Considering these Dynasty Fantasy Football rankings were updated during Week 17 of the 2020 season, you may be asking: What has changed? While coaches have changed and trades have taken place, the main change is that I've completed my first round of 2021 projections. I don't want to overstate their importance to the projections below, but they are at least a factor. They also highlight some questions we'll get answered over the next eight months.
The big questions at running back start with the free agents. Aaron Jones, Chris Carson, Kenyan Drake and James Conner all face uncertain futures. So do Todd Gurley, Leonard Fournette, Phillip Lindsay and a host of other less-acclaimed backs. For now Jones is the only back I'm projecting as a feature back. Conner, Carson and Drake are projected as if they'll lead a committee, and the rest are projected as bench options for Dynasty and re-draft purposes. Obviously, their projections will change when they sign with new teams, but they aren't the only players facing uncertain value fluctuations.
Edwards-Helaire was my fifth-favorite back in this class before the NFL Draft, but vaulted to No. 2 after the Chiefs made him a first round pick. After a rookie year in which he totaled 1,100 yards and five touchdowns, he fell to No. 7 in the class, but that's as much about the class as it is the player. The rookie was fine as a runner, if mediocre in the passing game. If there was anything to be truly concerned about, it was the shape of his workload.
Edwards-Helaire averaged 22.3 touches in his first six NFL games. That fell to 12.7 in his final seven regular season games. In the AFC Championship Game he was out-touched by Darrel Williams 14-7. What happens in the Super Bowl will have an undue influence on Edwards-Helaire's 2021 value. If he performs like Damien Williams, people may buy back into him as a borderline No. 1 running back. If Darrel Williams stars, you may have a hard time selling the rookie for a top-20 back. What will be more important than how he performs in the Super Bowl is how the Chiefs handle the position this offseason. It would be very bad news if they signed one of the bigger names on the list of free agents above. It also seems unlikely with their current cap situation.
Jones is in a more precarious situation than Edwards-Helaire, but I'm not sure he has any less upside. While the NFL Championship Game appeared to show Jones again losing his hold on the lead role to Fournette, we know these changes are rarely permanent with Bruce Arians. Jones had 77 touches for 374 yards from Week 4 through Week 6 but then didn't top 50 yards (or 14 touches) in his next three games. The following week he ran for 192 yards against the Panthers. Such is the Ronald Jones experience.
He's still a 24 year-old back who has shown massive upside. If the Buccaneers don't bring back Fournette, you could easily project Jones as a top-20 back next year. At the same time, it wouldn't be that surprising if Tampa Bay made a big splash at the position.
It may seem off that Edwards-Helaire and Jones are back-to-back in the rankings below. That highlights part of the problem with rankings, because there's a major tier drop off after the top 20. That will be more accurately reflected in the updated trade chart, which comes out later this week. For reference, Edwards-Helaire is closer in value to J.K. Dobbins (RB12) than he is to Jones.
More Dynasty Rankings: WR | QB | TE | Trade Chart
Here are my updated Running Back Dynasty rankings: