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Running Backs to Target in 2021 Fantasy Football Based on NECC Consistency Rating

Using our in-house NECC consistency metric to determine the top running backs to draft in fantasy football this year.

Here at NerdBall, we’re striving to unlock the secrets to winning at fantasy football. After trying numerous statistical models, I’ve been able to create a metric that not only takes into account consistency, which I’ve based on a player’s standard deviation of their fantasy scores and points per game totals, but also included an efficiency element to take into account how well each player scores relative to the number touches he has.

The result gives us a metric that can be applied to compare all fantasy relevant skill position players, though I’ve discovered the comparisons are best applied at position level due to the variable nature of the number of touches that can influence the weighting of the final rating. The name I’ve given to the metric is the NerdBall Efficiency and Consistency Coefficient, or NECC for short. (The full list of the NECC scores for all players for 2020 can be found here, and the 2021 scores will be posted during the season to help support you in selecting your lineups each week.)

In this article, I will look at 2020’s top-24 running backs per NECC to figure out who you want draft this year for consistent points scoring in your 2021 fantasy team.

Let’s get into it!

Top-24 Running Backs Per NECC in 2020
PlayerTeamGamesPPG 0.5 PPRSt Dev 0.5 PPRPoints per TouchNECC
Alvin KamaraNO1522.404.641.2516.6%
Nick ChubbCLE1116.633.360.9521.2%
Chris CarsonSEA1114.553.020.9721.4%
Dalvin CookMIN1422.574.420.8922.0%
D'Andre SwiftDET1213.033.131.0822.3%
David JohnsonHOU1113.232.950.8925.0%
Aaron JonesGB1316.653.920.9325.2%
Derrick HenryTEN1519.174.110.8026.9%
Antonio GibsonWAS1313.823.650.9727.4%
Miles SandersPHI1213.043.030.8228.4%
Jonathan TaylorIND1414.213.390.8428.4%
David MontgomeryCHI1415.293.510.7928.9%
James RobinsonJAX1416.143.680.7829.2%
Kareem HuntCLE1512.863.320.8630.1%
Melvin GordonDEN1412.103.200.7833.8%
Mike DavisCAR1412.793.560.8034.8%
Josh JacobsLV1414.133.360.6835.0%
Nyheim HinesIND1510.003.711.0435.6%
Clyde Edwards-HelaireKC1312.153.240.7336.7%
Ezekiel ElliottDAL1413.723.600.6938.2%
Chase EdmondsARI159.073.390.9439.9%
Kenyan DrakeARI1412.513.490.7040.0%
Ronald JonesTB1510.703.610.7843.2%
Todd GurleyATL1410.493.190.7043.3%

Let’s be clear before we start, I’ve not gone with Alvin Kamara or Nick Chub here as both are currently going as first round picks in redraft leagues and therefore drafting them is down to the lottery of the draft position. I’ve looked instead a little further down the current ADP for value plays.

Running Backs I’m Drafting

Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks

Carson hits from both a consistency and efficiency standpoint, finishing second in standard deviation and fourth in points per touch. He also finished a not too shabby eighth in fantasy points per game. Going as the RB18 in the early third round, Carson offers great value to hit as a potential RB1 in a run-focused offense in Seattle. Yes. Please.

D’Andre Swift, Detroit Lions

If Carson’s numbers were good, D’Andre Swift was maybe even more impressive. His rookie year, Swift finished fourth in standard deviation and second in points per touch in 2020 (though his points per game were pretty average). The upside for Swift in 2021 is off the charts with the investment made to the Lions’ offensive line and the increased opportunity he will see. Currently the RB20, going towards the end of the third round, Swift can be a league winner as your RB2 in 2021.

David Johnson, Houston Texans

David Johnson is a no longer a sexy fantasy name, but when you consider the value he offers at the moment as the RB34 in the late seventh round because of his consistency and opportunity, he’s worth the flier. No one in the top 24 running backs had a lower standard deviation than Johnson, meaning you were getting a pretty steady number from him every week. In fact, 8 of his 11 games in 2020 scored you between 10 and 20 points. If you started him in your fantasy championship in Week 16, he potentially won you the match up with a season-high 27.4 points, showing that big game ability still exists.

Related: Running Back Sleepers for 2021 Fantasy Football

Johnson’s points per game in 2020 was 12th and points per touch 9th, so with a the Texans forecast to struggle in 2021, if Johnson can stay healthy he will likely see an increase in touches and be back in the top 24 running backs again.