Are you willing to spend over a third of your fantasy football auction budget on one player? Based on FantasyPros’ 2021 RB dollar value projections, that’s what it will take to land Christian McCaffrey. As great as McCaffrey is, we saw last year how quickly paying up for him can backfire. The owners who stocked up on rookie running backs for far less money came out in much better shape. Of course, if you opted for some of the other popular sleepers and passed on high-priced studs Derrick Henry or Alvin Kamara, you regretted being so cheap.

Anything can work and anything can flop. Helpful, right? We wish we had better advice for you than “get guys who don’t get hurt and score a lot of touchdowns,” but it’s tough to take a strong stance on much of anything with RBs. The one strategy that usually doesn’t work is loading up on mid-tier guys. That $10-$20 range is not where you want to live in a fantasy football auction. Getting one guy in that price range, especially if he’s a rookie like Javonte Williams or Travis Etienne, is smart, but getting one $35-plus dollar guy is usually better than two $18 guys.

2021 PPR FANTASY RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker | Top 200

You don’t want to go super cheap for all of your backs, at least in standard leagues. Every year we see surprise rookies and handcuffs who go for $1 (or less) have good years (think Myles Gaskin and James Robinson), but sometimes it takes them a while to break out or they have consistency/injury issues. You need at least a little stability in your backfield for the first few weeks, which is why it usually makes sense to get at least one semi-expensive back. It doesn’t need to be a top-five guy, but be prepared to bid $30-plus for at least one runner. 

2021 STANDARD FANTASY RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker | Top 200

PPR formats offer more potential sleepers and reliable early-season plug-and-plays, but the elite of the elite are even more, well, elite. Again, this isn’t to say you should definitely target a top-three guy, but don’t go into your auction planning to definitely avoid them either. They could go for less than the projected values below, and you never want to look back and regret not bidding on McCaffrey or Dalvin Cook after they come off the board for $5-8 below market value. 

2021 FANTASY AUCTION VALUES (Standard & PPR):
Quarterback | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker | Overall

As with any position, the timing of nominations will affect how much players cost. If you want a top-tier RB, don’t wait for the last one. He’ll likely go for an inflated price as the owners with money fight to the bitter end. In much the same way, popular sleepers can go for “too much” if they’re nominated when everyone has a full bankroll. 

2021 FANTASY SLEEPERS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Each team

Ultimately, there’s no “right” strategy other than planning on having ample depth one way or another. You want to make sure to save some bucks for the end of the auction to grab some $1 handcuffs and deep lotto tickets, but that’s true if you’re planning to start Saquon Barkley and Nick Chubb or Zack Moss and Michael Carter in Week 1. Have a lane and stay in it — swerving at the last second can lead to accidents and regret.

We’ll continue updating these RB auction values until Week 1, so check back often.

To get customized dollar values tailored to your league settings, check out FantasyPros’ premium Auction Calculator. For customized mock auctions that you can do in minutes, check out FantasyPros’ premium Salary Cap Simulator

2021 Fantasy Auction Values: RB

Dollar values courtesy of FantasyPros and based on 12-team leagues with $200 budgets.

Scoring based on standard, non-PPR formats.

All backs not listed valued at $0.

