Five RBs to watch in 2021

Welcome to the second part of our series looking at some NFL skill position players that could spike in value in 2021, largely based on talent and opportunity. In case you missed it, make sure to check out part one where we identified some QBs who are poised to have big years. Newcomers to the sports card hobby have led to increased emphasis on skill position guys (RBs, WRs, TEs), so it is a good idea to look at some players whose stock is headed up this season.

Darrell Henderson Jr., LA Rams

One of my favorite guys this upcoming year was Cam Akers, who unfortunately blew out his achilles tendon. Next in line is Darrell Henderson Jr., a third-year running back that averaged an insane 8.2 yards per carry and 12.0 yards per reception in college. He’s an explosive back, but was injured quite a bit in 2020. However, Henderson is said to be fully healthy headed into 2021.

A lot of pundits expected the Rams to sign a veteran running back to replace some of the production from Akers injury, but the Rams seem more than willing to give the keys over to Henderson. His cards moved a bit on the Akers injury, but not enough in my opinion. You can still buy before he breaks out.

Antonio Gibson, Washington Football Team

Memphis running backs might be a running (hah!) theme. Antonio Gibson is a wide receiver that converted into a running back. He only had 33 carries in college but averaged an unbelievable 11.2 yards per carry, while averaging 19.0 yards per reception. The surprising thing is that Washington had him running between the tackles and took him off the field on pass plays. 

The reports this offseason have been glowing with how he has picked up the playbook and worked on his route running and pass blocking. If he is given the pass catching role, he could have a Christian McCaffrey-like season.  Yes, this doubles as fantasy football advice, DRAFT ANTONIO GIBSON.

AJ Dillon, Green Bay Packers

Loupe’s very own AJ Dillon deserves a spot on this list. The Boston College product balled out in his limited usage last year, averaging about 5 yards per carry and 11 yards per reception. There’s a reason the Packers let Jamaal Williams go and it’s because of Quadzilla himself.  Dilllon and backfield teammate Aaron Jones can be the best 1-2 punch in the league.

Kareem Hunt, Cleveland Browns

Kareem Hunt has been one of the NFL’s most efficient rushers since he entered the league in 2017. The Browns have built a Super Bowl contender this year, in large part behind a skilled offensive line and running attack headed by Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. 

The reason I went Hunt on this list is because of his superior pass catching ability and his room for growth if Chubb were to go down. He has both the rushing and receiving skills needed to be a workhorse running back.

Zack Moss, Buffalo Bills

Zack Moss started to take over the backfield last year before an injury sidelined him toward the end of the season. Beat writers have speculated that Moss could be the dominant back in Buffalo, edging out Devin Singletary for the role. 

The one flaw in this thinking is that Buffalo’s goal line back is really just Josh Allen, since he has led the team in rushing touchdowns since he has entered the league. Buffalo may want to ease up on Allen’s workload though considering the investment the team has made in him. If that happens, expect Moss to pick up the slack.

Quick Hitters

Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings:  If anything happened to Dalvin Cook, expect Mattison to step in and take over for a run first team.

Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys: Zeke Elliott had a tough time staying healthy last year and Pollard showed he can play.

Jerrick McKinnon, Kansas City Chiefs: Never like recommending a guy who was benched last year for “battling tired legs” but reports out of Kansas City have McKinnon working with the first-team on passing downs.

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