2021 Fantasy Football RB Consistency Ratings: Find potential sleepers, busts in running back rankings

By | August 3, 2021

Most fantasy football leagues feature head-to-head matchups every week. For better or worse, it’s what we’re all used to and how most of us prefer to play. Having consistently solid producers is the ultimate luxury in H2H leagues, yet most fantasy owners struggle to factor consistency into their rankings or draft-day decisions. As great as it is to have guys who can spring for 150-yards and three TDs any given Sunday, it’s equally as frustrating when your running back to score 20-plus points one week and five the next. No one wants to have one of the highest-scoring teams and miss the playoffs, but it seems to happen every year. 

We can all accept that “luck” is part of the equation for fantasy football success. Injuries, bad weather, tough matchups, and, now, COVID concerns are all variables that can impact fantasy teams. You can only do so much when they strike. However, you do have some control over the consistency of your team if you target the right players.  

Over at BigGuyFantasySports.com, we have what we call the “Clutch Report.” There, you can figure out the “Clutch Factor” (CF) that a player must exceed each week to earn a “Clutch Game” in your league based on number of teams and the scoring format. For example, in 12-team PPR format, a running back must earn over 11 fantasy points each week to earn a “Clutch Game.”

Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker | Top 200

We refer to a player’s consistency rate as his “Clutch Rating” (CR). A highly consistent player will have a CR above 70 percent. The elite fantasy studs will normally be in the 80-90-percent range.

Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker | Top 200

Every draft season, we look for undervalued players who were consistent and important to a fantasy team’s success. They might not have scored the most total points, but they also didn’t put up a lot of complete dudes. Conversely, I look for overvalued players based on their lack of consistency. Here’s a sneak peak at my top-24 consistency-based rankings for RBs heading into the 2021 season.

Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker | Overall

2021 Fantasy RB Consistency Ratings, Rankings

Ranking Tier Sub-tier Player Team
1 RB1 A Christian McCaffrey CAR
2 RB1 A Dalvin Cook MIN
3 RB1 A Alvin Kamara NO
4 RB1 B Ezekiel Elliott DAL
5 RB1 B Saquon Barkley NYG
6 RB1 B Aaron Jones GB
7 RB1 B Nick Chubb CLE
8 RB1 B Derrick Henry TEN
9 RB1 B Jonathan Taylor IND
10 RB1 B Austin Ekeler LAC
11 RB1 B Clyde Edwards-Helaire KC
12 RB1 B David Montgomery CHI
13 RB2 A JK Dobbins BAL
14 RB2 A Chris Carson SEA
15 RB2 B Antonio Gibson WAS
16 RB2 B Najee Harris PIT
17 RB2 B Miles Sanders PHI
18 RB2 B Joe Mixon CIN
19 RB2 B D’Andre Swift DET
20 RB2 B James Robinson JAX
21 RB2 B Myles Gaskin MIA
22 RB2 B Kareem Hunt CLE
23 RB2 B Mike Davis ATL
24 RB2 B Darrell Henderson LA

A ranking of RB1A means those backs are expected to earn an 80-plus percent CR this year. Currently,Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook and Alvin Kamara are ranked at that level. The remaining nine Tier-1 running backs are all ranked as RB1B, which means they’re expected to exceed a 70-percent CR. The backs higher on the list, such as Ezekiel Elliott and Saquon Barkley, are expected to earn much higher than 70 percent but probably won’t get above 80 percent. The lower-ranked RBs certainly could exceed a 70-percent CR, but we believe they are less likely to do so.

The RB2A backs are currently JK Dobbins and Chris Carson. They have question marks (injury concerns, carry distribution, etc.), but both have the talent and track record that gives me confidence they can reach 65-70 percent CRs this season.

Let’s look at a couple of these running backs and see which are undervalued or overvalued based on their current ADPs.

Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Each team

Undervalued: JK Dobbins, Ravens

Dobbins ruined Mark Ingram’s fantasy value last year, but for the season, his 53-percent CR doesn’t look great. However, when Dobbins received 10 or more touches in a game — something he should get every week this year — he had an 88-percent CR. I have him ranked just outside of the top tier at RB13, but he could certainly finish above that. His current ADP is RB16, so make sure you grab him as your RB2 and maybe get RB1 value out of him.

Overvalued: Joe Mixon, Bengals

Just when Cincy gets a real quarterback, Mixon gets hurt and misses 10 games. The good news is that he was fairly consistent in those six games, posting a 67-percent CR. However, his current ADP is RB13/Round 2. I have him at RB18 based on prior seasons. He’s a good value as a late RB2, but he has always been drafted as a borderline top-12 back despite having never performed at that level

Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight endD/ST

Ultimately, trying to figure in consistency should be part of your fantasy draft prep every year. Total points are great, but if a player can’t generate them consistently, you might still miss the playoffs after a season of big wins and even bigger losses.

If you want more consistency reports from your draft prep, go to Amazon and pick up the award-winning 2021 Fantasy Football Consistency Guide. You can also follow me on Twitter @bob_lung

Don’t miss out on the 2021 Fantasy Football Expo on Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021, in Canton, Ohio! Go to The Fantasy Football Expo for tickets!