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2021 Fantasy Football Pick One: Jonathan Taylor, Nick Chubb, or Aaron Jones

Which running back would you rather draft at the end of the first round?

Fantasy football drafts are all about maximizing value at each spot, whether that means reaching for your guy or picking that stud who looks to be falling for no obvious reason. In this new series, I’ve taken a look at groups of three players with similar current ADPs and have selected the one I’d be picking if it was me on the clock.

Which running back are you picking at the backend of the first round: Jonathan Taylor (1.07), Nick Chubb (1.08) or Aaron Jones (1.09)?

My pick: Jonathan Taylor (but its close)

This truly is a close one for me. If I’m picking at the backend of Round 1, I’m almost always going running back and I’m going with the guy who got stronger and stronger as the season went on in 2020. Taylor was a total stud through the fantasy playoffs, scoring 21.85 fantasy points per game from Weeks 13 to 16. He also contributed in the passing game, catching 35 balls for 298 yards, and therefore is not a one dimensional banger for his offense.

Fast forward to 2021 and with a solid offensive line back to health, Taylor should be able to hit the ground running (pun fully intended). The return of Marlon Mack from injury gave me a little pause earlier in the offseason, but given the history of players returning from a torn Achilles tendon, I can’t see Mack being any more than a bit part player, especially with Nyheim Hines set to continue his role as the main passing back.

I love Nick Chubb as a runner. He’s aggressive and will run over guys, but also has some wiggle. When he played in 2020, Chubb was a pretty consistent scorer, especially after he returned from injury after a four game absence between Weeks 5 and 8.

The main issue is that he is in a timeshare with another potential RB1 in Kareem Hunt and because of that, Chubb offers next to nothing in the passing game. Chubb has seen just 31 targets (1.7 per game) to Hunt’s 74 (4.1 per game) over their starts together. The Browns ran the ball with the fourth highest frequency in 2020 (49.7%) and with the success they saw at 4.8 yards per carry (5th in the NFL), I predict they will stick with the same game plan that got them to playoffs last season, and that keeps Chubb as a later first round pick in fantasy.

The only reason Aaron Jones is not the pick here is the uncertainty of Aaron Rodgers’ future in Green Bay. If the Rodgers situation is settled before the start of the season then I’ll likely move Jones ahead of both Taylor and Chubb as he has been super consistent over the last two years and with Jamaal Williams now in Detroit, could see an expanded role in the passing game as well—something he was already very proficient at with 118 catches over the past two seasons.

Jones also has the highest opportunity rate of the 3 players, seeing 588 snaps last year (42 per game) vs 456 for Taylor (33 per game) and 383 for Chubb (26 per game). My concern is that if Rodgers doesn’t play and the Packers go with Jordan Love, then oppositions will key in on Jones to stop the run knowing the league MVP isn’t mastering the passing game.

Who would you pick if you were on the clock with Taylor, Chubb and Jones available?