Arguably the most coveted position in fantasy football, the elite NFL running backs bring the highest premium come draft day. Sitting on top of that list in 2021 is Alabama RB Najee Harris, as he carries the most value heading into your dynasty drafts.
Najee Harris dynasty value for 2021
Despite what zero-RB truthers want you to believe, running backs are the backbones of your dynasty teams. Where receivers can extend your championship window, RBs are the ones who push you over the edge. In 2021, Najee Harris is in a league of his own.
Even to the most critical, it’s hard to find a flaw in Najee Harris’ game. His vision is incredible, and he moves in a way a 6’2″, 230-pound player shouldn’t be able to move. The acceleration to get through the hole is fantastic, and while not a burner, his speed is more than adequate for the NFL game.
Unless you are in a Superflex dynasty league, no one has more value in 2021 than Najee Harris. You have a three-down back with the size and skill set to last in the NFL from day one.
From a pure value standpoint, if I was in a startup right now where rookies were involved rather than a separate draft, Harris is going early for me. He is one of just a handful of players I will take at value in a startup draft.
I would take him over players like Ezekiel Elliott, Cam Akers, Miles Sanders, Josh Jacobs, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. He is already an RB1 in dynasty for me without having put on a jersey. I don’t think there is much debate who the best RB is in the 2021 rookie class.
Where should you draft Harris in dynasty rookie mock drafts?
If you want to land Najee Harris in your rookie draft, I hope you have a top-two pick. Honestly, that only applies to Superflex formats. If you are in a 1QB dynasty league, Najee Harris is the undisputed, slam dunk 1.01 regardless of team need.
Your team can never have enough talented running backs, and to get the best in the class is a premium that can’t be overlooked. While I do think there are other gifted backs like Javonte Williams from UNC or Travis Etienne, they are not Najee Harris.
The dynasty value of Najee Harris, barring injury, will only climb from 2021 and beyond.
If you are in a Superflex format, things are a bit more complicated
Trevor Lawrence from Clemson should go first given the skill and positional scarcity of the format. At the 1.02, things will vary based on team needs. While conventional wisdom would likely be Justin Fields, both Zach Wilson and Najee Harris will be in this spot.
At the 1.03, the remaining player will likely be selected unless you are like me and prefer Trey Lance over Wilson, but that is for a different discussion.
Unlike QBs or even WRs at times, Najee Harris and RBs can have more dynasty value early in their careers
I brought this up in another article going over Lawrence, but even the best QB prospects can struggle out of the gates. There is a vast learning curve that can make even the most polished prospect find difficulty adjusting.
The same used to be the case for wide receivers, but we are starting to see a trend in recent years develop. It was the “third-year breakout” we looked for in dynasty. That is almost too late for the impatient fantasy crowd.
With players like Justin Jefferson popping up more and more, if you aren’t flashing in your rookie year, questions are raised immediately. However, several factors are out of their hands, with situations, schemes, and QB play being such large factors.
This is where the running back can take his value into his own hands a bit easier. Looking at running backs drafted since 2016, 32 ended their rookie season averaging 11.23 PPR points or more. Why the 11.23 points? That was the RB24 (J.K. Dobbins) in 2020.
Just in last year’s class alone, we saw six backs finish inside the top 24 of fantasy standings, with two of those inside the top seven (Jonathan Taylor and James Robinson). When looking for the next Taylor or Robinson, the landing spot is critical.
Landing spot is crucial for Najee Harris’ long-term dynasty value
Najee Harris can quickly join the group based on skill, but if he goes to a team that uses a committee, his dynasty value will take a hit in the process. A team like the Pittsburgh Steelers would be a dream scenario for Harris.
It’s hard for me to make a case against him no matter where he lands, but in the right spot, Najee Harris’ dynasty value for 2021 could go through the roof, and you will find people like me willing to pay for it still.
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