After a season that can only be described as “weird,” NFL football finally returns in full force this week! Along with a loaded slate of games comes the kickoff of 2021 fantasy football leagues everywhere. While it’s hard to advise going against your studs in the first week of a brand new season, several owners might find themselves already facing difficult situations when it comes to the back end of their Week 1 starting lineups. My word of advice: do not be shy about weighing positive matchups over a player’s preseason fantasy football ADP. For those looking to do just that in Week 1, this article is for you!
Read on for three fantasy football running back “streamer” options for the opening week of the NFL season. Despite having mid-to-late round ADPs, these players have a great chance to make hay in favorable Week 1 matchups. In addition, at the end of the article is a list of highly-regarded fantasy football running backs who might be worth fading in difficult matchups this week.
Week 1 Fantasy Football RB Streamers
Raheem Mostert | San Francisco 49ers (at DET)
There is certainly a valid argument in saying that San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert has been a bit disrespected by the fantasy football ADP this season. Despite being listed atop the depth chart in an offense that leans heavily on its rushing attack, Mostert is only the 27th running back being taken in drafts. Sure, his ADP of 5.10 is respectable enough, but it probably should be a lot higher given Mostert’s body of work as a lead ball-carrier in previous seasons. Kyle Shanahan’s consistent efforts to establish the ground game on a weekly basis have made multiple 49ers backs fantasy relevant in recent years.
Entering 2021, many are hyping up the team’s new rookie RB, Trey Sermon. While the former Ohio State standout will undoubtedly carve out a role in this talented offense, it’s hard to imagine he sees more work than the veteran Mostert out of the gates to begin the year. In addition, Jeff Wilson Jr. was placed on the PUP list Tuesday. That leaves Mostert as the clear-cut top veteran back for the Niners to begin the year. A matchup against the punchless Detroit Lions run defense makes Mostert an excellent start in fantasy football this week. Although drafted in the RB3 range, Mostert should be considered a solid RB2 start with upside this week.
James Conner | Arizona Cardinals (at TEN)
Many believe Chase Edmonds to be the de facto RB1 in Arizona this season. Expect veteran free-agent signee James Conner to have a say in the matter. Conner could be fed the ball right away this week, as the Cardinals take on a suspect Tennessee Titans defense. While Tennessee was better at defending the run than the pass a season ago, they still weren’t great. The team lost Jadeveon Clowney in the offseason. Fans are optimistic that they made up for it by bringing in Bud Dupree. Keep in mind, however, that he is coming off of a significant knee injury.
Expecting the Titans defense to be a well-oiled machine out of the gates seems to be a stretch. Despite having a ninth-round ADP that saw him go three rounds lower than Edmonds in drafts, Conner is at the least a viable FLEX candidate in fantasy football for Week 1.
Nyheim Hines | Indianapolis Colts (vs. SEA)
All signs suggest that new Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz will be ready to go for Week 1 after a preseason injury. That is a good sign for all Indianapolis fantasy football assets, including running back Nyheim Hines. By now, it is no secret what Hines’ role in the offense is. He figures to get plenty of run as a pass-catching back behind primary ball-carrier Jonathan Taylor once again this season. On more than one occasion last season, fantasy managers were left shaking their heads as Hines put up impressive stat lines at the expense of the highly-touted and highly-drafted Taylor.
Hines’ fantasy football ADP saw him go in the early tenth-round of drafts this season. Week 1 sees the Colts take on a leaky Seattle Seahawks pass defense. As a result, Hines has a chance to return value to owners right away. The Colts will undoubtedly have to score some points to keep up with the potent Seattle offense in this matchup. Game script could lead to a plethora of passing sets, making Hines a solid fantasy football RB streamer and/or FLEX play for Week 1.
High ADP Running Backs Facing Tough Week 1 Matchups
- Saquon Barkley | Denver Broncos (reduced workload)
- Chris Carson | Seattle Seahawks
- David Montgomery | Chicago Bears
- Miles Sanders | Philadelphia Eagles