The calendar has officially turned to September, which means an old friend is soon to join us once again. Ah yes, welcome back football! Oh, how we missed you! Of course, along with the kickoff to the 2021 NFL season come legions upon legions of fantasy football drafts. My sincerest apologies go out to those of you whose drafts back in August. Special T’s and P’s to the J.K. Dobbins owners out there, after he became Exhibit A for why you don’t draft until after the preseason.
For the rest of you who are in leagues with competent commissioners, you’re bound to have some ADP conundrums on your plate in the lead-up to and during your fantasy football draft. We at FlurrySports are here to help! Read on for a breakdown of the fantasy football ADP battle between a trio of early-round running backs: Nick Chubb, Saquon Barkley, and Najee Harris.
Nick Chubb, Saquon Barkley and Najee Harris Fantasy Football ADP Battle
Note: All ADPs and ranks reflect a 12-team, PPR draft format
Saquon Barkley Fantasy ADP: 1.12
ADP Position Rank: 9
Overall Rank: 12
After going down in Week 2 last season with a torn ACL, star New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley has made his successful return to the field. Although he still carries an official designation of “questionable”, all reports from training camp indicate that Barkley on track to be in the starting lineup for the Giants’ Week 1 season-opener. After his fantasy football owners were left scrambling a season ago, redemption appears imminent.
The Giants created quite a stir when they spent the second overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft on Barkley. That kind of draft capital is hardly ever spent on the running back position in the modern NFL. The former Penn State standout wasted little time in rewarding those fantasy football managers who drafted him. He totaled over 2000 all-purpose yards and scored 15 touchdowns in his rookie season. Barkley followed that up another 1000-yard rushing season in 2019 despite missing a few games with an ankle injury. Health has truly been the only thing slowing down his production through his first three pro seasons.
It comes as no surprise that Barkley’s fantasy football ADP has risen in the days since the positive news regarding Week 1 first surfaced. The Giants’ offense is poised to take a step forward this season. The offensive line will be the best Barkley has had to run behind in his NFL career to date. An influx of playmakers in the passing game could only further open things up for the star tailback. There is some concern given the injury he is returning from. Nonetheless, Barkley presents the most upside of the three backs in this ADP battle.
Nick Chubb Fantasy ADP: 1.10
ADP Position Rank: 8
Overall Rank: 10
Up next in this fantasy football ADP battle is standout Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb. The third-year back out of Georgia is ready to help the Browns take the next step as AFC contenders. Just how good is the 25-year-old as a ball-carrier? Well, Chubb managed to rush for over 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns last season despite being sidelined four games with an injury. One can only imagine what the final stat line might have been had he been healthy for a full 16 games.
2020 marked the second straight season in which Chubb smashed the 1,000-yard mark on the ground. In addition to missing a string of games, the accomplishment is all the more impressive when one considers the other talented back on the Browns roster. Before last season began, many fantasy football analysts felt that Kareem Hunt might carve out a relatively even timeshare with Chubb. However, that ideology never came close to materializing. When Chubb was healthy, he was the clear lead back. Will the Browns operate under a similar game plan with the addition of a 17th game?
When forced to choose, Chubb is a close second to Saquon Barkley in this fantasy football ADP battle as the season approaches. If not for the recent positive reports regarding Barkley’s injury status, Chubb would be the preferred RB here. But the presence of Hunt in the Cleveland backfield along with Chubb’s lack of production as a receiver both put a cap on his upside in PPR leagues compared to Barkley.
Najee Harris Fantasy ADP: 2.01
ADP Position Rank: 10
Overall Rank: 13
After a remarkable college career at Alabama, Najee Harris was drafted in the Second Round of this year’s NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Then, the team opted not to bring back veteran James Conner. It became clear pretty quickly that Harris would assume a bell-cow workload in his maiden professional season. In fantasy football, where volume is king, Harris sets up to be a star in 2021.
If Harris’ time at Alabama was any indication, Pittsburgh figures to be set at running back for the next several years. After playing sparingly behind other future NFL backs in his first two seasons, Harris erupted in both 2019 and ‘20. After rushing for over 1,200 yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior, the 23-year-old threw down a massive stat line of 1,466 yards rushing, 425 yards receiving and 30 total touchdowns last season as the Crimson Tide rolled to a championship. If not for the electrifying season that his Alabama teammate, DeVonta Smith, had, Harris might very well have been a Heisman Trophy contender.
All in all, the current Najee Harris fantasy football ADP of 2.01 feels right. There will undoubtedly be a few growing pains as a rookie and this is definitely taken into consideration when ranking this fantasy football ADP battle. We have seen both Saquon Barkley and Nick Chubb produce at the NFL level. That said, Harris is a well-equipped as anyone coming from the SEC to post big numbers right away. We have seen each of the other two backs produce at the NFL level. Another cause for concern comes in the form of a suspect Steelers offensive line.
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