30-ppg level it will be hard for anyone to challenge him. But the nature of the position tells us McCaffrey won’t stay there for long. If nothing else, he’ll be 26 heading into 2022 and that’s the age when the three-year window starts looking uncertain for a running back. It’s also a testament to McCaffrey’s dominance that we have to look a year in the future to envision putting another back in the same tier as him.

Here are my updated Dynasty running back tiers:





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