Fantasy Football RB PPR Rankings 2021: Best running backs to draft, sleepers to know

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How highly should you prioritize running back receptions in PPR leagues? Obviously, catches matter, especially in full-point PPR formats, but if the yards and TDs aren’t there, too, they only matter so much. Conversely, even if a guy doesn’t get many catches, he can still have significant value — assuming he gets into the end zone. That creates more potential sleepers and busts, which means our 2021 fantasy RB PPR rankings are even more volatile than our standard edition. 

The differences start at the top. Derrick Henry is our top overall player in standard leagues, but he falls to fifth in PPR formats. Last season, he finished third among RBs in PPR leagues behind Alvin Kamara and Dalvin Cook. The (hopefully) healthy returns of Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley will further move him down the list. However, if Henry once again leads the league in rushing and rushing TDs, which he has two years in a row, he should be no worse than a top-five PPR back (which he has also been two years in a row).

Quarterback | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker | Top 200

Nick Chubb is another notable dropper after catching just 16 passes in 12 games last year. Still, you might be surprised to know he finished 11th among RBs in PPR scoring, proving once again that if you score and rack up yards on the ground, you can be a stud. Kenyan Drake (16th ranked), Ronald Jones II (20), Miles Sanders (23), and JK Dobbins (24) also finished as RB2s despite all having fewer than 30 catches on the season. Sanders, who caught 50 passes as a rookie, is a prime candidate to greatly improve on an already solid finish, and Drake will likely go back to more of a receiving-back role (with fewer TDs) now that’s the backup in Vegas.

Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker | Top 200

On the flip side, several backs make big jumps in PPR thanks to their pass-catching prowess. Nyheim Hines and J.D. McKissic combined for 745 rushing yards and 10 total TDs (four on the ground), but they were both top-17 PPR RBs thanks to 63 and 80 catches, respectively. We’re not ranking them that highly heading into this year, largely because both play behind stud sophomore backs who are no slouches themselves when it comes to catching passes, but it’s clear they have a lot of upside. James White and Tarik Cohen also fit this mold, with Austin Ekeler being the gold standard because he also gets a good amount of carries.

Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker | Overall

Ekeler might be a little too good to solely be considered a “receiving back,” and players like that are usually undervalued studs in PPR leagues. Going into this season, Myles Gaskin, Kareem Hunt, Chase Edmonds, Travis Etienne, Devin Singletary, and possibly Leonard Fournette fit that bill. With the exception of Hunt, all could be their teams’ primary backs in addition to getting 40-plus catches. That could result in top-15 seasons if everything breaks right (see Mike Davis’s No. 12 PPR ranking last year). At the very least, they should rack up catches and get at least 115 carries (likely more) and work as flexes.

Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Each team

The biggest PPR breakout candidates this year are Joe Mixon (no Giovani Bernard), D’Andre Swift (46 catches in 13 games last year, should get significantly more carries), and Najee Davis (43 catches his final year at Alabama). Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Antonio Gibson were good pass-catchers in college and could also be primed for more receiving work in their second seasons, while Michael Carter and Javonte Williams (25 catches apiece while splitting time at North Carolina last year) both have the potential to catch a decent amount passes. 

Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST

Touchdowns will always matter most in fantasy, whether it’s a standard, half-point PPR, or full-point PPR league, so don’t overvalue catches early in your PPR drafts. However, in the middle and late rounds, taking chances on players expected to see a good amount of targets is the way to go. That’s more reliable than hoping your mid-tier RBs gets lucky and scores a lot.

Superflex Top 200 | Superflex Top 200 PPR | IDP | Rookies | O-lines

We’ll be adjusting these RB PPR rankings and providing further analysis from now until Week 1, so check back for updates! For individual player analysis, check out our standard-league RB rankings.

DOMINATE YOUR DRAFT: Ultimate 2021 Cheat Sheet

2021 Fantasy RB PPR Rankings

Rankings are based on full-point PPR scoring formats

Rank Player
1 Christian McCaffrey, Panthers
2 Alvin Kamara, Saints
3 Saquon Barkley, Giants
4 Dalvin Cook, Vikings
5 Derrick Henry, Titans
6 Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys
7 Aaron Jones, Packers
8 Antonio Gibson, Washington
9 Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Chiefs
10 Austin Ekeler, Chargers
11 Nick Chubb, Browns
12 Jonathan Taylor, Colts
13 David Montgomery, Bears
14 Miles Sanders, Eagles
15 D’Andre Swift, Lions
16 Najee Harris, Steelers
17 Joe Mixon, Bengals
18 JK Dobbins, Ravens
19 Myles Gaskin, Dolphins
20 Chris Carson, Seahawks
21 Kareem Hunt, Browns
22 Josh Jacobs, Raiders
23 Mike Davis, Falcons
24 Travis Etienne, Jaguars
25 Chase Edmonds, Cardinals
26 Darrell Henderson, Rams
27 Javonte Williams, Broncos
28 Devin Singletary, Bills
29 Melvin Gordon, Broncos
30 Michael Carter, Jets
31 Raheem Mostert, 49ers
32 David Johnson, Texans
33 Nyheim Hines, Colts
34 JD McKissic, Washington
35 Damien Harris, Patriots
36 Leonard Fournette, Buccaneers
37 Phillip Lindsay, Texans
38 James Robinson, Jaguars
39 Ronald Jones II, Buccaneers
40 Tarik Cohen, Bears
41 James Conner, Cardinals
42 Jamaal Williams, Lions
43 Gus Edwards, Ravens
44 Zack Moss, Bills
45 James White, Patriots
46 Latavius Murray, Saints
47 Trey Sermon, 49ers
48 AJ Dillon, Packers
49 Tony Pollard, Cowboys
50 Kenyan Drake, Raiders
51 Kenneth Gainwell, Eagles
52 Alexander Mattison, Vikings
53 Tevin Coleman, Jets
54 Darrel Williams, Chiefs
55 Justin Jackson, Chargers
56 Malcolm Brown, Dolphins
57 Rashaad Penny, Seahawks
58 Cordarrelle Patterson, Falcons
59 Devontae Booker, Giants
60 Marlon Mack, Colts
61 Benny Snell Jr., Steelers
62 Boston Scott, Eagles
63 Rhamondre Stevenson, Patriots
64 Darrynton Evans, Titans
65 Samaje Perine, Bengals
66 Chuba Hubbard, Panthers
67 Damien Williams, Bears
68 Salvon Ahmed, Dolphins
69 La’Mical Perine, Jets
70 Joshua Kelley, Chargers
71 Mark Ingram, Texans
72 Jeremy McNichols, Titans
73 Anthony McFarland Jr., Steelers
74 Javian Hawkins, Falcons
75 Wayne Gallman, 49ers
76 Caleb Huntley, Falcons

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