As we quickly round our way to the start of Fantasy Football season, many have begun to target the guys who are must-have guys for the upcoming season. Targeting high-powered offenses, proven workhorses, and the hot new toys that have entered the league. This article is meant to try and find answers to three high-powered offensive backfields that you may want to consider avoiding in 2021.Embed from Getty Images
The Bills, Ravens, and Cardinals are all highlighted by young athletic QB’s that have shown they can succeed in the league. Each of these teams finished in the Top 15 in total offense 2020, and expectations remain the same for the upcoming season. So, why am I recommending you stay away or at least be willing to temper your expectations?
Let’s start in Baltimore with the team that rushed for 191.9 yards per game last season. All signs point to this being a run-heavy team again in 2021 under Lamar, who has now led the league in rushing as a QB for three consecutive seasons. This is the main reason that I am recommending staying away from this backfield. Yes, they produce a ton on the ground, but most of that work goes to Lamar.
Secondly, the workload was evenly distributed between Gus Edwards and J.k. Dobbins, and I anticipate more of the same this season. Edwards just signed a contract extension that tells me he still has a vital role on this team.
Dobbins is in his second season and had most of his success later in the year and was very TD dependent. He could very well reach the numbers he hit last year, plus some with Mark Ingram gone leaving and an additional 70 carries for Dobbins and Edwards to consume. On the flip side, neither Edwards nor Dobbins finished top 20 last season with a split workload. If you are going to venture down this road, then I would tend to prefer Edwards. His role will only see more of a workload, and Dobbins was a monster in the TD category that is not always easy to repeat.Embed from Getty Images
The second backfield that, on the surface, you would think is a great opportunity, but I am going to caution against is the Arizona Cardinals. Again, this is a high-flying offense that a superstar quarterback leads.
Chase Edmonds has proven that when he has space, he can make things happen, and this offense typically provides the room for a guy like Edmonds to succeed. Then why the caution against this backfield? Edmonds shared this backfield last season with Kenyon Drake, who has now parted ways. This move was an excellent sign for Edmonds to get a shot at the starting role this season, and then came the signing of James Conner.
The addition of Conner signals to me that the team does not view Edmonds as a bell-cow type of back. Thus, telling me that his role from last year will remain the same moving forward this season. We do not know what Conner will genuinely do in this offense, but his addition does tell me that Edmond’s production this season will be very similar to that of last season.
You may be wondering now, well, why not just draft James Conner then. For me, Conner is more of a wild card in this equation. He came onto the scene with a fury in Pittsburg when Leveon Bell went down, and the team decided to move on. Then when the stage was set for Conner to excel and take over the role of RB1 in Pittsburg, injuries occurred, and his production took a significant hit.
This all led to Pittsburg allowing Conner to test the market, finding a new home in Arizona. Coming off a down season with injury concerns, he will be splitting carries with Edmonds. I would say his floor should be roughly where Drake finished the season in 2020. This would put him outside of the top 20 in most formats and for the capital it will take to get him, I cannot buy into the situation.
This does not even mention the main reason to stay away from this backfield: Kyler Murray. Murray is the RB1 on this team like Lamar in Baltimore. Again, if I look at this backfield, I see uncertainty in workload, health, and a quarterback who is more than capable of running. I love what this offense looks like on paper and know they will score and move the ball at will on most teams.
The fact that they will face SF, LAR, & SEA twice as well does not spark encouragement for me either, as I view these as top 10 defenses potentially. There are too many variables for me to get behind the idea of determining who to start week in and week out at this juncture. If I had to take anyone in this backfield, I would go with Edmonds at his ADP, and the fact he has been with the team and his role is pretty defined at this point.Embed from Getty Images
The third backfield that has me on eggshells as I am unsure what to do with them is the Buffalo Bills. This is a team that has shown it will rely heavily on the arm of Josh Allen. The run game was nonexistent last season for long periods. Neither one of the backs could take their few touches and turn that into a valuable season as far as fantasy is concerned. The true RB1 on this roster also suits up at the quarterback position like the previous teams mentioned. To top it all off this team made almost no changes this offseason to suggest things are changing in Buffalo.
Devin Singletary had a great rookie campaign exceeding the expectations of many in Buffalo and the fantasy world. Unfortunately, year two was not nearly as fruitful as he saw limited touches with the addition of Zach Moss and a pass-heavy playbook. Similar to Singletary, Moss has no guarantee after last season on what his world load will look like either. If there ever was a scenario, I didn’t feel like I had seen enough, if not anything at all, to feel comfortable enough to draft either of these backs.
It feels shockingly murky in the Bills backfield for as bright as this team appears to be. If it is late in your draft, I would consider taking Moss. He is built for this offense if he can remain healthy and feels more like the goal line back behind the true RB1 Josh Allen.
Well, there you have my interpretation on three of the thirty-two backfields for this upcoming season. It feels terrible writing it because I am a value hunter, and there is value in all of these backfields. So maybe the honest answer is to draft the QB1, and you will be happy!