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Mid-Round Draft Values - Running Backs

Damien Harris - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News

Once you reach the mid-to-late rounds of drafts, everyone wants to draft high-upside picks that can provide a great return on value. You can afford to take risks on a variety of different players, including prospects, forgotten veterans, players returning from injuries, or even skilled players with potential playing time concerns.

It's essential to have at least a handful of undervalued targets at each position heading into your fantasy football drafts, no matter the format. Today, we're looking at some mid-round running backs for you to consider drafting this season.

Our editors have hand-picked these specific NFL players for your draft prep enjoyment. Normally only available to Premium subscribers, the outlooks below are meant to give you a taste of the in-depth analysis you receive with our industry-leading 2021 Draft Kit. Be sure to subscribe today and start reading all 300+ of our 2021 player outlooks, along with many other premium articles and tools available exclusively in our 2021 Draft Kit.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association including Baseball Writer of the Year, Football Writers of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year and many more! Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!

 

Damien Harris, New England Patriots

Damien Harris is going into his third season and has solidified his role as the primary running back for the Patriots. Typically, the Patriots have been a nightmare backfield for fantasy. Just when we think we have the backfield figured out, head coach Bill Belichick throws a wrench into everything. However, I think this year will be different since their roles are locked in after Sony Michel was traded to the Los Angeles Rams.

Harris is the clear-cut RB1 who will dominate early downs and goal-line work, James White is the third-down/passing downs back, and preseason breakout rookie Rhamondre Stevenson has earned his place as the handcuff for Harris. Speaking of Harris, fantasy managers should draft him with confidence. He averaged 5.0 yards per carry last year while facing a league-leading 7.4 defenders in the box on average. That efficiency is equal to Dalvin CookAlvin Kamara, and Jonathan Taylor, and better than Chris Carson and Ezekiel Elliott. His efficiency is even more impressive when you take into account that he saw 99% of his touches on first and second down, and exactly 0 touches on third down.

This year should be even better for Harris now that the Patriots upgraded their offensive line and signed tight-ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry in free agency. Two tight-end sets will mean a lot of action for the running backs, and the Patriots were already 3rd in rush attempts last year. The major problem with Harris was that his upside was capped with Cam Newton under center because Newton handled the majority of goal-line carries. However, now that rookie quarterback Mac Jones has secured the starting role, Harris gets a significant bump in fantasy projections because he will be the featured running back at the goal-line.

Remember when LeGarrette Blount had 18 rushing touchdowns, most of which came from inside the 10-yard line? I love targeting Harris as my RB3 or RB4 because the path to an RB2 finish is wide open, and his ADP still sits firmly in the seventh round at RB32. He will probably be closer to RB25 by the time the season starts because ADP has not had enough time to adjust yet since the Michel trade, but that is still excellent value for a running back who should see a floor of 225 carries on an offense that is no stranger to the red zone.

-- Frank Dyevoich

 

Raheem Mostert, San Francisco 49ers

Raheem Mostert is a hard player not to love and cheer for. Mostert went undrafted in 2015 where he then jumped between six different teams before landing with the 49ers. From there, he has worked himself up the depth chart and become one of the league's most explosive backs. For fantasy, the potential value of the 49ers' backfield is well documented.

Unfortunately, Kyle Shanahan's fantasy story always ends in a carousel approach to running backs. Last season, three different backs had at least 80 carries, and five different backs scored a rushing touchdown. However, there is a clear leader in this backfield, and that is Mostert. In 2020, he played eight games and averaged 13 rush attempts and two receptions per game.

Since then, the team has lost Jerick McKinnon and Tevin Coleman but traded up for Trey Sermon in the third round of this year's draft. Although Mostert will have a limited workload, his five yards per carry in 2020 gives him a solid floor. If Mostert can stay healthy, he is a high-upside flex play on a powerful, run-first Kyle Shanahan offense.

-- Ellis Johnson

 

Zack Moss, Buffalo Bills

Per @FantasyDataNFLZack Moss tied for fifth in terms of most yards created per attempt in 2020 (1.71) behind Nick ChubbDerrick HenryJ.K. Dobbins, and Dalvin Cook. He tied with Kareem Hunt and Ronald Jones II. That's some really good company to be in when trying to predict future success. The Bills drafted Moss in the third round in 2020, a season after they selected Devin Singletary in the third round in 2019. While they likely play in complementary roles again this season, Moss is the one with the prototypical "between the tackles" size, while Singletary profiles as more of a scatback at just 5'7", 203 lbs. They didn't select a running back in the 2021 NFL Draft, but they did bring in veteran RB Matt Breida, who figures to be a change-of-pace complement to both Moss and Singletary.

If he's fully healed from ankle surgery, Moss could lead this backfield in total opportunities in 2021. Remember, he had almost double the number of carries inside the 10-yard line (15) as Singletary did (eight) last season while playing in three fewer games. That said, Bills QB Josh Allen also had 15 rush attempts from inside the 10-yard line, scoring seven touchdowns on the ground. If Moss can earn his keep in year two and capitalize on his high-value touches, we could be looking at a guy who quietly sneaks into the top-30 RBs this season.

-- Adam Koffler

 

Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens

Edwards enters his fourth season with a role that is both defined and secure. He has found a role operating as a key cog in a Baltimore offense that has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to the ground game. The Ravens paced the NFL in run play percentage for a second consecutive season during 2020 (55.9%) after finishing third in 2018. This has propelled Edwards to 700+ rushing yards in each of his three seasons while accumulating 414 attempts (9.6 per game) and 2,152 yards (45.2 per game) during that span. He set career-highs in attempts (144/9 per game) and rushing yards (723/45.2 per game) last season.

Edwards also averaged 9.6 attempts and 50.5 yards per game from Weeks 8-17, which coincided with the evisceration of Mark Ingram II’s workload in the rushing attack. Edwards and Dobbins combined for 205 attempts, 1,156 yards, and 12 rushing touchdowns during that sequence, while Ingram averaged a minuscule 5.5 carries and 18.5 yards per game (Ingram is also now in Houston). Edwards punched in a career-best six touchdowns during 2020 after being entrusted with 25 carries inside the red zone and a team-high nine carries inside the 5.

Edwards' 22 career targets underscore his lack of involvement as a pass-catcher; however, he finished seventh among all backs in Football Outsiders’ DVOA (Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average) and will retain consistent usage in Baltimore’s run-heavy approach. Any increased deployment of the Ravens’ passing attack will not alter the ground-oriented strategy that is the foundation of their offense. Edwards' workload and value would also rise substantially if Dobbins were to experience an extended absence during the season.

-- Phil Clark

UPDATE: Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman made it clear that running back Gus Edwards is in line for a lot of work this year. On Tuesday, Roman told the media, "He's our kind of guy. He's built for what we do." With J.K. Dobbins (knee) out for the year, Edwards is in position to have a fantastic season as the No. 1 back in a run-heavy offense. The 26-year-old Edwards has averaged 5.2 yards per carry over his three-year career and already has experience as the No. 1 back for the Ravens. He's a great RB2 target in the third or fourth round of fantasy drafts.

-- Andrew Ericksen

 

 



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