2021 RB Fantasy Football Scoring Review

If Derrick Henry killed your fantasy team last year, then it’s only because he was pumping life into it before that foot fracture.

The Titans RB was delivering league-winning type of production through the 1st half of 2021. Others delivered better PPR floors, but no one was matching his ceiling.

We’ll dig further into that in a few minutes. But first, let’s pull back a little bit and look at the position as a whole last season.

Position Review

Our 2020 RB scoring review found a 2-year decline in RB fantasy scoring overall. That continued last season.

From 2010 through 2021, this is how many PPR points RBs generated per week each year:

2010: 701
2011: 694.3
2012: 672.6
2013: 693.9
2014: 695.6
2015: 705.8
2016: 706
2017: 713.1
2018: 733.2
2019: 720.7
2020: 715.1
2021: 707.1

As you can see, the position ramped up to a 2018 high point and has since some back down. Perhaps that’s more of a correction than a downturn, though, given that RBs are still scoring more than they did at the beginning of the span.

That seems to be the case if we look at RB target share by year.

The trendline heads up slightly, but we’ve really seen RB targets remain fairly constant over the past 12 years, with a 2-season spike in the middle.

Rushing work, as you might expect, has showed a clearer trend in the opposite direction.

The league threw a little less and ran a little more last year. But overall, the NFL has shifted to lean much more on the pass. Other stat categories, however, indicate that teams might be figuring out how to use their RBs more efficiently.

Predictably, total rushing yards per week have trended down alongside carries per week.

Yards per carry, however, have climbed in recent seasons.

And despite fewer carries and yards, RBs are actually scoring more rushing TDs in recent seasons than they were back in the early 2010s.

We all know that the true workhorse back has been a dying breed for a while in the NFL. Let these stats highlight, though, how important it is to look at roles as we evaluate and project RBs for the coming season.

We want RBs who get targets and score TDs, and it looks like the NFL is improving at distributing those opportunities. That said, there’s certainly room for another bubble to burst and numbers to regress toward a mean. So we’ll keep tracking these by year to see where the league is headed.

For now, it’s time to refocus on the individual players.