RankPlayerDollar Value
1Christian McCaffrey, CAR$70
2Dalvin Cook, MIN$66
3Derrick Henry, TEN$64
4Alvin Kamara, NO$48
5Saquon Barkley, NYG$48
6Jonathan Taylor, IND$48
7Nick Chubb, CLE$46
8Aaron Jones, GB$44
9Ezekiel Elliott, DAL$43
10Joe Mixon, CIN$41
11Najee Harris, PIT$39
12Antonio Gibson, WAS$37
13Austin Ekeler, LAC$37
14D’Andre Swift, DET$32
15Chris Carson, SEA$31
16JK Dobbins, BAL$30
17Clyde Edwards-Helaire, KC$30
18Josh Jacobs, LV$30
19David Montgomery, CHI$29
20Miles Sanders, PHI$29
21Myles Gaskin, MIA$24
22Mike Davis, ATL$21
23Darrell Henderson, LAR$20
24Chase Edmonds, ARI$19
25Kareem Hunt, CLE$16
26Travis Etienne, JAC$14
27Damien Harris, NE$14
28Raheem Mostert, SF$14
29James Robinson, JAC$13
30Javonte Williams, DEN$13
31David Johnson, HOU$12
32Leonard Fournette, TB$11
33Melvin Gordon III, DEN$10
34Zack Moss, BUF$10
35Ronald Jones II, TB$9
36Trey Sermon, SF$8
37Kenyan Drake, LV$8
38James Conner, ARI$8
39Gus Edwards, BAL$8
40Latavius Murray, NO$8
41Michael Carter, NYJ$7
42Jamaal Williams, DET$7
43AJ Dillon, GB$7
44Devin Singletary, BUF$6
45Tony Pollard, DAL$6
46Tevin Coleman, NYJ$6
47J.D. McKissic, WAS$5
48Nyheim Hines, IND$5
49James White, NE$5
50Tarik Cohen, CHI$5
51Alexander Mattison, MIN$4
52Rashaad Penny, SEA$3
53Phillip Lindsay, HOU$3
54Darrel Williams, KC$3
55Sony Michel, NE$2
56Ty Johnson, NYJ$2
57Damien Williams, CHI$2
58Giovani Bernard, TB$1
59Wayne Gallman, SF$1

2021 Fantasy PPR Auction Values: RB

Dollar values courtesy of FantasyPros and based on 12-team leagues with $200 budgets.

Scoring based on full-point PPR formats.

All backs not listed valued at $0.

RankPlayerDollar Value
1Christian McCaffrey, CAR$69
2Dalvin Cook, MIN$58
3Alvin Kamara, NO$51
4Derrick Henry, TEN$47
5Saquon Barkley, NYG$45
6Austin Ekeler, LAC$43
7Ezekiel Elliott, DAL$40
8Jonathan Taylor, IND$39
9Aaron Jones, GB$39
10Joe Mixon, CIN$37
11Najee Harris, PIT$35
12Nick Chubb, CLE$34
13D’Andre Swift, DET$33
14Antonio Gibson, WAS$32
15Clyde Edwards-Helaire, KC$28
16Chris Carson, SEA$27
17Miles Sanders, PHI$25
18David Montgomery, CHI$24
19Myles Gaskin, MIA$23
20JK Dobbins, BAL$22
21Josh Jacobs, LV$22
22Mike Davis, ATL$21
23Chase Edmonds, ARI$20
24Travis Etienne, JAC$18
25Darrell Henderson, LAR$16
26Kareem Hunt, CLE$14
27David Johnson, HOU$11
28James Robinson, JAC$11
29Raheem Mostert, SF$10
30Leonard Fournette, TB$9
31Javonte Williams, DEN$9
32Damien Harris, NE$8
33Zack Moss, BUF$7
34Kenyan Drake, LV$7
35Melvin Gordon III, DEN$7
36J.D. McKissic, WAS$6
37Tarik Cohen, CHI$6
38Ronald Jones II, TB$6
39James White, NE$6
40Nyheim Hines, IND$6
41Jamaal Williams, DET$6
42Latavius Murray, NO$5
43Trey Sermon, SF$5
44James Conner, ARI$5
45Michael Carter, NYJ$5
46Devin Singletary, BUF$5
47Tony Pollard, DAL$5
48Gus Edwards, BAL$4
49AJ Dillon, GB$3
50Tevin Coleman, NYJ$3
51Alexander Mattison, MIN$2
52Phillip Lindsay, HOU$1
53Giovani Bernard, TB$1
54Rashaad Penny, SEA$1
55Darrel Williams, KC$1

For further RB rankings and individual player analysis, click here.